Jack Prested and Jack Clarke
Tracing the families of Troopers Jack Prested and Jack Clarke who were long time army friends
In early 2020 this website was contacted by a Dutch gentleman Louis Verbeek who lives in the same house which, in 1945, was the home of his late aunt Elisabeth (Lies) (Alice) Smeets in Heythuysen Holland.
Louis had recently discovered correspondence between his aunt and two of the three members of “C” Squadron 2nd Derbyshire Yeomanry Jack (Busty) Clarke and Jack (Lofty) Prested who had been billeted with his aunt during the weeks leading up to Operation “Plunder”, the crossing of the Rhine, which commenced on 23rd March 1945. The third was named “Jimmy” but no surname can be found.
The correspondence is very moving and is shown in this section which consists of:
1. two letters from Jack and Jack expressing grateful thanks to Lies and which are dated 29 March and 14 May 1945;
2. copies of two letters from Lies which are dated 10 April and 4 July 1945 with recent translations;
3. two postcards from England from Jack and Jack which are dated 15 and 24 August 1945;
4. christmas card from Jack Clarke 14 December 1945
5. copies of two letters from Lies dated February and March 1972;
6. a postcard from Jack Clarke dated 29 February 1972 and
7. a letter from the nephew of Jack Clarke advising that his uncle Jack, a bachelor, had died.
Lies’ husband Antonius (Toon) Coenen, who was the miller was, on 8 October 1944, taken to a forced labour camp in Germany. When he returned home in April 1945, having escaped and walked over 500 km, his wife did not recognise him! Toon died in 1964 and Lies much later.
Also shown is a copy of a photograph of Lies and her husband which was taken on the occasion of their wedding on 30 October 1934 and a photograph of the Mill which was taken in 1945.
With much help from the team at London based genealogists Fraser & Fraser the nephew of Jack Clarke and the granddaughters of Jack Prested were recently traced and put in touch with Louis.
Both Jack Prested and Jack Clarke volunteered to join up and both survived the war.
Jack Prested was called up on 19th December 1940, he arrived in Egypt, Western Dessert, in July 1942, he returned to England on 6th January 1944 and landed in Normandy on 7th June 1944, “D” Day + 1.
At the commencement of the battle for Normandy Jack Clarke was 42 and Jack Prested was 36.
letter in Dutch to Jack Clarke from Lies Coenen
10 April 1945