Dr Mervyn Clarke RAMC

Sligo Bay from Knocknaree
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Belfast Castle
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Burma Administrative Division
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Oxford Circus London 1949 by Ban Brooksbank
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Castlebar aerial view 2005 by Manifico
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Westport, Mayo, Ireland

Doctor / Military

This doctor plus Military officer was an authority on all things military. He was an undisputed expert on with a collection of small arms.

In an article by Michael Feeney he stated that Major Mervyn Denis Clarke remembered from his youth the War of Independence in Easkey, Co. Sligo.  His father had served as a Medical Officer during the Boar War.  His homeplace was regarded as a ‘safe house’ by the Auxiliaries where many wounded men were treated. (Michael Feeney 2008)  [i]

Medical Student

Mervyn Clarke studied in U C D during the 1930’s.  He served in the Officer Training Corps where he maintained that the group were entrusted to try out a new machine gun; on the basis that if a bunch of students failed to damage or lose part of it, then it would possibly be soldier – proof!  Thus, the Bren was introduced that served the defence forces for over seventy years.  (Michael Feeney 2008) [ii]

Military Career

On the outbreak of WW2 Clarke enlisted into the British Army in Belfast. His commission was to the Royal Army Medical Corps, attached to the Wiltshire Regiment, 14th Army as a Medical Officer.  His tales of his adventures in Britain were many, one included that he briefed Winston Churchill on an occasion.  (Michael Feeney 2008)  [iii]

Burma

Clarke served with the Churka soldiers in Burma, he provided many amusing reports of his activities there plus on Ramree Island.  He was mentioned in despatches for performances outside his normal duties of an MO: one such was when he led an attack uphill against a Japanese position.  Another report of him referred to the introduction of the Sten gun; As the design was faulty Clarke recommended to the Captain Quartermaster that ‘he should lose at least one magazine in the jungle so that a supply of magazine springs could be reserved!’  Later they were successful in the attack on a Japanese patrol with the weapons; the platoon collected souvenirs where the most important item was a Nambu pistol!  The arguments that followed as to who should keep it were solved by the Platoon Sergeant who proclaimed, ‘that the MO should receive it as he knew more about weapons than anyone else in the British Army!’  (Michael Feeney 2008) [iv]

Medical Career

Following WW2 Clarke returned to University in England to study radiography.  With his Qualification secured he was employed as the first Radiologist in Castlebar Hospital, Co. Mayo, he also worked in Roscommon Hospital.  He became one of the leading Radiologists in Mayo. (Mayo News 13th May 2008 Obituary) [v]

Family

Mervyn Clarke & wife had two sons; Derek, Peter who is a Royal Naval MO plus daughters; Denise, Ruth also Pauline. (Michael Feeney 2008) [vi]

Activities

Dr. Clarke hobbies included fishing and shooting.  As a noted angler he held the position of Chairman of the North Western Regional Fisheries Board for many years.  He provided advice on game management and game development.  He was also an honorary member plus President of Belcarra Gun Club as well as an honorary member of Mayo Air Rifle Club.  Belcarra Gun Club honoured him recently for his dedication and commitment to the club. (Mayo News 13th May 2008) [vii]

Demise

His demise occurred aged ninety – three years in Easkey, Co. Sligo on 7th May 2008.  His funeral service was held at St. James’s Church in Easkey, Co. Sligo.  He was interred in Roslea Cemetery, Easkey. (Mayo News 13th May 2008) [viii]

Tributes

Major Clarke was a most versatile medical officer; he performed several services outside his normal duties.  At his Funeral service in Easkey it was observed that ‘this man, soldier, officer, doctor, family man plus friend was never known to have spoken ill of anybody.’ (Michael Feeney 2008) [ix]

The Burmese Community in Ireland commended Major Clarke for his work in Burma. [x]

Donal Buckley published a tribute in the Mayo News edition of 20 May 2008.[xi]

Footnote

Doctor Clarke lived for some time at Marina Villa, Rosbeg, Westport Quay while attached to Castlebar Hospital.  It was there that I babysat for him & family.  He was a very gentle, kind yet generous man.

Bibliography

[i] Major Mervyn Clarke (‘Remembering Mayo’s Fallen Heroes’) (assessed 11th February 2020]

[ii] Major Mervyn Clarke (‘Remembering Mayo’s Fallen Heroes’) (assessed 11th February 2020]

[iii] Major Mervyn Clarke (‘Remembering Mayo’s Fallen Heroes’) (assessed 11th February 2020]

[iv] Major Mervyn Clarke (‘Remembering Mayo’s Fallen Heroes’) (assessed 11th February 2020]

[v] Dr. Mervyn Clarke (http://www.mayonews.ie/obituaries/ ) [assessed 15th February 2020]

[vi] Major Mervyn Clarke (‘Remembering Mayo’s Fallen Heroes’) (assessed 11th February 2020]

[vii] Dr. Mervyn Clarke (http://www.mayonews.ie/obituaries/) [assessed 15th February 2020]

[viii] Dr. Mervyn Clarke (http://www.mayonews.ie/obituaries/) [assessed 15th February 2020]

[ix] Major Mervyn Clarke (‘Remembering Mayo’s Fallen Heroes’) (assessed 11th February 2020]

[x] Dr. Mervyn Clarke (http://www.mayonews.ie/obituaries/) [assessed 15th February 2020]

[xi] Major Mervyn Clarke RAMC (http://www.mayonews.ie/obituaries/ ) [assessed 15th February 2020]

 

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