Lieutenant Alastair Clarkson

Lieutenant Alastair D. Clarkson


Unit : Headquarters, 1st Parachute Battalion

Army No. : 251970


Lieutenant Clarkson was posted to the 1st Parachute Battalion on the 29th February 1944, and served as Assistant Adjutant. At Arnhem on the 20th September 1944, he participated in the fighting around Oosterbeek with the Lonsdale Force, and in the evening when the remnants withdrew into the Divisional Perimeter he commanded Headquarters Company in the centre of the 1st Battalion's position. He was killed on the 22nd September 1944, though the Battalion war diary notes that he died or perhaps was fatally wounded around midday on the 21st, when the area was heavily bombarded by Nebelwerfer rockets. He was first buried in a meadow to the south of the Polderweg, but is now interred in the Airborne Cemetery, Oosterbeek, 6A.11.


The following article was published in the West Lothian Courier on the 20th October 1944.


County Officer Killed at Arnhem


The news of the death in action in September of Lieutenant Alastair D. Clarkson, Parachute Regiment, son of Mr and Mrs H.K. Clarkson, 10 Mayfield Terrace, Edinburgh, will cause deep regret in many quarters, both in West Lothian and in Edinburgh University, where he was one of the most distinguished students of his year.


Born in 1922 at Whitburn and educated there and later at Bathgate Academy, he proceeded to Edinburgh University, his intention being to study for the English Bar. At the University he attended eight classes and received First-Class Certificates in all. Besides being medalist in three, he received the Margaret Balfour Keith's Prize in the Constitution of the British Empire, the Professor's Prize in English Essays, and the Stewart's and Watson's Prizes in Political Economy. When he left the University in 1942 letters received from such authorities as Professor V. Galbraith (recently appointed Director of Historical Research), and the late Professor Berriedale Keith indicated the exceptional appreciation of the work he had done.


He joined the Recce. Corps, took the Officer's Course at Sandhurst where he distinguished himself in a very brilliant company. He applied for a transfer to the Parachute Regiment, and joined the 1st Battalion. Much of his work cannot be divulged for security reasons, but it is known that he had made over sixty parachute descents. In the last terrific ordeal he was dropped over Arnhem and with his platoon fought day and night without rest for five days defending the perimeter until he was killed in action.


He was a keen athlete, fond of boxing and running. He had exceptional powers of physical endurance. During a supervised test in his Battalion he walked 168 miles in three days without tasting food of any kind.


An elder brother was killed in the R.A.F. in 1940 while his younger brother was severely wounded at Caen three weeks after "D" Day.


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