A Battle of Britain veteran who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal returned to RAF Leeming after 77 years to share stories of his courageous past and revisit the airfield he once flew from.
Mr Terry Clark, 98, from Wheldrake in York was 19 years old when he joined the Auxiliary Air Force in 1938, training in Surrey and on the Isle of Man. In 1939 he was called up and posted to RAF Catterick as an Air Gunner on the Blenheim aircraft and was later moved on to the Beaufighters as Radio Operator.
During his visit to the Station Mr Clark spent time at 100 Sqn and enjoyed a tour around a Hawk aircraft, he also met personnel in both 607 (County of Durham) and 609 (West Riding) Reserve Squadrons. But by far the most poignant part of the day was when Mr Clark met friend of the Station Mr Douglas Petty who also served at Leeming during World War Two.
They talked enthusiastically about the aircraft they flew in and recalled their encounters; including taking off in the pitch black with laden aircraft – just making it off the runway, playing cards late in to the night waiting to be called into action and remembering fondly their crew members and colleagues, some of which did not return home.
RAF Liaison Officer for Yorkshire and the Humber, Wing Commander Jeff Metcalfe, hosted Mr Clark throughout the visit. Mr Clark was very generous with his time and agreed to be filmed and interviewed by Sqaudron Leader Alfie Hall in order to contribute to the RAF Leeming Historical Training Facility. During the interview Mr Clark spoke about his many medals he proudly displayed and described his trip to Buckingham Palace to collect his Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM). The DFM medal was awarded to non-commissioned-officers and men for an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty performed whilst flying in active operations against the enemy.
Although serving during very different political and operational climates, Mr Clark and Wg Cdr Metcalfe have both been recipients of Air Efficiency Medal. Wg Cdr Metcalfe said: “We have the same award Terry, albeit with a different figure head on – yours the King and mine the Queen.” Mr Clark concluded his very busy visit to RAF Leeming as guest of honour at RAF Leeming’s annual Battle of Britain Dinner.