Emergency grant for 96-year-old veteran who fought Nazis almost made homeless by cost of care

Veterans charity Help for Heroes offer ‘quick reaction’ grant after former PoW’s situation sparked national outrage

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The Independent Online

He survived Hitler’s 1,000-mile ‘death march’ across frozen Eastern Europe after being taken prisoner while fighting the Nazis for Britain.

But just a week ago, 96-year-old Gunner Robbie Clark was on the brink of homelessness after spending all of his money on the spiralling cost of care.

His council in Burnt Oak, North London, would pay only £350 towards the £960 a week cost, The Sun reports.

Now a father of two and grandfather of four, he has lived in his home for 46 years and is blind, deaf in one ear and dependent on a wheelchair.

After his experiences in the conflict, he suffered ‘severe anxiety’ and refused to go into residential care because it would 'remind me of being a prisoner of war'.

 

But Help for Heroes has now made a short-term grant to cover the cost of care while experts look at care options for the future – though he still faces uncertainty as supporters search for a permanent solution.

More than 160,000 people have signed a petition to support him. The site claims that his son Mike is still embroiled in a two-year battle with Brent Council over Mr Clarke’s care since he lost the use of his legs after a heart operation in 2012.

The campaign has raised more than £5,000 for Mr Clark, with people being encouraged to donate via a Just Giving page.

Mr Clark was captured in the North African port city of Tobruk in 1942, while serving in the Royal Artillery as part of the Durham Survey Regiment, reported The Express.

German Field Marshal Rommel told him and his colleagues: 'For you the war is over.'

He was transported to Germany via Greece and Italy, then to the notorious Stalag VIII-B at Lamsdorf near Krakow in occupied Poland, near to the infamous concentration camp Auschwitz.

Auschwitz-15.jpg
The main gate entering the Nazi Auschwitz death camp

He was a carpenter and a healthy prisoner but when American bombers started hitting targets close to their position, they were shipped out.

In 1945, Mr Clark was one of few survivors of the 80,000 British troops forced to march 1,000 miles across Eastern Europe during a particularly brutal winter. It later became known as Hitler’s death march.

Mr Clark told The Express: 'The Americans were bombing near to where we were,' says Clark, now a father of two with four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

'The Germans had said the bombers wouldn’t get as far as where we were but they did.

'It gave us hope when the Americans started to bomb.

'There was no radio or papers but we heard a little of what was happening with D-Day. I thought it was looking good. We were hoping that the Germans would desert and leave us.

'But then the Germans had orders from Hitler that there was to be an evacuation of occupied Poland back into Germany with the British PoWs.

'When we left, we were marching along not knowing where we were going – and I don’t really think the Germans knew either.'

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