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Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Clarke, David Victor

Major David Victor Clarke TD, KStJ

[At home with David Victor Clarke

[Major D V Clarke TD, KStJ at an event at Belfats Cenotaph - 02/11/2015
- photo Mark Brown]

was born on 27th February 1924 at Milltown, Donacloney, Lurgan.  He was of Presbyterian faith. 
Following his education at Cookstown High School and Omagh Academy, Clarke joined the Omagh Home Guard in June 1940 (whilst underage and still at school).  In September 1940 with the creation of an Air Training Flight at his school he joined and became their first Flight Sergeant. 
On 2nd May 1942 Clarke joined Northern Bank at Head Office.  His address was ‘Stathroy’, Omagh.  A transfer to Broadway, Ballymena followed in 1943.  

Northern Banking Company, Ballymena

On 3rd November 1943 he volunteered for aircrew duties in the Royal Air Force. 
Clarke resigned from the bank on 18th December 1943 when he was ‘Called up’ – RAF. 
Aircrew Reception Centre, St John’s Wood London, with the Doodle Bugs and V2 rockets gave him his baptism of enemy fire, but after a few weeks he was posted to No. 2 Initial Training Wing at St John’s College, Cambridge for a three month course.  Flying aptitude tests followed at RAF Sywell in Cambridgeshire, flying Tiger Moth bi-plane aircraft, and passing for training as a fighter pilot.  Service on several airfields followed, mainly loading bombers with their varied loads for attacks on Germany, and in February 1945 he was posted to Southern Rhodesia for training, via the circuitous route of Atlantic/Mediterranean/Suez Canal/Red Sea and Indian Ocean, landing at Mombasa, Kenya for a short stay then by small coaster to Durban and finally by train to Gwelo, Southern Rhodesia.  Training began on Fairchild Cornell aircraft, graduating to the Harvard from which Cadets graduated (hopefully) with their coveted wings, but with the war ending in August 1945 he did not gain these.  Clarke was awarded the Defence Medal and War Medal. 
Repatriated through Cape Town and discharged on 10th May 1946 he rejoined Northern Bank at Head Office on 1st May 1946.  Transfers followed to Shankill Road (1946), Downpatrick (1948), Head Office (1949), Holywood (1951), Donegall Square (1956), Holywood (1958), Head Office (1960), Holywood (1961), Head Office (1964), Ballynafeigh (1967) and Bangor (1983).  Clarke also records a period of time in Training School and on the Inspection staff. 

Northern Banking Company, Donegall Square

On 11th March 1948 Clarke wrote to the Bank and requested permission to join the Territorial Army (TA).  This was given and on 23rd March 1948 he joined the TA as a Gunner in 429 (Antrim) Coast Regiment RA (TA).  He was commissioned on 1 April 1949 with Service Number 402421, promoted Captain in 1952 and Major, as Battery Commander in 1955.  The Regiment converted to Royal Engineers in 1956, becoming 146 Corps Engineer Regiment (Antrim Artillery) RE (TA), and he retired in 1962 as Second in Command and was awarded the Territorial Decoration. 
On retirement from the Bank in 1983, he volunteered for service with the St. John Ambulance Association – Northern Ireland, as Director of First Aid Training for business and the general public.  This was part of St John Ambulance – Northern Ireland, a Foundation of the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem.  He was invested as an Officer Brother in 1985, created a Commander Brother in 1990, promoted to Commander of St John Ambulance in 1992 and retiring on age in 1996.  He remained on the Chapter (governing body) of The Commandery of Ards (responsible for Order affairs within Northern Ireland) and, in 1997, he was honoured with a further promotion within the Order to become a Knight of Grace, as position still held at time of writing (2011). 
His retirement on 23rd September 1983 is recorded in the Staff Magazine ‘The Link’ (Winter 1983). 
He is still alive in 2014 aged 91. 
An article and photograph about Clarke appeared in the Staff Magazine ‘The Link’ (Summer 1981).

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