The following letter was written in response to a graphic letter published by Mr K Williamson who was a survivor of the sinking of the TS Lancastria.
PO. Box 1094,
The letter from Mr. K. Williamson published in the Fremantle Gazette on 5 May 1995 brought back some childhood memories to me.
When I was a child in late 1939 my mother’s brother a man I had never seen before visited us in Skegby, a village in Nottinghamshire. This man in blue R.A.F. uniform, was from the magic place, Tredegar, where my mother was born. Of particular wonder was his chip bag cap which could be folded then neatly fitted under his epaulette. Being fascinated by him I recall that when he left the house I followed him, but he turned around and told me I couldn’t go to the tavern with him as it wasn’t allowed, he then picked me up and carried me back to the house handing me over to my mother who chided me. I don’t remember ever seeing him again. The memory of being carried by my Uncle Horace Clarke in his splendid uniform has remained with me ever since
Some time later there was my mother standing in front of the fireplace with a letter in her hand and I overheard her saying “Its from Olwyn our Horace has been killed on the Lancastria”.In later years I would look at a picture of him, now lost, at my parents house and wonder about him and regret we will never meet again.
After the war my Aunt Olwyn met a survivor from the Lancastria who told her the R.A.F. men were below decks when the bombs fell and they didn’t stand a chance of escape from the doomed ship.That is the last I heard of the Lancastria until I read Mr. Williamsons letter which set out details of the attack which sank the ship. I would like to thank him for that.
There may have been official silence on the death of the Lancastria, but I was a child and I knew of it and that my Uncle Horace Clarke died on it.
So the memories passed to my brothers and me who were then the rising generation and so by me have been passed to my children and later my grandchildren will know. So you see Mr. Williamson things are not so easily forgotten. A man only has to carry a child back to his mother to become part of succeeding generations.
Once a Grenadier
Published in the Fremantle Gazette Friday May 12th 1995
Note: The name of 652931 Corporal Horace Clarke is listed on the memorial at Runymede