Lieutenant Ridley Hugh Clark
Unit : No.19 Platoon, "B" Company, 2nd Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
Army No. : 284153
Awards : Military Cross
Lieutenant Clark, having served with the 2nd Battalion The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in the Ardennes, led their No.19 Platoon into battle on Operation Varsity, 24th March 1945. Even by the standards of the casualties suffered by all the gliderborne units during the landings on this day, "B" Company's casualties were particularly heavy; No.17 Platoon were lost to a man when their glider was shot out of the air, and half of No.18 Platoon were killed when their glider crashed into woodland. It fell to Lieutenant Clark and No.19 Platoon, therefore, to capture the northernmost road bridge over the River Issel. Their glider landed safely and all aboard quickly disembarked, and, although momentarily delayed by a lone sandbagged machine-gun, they pushed forward onto the bridge, where they made such violent and rapid use of their Sten guns and grenades that all opposition quickly evaporated and the bridge was captured.
The remnants of "B" Company were gathered around the bridge in support, however their hold upon it was tenuous, and, at midnight, a force of 30 enemy accompanied by armoured vehicles attacked, placing them in severe difficulties. For his actions during this battle, Lieutenant Clark was awarded the Military Cross:
On evening of 24th March 1945 Lieutenant Clark was Commander of Reserve platoon of a company holding a bridge over the River Issel. The enemy attacked the platoon over the bridge with bazookas, tanks and infantry causing casualties and overrunning the platoon. Lieutenant Clark immediately counter attacked, regained the house on the bridge and held it. Enemy tanks were now less than 50 yards from his position which was being heavily engaged with bazooka and machine gun fire.
Lieutenant Clark himself manned a PIAT and scored five hits on enemy tanks under direct machine gun fire. As it was apparent that the bridge was in danger of falling into enemy hands, he asked for the bridge to be blown. It was entirely due to the determination and rapid action of this officer that a very important bridge was denied falling intact to the enemy. His courage and leadership inspired his whole platoon.
After the war, the now Captain Hugh Clark proceeded with the Battalion to Palestine before his demobilisation in 1946. He died on the 11th September 2010, aged 86.
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