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Photographer who survived Dunkirk dies aged 91

A Dunkirk veteran and press photographer once nearly arrested for papping the future Queen has died aged 91.

Mervyn Clift worked for the Stroud News and Journal, as a reporter and photographer, both before and after World War Two and later spent 22 years with neighbouring title The Citizen from 1958.

Born and educated in Stroud, Mervyn’s first job was with a men’s outfitters in the town before he joined the News and Journal in 1937.

Two years later he signed up with the Royal Engineers and was at the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940, where he received shrapnel wounds to his lungs, and later saw action in France and Germany.

Mervyn holds the claim to fame of having managed to get the then future Queen, Princess Elizabeth, to pose twice for a newspaper picture as she was getting on a train.

He had been taking her picture, when his flash failed to go off, so he asked her to pose again which she did.

It annoyed Her Majesty’s police guard so much that he tried to have Mervyn arrested for delaying the Royal train. Fortunately for him, Mervyn knew the officer tasked with his arrest so was let off.

Among the big stories he covered was the River Severn disaster in 1960 when five were killed after two barges collided with a railway bridge.

In retirement Mervyn reported on local rugby for The Citizen and worked at a hospital library.

He married Margaret in 1976, beginning 33 years of happily married life at the age of 58, and died at his home in Gloucester on Friday.

Jo Barber, a Citizen reporter who worked with Mervyn in Stroud, said: “Mervyn was the archetypal tough photojournalist, who was rarely seen not wearing his belted gabardine mac.

“But beneath his slightly gruff manner, Mervyn was kind. He was always willing to show newcomers the way to a scoop.

“His marriage, later in life than most, seemed also to give him a new lease of life which delighted us all.”

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