Clinton Wong


William Robinson Clarke

‘RAF volunteer became Warrant Officer in exemplary career’

1921 - 2016

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When he returned to England on the Empire Windrush in June 1948, Clinton Wong had already served in the war as a RAF volunteer. Having decided to sign up for another five years, he was ultimately making his way to RAF Sealand near Chester. He would stay in the RAF until 1976 following a long and distinguished career that saw him rise through the ranks to warrant officer.

Born Clinton Archibald Wong in Buxton, British Guiana, on April 16, 1921, he had served as a private with the British Guiana Militia from October 1941 to March 1943. After working as a labourer, he joined the RAF in December 1944 and was sent to RAF Melksham in Wiltshire for training.

His RAF records show that on arrival in the UK, he was to be posted to a unit south of the Midlands for his first six months of service. This, it was felt, would allow West Indian volunteers protection against the chilly weather, though this was unlikely given the tropical climate they had grown up in.

Clinton married Liverpool-born Isabella ‘Bella’ Pickavance in December 1955. The couple were living at 11 Thackeray Street, Liverpool 8, and had done so for some time with their three daughters. But when Clinton was posted to Nicosia in Cyprus, he was told he could only take his family along if he and Bella tied the knot. They would go on to have two more daughters and two sons.

Clinton’s service in Nicosia lasted just over two years. He then found himself at RAF Ballykelly in Northern Ireland before being posted to numerous locations, both at home and abroad. From June 1967, Clinton served at the military administration base at RAF Rheindahlen in Germany.

He also spent short spells at RAF Mafraq in Jordan, near the Syrian border and RAF Habbaniya in Iraq. His final posting was at RAF Thorney Island in Hampshire. He won several medals during his long period of service and on one occasion attended Buckingham Palace to receive an award from Princess Margaret.

After retiring from the RAF in 1976 Clinton worked for Marconi Space Research Systems in Hilsea, Hampshire. When he retired from Marconi on health grounds, he had more time to visit his homeland, now known as Guyana. Here, he would catch up with his daughter, Shirley, who was born in November 1943, from an earlier marriage.

Clinton died at the Royal Star and Garter Home for ex-service personnel in Richmond, Surrey on August 2, 1989, aged 68. His ashes are interred at St Nicholas Church, Thorney Island, the site of his last RAF posting. Bella died in Winnipeg, Canada on January 29, 2016.

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