D-Day 80 The Last Veterans: Gilbert Clarke

Gilbert Clarke, Age 97, RAF 

Interviewed 4 July 2023

After lying about his age and volunteering to join the RAF in his native Jamaica, Gilbert Clarke was sent to Britain on a troop ship via the United States.

While training to service radar equipment he and his class saw the hundreds of aircraft passing overhead on 6 June en route to Normandy and cheered as they realised that the long-awaited invasion of occupied Europe had begun.

He said: "I used to repair the equipment, test and take them to planes.

"At that time Britain was low on equipment so if things came in damaged we tried to salvage what we could and put them back in the planes. 

"We were in the workshop mending bits and pieces, testing instruments, and we could hear a droning noise.

"Think of it as one plane, think about fifty planes, think about five hundred planes, think about a thousand planes.

"You couldn’t see the sky, it was all black with planes.

"We asked the Sergeant and he said ‘This is it, they’re going to Europe.’ And we all shouted ‘Give them hell boys.’

"It could have gone either way.

"Rough, anxious, scary.

"We hoped Britain and the world would be a better place.

"Thanks to our cousins the Yanks for bringing in supplies so we could breathe again."

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