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Secret war career revealed in Crook son's new book
A RETIRED policeman has unearthed the secret life his father led during the Second World War which included battling the Bismarck, flying royalty and spying on the Russians.
Chris Clark only discovered the truth about Flight Lieutenant Thomas Buchanan Clark’s movements during a 25-year career with the RAF after his father died aged 83 in 2005.
Mr Clark from Crook, County Durham has now written a book about his findings called From Hitler’s U-Boats to Kruschev’s Spyflights.
Mr Clark, who is now retired after a career in the police force, said: “It is quite a story and although I am biased towards my father, I do genuinely think it will be of interest to others.
“It is a story that needs to be remembered.”
Flight Lt Clark joined the RAF when he was 17, having previously worked as a printer’s apprentice in Newcastle.
He started as a wireless operator, but after managing to escape through Cherbourg during the Dunkirk evacuations, he decided to retrain as a gunner so he could take the fight to the Germans.
His first posting was on the Sunderland Flying Boats whose job was to protect the Atlantic Convoys from German submarines.
It was during this role that he was the first to see the arrival of the famed German warship the Bismarck and helped in its eventual sinking.
Five of his 12 fellow crew members died on a separate occasion when their aircraft crash landed, leaving him with two broken legs.
Flight Lt Clark then moved to Norfolk as a dorsal gunner in the Lockheed Hudson squadron being used to rescue air crew from the sea who were returning to England after bombing raids in Germany, on one occasion he found himself floating on a door after his aircraft had to ditch.
Having spent a time training other gunners in Africa, Flight Lt Clark returned to service and had to bail out over Italy where he was taken in by friendly locals and kept safe from Rommel’s troops.
Flt Lt Tom Clark
In 1946 he worked as a navigator on the King’s flights which carried the royal family, one time ending up with Princess Margaret in his lap after some sharp banking by the pilot.
After subsequent spells in the Far East he returned to Britain where he worked as part of a team that was searching for and spying on Russian bases during the Cold War.
One plane would act as a decoy to attract the attention of the Russian radar, while another then documented where the enemy establishments were.
Flight Lt Clark eventually retired to enjoy landscape gardening and beekeeping.
Mr Clark’s book is available from Amazon or Pen and Sword Aviation.
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