The medals of an RAF pathfinder pilot who got his crew home safely despite his aircraft being on fire have sold for £4300.

Squadron Leader Alfred Clarke was left with a burning engine after his Lancaster was hit during a raid over Germany.

But he refused to turn for home out of respect for the 282 Allied bombers relying on him to mark their target.

Sq Ldr Clarke earned a Distinguished Flying Cross for his ‘outstanding skill and tenacity’ during the 1943 raid.

Bernard Pass, auctioneer at Marlow’s, said: "It is remarkable that Sq Ldr Clarke got his crew home and saved their lives given the damage the aircraft suffered.

"He showed true grit in carrying on to Cologne and not turning around, aware that the pathfinders had a crucial role in marking the targets for the following bombers.

"They were specially trained and known for being exceptional pilots, and Sq Ldr Clarke demonstrated all this skill and determination on the raid."

His medals sold for £4,300 (



Sq Ldr Clarke was born in South Africa and served with 97 Squadron during the Second World War.

His rear gunner was badly wounded during the raid near Cologne on the night of March 18 1943.

Sq Ldr Clarke managed to limp hundreds of miles home before completing a “masterly” forced landing at the nearest friendly airfield.

His medal group and log books were sold by a distant relative with auctioneers Marlow’s, of Stafford, Staffs. Pics from BNPS.

His medal group and log books were sold by a distant relative (



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His Distinguished Flying Cross citation states: "Some 50 miles from the target the bomber was attacked by an enemy fighter.

"Before it could be evaded the aircraft was repeatedly hit.

"One engine was damaged, other structural essentials almost shot away, while the rear gunner was wounded and his turret rendered unserviceable.

"The bomber became difficult to control but, despite this, course was re-set for the target which was attacked successfully.

"On the return flight shortly after crossing the enemy coast, the damaged engine caught fire and could not be extinguished but Flight Lieutenant Clarke flew on to the nearest airfield to effect a masterly landing.

"This pilot displayed outstanding skill and tenacity."

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