|Madeleine (née Petre) and Lt-Col. Desmond Clarke|
in 1944 on their wedding day
[Image courtesy of Desmond Clarke]
Madeleine and her childhood friend Diana Preston became Volunteer Aid Department (VAD) nurses at the outbreak of World War II, stationed at the Brigade of Guards Depot at Caterham, Surrey, where they dealt with the hundreds of guardsmen returning from Dunkirk in 1940. In January 1944, Madeleine married Desmond Clarke, a lieutenant-colonel in the Royal Artillery, who had served on the Western Desert Campaign in Egypt, and the Burma campaign. The young couple had known each other in childhood -- the Clarkes, Petres, and Prestons were military Catholic families who socialized closely together in Weybridge and Addlestone -- but, apart from watching the Coronation of George VI in 1937 while Desmond was on leave in England from his service in India, had only briefly seen each other over the past ten years. Their first child, named Desmond after his father, was born in January 1945, but Lt-Col. Clarke's Division was a key part of the Normandy landings, and the War kept the couple separated for much of the remainder of its duration. Afterwards, Clarke continued a thriving career in the military, and the couple were able to set up house together, with four additional children following, the youngest one born in 1958, a few weeks before Madeleine's forty-fifth birthday.
|Battle of Waterloo 150th Anniversary medallion|
struck for the Guildhall Banquet in 1965
After her husband's retirement in 1966, Madeleine was able to focus her keen intellect on the history of the Petres, described in the Catholic Encyclopedia as "one of those staunch and constant families, which have always played a great part in the preservation of the Catholic faith in England." Madeleine's research culminated in her book, Sans Dieu Rien, the title taken from the family motto, which translates to 'Without God Nothing'. When Madeleine and her husband were dined by Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer at the Tower of London the year of her husband's retirement, she was shown the cell in which her ancestor the 4th Baron Petre had been imprisoned. The previous year, at the 150th anniversary celebrations for the Battle of Waterloo, which her husband had organized, a senior officer inquired how Madeleine's eldest son Desmond, then a Sandhurst cadet, had managed to get an invitation. Madeleine responded it was due to his great-great-grandfather having captured Napoleon's charger after the battle, then enquired about the senior officer's connection. I'm very much looking forward to reading Madeleine's book on the Petres.
It is more than appropriate to give the final word on Madeleine to her eldest son:
"Madeleine was a wonderful mother and a loving and very supportive wife...I well remember her little habits such as insisting that we (and later her grandchildren) ate a plain piece of bread and butter before being allowed cake at tea and that she always changed for dinner every night after saying her prayers at her prie-dieu in the privacy of her room. In her widowhood, she would enter every year two of her paintings for the Caldbeck art exhibition and was thrilled when these quickly sold, not knowing that they had often been bought by my brother Dominic! When she died early in 2005 in her 92nd year, the Gunner magazine most unusually published a short obituary for a much admired and loved wife of a very senior Gunner officer. She would have been very pleased...She also loved doing the Daily Telegraph crossword and would sometimes ring my sister, Amicie (a Guardian reader!), if she was having difficulty with a clue. While in her late eighties, she once took the unfinished crossword with her on a visit to her doctor in Caldbeck and before leaving the surgery asked for his help in resolving a clue. As he held open the door for her she was overheard to say, 'I thought it might be syphilis'!" [Desmond Clarke, Footnotes: A personal history]
MADELEINE MARIE ETHEL PETRE, VAD Nurse WWII 1939-44, family history author, b. 16 June 1913 Portsmouth, Hampshire; d. 4 Jan. 2005 Chichester, Sussex, 2nd dau. of RAdm. Walter Reginald Glynn Petre of Pinecroft, Weybridge, Surrey (1873-1942, descended from Charles II - see Generation 8 below) and Agnes Marie Cadic (1880-1963); m. 19 Jan. 1944 Surrey, Maj-Gen. DESMOND ALEXANDER BRUCE CLARKE, C.B., C.B.E., of Caldbeck, Cumberland, b. 15 July 1912 Kasauil, the Punjab, India; d. 22 Nov. 1986 Cumberland, yr son of Robert Thomas Clarke of Weybridge (1871-1953) and (Margaret Mary) Gladys Whyte (1880-1966, descended from Edward III), and had issue, three sons and two daughters, with thirteen grandchildren and (to date) eleven great-grandchildren.
|9th Baron Petre - see Generation 4|
|Sir George Glynn Petre -|
see Generation 7
8) RAdm. WALTER REGINALD GLYNN PETRE of Pinecroft, Weybridge, Surrey, D.S.O., b. 14 Dec. 1873 Westminster, London, bap. Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street, Soho, London; d. 26 Dec. 1942 Weybridge, bur. 29 Dec. 1942 Weybridge Cemetery; m. 22 Jan. 1906 St Peter Catholic Church, Cardiff, Glamorganshire, Wales, AGNES MARIE CADIC, b. 1880; d. 21 Sept. 1963 Chichester, Sussex, bur. Weybridge Cemetery, dau. of Capt. Eugene A. Cadic of Rennes (1838-1908) and Marie Amélie Garnier-Duplessix (c.1840-1905), and had
9) MADELEINE MARIE ETHEL PETRE (1913-2005-see details above)
The next blogpost will elaborate on and continue Ruvigny's account of Madeleine's father, Rear-Admiral Walter Petre, in the 1905 Clarence volume.