ApprenticeCLARKE, DONALD OWEN

Died 09/08/1942

Aged 19

M.V. San Emiliano (London)
Merchant Navy

G C

King's Commendation for brave conduct.

Citation

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."

Commemorated at TOWER HILL MEMORIAL

Location: London, United Kingdom
Number of casualties: 36081

Cemetery/memorial reference: Panel 92.

See cemetery plan
Memorial details

CWGC Archives

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This collection of documents was assembled by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and its predecessors as part of the processes involved in the commemoration of individuals. As a result, they contain many corrections and alterations which reflect their use as working documents. For further information concerning the history of the collection, please see our About Our Records page.
Please be advised that some of the documents, especially the burial returns and exhumation reports, may contain information which some people may find distressing. The original archive records and their digital copies remain the property of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, but are available for re-use for private and non-commercial purposes.
DISCLAIMER:
This collection of documents was assembled by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and its predecessors as part of the processes involved in the commemoration of individuals. As a result, they contain many corrections and alterations which reflect their use as working documents. For further information concerning the history of the collection, please see our About Our Records page.
Please be advised that some of the documents, especially the burial returns and exhumation reports, may contain information which some people may find distressing. The original archive records and their digital copies remain the property of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, but are available for re-use for private and non-commercial purposes.