Clarke, Thomas Findlay

Thomas, or Tommy as he was known to his mates, was born in New South Wales.

He was posted from 58 OTU and was commissioned in the summer of 1942. He had two confirmed victories, one being shared, with 457 Squadron in Darwin in 1943.

The photo, which was taken in Surry, England in about 1942, is of Tommy and Gordon Gifford when they were based at RAF Station Redhill. Gordon was killed in action over Darwin in May 1943.

Clark Thomas Pic 1

Tommy was wounded in combat on the 28th June 1943 and withdrawn from operations. He had no more operational postings and was discharged from the RAAF in May 1945. Tommy never totally recovered from his wounds.

The photo was taken at Livingstone, Northern Territory in February 1943. It is of Flying Officer F.B. Beale of Sydney and Tommy relaxing with a board game. Clark Thomas Pic 3

The following extract is from Darwin Spitfires by Anthony Cooper:
“Meanwhile Tommy Clark was heading back to base, so shaken that he forgot to put the undercarriage down and went through with a wheels-up landing in spite of the undercarriage warning horn blaring in his ears. Squadron Leader Des Peate, the squadron medical officer (MO), arrived at the scene with the fire crew and found Clark in a still-dazed condition with haemorrhages to his face and eyes from the extreme negative G. Clark was driven back to the A Flight dispersal, where the squadron intelligence officer, Flying Officer P.E. Goldin RAF, found him to be in such a state that he was unable to answer debriefing questions; and so the MO sent him straight off to station sick quarters. Clark had almost 400 hours, had flown on operations with the squadron in England, and had been graded as an above- average pilot. Exactly one month previously, during the Millingimbi raid, he had proven himself to be an effective fighter pilot able to carry through with the determined attacks and to shoot straight-in the face of fighter attack and heavy return fire from the bombers’ rear gunners. However, the trauma he suffered on the 28th of June caused such nervous strain that he was hospitalised, never again to fly on operations. Spitfire BR 541 (A58-47) was repaired and reissued to 452 Squadron on the 16th July.” 

The Aircraft Report for Tommy’s Spitfire A58-47 is as follows: 
Operational damage on the 28th June 1943, when No 3 of Red Section was hit in the tailplane by a explosive canon round from an enemy Zeke, causing the pilot to break away into a vertical dive. He recovered at 2,000 feet and made a crash landing at Livingstone Strip. Pilot was F/O T.F. Clark.” 

Phil Listemann
Updated by Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association