Son of John William and Lillian E. M. Clarke, of Portland, North Auckland, New Zealand.
Aubrey Clarke was educated at Portland Primary School and Whangarei High School where he gained University Entrance and School Certificate. He was an active sportsman with interests in league football, basketball, boxing and swimming. He was employed by the State Advances Corporation of New Zealand at Auckland when he applied for aircrew training in the Royal New Zealand Air Force on 20 May 1941.
He trained in New Zealand and Canada and was awarded the air navigator's badge and commissioned in the rank of Pilot Officer on 24 March 1944. He was promoted to Flying Officer on 24 September 1944. After training at No. 15 Service Flying Training School he had a short break in his training when he was posted to No. 3 'M' Depot, Edmonton. On being remustered he was posted to No. 6 Bombing and Gunnery School to continue his training.
He left Canada for the United Kingdom on 10 April 1944 and went firstly to No. 12 (Royal New Zealand Air Force) Personnel Reception Centre, Padgate. He was posted to No. 1 Radio School, Cranwell, Lincolnshire and on 25 November 1944 went to No. 3 School of General Reconnaissance, Squires Gate, Lancashire. He immediately moved to No. 132 Operational Training Unit, East Fortune, East Lothian, where he trained as navigator and wireless operator on Oxford bomber, Beaufort and Beaufighter, fighter-bomber aircraft.
On the night of 2 May 1945 Flying Officer Clarke was navigator of the crew of a Beaufighter fighter-bomber which took off on an operational flying exercise and failed to return to base. Both Flying Officer Clarke and the pilot of the aircraft were reported missing. Later information received from Air Ministry revealed that the aircraft had crashed in Berwickshire. It appears to have flown into high ground. Both men died in the crash. Date of death was officially presumed to have occurred on 3 May 1945.
Aubrey Clarke was buried with full Service Honours in the Edmonton Cemetery at Enfield, Middlesex. In total he had flown 261 hours as navigator and 100 hours as pilot.
Six men who had been at school together in Portland, Whangarei joined the air force and trained in Canada. Charles Frederick Clarke (630828 NZ4310553), one of two surviving members of this group, attended a Portland Primary School reunion in November 1998 and researched details of this group with the intention of contributing a brick for the new memorial being constructed at Winnipeg in Canada to commemorate those who trained in Canada during World War 2. The name, date of birth, place of origin and date of death was to be inscribed on each brick. The Royal New Zealand Air Force crew members that Charles Frederick Clarke (630828 NZ4310553) is commemorating in this way are: Aubrey John Clarke (NZ429177) his brother; D'Arcy Clive Melville Ducker (NZ411749), Desmond Charles Holland (NZ427478), Douglas Jack McLean (NZ414654) and Raymond Anthony Lindsay (NZ392047).
Auckland Museum Armoury Resource Centre, Vertical File - An article in the North Shore Advertiser 15 July 1999 which gives details about the money raised for New Zealand's contribution to the memorial building fund in Winnipeg, the opening ceremony and the role of Flight Lieutenant Bill Phillips and the president of the North Shore Brevet Club, Graeme Gemmell, in the project. AWMM