Apprentice DONALD OWEN CLARKE
M.V. San Emiliano (London)
Died 09 August 1942
Age 19 years old
- Country of Service United Kingdom
- Awards George Cross
- Additional Info King's Commendation for brave conduct.
- Additional Citation note
Extract from the Supplement to "The London Gazette", 16th July, 1943: "The King has been graciously pleased to award the George Cross to Apprentice Donald Owen Clarke (deceased), M.N." : "The ship, sailing alone, was attacked by the enemy and hit by two torpedoes. Fire broke out immediately, flames sweeping the vessel from bridge to poop. Apprentice Clarke was trapped in the accommodation and was severely burned. Despite this he made his way on deck and was one of those who got into the only boat which left the ship. The painter of the boat was kept fast and the helm put over and, as the vessel still carried some way, the boat was towed clear of the burning ship's side. When the painter was cast off the boat drifted back and it was clear to all on board that it would require a tremendous effort to pull it out of danger. Most of the occupants, however, were so badly burned that they were unable to help, but Apprentice Clarke took an oar and pulled heartily for two hours without a word of complaint. 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 his burnt flesh had stuck to it. He had pulled as well as anyone, although he was rowing with the bones of his hands. Later when lying at the bottom of the boat his thoughts were still with his shipmates and he sang to keep up their spirits. Next day he died, having shown the greatest fortitude. By his supreme effort, undertaken without thought of self and in spite of terrible agony, Apprentice Clarke ensured the safety of his comrades in the boat. His great heroism and selfless devotion were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Merchant Navy."
Use our postcode search tool to discover more about the war dead from your local area and build a link to your local history.Use our postcode search