Report and Recommendations by
Warrant Officer Godwin, Adjutant S.L. IV.
Warrant Officer Clarke, V.R. R.A.F. 959892.
Warrant Officer Clarke was British Camp Leader and Man of Confidence at Stalag Luft IV. Before this time he had rendered valuable service as Compound Leader at Stalag Luft VI. He regarded his duties seriously at all times, never admitting defeat when anything was to be gained and his diplomatic handling of Germans was reason for his many successful victories in the cause of Ps.O.W.
I wish to record here three outstanding examples of the work of Warrant Officer Clarke.
Evacuation from Stalag Luft VI to Stalag Luft IV
15th July, 1944 to 19th July, 1944.
Some two thousand P.O.W. were required to crowd into the holds of a small tramp steamer for the journey from Memel to Swinemunde. This number included all the patients and most of the medical staff ex-Luft VI, and the German Officer in charge of the transport refused to allow these patients to stay on deck. After several stormy interviews with this officer, the Captain of the ship and two members of the Gestapo, Clarke obtained permission for these people to stay above. He also obtained permission for four, one himself, to remain above for the purpose of servicing the men in the holds.
At sea Warrant Officer Clarke did not rest during the four days and three nights of travel. By gaining the sympathy of the Captain of the Ship and playing him off against the transport officer he was able, on the first day out, to break down the rigid control with the result that men from the holds were allowed to visit the deck for small periods of time during the daylight hours. The transport officer, Prussian and extremely arrogant, made a point of hounding and humiliating Warrant Officer Clarke at every possible opportunity but Clarke was more than equal to it and succeeded in organising medical parades, rations, hot water and brews. He spent as much time as he could in the holds talking with those who needed 'pepping up.'
Stalag Luft IV
Forced run of some 4½ kilos from railway siding to Camp.
At Stalag Luft IV Warrant Officer Clarke's experience and remarkable organising abilities were responsible for turning a particularly 'tough' camp into a smooth-running one for the Prisoners of War.
After a forced run with kit on 19th July, 1944, of some four and a half kilometres during which many prisoners were wounded by bayonet thrusts and/or clubbed with rifles, and/or bitten by dogs, and during the next days when the prisoners were robbed of kit and personal valuables, Warrant Officer Clarke left no stone unturned until a comprehensive report had been prepared and forwarded to the competent authorities by the quickest and surest means at his disposal. This work was completed despite threats; on two occasions he was threatened that he would be handed over to the Gestapo.
Stalag Luft IV held a majority of American airmen, there being a total strength of 9,500 at 29th December, 1944, of which only 880 were British. The treatment of prisoners was the same for both nationalities, and the American and British Camp Leaders had a joint administration for the internal affairs of the Camp. Arriving at this camp in July, 1944, it was found that the Germans ran it entirely as they wanted to and their way was pretty tough for the P.O.W. The Camp strength was then some 4,000. Warrant Officer Clarke set to work immediately upon arrival and by December, 1944 one would not recognise it as the same Camp inasmuch as internal organisation machinery by the P.O.W. was running smoothly in all its departments and the Germans respected the rights of the P.O.W. within the Camp. Warrant Officer Clarke was a great power behind these changes, his advice was sought after and acted upon by the American Man of Confidence.
Evacuation of Stalag Luft IV
During the march which started from Stalag IV on February 6th 1945 and lasting 51 days, Warrant Officer Clarke's remarkable vitality enabled him to visit the different marching groups frequently, arrange transport for the sick, chase up German food rations, buy food supplies from private sources, contact Red Cross supplies etc., B.B.C. news was given out daily as it had been at the Camp. He carried his kit-pack always and when asked about it he would reply that by doing so another sick man could ride. His diplomatic handling of the Germans was keenly missed when he was forced to leave the march during his serious illness.
In conclusion I may add that Warrant Officer Clarke never knew 'office hours' in Camp, anyone could call on him at any time and did. He was always ready to help and advise P.O.W. in Service or personal matters. He carried out his obligations to the various Aid Societies and the Protecting Power with his usual punctuality. He was the most popular figure at Stalag Luft IV and enjoyed doing his duty for the P.O.W.
Sgd. G. GODWIN W/O.
The following British Prisoners of War suffered injuries following a strafe raid at Camin 22nd April 1945 and were removed to Stalag IIE, Schwerin.
BOYLE, James, I.
BUTLIN, Alfred, J.
EVERY, David, J.
FRY, Douglas, R.
GOODEY, Stanley, G.
GOSNEY, Kenneth, A.
HUGHES, Patrick, J.
JONES, Charles, W.
NEWHOUSE, Douglas, E.
RAMSDEN, Samuel S.
SCHOFIELD, Alan, H.
SUTTON, Richard, T.
WILCOX-JONES, Claud, D.
(Sgd.) G. Godwin W/O.