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CWGC Places Information Panels at The Merchant Navy Memorial, London

08 May 2013

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has placed two sets of information panels at The Merchant Navy Memorial at Tower Hill, London.  The panels are in place ahead of the 70th Anniversary Commemorations of the Battle of the Atlantic, taking place at the memorial on 11 May 2013.

The panels, covering both the First and Second World War, are part of a drive to provide more information for the public. More than 100 of the panels are being erected at sites in the United Kingdom, to provide information about the many thousands of First World War casualties, from all parts of the Commonwealth, who are buried or commemorated here.

The Second World War panel at The Tower Hill Memorial reveals the story of 19-year old Donald Owen Clarke who served as an apprentice on board The San Emiliano. The vessel was struck by a German U-boat on 6 August 1942. Of the crew of 46, only 6 survived.

Clarke rowed solidly for two hours to clear his comrades from the burning ship. It was not until after the boat was clear that it was realized how badly he had been injured. His hands had to be cut away from the oar as the burnt flesh had stuck to it. He had pulled as well as anyone, although he was rowing with the bones of his hands. Clarke died the next day and was posthumously awarded the George Cross for his efforts.