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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 May, 2003, 15:12 GMT 16:12 UK
Hundreds gather to mourn soldier
Trooper David Clarke's coffin
Six soldiers carried the coffin into the church

Hundreds of people lined the streets of Stafford on Thursday for the funeral of a soldier killed in Iraq.

Trooper David Clarke, 19, died when his Challenger II tank was hit in a "friendly fire" incident on the outskirts of Basra.

About 200 people gathered outside The Collegiate Church of St Mary's in Stafford to pay their respects to Trooper Clarke, who served with the Queen's Royal Lancers.

Dozens of old soldiers who had responded to a call to attend the service were also there.

Some wore uniform, some wore berets and their medals.

Colonel's tribute

Twelve lined up along Earl Street carrying banners bearing their regiment's colours.

People from nearby businesses also came out and stood in silence as the funeral limousines headed for the church.

An eight-strong banner party of soldiers from the Queen's Royal Lancers stood outside the church as the hearse carrying the coffin arrived and a further six carried the coffin into the church.

The service, which was led by the Reverend Prebendary Phillip Jefferies, the Rector of Stafford, was relayed to the crowds outside via a loud speaker system.

Elaine Davies, curate of Trooper Clarke's own church, St John the Baptist in Littleworth, led the prayers.

The commanding officer of his regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Fatterini, paid tribute to the "diligent and popular" soldier.

"He had a genuine love for the army which was exemplified by his enormous enthusiasm and get up and go attitude.

"He will be greatly missed by all members of the Queen's Royal Lancers."

Condolence book

Afterwards, Trooper Clarke's coffin was taken to Stafford Crematorium, passing his former high school.

Trooper Clarke, of Bedworth Avenue, Littleworth, had planned to marry his fiancée Rachel Furniss next year.

A book of condolence, organised by Stafford Borough Council, has received 625 messages, including an e-mailed message from a woman in Stafford, New Jersey.

The book will remain open until the middle of next week for people to sign.

Corporal Stephen Allbutt, from Stoke-on-Trent, who was killed along with Trooper Clarke is due to be buried on Friday.

Hundreds sign book in soldier's memory
17 Apr 03  |  Staffordshire


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