Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 08:38 GMT, Tuesday, 12 January 2010
Mum remembers Stafford soldier Trooper David Clarke
Trooper David Clarke
Trooper David Clarke served in Germany, Kosovo and Iraq

Tuesday, March 25, 2003 is a date which will stay forever in the memory of Beverley Clarke from Stafford.

That was the day her son Trooper David Clarke was killed in a "friendly-fire" incident while he served in Iraq.

"I'll remember the day for the rest of my life." said Beverley. "When I walked in and saw Geoff's face - David's father - I knew something was wrong."

"When they actually told me and I ran away. I got drunk and sat on the stairs all night watching the front door."

David, who was serving in the Queen's Royal Lancers regiment, was 19 years old when he died in the so-called "friendly-fire" incident that also killed Corporal Stephen John Allbutt, from Stoke-on-Trent.

Going to Iraq

He was driving the tank when it was fired on by another Challenger 2 tank while on manoeuvres. David's body was never found.

"We had to go through 11 weeks of not knowing if it was David's body coming back or Stephen's - because there was only one," said Beverley.

"We found out two days before the funeral that it wasn't David. Myself, Geoff and his partner all knew, but we let everyone think we were burying David."

Beverley has asked the Ministry of Defence every year for the seven since David's death if she can go to Iraq to finally say "goodbye".

The MoD have so far refused but Beverley said it's something she needs to do to get closure.

Never say goodbye

After David's death Beverley struggled with depression and started drinking heavily. It was her family and David's five brothers who helped her through.

"If it wasn't for them I wouldn't be here now. Some of the things I went through after the incident with David, I nearly lost my younger children, because of the drinking. I just didn't care, I didn't want to live anymore."

"But (the incident) has made me stronger. The boys have changed as well. We never say goodbye to each other, it's one word we don't say anymore."

"We'll say 'cheerio' and 'so long' but never 'goodbye'. That word is banned in this house."

Beverley is now looking forward to becoming a grandmother, with a new addition to the family due in April.

"We don't know yet whether it's a boy or girl. But I do know if it's a boy, he's going to have David in his name."

'Friendly fire' court case halted
02 Dec 09 |  England
Soldiers' deaths 'were avoidable'
12 Jul 07 |  England
Hundreds gather to mourn soldier
01 May 03 |  Staffordshire



Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific