CHRIS CLARKE COLLECTION
No. 12926. North American NA-73 Mustang Mk.I (AG375 c/n 73-3130) Royal Air Force
Photograph from Bob Sanderson

North American NA-73 Mustang Mk.I


03/31/2016. Remarks by Chris Clarke: "My father, Fight Lieutenant Fred Clarke, a member of 414 Squadron, was piloting this Mustang on a low level reconnaissance mission near Dieppe, France, on August 19, 1942 when his wingman, American Flying Officer Hollis 'Holly' Hills, spotted three Focke-Wulf Fw 190s attacking from above. He radioed a warning to Fred, but Fred's radio had failed and he never heard it. Fred's first indication that he was under attack was when the instruments on both sides of the panel were shot away. The armor plate behind him saved his life but the oil cooler was hit and began spewing glycol.

Meanwhile, Hills recorded the first recorded Mustang victory by shooting down one of the Fw 190s and then chased off the one that was lining up to finish off AG375 . My father spiraled upwards in hopes of gaining enough altitude to reach the English Channel. He was successful, ditched the plane at about 90 mph (145 kmh), and hit his head on the gunsight. He lost consciousness until awaking in a landing craft. After a brief convalescence Fred Clarke flew sorties over France until May 1943 and served with 414 Squadron as 39 Wing Operations Liaison Officer in Holland and Belgium after the invasion. He was the only pilot to ditch a Mustang and survive. He passed away in 2005."

For more information on Fred Clarke see Aircrew Remembered.

Created March 31, 2016