Headwaters Center for Lifelong Learning's (HCLL) fall online series continues with Edric Clarke's "World War II Memories."
The program may be accessed via HCLL's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/headwaterscenterforlifelonglearningparkrapidsmn or on YouTube T youtu.be/nZjouXaMHeY.
Clarke, who was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1921, was a Park Rapids resident in 2016 when he spoke to a large audience at Armory Square. He and his friend, Norman, listened to Neville Chamberlain announce in a Sept. 3, 1939 radio broadcast that England was at war with Nazi Germany. They decided right away to enlist in the Royal Air Force (RAF). Norman became a pilot, who later became the only English pilot to be shot down over Russia in the war. Edric, however, could not pass the vision test to become a pilot. He did join the RAF, where he was deployed to North Africa as a supplies and logistical support worker. For example, he explained, planes were shipped to the coast in parts and had to be reassembled. He served two of his six years in the RAF on the Gold Coast, now Ghana, and as liaison with the Free French in what is now Central Africa.
After the war, Clarke married and emigrated to Canada and later to Ohio, where he was sponsored for immigration by a farmer. Clarke didn't care for farm work and eventually found work for Bemis Corporation in Minneapolis. While in Minneapolis, his work with his sons' Boy Scouts group led him to Nimrod, where he and his wife retired.
Clarke passed away in 2018 at the age of 97. His obituary includes this comment: “Edric will be remembered as a kind and gentle man of great integrity, with a thirst for knowledge. Always quick with a joke, he used his sense of humor and wit to hide his shyness. He loved to tell stories and make people laugh.”