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The Fallen of Kirkby

Clarence Chambers (also known as Atkinson)

  • Private Clarence Chambers, 3715835, 1st Battalion Essex Regiment (Special Forces, ‘Chindits’).
  • Accidentally killed 12th May 1944, Indo-Burmese border, aged 29. Buried in Kohima War Cemetery, India.

Clarence Chambers came as a baby from Shap to Kirkby to live with his grandparents, Mr and Mrs Atkinson, first at Bank House, and then in a cottage (since demolished) near the railway crossing between Dunnerholme and Soutergate. (Mr Atkinson apparently worked on the railway.) It is thought that Clarence’s mother was in service in the Shap area and was living-in, and therefore couldn’t have the baby with her.

In Kirkby Clarence used the name ‘Atkinson’ and was known as ‘Acky’. He is named in ‘Burlington Blue Grey’ as a quarry employee, but there is no other information about him.

On 23rd September 1939, at Ulverston Registry Office, Clarence Chambers married Emily Mary Carson. She was from Shap herself, and had apparently come to Kirkby to work for Clarence’s grandfather. Their twins, Val and Michael, were born in Shap but the family lived in a cottage (also now demolished) in Sandside. (After the war Mrs Chambers remarried while still living in Kirkby but later moved away to the North East, where their children were living.)

On 20th June 1940 Clarence enlisted in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry under his birth name of ‘Chambers’.

On 15th June 1942 he was posted to India and on 24th December 1943 he was transferred to the 1st Battalion of the Essex Regiment, in a unit known as ‘The Chindits’.

Mr Dick Cooper once received a letter from Clarence from abroad, in which he said he was in an English-speaking country, but couldn’t say where. (This is likely to have been India.)

The exact manner of Clarence Chambers’ death has yet to be discovered, but it is believed he was involved in an accident with either a tank or a tractor, or some other military vehicle. He was buried in Kohima War Cemetery, on the battle ground of Garrison Hill, overlooking the city of Kohima in Nagaland State, North East India. The inscription on the memorial to the 2nd British Division in the cemetery reads:

When you go home,
Tell them of us and say,
For their tomorrow
We gave our today.

Known now as “The Kohima Epitaph” and often recited on Remembrance Day.

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