Families receive medals to mark loss

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THREE Suffolk families whose loved ones were killed while on active service with the British Army more than 50 years ago have been presented with special medals.

Alan Clarke, from Nedging Tye, and his son John were among the families honoured in the special ceremony at Wattisham Airfield on Wednesday when they received Elizabeth Crosses.

The award was created in 2009 and is granted to the next of kin of Armed Forces personnel killed on operations or as a result of terrorism in a mark of national recognition for their loss.

Mr Clarke was 15-years-old when, on May 7 1948, a telegram arrived informing his parents that his 21-year-old brother, Lance Sergeant Peter Clarke, of The Grenadier Guards, had been shot and wounded. A second telegram soon after told them that he had died from his wounds.

L/Sgt Clarke enlisted in the Army in February 1945 and stayed in for an Army career after he had completed national service.

In February 1948 he was posted to Palestine where, on May 8, he was killed by sniper fire while on a patrol.

Six years ago a court of inquiry revealed details of L/Sgt Clarke’s death and 10 years ago, after John contacted the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, his family finally found out where he was buried, in the Khayat Beach War Cemetery, in Israel.

“It’s a difficult place to visit because it’s right in the middle of the troubles in Palestine - one of my sister’s went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and was lucky enough to see it,” said Alan.

Alan was presented with a memorial scroll and an Elizabeth Cross, which he has given to John.

Alan, one of nine siblings, said: “There wasn’t many photos in those days but we’ve got something to remember him by now, apart from just talking about him.”

Corporal Keith Haylock and L/Cpl Peter Elliott, of The Royal Norfolk Regiment, who died in Cyprus in June 1956, were also honoured.

Lord Tollemache, lord lieutenant of Suffolk, and Brigadier Andrew Williams, commander at Wattisham, made the presentations.

Brig Williams, said: “Today is a day for the families, it’s a day that I as a serving military officer have a great privilege in sharing with them and a day that’s fundamentally about recognising those sacrifices that aren’t just made today in Afghanistan but over many years in many campaigns across the world.”

Lord Tollemache said: “To present something on behalf of the Queen after all this time is a very meaningful and privileged thing to do.”