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National Defence and the Canadian Forces

Joint Task Force Central & Land Force Central Area

31 Canadian Brigade Group

 

Capt. David Wesley Clare, Military Cross Recipient

-- Citation at Capt. Clare's investiture, Awarding him the MILITARY CROSS at London, England on May 17, 1946.

"Captain Clare served as medical officer to the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry at Dieppe on 19 August 1942.

Throughout the operation Captain Clare carried out his work without regard to his own safety under heavy enemy fire. The rate at which causalities had to be treated on that day used up all medical supplies available in a short time and Captain Clare was forced to improvise.

At all times this gallant officer gave unstintingly of his efforts far beyond the duties of a medical officer while working under the most hazardous conditions.

At the conclusion of the action Captain Clare refused to take his place on the last available landing craft leaving the beach because he believed he was the only medical officer in the area and many men still need professional care if their lives were to be saved."

The following is a few paragraphs taken from an account he wrote about the raid and mainly about his POW experience and the "The March". Dr. Clare only once was able to return to Dieppe and that he did on the 50th anniversary. He was a much beloved doctor in Essex County. Because he was a doctor he was assigned to various places and this will show you how he became attached to the RHLI.

"On graduating from Queens (Queens University, Kingston) enlisting the day I wrote my last Cdn. Council exam, I arrived at Lansdowne Park Ottawa, to begin a 6 weeks basic training course for medical officers on the 13 June /40. On completing this course Dr. Charlie Robertson (Meds 39, Toronto) and myself were seconded to St. John, New Brunswick. We had been there only a short time when we had our first sample of army organization.

Overseas to England and the "Blitz"

An urgent telegram had us on a train to Ottawa where after 24 hours to pack with no embarkation leave, we were on a troop train to Halifax. Arriving there, we embarked at once only to sit in Halifax harbour for 5 days. Five troop ships, the Battleship Revenge and a destroyer made up an 18 knot convoy that had us in England before the first anniversary of the declaration of war. We were in the south of England with front row seats for the German daylight raids, particularly, Sunday Sept. 15, (1940), the largest and one of the last massive daytime air attacks. As usual both sides exaggerated gains and losses, but a great number of planes were shot down.

There were constant rumours of an impending German invasion, code name Sea-Lion, through Aug. and Sept. However, one weekend in Sept. the invasion warnings sounded all over England. Our reinforcement unit, all non combatants, were called out at night, filed through a warehouse to be issued a rifle, ammo, and have an N.C.O. show each man how to load it. We were sent out in groups to deemed strong points behind hastily prepared barricades of barbed wire where we spent the night and the next day. There was no invasion, we went back to camp, turned in our rifles and continued to be non-combatants.

Most of the autumn of 1940 was spent in London, either as a member of a Medical Board examining Canadians who were already in England, as civilians or in service, wanting to transfer from British to Canadian Forces. Transfers had to be A1 category or as night M.O. at C.M.H.Q.

Canada House Trafalgar Square, London was bombed nightly for over 3 months with incendiary and H.E. bombs, so each person had an area as a fire watcher.

1941

During 1941 I was the M.O. (Medical Officer) for #2 Cdn. Artillery Holding Unit in Borden where we were the holding units basketball chaps for the Canadians.

In Nov.(1941) I went to the 11th Field Ambulance in Brighton, the Black Watch and the 8th Field Ambulance near Eastbourne.

1942

March 1/42 three unmarried M.O.'s (Medical Officers) were sent to replace 3 married M.O's (Medical Officers) in 4th Brigade. They were promoted and sent to Field Ambulances. Bruce Hough left the Essex Scottish and I joined the R.H.L.I. (Royal Hamilton Light Infantry)

Preparing for Dieppe

That winter a series of 3-5 day brigade strength schemes resulted in the 4th and 6th Brigades, as so called winners, being transported to the Isle of Wight. There for over 2 months, dawn to dark, the units did Commando training, assault courses, cliff climbing, speed marching and boat drill. Any sick or injured were returned to the mainland camp.

August 19th

Soon after I had arrived back at Arundel Park where we were under canvas, the colonel called a meeting of some officers headquarters staff, company commanders, and myself as M.O. (Medical Officer) to tell us we were going to Dieppe but the men were to be told we were going on a scheme for the army chiefs. As our target was a secret, I had a surprise inspection of the medical kits, checking the shell and first aid dressings, triangular bandages etc. There had been an issue of 200 syrettes of morphia for over 500 men, which had to be divided among 16 stretcher-bearers. As this was to be a raid, in at dawn, out at noon with the tide, our supplies were minimal.

All along the south coast of England, on the same day, troops were boarding ships and landing craft though not always the same one as allotted previously in July, Only after the R.H.L.I. (Royal Hamilton Light Infantry) had boarded the Glengyle, a commando mother ship, were the men issued ammo, supplies and were told the target of the raid. The officers had to review the previous plans with the men, made difficult by personnel changes; some of the men had not had the previous training.

(DIEPPE - AUG. 19, 1942)

Leaving Portsmouth in the evening, our battalion started to off load about 2.30 A.M. into landing craft, at which time we were some 10 to 12 miles from France. These flat-bottomed, rectangular craft had a square bow which could be lowered as a ramp for the 23 to 25 men on board. An hour after starting out there was a sudden burst of firing with flares, tracers and noise. Later we learned that one commando group had met a small German convoy, damaging several British boats and alerting the coastal defences. We were to land on the 1-1/2 to 2 km beach in front of Dieppe, the Essex Scottish on the left, the R.H.L.I. (Royal Hamilton Light Infantry) on the right. Our landing was late, after daybreak, so for the last 1 to 2 miles the long lines of craft were visible and under heavy fire from the alerted shore defences."

 

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