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The Valour Archives - another Young Hero

Phil Perry

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Apprentice Donald Owen Clarke (5th March 1923 - 9th August 1942), Merchant Navy.


Sailing alone on 8th August 1942, his motor tanker, the San Emiliano, was torpedoed and sunk by U.155 in the central Atlantic, south east of Trinidad. The ship was engulfed in flames but despite being so badly burned that he died the next day of his wounds, he helped save other severely burned victims by rowing a lifeboat clear of the stricken tanker. He rowed the lifeboat, the only one to survive the sinking, for two hours despite his hands being so badly burned they had to be cut away from the oars as his flesh had stuck to them. Lying at the bottom of the boat, as they waited for rescue, he sang to keep up the spirits of the other men.


Notice of his award appeared in the London Gazette of 20th July 1943. The citation ended thus "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."


He was 19 years of age.




19 years old. . .Astonishing bravery..



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