Hucknall war veteran Roland Clarke dies at 92

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HUCKNALL ‘local legend’ Roland Clarke, who served with distinction in World War Two, has died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 92.

Roland originated from Montague Road, Hucknall and only had to jump over a wall when he attended the adjacent National School.

A builder and bricklayer by trade, he initially worked for well-known local firm, Bodills. He took part in the construction of many local buildings, including the first 54 council houses on Hucknall’s Ruffs Estate.

He also helped to build Portland College at Mansfield. As a reward, the Duchess of Portland presented him with 40 Players cigarettes and a tip for a horse in a race, which duly won.

Roland and his wife, Barbara, were married at Hucknall Parish Church in 1941. Then, just six weeks later, Roland volunteered for the Navy at the age of 19 and was in Light Coastal Forces during the war.

He served in motor gun boats with actions off the Dutch coast and involvement in the D-Day operations, and he was Mentioned in Despatches.

He experienced 23 separate actions and saw service in the 6th Flotilla under the command of Lieutenant-Commander Robert Hichens (Hitch).

Roland’s brother, Herbert, lost his life at the age of 26 while serving on an Arctic convoy with HMS Matabele.

During a subsequent visit to the Normandy beaches, Roland met Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks while they were working on the film, ‘Saving Private Ryan’.

After the war, Roland returned to the building trade and he was employed by the National Coal Board for 31 years until his retirement. He lived on Perlethorpe Drive, Hucknall for 66 years until he moved to the town’s Annesley Lodge residential nursing home two years ago.

A regular churchgoer at St Michael’s, Linby, Roland was an active member of Hucknall Probus Club and the Papplewick and Linby branch of the Royal British Legion. He was also a former chairman of Hucknall Parish Church Men’s Society.

Roland taught sailing and was a strong swimmer. He also enjoyed motorbikes and camping holidays.

Barbara died in 1997 and Roland leaves three daughters -- Pauline, who lives in South Shields, Shirley, of Linby, and Wendy, of West Sussex. There are also two granddaughters, three grandsons and eight great-grandchildren.

The funeral and service of thanksgiving took place at St Michael’s Church on Thursday last week -- fittingly the anniversary of D-Day.

The rector, Canon Keith Turner, conducted the service and memories were recounted by Roland’s sons-in-law, Philip Sweeting and John Wiser. Interment followed in the churchyard.