Sergeant Kenneth Harold John CLARKE

Service No: 21374
Born: London, England, 19 September 1918
Enlisted in the RAAF: 24 June 1940 (at Sydney NSW)
Unit: No. 20 Squadron, Cairns QLD
Died: Air Operations (No. 20 Squadron Catalina aircraft A24-73), Java Sea, 21 May 1944, Aged 25 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William John and Eva Kate Clarke, of Mayfield, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Column 9, Ambon Memorial, Indonesia
Remembered: Panel 101, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Catalina Base Memorial, Rathmines NSW
Remembered: Rathmines Memorial Bowling Club, Rathmines NSW

It was found that planning the Catalina mining operations against Surabaya harbour was difficult because of the lack of aerial reconnaissance and the fact that nothing was known of the positions of anti-aircraft and searchlight defences. In addition, the carrier aircraft and Liberator strikes of the 17th May meant that the air defences would be alert. The decision was made to sow a field in an area which had been sown on a previous mission. This decision proved unfortunate. Six Catalinas of Nos. 11 and 20 Squadrons took off from Yampi Sound on the night of 20th May and at Surabaya ran into heavy fire from light guns of all kinds. Two of the Catalinas retired and laid their mines successfully from a safer datum point. Enemy fire hit one of them, making holes in both petrol tanks. This Catalina, captained by Wing Commander Havyatt, signalled later, when 150 miles from the target, that it was losing petrol rapidly and making for a forced landing on the north coast of Lombok. No further word was heard from it.

Extract from Odgers, G.J. (George James) (VX127783) Air War Against Japan 1943-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1957 – Page 230

The crew members of A24-73 were:

Sergeant Kenneth Harold John Clarke (21374) (Fitter II Airframe)
Sergeant Jack Desborough Cowley (19598) (Flight Engineer)
Warrant Officer Lionel Dellit (413837) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Norman Bruce Gill (413983) (Second Pilot)
Sergeant Howard William Hall (16069) (Flight Engineer)
Wing Commander Harry Geoffrey Havyatt MID (391) (Pilot)
Flight Lieutenant Frank William Jeffrey MID (401602) (Navigator)
Flying Officer John Ainslie George Maslin (410906) (Third Pilot)
Pilot Officer Francis Howard Russell (15576) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Charles Reginald Whincup (409865) (Navigator)


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A9845, 148
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line


McFarlane, C.C. (Cyrus C.) Tojo’s Fate: Australia’s secret war, Sid Harta Publishers Glen Waverley VIC 3150, 2009
McMillan A. (Andrew) Catalina Dreaming: rescues exciting missions and other stories about the famous Australian flying boats of WWII, Duffy and Snellgrove Potts Point NSW, 2002
Wilson, S. (Stewart) Catalina, Neptune and Orion in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1991

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