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News > Remembering OV > John 'Brian' Clarke 1923-2019 Eulogy

John 'Brian' Clarke 1923-2019 Eulogy

This is the Eulogy written for Old Veseyan (1939) John 'Brian' Clarke.
BVGS where John 'Brian' Clarke was educated in the 1930's
BVGS where John 'Brian' Clarke was educated in the 1930's
JOHN BRIAN CLARKE, known to us as “BRIAN”, was born in 1923, in Erdington, Birmingham, (the son of a banker). He was the youngest of four children and was educated at Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School, in Sutton Coldfieldl. He was a keen sportsman, especially at cricket, where he was a slip-fielder.

When war broke out in 1939, Brian was 16 years of age and would have witnessed the heavy bombing of Birmingham during the 1940s. He told me that he joined the Home Guard, when he was given his father’s shot gun and two cartridges and told to “lie down at the 12th green of the golf course and watch out for German parachutists”.

Later he was called up for military service. His passion was to fly with the Royal Air Force, but his eyesight prevented this, and he joined the army with 147 (Hampshire) Regiment which became a tank regiment in the RAC.

He was commissioned in 1943 and became a Troop Commander, in charge of 3 Churchill tanks, with the 34th Tank Brigade, landing in France shortly after D-Day. 

One of his major actions was on Hill 112 overlooking Caen. Here he was up against the German Tiger tanks with their 88mm guns.  He recalled being ordered to go up to the top of this Hill to let the Germans know we were there. They had nothing to eat and he was smoking 40 cigarettes a day.

During this period he was mentioned in despatches (shown by the bronze oak leaf on his 1939-1945 War Medal).
As the Germans retreated towards Falaise and the River Seine he followed through until he reached Diest in Belgium. Here, whilst having a break by the side of the road, he was injured by an armoured scout car.

He was then flown back to England on a stretcher where he received hospital treatment before spending a period of convalescence in Wales. It was here that he first met Bobbie who was a volunteer nurse attending him.

After his recovery, he was destined to go to the Far East but was posted to India instead, as the war with Japan had ended.
He was not happy in India as he hated curry and this appeared to be the only food on the menu in the officer’s mess.
Whilst in Delhi, Brian was appointed in July 1947 to a permanent commission with the Royal Artillery. He returned to England when he married Bobbie in the village church of Dinas Powys, in Wales. Their only son, Geoffrey, was born in 1949.

After a period of training as a gunnery instructor, he was posted in 1951 to Anglesey in North Wales. Here, the family spent much of this time near the gun batteries, in a Nissen hut with a coke stove. (Not exactly living it up!) After a further period in Cyprus, Brian retired from the army in 1959 with the rank of Major and joined an electronics company specialising in hearing devices and became one of their directors.

Brian was a warm-hearted person and interested in everything around him. He was a keen lover of nature and enjoyed his fine, garden in Liphook Hampshire, and his pets.

His devoted wife Bobbie, died in 2012 at the age of 90 and was sadly missed by all those who were privileged to have known her.
On Brian’s 90th Birthday the family organised a surprise party for him, which was a huge success, and many family members and friends were present.

And, in November 2016, another surprise for Brian was when the President of France appointed him to the rank of “Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur” for his war service in the liberation of France.
(Major Brian Clarke’s Funeral was Wednesday 21st August, 2019 at Guildford Crematorium.

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