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Canadians looking for lost Father

Having trouble tracking down a wartime ancestor? Share your queries – and help fellow researchers – here

Canadians looking for lost Father

Postby MLDance » Mon May 20, 2013 2:38 pm

Here in Canada, I teach a beginners class in genealogy at the local university campus for the past 6 years. A group of people from these classes helped me form a regular monthly workshop which meets to learn of new search techniques and to resolve those “brick walls” that keep cropping up.
In the fall of 2012 while discussing “brick walls” Donna, a member of our group mentioned her cousin “Mike” who had never met his father. Not uncommon you think, but this was not an illegitimate birth, his parents were married. This is a wartime story with a bit of a twist.
During WW2, Canada played host to numerous RAF units who were stationed at various places across our country. This allowed them time to learn their skills, fly and train without constant fear of attack and bombing. One of the largest locations was Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
In late 1943, following the arrival of a new squadron, the local hospitality got into full swing including church fetes, dances and gatherings to welcome the men and help them feel less homesick. Among these men was LAC Michael Clarke a widower, born about 1919 in Motherwell, Carfin, Scotland whose occupation was listed as a carpenter.
At one of these gatherings he met Vera Isabelle Ford Dixon, a widow. During the course of things Vera became pregnant and they married April 14, 1944. Their son Michael Clarke (Mike) was born Sept. 27th, 1944.
Within two weeks of the birth, LAC Clarke was sent back to England with his unit. The war went on.
Following Vera’s death in 2007, among her papers a letter was found written sometime in the early 1950’s post marked Chelmsford, Essex. Michael Clarke was writing asking if it was too late to pick up things and get back together. Vera had moved on with her life. She had a new husband though we cannot find any document of divorce.
Our workshop group decided that we would see what we could find. A lot of time had passed, but there was the outside chance that we might find Michael Clarke still alive, or maybe he too had remarried and had children that would be the half siblings of our Mike.
So the group decided to do some research with all the tools at hand and to reach out to a few of our “cousins” abroad and see what they could find out for us. This resulted in a wealth of information and new ideas.
LAC Michael Clarke was born Carfin, Lanark, Scotland, March 6, 1919 to another Michael Clarke and Sarah Brennan (never married). We have information on the parents and siblings of both this Michael Clarke and Sarah Brennan from a Scottish cousin.
LAC Michael Clarke married for the first time to Mary Colton Reilly in July of 1940 in Dundee, Scotland. Mary died in childbirth Oct of 1942 in Dundee.
Almost immediately following Mary’s death, LAC Michael is sent with his unit to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan Canada where he meets and marries Vera (who’s first husband Albert Dixon a tail gunner in the RCAF was shot down over Germany in 1943) and son Michael is born.
Using the last known address of Chelmsford, Essex as the searching ground we uncovered a marriage in 1961 of a Michael Anthony Clarke to a Julie Patricia Palmer. A number of searches to find any children of this couple have not revealed anything to us. While we had never seen the middle name of Anthony before other details matched. This Michael Clarke was known to use two different middle names, although he was not christened with any at birth. Also found was a death of a Michael Anthony Clarke in 1991. We sent for both certificates thru the GRO and from the details therein, believe we have the right person. Last known address in 1991 was 38 Easton Way, Great Totham, Maldon, Essex.
We have sent to the RAF for the file on LAC Michael Clarke 949215. We have received confirmation of our request, but now await information which could take up to 20 weeks.
So here we are in limbo.
With the last known address above and the name of Julie Patricia Palmer Clarke, I wonder if anyone out there can give us a hand. Were there any children of this marriage? Did Julie Patricia Palmer Clarke remarry? Is she still alive and would she be interested in helping us? Can we get a picture of Michael Clarke? Is it possible to get a picture of his gravestone?
If anyone is interested or can help solve this mystery we here in Canada would be most grateful.
Marlene Dance.
MLDance
 
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Re: Canadians looking for lost Father

Postby meekhcs » Mon May 20, 2013 3:53 pm

Have you tried the following:-
www.esfh.org.uk
www.essex-family-history.co.uk
I would try the first one first. It is the site for the Essex Family History Society and may be able to help. There are members of the forum based in Essex and hopefully one of them will pick up your post.

Good Luck Sally
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Re: Canadians looking for lost Father

Postby ColinB » Mon May 20, 2013 4:14 pm

Hi,

I haven't found any birth records etc but I did find Julie Clarke on the 2002 Electoral Register , still at the same address ( incidentally it's Eaton Way , not Easton ). She may have opted out of being listed in the 'public' edition of the Register in subsequent years. She is , however, listed in the current online telephone directory :

J P Clarke
38 Eaton Way
Great Totham
Maldon
Essex
CM9 8EE

A carefully worded letter might produce some answers for you ( there is a telephone number but I don't think that would be an appropriate method of approach and the cost would probably rule it out ! )

Colin
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Re: Canadians looking for lost Father

Postby MLDance » Mon May 20, 2013 4:19 pm

Thank you all so much.
I cannot believe I could get suggestions so quickly.
I am going to try a carefully worded letter today.
As to the spelling of the road name, thank you Colin for the correction. Just a typo.
Will keep in touch.
Marlene
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Re: Canadians looking for lost Father

Postby MLDance » Mon May 20, 2013 4:21 pm

Sally
I will try both your suggestions and possibly join the Essex society.
Regards Marlene
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Re: Canadians looking for lost Father

Postby MLDance » Sun Jun 23, 2013 6:29 pm

My carefully worded letter resulted in a lovely response from England. Thanks to Colin again.
I have replied and we are now awaiting pictures, stories and information from the widow of Michael Clarke. I cannot believe how quickly this came together and thank you all so much for your prompt responses and suggestions. I will keep you posted.
Cheers Marlene
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Re: Canadians looking for lost Father

Postby ColinB » Sun Jun 23, 2013 7:36 pm

Great news ! Thanks for the update.

Colin
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Re: Canadians looking for lost Father

Postby MLDance » Mon Sep 23, 2013 1:59 am

Well just today I rec'd via email attachment a 36 page document with loads of pictures.
Thanks to you all for your suggestions.
I will now put all our research together and present it to the man who never meet his father.
His 69th birthday is just a few days away and this will be a wonderful present.
The response and welcome we rec'd from Mrs. Clarke was truly wonderful. As she is in her 80's, her family pitched in to help her assemble the story, photo's and to get it off quickly via email.
We are blessed.
Cheers and thanks to you all. Marlene
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Re: Canadians looking for lost Father

Postby ColinB » Mon Sep 23, 2013 9:46 am

What a good result ! Thanks very much for letting us know.

Colin
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Re: Canadians looking for lost Father

Postby meekhcs » Mon Sep 23, 2013 10:56 am

How wonderful!

My husband is in a similar situation but is English born of a Canadian Father, who passed away a few years ago. So far all we have met with is silence....but we live in hope.

It will surely be an emotional birthday.

Sally
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