In Memory of
Army Air Forces Sergeant
Laverne E. Clarke
Roswell, South Dakota
October 21, 1921 – November 5, 1943
Killed in Action in Bombing Raid over Germany
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
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.
in the hands of the War Department indicates that he took part in a bombing
from England to Gelsenkirchen, Germany. He was last seen when his damaged
plane was flying, apparently under control, over the western coast of France
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 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
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.