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Belvederians who died in The Second World War 1939-1945 (6)

by CSV Media NI

Contributed by 
CSV Media NI
People in story: 
Andrew Daniel Clinch, Colonel, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, Died 24 March 1942
Location of story: 
Malta
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A3954152
Contributed on: 
26 April 2005

Andrew Daniel Clinch, Colonel, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, Died 24 March 1942

This story was gathered and submitted to the WW2 Peoples War by Oliver Murphy

We would like to thank the Clinch family, and Wendy Clinch in particular, for their help in the writing of this history

Andrew Daniel Clinch
Colonel, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Died 24 March 1942

Andrew Clinch was born on 20 October 1902, the son of Dr Andrew Daniel (‘A.D.’) Clinch M.D. (himself a well-known old Belvederian who played rugby for Ireland on eleven occasions) and Lilah Clinch. He was one of five children (Mary, Jammy, Andrew, Noel and Lilah). They lived at 14 Northumberland Road, Dublin.

Andrew entered Belvedere College on 4 September 1912, going into 2G (6th class). He was known as ‘Coo’ to family and friends alike. This was a nick-name which he inherited from his father who had been called ‘The Coo’ in the rugby world. ‘Coo’ is a Scottish way of saying ‘Cow’; the nick-name was a compliment to AD Clinch’s strong build as a rugby player.

Andrew (the son) struggled with his academic studies at first. Records show that he failed all but two subjects in 1G (first year) and about half of his subjects in second year.

Andrew very quickly proved himself more of a success on the rugby field. He was a member of the Junior Cup-winning sides of both 1916 and 1917. The Belvederian of 1916 states that he ‘has all the qualities of a grand forward except dash; played well in the cup matches after an indifferent season as a whole’.

As he progressed through the school, he improved as an academic student. After leaving Belvedere (in 1917) he joined the army. One of his motives was his love of horsemanship, which he hoped to practise in the army.

Andrew Clinch’s military career brought him all over the world. He started in Sandhurst Military College; he then served in the Rhineland, which was held by the Army of Occupation after the First World War. He was a member of The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and quickly got promoted from Captain to Colonel.

He served in Africa for four years. A missionary nun wrote home to praise highly his ‘splendid good example’. He worked in Agra in India, where he used to assist an old priest who found it too hard on his eyes to read the Gospel to the congregation at Sunday Mass. He then worked in the Staff College in Quetta, Pakistan, when this city was being rebuilt after a disastrous earthquake.

In 1939 he married Bridget Wenna Palmer (‘Biddy’ to her friends) of Dorney, England, and sadly they lost their first baby.

On 10 December 1939, with Christmas approaching, Andrew wrote to his brother Jammy from France, where he was stationed:

Strange to say I can think of no present that I want out here. I am glad to say that I am fairly busy and I learn French in my spare time so I don't require any means of recreation but I shall want so many when this is over that I hope everyone saves up their presents to provide me with fishing tackle, tennis racquet and perhaps golf clubs when this is settled. This is an extraordinary war. I think the course of events has been completely different to what everyone anticipated. But this had given us a very good opportunity to prepare for whatever form of "Blitzkrieg" that may fall upon us next spring and I hope we are making full use of it. Much though I hope that it will be over quickly I very much doubt if it will. I have no doubt whatever of the ultimate result but it may take a long time to achieve it.

It is sad to think that he never was able to enjoy fishing, tennis or golf.

In 1940, he was sent to Norway. He was awarded The War Cross (Norway) for his part in the withdrawal from Norway. This award had been instituted in May 1941 by King Haakon VII (in exile). It was awarded for ‘supreme bravery or leadership in the face of the enemy’. By the 9th of June 1941 Andrew was back in England. Writing to his brother from Aldershot, he gives a modest account of his part in the withdrawal from Norway.

After some very "39 Steps" like incidents we set sail to Norway in the King's ships and had a very jolly crossing. The Navy were very kind to us and put their cabins at our disposal and did us very well. Then spent about ten days dashing up towards Lillehammer covering the evacuation of our predecessors and then withdrawing ourselves.

My Regm. under command of Copper Cass did very well. He was simply wonderful, remaining quite unperturbed throughout and earning from the troops the nickname of "Bullet Proof". We had some very enjoyable times together when he reassured me about the situation which rumour had completely distorted.

The Green Howards also did very well. Considering the odds they were up against, our roughly 20% casualties show how very well the soldiers fought. We had our train derailed on the second last night but only our coach was damaged. However it delayed our stay in Norway by 24 hours and enabled the Germans to gain contact with us again as we could only embark during the scanty hours of darkness from 10 pm to 3 am. Anyway at last we got away and went into the villages in the border country to refit and go on ten days leave.

He wrote to his nephew early in 1942,

My dear Young Jim, Thank you very much for your letter of January the 1st. I am very glad to hear that Daddy has got you a terrier: I believe his name is Winkie. Dry toast and crusts will be very good for him and occasionally you ought to give him a good gristly bone on which he can exercise his molars (teeth). Of course you must take him for a walk every day otherwise he will feel that he is in prison. You'll be having sunny days now and you can bring him for longer walks. I have a Border terrier called Peggy who hunts rabbits and hares. She never catches them but she has great fun hunting.

Do you play football at St Joseph's High School? And cricket in the summer. I am sure you work hard and that is very important but boys should also play hard so you don't get tired of the work. A Happy Easter to you - Love from Old Coo.

Andrew was stationed in Malta in March 1942. A heartbreaking note from his mother (now a widow) to his brother is written on a small piece of writing paper and headed Friday:

My dearest Jim, I think my heart is broken but I must bear up for all your sakes. Biddy had a telegram from the War Office this morning to say my dear Coo was killed on Tuesday. No details. She came over at once. She was distraught. Pity me and ask the children to pray, but I know Coo is in Heaven, Mother.

It was not until the end of July that they had news of how Andrew had died. His mother wrote to his brother:

Jimmy Martin, the late Harry Martin's son who is now home was with my poor Coo a few minutes before he was killed. When he heard the bombers he called out “Coo, let’s run for it.” He had some papers which Jimmy thinks he wanted to put in a safe so he said “I will be with you in a moment” and at that moment he was killed by a splinter. Oh why should he have been taken - more and more it breaks my heart. I haven't told Lilah yet. God bless you all. Love - Mother.

Andrew Clinch was killed in action in Malta on Tuesday 24 March 1942, aged 39. His only daughter, Araminta, was born after he died. Andrew is buried at Pembroke Military Cemetery, Malta, alongside 315 others who died in the second World War. The inscription on his grave in Malta reads as follows:

COLONEL A.D.CLINCH K.O.Y.L.I
24th MARCH 1942 AGE 39
"LOSE MONEY, LOSE NOTHING
LOSE HONOUR, LOSE MUCH,
LOSE HOPE, LOSE ALL."

.

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