Air Commodore Charles Clarke (right) with Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier in the RAF centenary year (Picture: PA).
Veterans

'Great Escape' Veteran Dies At The Age Of 95

Air Commodore Charles Clarke was captured by the Nazis when his aircraft was shot down in early 1944.

Air Commodore Charles Clarke (right) with Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier in the RAF centenary year (Picture: PA).

Air Commodore Charles Clarke (right) with Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier in the RAF centenary year (Picture: PA).

An RAF veteran who was held alongside the prisoners of war (PoW) involved in the 'Great Escape' has died at the age of 95.

Air Commodore Charles Clarke was held at the Stalag Luft III PoW camp in Germany (which is now in present-day Poland) after his Lancaster bomber was shot down over southern Germany in 1944.

On social media, tributes were paid from the military community.

RAF Cosford in Shropshire said they were "devastated" to hear the news about his death.

Former RAF Navigator John Nichol, who was taken prisoner during the First Gulf War, also paid his respects to Air Commodore Clarke on Twitter.

Air Commodore Clarke was captured as a young man in 1944. 

In an interview with Forces News in 2017, he explained that it was the glamour of the RAF that attracted him the most and inspired him to join.

"Even though I was young, I never regretted my decision to join," he said in the interview.

"The RAF has always been very good to me."

 

Watch: "I am very proud of my part." Forces TV interviewed Air Commodore Clarke in 2017.

It was during a sortie that his aircraft was hit by enemy fire, forcing him to parachute out of the plane, where he was captured by the Nazis and taken to Stalag Luft III.

The camp in Poland was where Allied PoWs constructed tunnels and attempted to make a daring bid for freedom in March 1944, known as the 'Great Escape'.

Just last year, he said he never imagined he would see the centenary of the service, but instead he was chosen to pass a specially designed baton to one of the youngest RAF members, where it will begin a 100-day tour.