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IN tribute to Alistair Aynsley Clarke (VR, February 15, 2014, vol 174, p 177), Julie Fitzpatrick writes: Alistair Clarke was born in 1918 in Dumbarton and spent much of his childhood on farms bordering the town, where he developed an interest in farming and animal production.
He started at the Glasgow Veterinary College, where he studied until failing a third-year exam in bacteriology, which prevented him from continuing his studies to become a vet – a reserved occupation during the war – and resulted in his call up to the navy.
He trained as a radar mechanic and was posted to a ship that had been given to the Free French Navy, La Combattante, and which was involved in the D-Day landings and later carried General de Gaulle and senior French officials back to France. The ship was sunk in the North Sea in February 1945 and only Alistair's strong swimming saved him from drowning.
Following demobilisation, he debated the wisdom of returning to veterinary college at a time when paid veterinary jobs were hard to find, but did return and qualified in 1947. He became an assistant at …
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