I received a wonderful thank you from the Clarke family about the post and I would like to share it with you all. In it Laurie Clarke recounts further anecdotes from Robert Clarke’s service. Interestingly, Peter Clarke noted that the fork might well have been issued to Robert and provided a link to a page on the Australian War Memorial site about another fork brought back by POW Jimmy Kettle, who was in Stalag Luft XXA, Torun, Poland.
Thank-you so much for your post regarding my father POW Robert Clarke and the fork on the CAFM website. I am very moved as well as pleased that your post coincides with Remembrance Day which is what I’d hoped. Also, I appreciate that you are volunteering your time including holidays for Remembrance Day.
I shared the URL you sent me with my family. My brother Peter noted that you are impressed as are we by the empathy extended from the Canadian government to our grandmother through official correspondence.
I intended to respond to your request for input from me this weekend as I am unavailable during weekdays due to work demands.
Yet, I understand the timelines. And, I prefer your piece because it is objective. Imagine my surprise to learn that my father was a fork stealer! I’d wrongly assumed it was his fork which I’d found ironic, even cruel, due to food shortages, especially towards the end of WWII. Apparently, he lost a significant amount of weight but more than made up for it within the first six months of liberation! Throughout his capture, he and his hut mates would often fantasize about food, particularly during holiday seasons i.e., Christmas.
My dad shared several anecdotes with our family about his experience. He always claimed that a pencil saved his life. As he was navigating a Lancaster bomber that fateful night it was shot down, he dropped his pencil. Just as he bent over to pick it up, shots riveted through the canvas of the plane, clearing his back. Next he knew, he bailed out and pulled his parachute open. But the bar of the chute knocked him out cold. When he came to, he found himself lying on the ground with no boots because his laces were untied. For two days, he walked in sock feet on German territory, headed for the Belgium border. A couple of times, he hid in the ditch under brambles as German soldiers marched by without detecting him. Finally, he sought refuge in a farmhouse where he was given up to the Germans. There my dad was put in the back of a jeep with his bomb aimer Bury who had been taken out for drinks by his captors. (Sadly, the other three crew members died. Though my dad wanted to be a pilot, he was made a navigator due to his high math scores. Had he been a pilot, he probably wouldn’t’ve survived.)
Again, on behalf of my family, I thank you for your concise post.