LeClare Allerthorn Walker’s biography

Biography and pictures courtesy of Richard Walker

 LeCLARE ALLERTHORN WALKER (1918)

LeClare Walker 1942

“Clare” Walker (1918)
(picture taken 1942)

LeClare Allerthorn Walker, known as Clare, was born in Norwich, Ontario, Canada on 22 June, 1918, the 2nd child of Spence Allerthorn and Mildred Loral (born Bushell) Walker.

When Clare was just two years of age, in 1920, he moved with his parents to Troy, New York, U.S.A. He attended No.18 Elementary School there from 1924 to 1932. During the last 2 years of this period he was very active in the Boy Scouts of America. In the summer of 1932 the family, now consisting of 6 children, returned to Norwich where Clare attended High School and graduated in 1938. During his High School years he was a member of the High School Cadet Corp in which he served as Commanding Officer for 3 of those years. He was also active in sports having participated as a member of the “Rugby” team and the “Track” team.

Following graduation from High School in June 1938 Clare enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering Faculty of Toronto University in the fall and at the same time also enrolled in the Canadian Officer Training Corp (C.O.T.C.), Regiment No. 6768. During this time he resided at 327 Huron St., Toronto. Following his 2nd year of University in 1940 he obtained a position with the Ontario Hydro Power Commission in Niagara Falls, for summer employment and resided at 1993 Barker Street. On 15th July Clare submitted an application to join the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force). After successfully completing the medical examination for air crew duties, on 23 July, he was called into active service as an AC2 (Aircraftsman 2nd class), Service No. R66320, on 4 Nov. 1940, and was posted on that date to No. 1 Manning Depot in Toronto for basic training. He was transferred to RCAF Station, Trenton, Ont. on 22 Dec. for security guard duty and then back to Toronto on 21 Feb. 1941 to the No.1 Initial Training School for course No. 19.

Following Basic Training Clare was reclassified to LAC (Leading Aircraftman) on 29 Mar. 41 and posted to No. 12 Elementary Flying Training School at Goderich, Ont. to start flying training on the “Tiger Moth” aircraft. A note must be made here:-

This writer (Clare’s brother, Bud) recalls very vividly the day in the spring of 1941 when Clare flew his Tiger Moth over their home in Norwich performing numerous aerobatics. I immediately climbed up the 80 foot radio tower located in our yard (which our father had had built years earlier) to get a closer view of Clare. When he saw me he flew very low and what looked to me extremely close to the tower as I could see him in the aircraft very plainly. All through this our mother was waving vigorously and yelling for him to stop.

Clare completed his Canadian training at Camp Borden, Ont. at No. 1 SFTS (Service Flying Training School) where he graduated from Course No. 30 on Harvard aircraft as a Sergeant Pilot and received his “Wings” on 20 Aug. 1941. Following a short “Leave” in Norwich he departed for Halifax, Nova Scotia on 2nd September to await availability of a ship bound for England. After some delay he finally set sail on 15 Sept. and arrived in England on 29th. He was the first Pilot from Norwich to arrive in England during the 2nd World War. He completed his Advanced Flying Training on Spitfires in Scotland almost immediately and on 23 Dec. preceded to the Canadian Spitfire Fighter Squadron 403, known as the “Wolfe Squadron”, at North Weald, Essex, England, where he was promoted to Flight Sergeant on 2 Feb. 1942. and commissioned as Pilot Officer, Service No. J15477, on the 10th May that same year.

During this time period Clare made several assignments of his pay to his sister Barbara to help her out financially, while she was in training to become a Nurse at London Hospital in Ontario. His first payment of $20.00 per month began in Mar. 1941 when he was an LAC. In August of the same year, when he was promoted to Sergeant Pilot, he increased the assignment to $40.00. In July 1942, after he was promoted to Pilot Officer in England, he increased the payment to $70.00 per month.

Clare was very proud of his Spitfire aircraft, as evidenced by a note on the back of the picture below, taken in May of 1942, which reads;

LeClare Walker Spitfire.

“This is a picture of my kite. I thought it turned out pretty good and shows off its beautiful lines”.

On 14 Apr.1942 a special news report appeared in the Canadian newspapers entitled “Ontario Fliers Fail to Scare Britain’s Prime Minister”. The article reads in part:-

Three fliers, including Flt Sgt. L. A. Walker, failed to scare Winston Churchill though they dived their planes to within fifty feet of him. They were engaged in attacking a theoretical gun position and came down from 2000 feet to a spot being inspected by Churchill and Cabinet Ministers. The Ministers scattered like rabbits. “But not the Prime Minister”, Walker reported. “He just stood there while we flew clean over his head. He was the only one of the group who stayed there”.

After flying numerous sorties over Europe, on 19 Aug. 1942, Clare with other members of his squadron set out at 6:45 a.m. to act as escort for ships carrying out landing operations at Dieppe, France. He became separated from the remainder of his section and was last seen heading inland beyond Dieppe (This information was obtained from 2 pilots, in person, of 403 Squadron by this writer, Bud Walker, Clare’s brother, at Bournmouth in southern England in 1945). He was reported as “missing in action” on 19 Aug. 1942 somewhere over Dieppe, France. His parents received a telegram to that affect on 21 August. They also received a letter from Squadron Leader L. S. Ford, Officer Commanding No. 403 Squadron, RCAF written on 25 Aug., which reads in part as follows;

Clare was respected not only for his flying ability but as a companion to the rest of the lads. He showed real promise as a leader and would before long have become a Flight Commander. Not only were the officers fond of him, but the men who serviced his plane thought a great deal of him. He will remain an inspiration to those that he left behind him. We are all hoping and praying that he is safe somewhere as a prisoner of war. Should anything further be heard we will inform you at once.

It was not until some 8 months later on 8 May, 1943 that Clare’s parents received a further telegram to say that Clare was officially presumed dead as of 19 Aug. 1942, as result of air operations over Dieppe. At this time no news from the International Red Cross Committee or from any other source had been received and thus a “Certificate of Presumption of Death” was issued on the 14th May 1943.

It was not until March 1945 that several reports from the No. 1 Missing Research & Enquiry Unit of the Royal Canadian Air Force in England were received by the Dept. of National Defense for Air in Ottawa. The report(s) state:-

“A Spitfire aircraft EN850 crashed at the village of Varengeville, France. Mr. Poidevin, a witness in the case from Varengeville, stated that it was he and his friends who actually recovered the dead pilot’s body. The body was headless (the head was never found), the left arm was found in an oat field and his identity disc was taken by the Germans, however, in spite of this Clare’s name was found inside his jacket pocket.. Poidevin also states that the body was first buried in the Cimeterre des Vertus at St. Aubin-Sur-Scie near Dieppe.. A German Doctor came to remove the body after about 8 days, but failed to do so. The body was removed by the Service Technique of the Mayor of Dieppe and buried in grave 706 of the Canadian Military Cemetery at Hautot-sur-Mer at Dieppe. The grave was later renumbered and is now designated Row F, Grave 60

In an R.C.A.F. message to Air Force Head Quarters, from Air Minister, Kingsway dated 20 Aug. 1942, announcing Clare’s being missing over the French coast on 19 Aug. 1942, mention is made of a Miss P. A. Baker. Unfortunately the Censors have blacked out her relationship and address. The only information this writer has, is that Clare did have a “Girl Friend” in England. A further report states “Miss P. (Phillida) A. Baker (R.N.S.-Royal Naval Service) will be informed of this information when M.R & E. Service confirm the burial particulars.

Clare’s Estate consisted of his “Service Estates” which the “Canadian Air Force Director of Estates” valued at $529.78, and his “War Service Gratuity” valued at $340.14, for a total of $869.82.

Fifty three years later, in 1995, this writer, Clare’s brother Bud, visited France and went to Dieppe to find Clare’s grave at the Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery at Hautot-sur-Mer, just south of Dieppe. (see picture of the cemetery Marker below). Of the 944 grave markers in the cemetery only 12 designate the actual burial place of the individual named on the stone. Though the cemetery property was donated by the French Government to Canada, the grounds are maintained by the Canadian Government. It must be said that the cemetery is kept in immaculate condition with many flowers along each row of markers. See also below a picture of the War Memorial Cenotaph, located on the grounds of the Norwich High School, on which Clare’s name is inscribed

grave

cenotaph

LeClare Walker articles

IMG_3219

Remembering August 19, 1942

Picture taken on November 11, 2015

IMG_1434(1)

Remembering Dieppe 1942

Picture taken on August 19, 2015

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