Lest We Forget
HACKTHORN WAR MEMORIAL - REGINALD HANNAH CLARKE
War 2 - Detailed information
Reginald Hannath Clarke was the son of John Clarke and Margaret Jane Hannath, both of whom are buried in the churchyard at Hackthorn. He was the cousin of Frederick Charles Clarke, the only other serviceman from Hackthorn who was killed in World War 2, and their names are inscribed together on the village war memorial.
Reg was a member of the 6th Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment. Since he was entitled to the Africa Star as well as the Italy Star he presumably served in North Africa, and may have been involved in the invasion of Sicily (July 1943) and taken part in the landings at Salerno in September 1943 on the mainland of Italy. At any rate, by December of that year his battalion was in the line on the west side of Italy north of Naples, patrolling in darkness and heavy rain through flooded fields; as the Regimental history states "Christmas passed almost unnoticed".
On 26/27th December they were relieved by the Hampshire Regiment and sent for two days rest to Gallucio before being returned to the line on the River Peccia between Montes Maggiore and Lunga, taking over from the York and Lancaster Regiment. This was now the end of December and "the weather was bitterly cold; snow and rain fell frequently, and there was no cover from the elements".
Preparations were made for an attack across the Peccia on the night of 4/5th January. This operation was to protect the left flank of the 6th US Armoured Infantry who were to capture Monte Porchia covering the approaches to Cassino. The river was 25 feet wide but a more difficult obstacle in the winter swollen by rain and snow from the mountains. Two companies of the battalion were employed at two separate fords but only "B" Company managed to get across the river; the Battle Patrol that was to secure the second crossing for "A" Company failed to do so. "A" Company was therefore directed to follow "B" Company but was caught by enemy artillery and suffered heavy casualties.
Throughout the day "B" Company was repeatedly shelled, and when the battle finally ended casualties in the two companies amounted to 26 killed, 34 wounded and 10 missing. One of those killed was Reg Clarke, aged 20.
Reginald Hannath Clarke is buried in plot 18, row B, grave 19 of the Cassino War Cemetery, which is cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. His name is recorded in the Roll of Honour 1939-1945 of the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment, and on the war memorial in the village of Hackthorn where he went to school.
10 May 2005