Fenland family honours four brothers who survived the Second World War

The bench installed by the Clarke family at the National Arboretum
The bench installed by the Clarke family at the National Arboretum

Four heroic brothers who went to fight in the Second World War and all survived have been honoured by a Fenland family.

Sydney, Frederick, Leonard and Neville Clarke put their lives on the line while serving the British Army in some of the toughest parts of the conflict including D-Day, Arnhem and the infamous Burma “Death” Railway.

Frederick Clarke

Frederick Clarke

But all four were able to return home to their parents Sydney and Maggie, of Walsoken. Now they have died, but their family has honoured their story by installing a bench at the National Arboretum.

Nephew Robert Green, of Elm, was behind the plan. He said: “They were all supermen but were never boastful.

“They handled it with humour and humility and I just wanted to do something that was a focus for the whole family to remember them by.

“We are incredibly proud of their achievements.”

Leonard Clarke

Leonard Clarke

Syd was in the Territorial Army with the Royal Engineers at the outbreak of war and helped strengthen coastal defence works until 1941.

He joined the 18th Division at Liverpool and fought on the Malayan Peninsular until the fall of Singapore on February 15, 1942.

Syd was taken prisoner by the Japanese and worked on the infamous Burma-Thai railway. Around 13,000 prisoners died laying the line but Syd survived the horrific and brutal conditions and was repatriated home.

After the war, he became a builder and lived in Gorefield before his death in 1977.

Neville Clarke

Neville Clarke

Fred joined the Royal Army Service Corps in 1942 and served in North Africa.

He went on to take part in the Normandy landings and fought through Nazi-occupied Europe before finishing in Germany. Fred resumed his work as a carpenter after the war and died in the 1980s in Dundee.

Len was under-age when he joined the Suffolk Regiment in 1941 and was later transferred to the Royal Artillery and Airborne Regiment.

He was part of a glider -borne anti-tank unit which fought around Arnhem. Len served with distinction and is credited with helping to take out four German tanks.

Sydney Clarke

Sydney Clarke

He suffered shrapnel wounds to a leg which was amputated after being captured by the Germans and he was later repatriated home.

Len died in Peterborough seven years ago.

Nev joined the Coldstream Guards in January 1943 and was later part of the 157 Armoured Battalion. He took part in the Normandy landings as a gunner in a Sherman tank. During the campaign he briefly met up with older brother Fred.

He fought through France, Belgium and Holland and helped to clear the last of the German resistance around the Wesel.

He reached the River Elle in Northern Germany when peace was declared.

Nev returned home to become a builder and lived in Elm. He died in 2008.