CLARKE, Herman Walter

G/18134, Private, Herman Walter CLARKE
Aged 23

7th Battalion, The Queen's Own(Royal West Kent Regiment)
formerly Suffolk Yeomanry and 4th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment No.2655
Killed in Action on Friday, 12th October 1917

Herman Walter CLARKE was born in 1894 in Great Welnetham (Thingoe Q4-1894 4A:767) son of Walter and Caroline CLARKE (née COBBOLD).

1901 census...Aged 6, he was at Clarke's Mill, Great Welnetham with his father Walter CLARKE [45] farmer/maltster born Cockfield; his mother Caroline [29] born Rattlesden; sisters Dora Helen [8] and Ethel C [4]; brother Frederic [3]. All the children were born in Great Welnetham

1911 census...Aged 16, working for his father on the farm, he was at Great Welnetham Mill with his parents; sisters Dora Helen and Lucia Evelyn [3]; brothers Frederic, Oliver Franklin [9] and Kieran Bernard [3 months]. The new siblings also all born in Great Welnetham. 2 of the 9 siblings had already died.

He enlisted in Bury St.Edmunds on 24th November 1915, single, a farm steward, giving his age as 21 years 1 month. He was 5 feet 3.5 inches (161.3 cm) tall, weighed 111 lbs (50.1 kg), chest 30.5" to 33.5" (77.5 to 85.1 cm), a Baptist, next of kin father Walter at Fenton Farm, Great Welnetham.
Placed in General Reserves he was mobilised on 24th May 1916 in the 1/3 Suffolk Yeomanry, No.2655. Posted to the 1st/4th Suffolk Regiment on embarking via Folkestone to Boulogne on 27th August 1916. Then posted, with new number (G/18134) to the 7th Battalion, Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment on7th September 1916

Posted missing and presumed dead in Flanders on 12th October 1917. His mother made every effort to find further details, asked the Army for address of a private Roberts in the same battalion who may have more information (presumably a good friend of Herman). In 1919 she was still trying, after the repatriation of prisoners of war. She had ascertained that he was last seen exiting a pill box near Poelcappelle, so perhaps she did find Private Roberts.

When his mother completed the "Living Relatives form on 17th September 1919, as well as his parents there were still brothers Frederic, Oliver and Keiran, sisters Dora, Ethel and Lucia. The sisters were all still at home at Fenton Farm, but the whereabouts of the brothers is unreadable.

The war diary has a very comprehensive report, but in essence the 7th Queen's Own were holding a line from Poelcappelle Church to the NW as on the view below.
When the attack started our barrage was seemingly erratic and ineffective, worse still was that when the German counter barrage opened, in places it overlapped. The flank battalions made some progress, but the centre stalled. The mud was appalling fouling the rifles and making any sort of progress virtually impossible
The Queen's Own were actually being kept as the counter attacking battalion between Delta House and Retour Cross Roads. By the end of the day they had established strong-points as shown.

CWGC figures put the number of those killed of the 7th Queen's Own on the 12th as 100 of which only 18 have identified graves, the rest being named on the memorial at Tyne Cot. .

Herman Clarke is commemorated on the Tyne Cot memorial, panels 106 to 108
and on Great Welnetham (St Thomas of Canterbury) Church Roll of Honour, and also in Stanningfield.

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details