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RFC/QWR grand-daughter

2nd Lt Anthony Fielding Clarke 100 sqn RFC

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RFC/QWR grand-daughter

I am researching my grandfather. I never knew him, and those who did are now dead. So far I know that due to mechanical failure, he came down and was captured with his comrade. I have seen two pictures of his capture on Flickr. He was an 'observer officer' but I have no idea what this means and google hasn't helped. He was incarcerated in Holzminden, but didn't escape. I don't know what he did in WWII but I know he was away from his family and at the end of the war was involved in de-Nazification. My research is being hampered by the fact that he spent little time in Britain. His brother Oliver was also in the RFC but worked organising the somewhat shambolic RFC stores.

Thank you in advance for any assistance, this site is wonderful.

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Stebie9173

A two-seater aircraft had two crew - a pilot and an observer. One of the major roles of the RFC and RAF in WW1 was for observation of the enemy positions. The two man crew was necessary so that the pilot could concentrate on flying the plan whilst the observer took his pictures or spotted for artillery. The observer would also double as a gunner.

Both brothers have online RAF service records:

http://www.nationala...fficers-ww1.htm

If you put Fielding in the "First name" box and Clarke in the "surname" box then they should both come up on the search. They cost £3.50 per man to download. Clicking on their name in the results list will take you to the download page. They may also have had service records in the RFC (Armry) sections filed under WO339 at the National Archives.

Steve.

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Dolphin

2Lt A Fielding-Clarke was the observer in FE2b B439 [a Presentation machine: Malaya No 17] of No 100 Sqn RFC, flown by 2Lt O B Swart, on a night bombing raid on Courcelles on 9 February 1918, when the aeroplane was brought down in enemy territory by engine failure and both airmen were captured. The FE left Ochey aerodrome at 17:51 and had accumulated 20 hours flying time.

I hope this is useful.

Gareth

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centurion

A two-seater aircraft had two crew - a pilot and an observer. One of the major roles of the RFC and RAF in WW1 was for observation of the enemy positions. The two man crew was necessary so that the pilot could concentrate on flying the plan whilst the observer took his pictures or spotted for artillery. The observer would also double as a gunner.

Paradoxically in some cases the pilot took the photos and did the spotting whilst the observer kept watch for enemy aircraft However this was in two seat tractor aircraft (engine in front), the FE2B was a pusher aircraft used initially mainly as as a fighter (sometimes as an escort fighter) and later as a night bomber and intruder and the observer would be in the front (nose) and his primary duty was as an air gunner and possibly a navigator on night flights. 100 carried out night time bombing and straffing attacks on ground targets in which the observer would use Lewis guns against these.

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RFC/QWR grand-daughter

Thank you...I'd been going wrong as the surname is Fielding Clarke and it never occurred to me to treat it as two halves. Thank you all

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Stebie9173

Anthony also has an "Other Ranks" (i.e. non-officer) file held at the National Archives:

These files are big fold out sheets held at the archives and haven't been digitised.

A copy can be requested via the "Discovery" catalogue of the National Archives:

Reference:AIR 79/611/66374 Description:

Anthony Fielding Clarke.

Date: [1918-1928]

Held by: The National Archives, Kew

Legal status: Public Record

Language: English

Access conditions: Open Immediately

http://discovery.nat...s?uri=C11665898

The 66374 on the end of his file reference would have been his R.F.C. other ranks number (officers did not have numbers).

Steve.

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Stebie9173

Here are some London Gazette entries for promotions, etc.:

Anthony

London Gazette 11-9-1917

The undermentioned cadets to be temp. 2nd Lts. (on prob.):—

General List (R.F.C.).

13 Aug. 1917.

Anthony Fielding-Clarke.

http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/30279/supplements/9425

London Gazette 5-4-1918

ROYAL FLYING CORPS.

Mil. Wing.—The undermentioned appts. are made: —

Flying Officers (Observers) : —

Temp: 2nd Lts. (on prob.), Gen. List, and to be confirmed in their rank: —

J. F. W. Nicolson, with seniority from 2nd Sept. 1917.

W. E. McLean, with seniority from 15th Oct. 1917.

A. Fielding-Clarke. 8th Feb. 1918, with seniority from 4th Nov. 1917.

http://www.london-ga...1348/pages/6253

Oliver

London Gazette 1-3-1917

MEMORANDA.

The undermentioned Cadets to be temp. 2nd Lts. (on prob.) for duty with R.F.C.:—

Oliver Fielding Clarke. 12th Feb. 1917

http://www.london-ga...upplements/2102

London Gazette 20-5-1919

The undermentioned are transferred to the unemployed list: —

6th May 1919.

Lt. O. Fielding-Clarke.

http://www.london-ga...1348/pages/6253

Steve.

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centurion

Your grandfather would have been in the front cockpit of one of these.

post-9885-0-47937100-1343150804_thumb.jp

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Stebie9173

As far as pre-RAF officers records (i.e Royal Flying corps), both brothers have files.

Anthony Fielding Clarke's record is not publicly available due to him serving again after the war. Having said officers do not have numbers, their files did. Anthony's old "long number" was 220538. When he served again he was allocated what is known as a "P/" number. This was P/133578/1.

His record will still be held by the Ministry of Defence and only available to next-of-kin.

A further London Gazette entry shows him as joining the Royal Army Service Corps in WW2:

London Gazette 23-7-1940

ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORPS.

The undermentioned to be 2nd Lts.: —

17th June 1940: —

Lt. Anthony Fielding CLARKE, M.A. (133578).

http://www.london-ga...upplements/4498

He later transferred to the Army Educational Corps:

London Gazette 25-11-1941

ARMY EDUCATIONAL CORPS.

War Subs. Lt. A. F. Clarke (133578), from R.A.S.C., to be War Subs. Lt. 26th Sept. 1941, retaining his present seniority.

http://www.london-ga...upplements/6766

Oliver's long number was 175337.

His file is held at the National Archives and is again a physical paper file. This filed under reference WO339/90194.

Reference:WO 339/90194 Description:

CLARKE O

Date: [1914-1922]

Held by: The National Archives, Kew

Former references: in its original department: 175337

Legal status: Public Record

http://discovery.nat...ls?uri=C1144019

For Oliver, there is of course his autobiography - "Unfinished Conflict"

Steve.

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Stebie9173

I assume that these are the two photos you have found:

http://www.flickr.co...man/7144329897/

http://www.flickr.co...man/7144290885/

The officer on the left (without the cap) has a single Observer wing on his uniform. Pilots wore a double wing badge.

There is also a reference to them here:

http://www.theaerodr...glish-pows.html

There is also a reference to a Fielding Clarke (Anthony's father?) being appointed as a Military doctor in a UK hospital:

London Gazette 22-2-1915

3rd Southern General Hospital; Fielding Clarke, to be Captain, whose services will be available on mobilization. Dated 5th February, 1915

http://www.london-ga...upplements/1828

Steve.

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RFC/QWR grand-daughter

Your grandfather would have been in the front cockpit of one of these.

post-9885-0-47937100-1343150804_thumb.jp

Oh my!.

The reason his brother was put in stores was because his sight wasn't good enough to be a pilot and there is a picture of a plane, upside down in the airfield with the caption "How not to land". It's in a book by OF-C called 'Unfinished Conflict', mostly about Marxism and being a C of E vicar, but with interesting bits about RFC stores.

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RFC/QWR grand-daughter

I assume that these are the two photos you have found

Yes.

There is also a reference to a Fielding Clarke (Anthony's father?) being appointed as a Military doctor in a UK hospital:

Yes.

In fact I only know he was a Dr because of the aforementioned autobiography

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RFC/QWR grand-daughter

I can't get over that plane! It must have been exhilarating to sit in the nose of that.

Thank you, one and all. This is an amazingly helpful and informative forum.

The officer on the left (without the cap) has a single Observer wing on his uniform.

I have that very badge. I found it in his youngest son's effects after his death.

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centurion

It's in a book by OF-C called 'Unfinished Conflict', mostly about Marxism and being a C of E vicar, but with interesting bits about RFC stores.

A Marxist C of E vicar - gosh the Church hasn't changed much over the years then!

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centurion

I can't get over that plane! It must have been exhilarating to sit in the nose of that.

He would frequently be standing up in action, sometimes with a foot on each cockpit rim in order to fire a Lewis gun back over the top of the wing.

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Stebie9173

There is some footage of an Fe2b flying in New Zealand somewhere online (also called Zanzibar like the one in Centurions photo I believe).

I'll see if I can find it.

Steve.

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Stebie9173

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RFC/QWR grand-daughter

He would frequently be standing up in action, sometimes with a foot on each cockpit rim in order to fire a Lewis gun back over the top of the wing.

The thing that just brought me down to earth with a bump is his age when doing that. He was born in Jan 1899. I suppose only those young enough to take enormous risk coupled with a sense of immortality were up to it. My youngest is 22 and the scariest thing he's ever done is eject drunks from the pub he works in.

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centurion

The thing that just brought me down to earth with a bump is his age when doing that. He was born in Jan 1899. I suppose only those young enough to take enormous risk coupled with a sense of immortality were up to it. My youngest is 22 and the scariest thing he's ever done is eject drunks from the pub he works in.

Indeed I freeze up a ladder these days. Equally scary must have been flying very low at night. One of 100's specialities was train busting.

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RFC/QWR grand-daughter

That film is astonishing! I could hardly bear to watch it looked so dangerous! Thank you.

A wing and a prayer and an elastic band linen cord.

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IPT

I love the picture with the two guards. - http://www.flickr.com/photos/drakegoodman/7144290885/in/pool-47255139@N00%7Cdrakegoodman

They've just spent two days on the run and fighting it out with Germans, but Clarke couldn't possibly look more insouciant if he tried.

Swart is sporting the swollen face he described in "Annals of 100 Squadron" as "like a pudding". Apparently, he was attempting to strangle a German without realising another German was behind him. The second German punched him repeatedly in the face,

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Stebie9173

Swart's full name is Owen Brennand Swart, by the way.

Steve.

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mickdavis

The best, to my mind, account by a light night bomber observer is that by James Stedman, 100 Sqn, that I included in CCI 40/2 ( an extract also appears in the CCI FE2 monograph). Such observers were not shooting back over the top wing, as fighter & fighter-reconnaissance FE2b/d observers often did, but directing pilots onto targets by hand signals and directing bomb release. Such night bombing crews tended to reserve shooting up searchlights etc for the homeward journey, preferring as stealthy approach as possible to their targets. Stedman gave a wonderful description of using a petrol can as a seat - flat for unevenful stages of a sortie, on its edge if he needed to see more and upright on the run-in to target.

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RFC/QWR grand-daughter

This is all brilliant information. I did come across tantalising glimpses of possible via google of info on a site which I've since seen mentioned here. It won't let me in as it's password protected. I keep thinking it was called dennismainewilson.com, but that's wrong...it's late and too hot and my recall is failing me.

edited to add

patrickwilson.com

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Stebie9173

The PatrickWilson website is from a book. Either originals (1975) or reprints can be found at not too expensive prices:

http://www.abebooks....of 100 SQUADRON

Steve.

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