In Memory of
Army Air Forces Sergeant
Laverne E. Clarke
Roswell, South Dakota
Miner County
October 21, 1921 – November 5, 1943
Killed in Action in Bombing Raid over Germany

Laverne E. Clarke

Laverne E. Clarke was born on October 21, 1921, at Madison, South Dakota, to Mr. and Mrs. Earl Clarke. Laverne, his brother, Douglas, and their parents later moved to Roswell, South Dakota, in Miner County, where Laverne went to school and graduated from Fedora High School in 1940.

Laverne entered the service on October 26, 1942, at Fort Snelling, Minnesota.  He was promoted to a sergeant in the Army Air Force by successfully completing his gunnery training at the Army air base at Tyndall Field, near Panama City, Florida. Then he was stationed at Lowrey Field, Denver, Colorado; Salt Lake City, Utah; Pyote, Texas; Dyersburg, Tennessee; and Grand Island, Nebraska.

Laverne E. Clarke was then sent overseas, serving as a Flying Fortress aerial gunner, and stationed somewhere in England as part of the 418 Bomb Squadron, 100 Bomb Group. Sgt. Clarke had flown just one mission and was performing his second when his plane was declared missing.

Army Air Corps Sgt. Laverne Clark’s plane was shot down and crashed into the English Channel, while flying back from a mission over Germany on November 5, 1943. A memorial service was later held in his hometown of Roswell.

The second message that the family received from the War Department contained the following information:

Since your son, Sgt. Laverne E. Clark, Air Corps, was reported missing in
5 November 1943 the War Department has entertained the hope that he survived
and that information would be revealed dispelling the uncertainty surrounding
his absence. However, as in many cases the conditions of war fare deny us such
information.

All available records and reports concerning the absence of your son have been
carefully investigated and are deemed to warrant a review of his case. Information
in the hands of the War Department indicates that he took part in a bombing mission
from England to Gelsenkirchen, Germany. He was last seen when his damaged
plane was flying, apparently under control, over the western coast of France on
the return flight....

Later a surviving crew member of Clarke’s plane said that he and others had bailed out of the plane when it was hit by flak. As tail gunner in a plane badly smashed in the tail section, Laverne Clarke is thought to have still been in the plane when it crashed, presumably, into the English Channel.

Laverne E. Clarke, headstone

Laverne is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery in England and has a memorial stone at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis. He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Kaysie Tope, 8th Grade West, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, November 13, 2000. Alice Peterson, Fedora, South Dakota, first cousin of Army Sgt. Laverne E. Clarke, provided newspaper clippings and information for this entry.