CLARKE, William George

No.16530, Private, William CLARKE
Aged 25

2nd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
Killed in Action presumed on Thursday, 2nd March 1916

William George Clarke was born in 1892 in Barnham (Thetford Q1-1892 4B:365), son of William and Everlina CLARKE (née SMITH).

1901 census...Aged 9, he was at West Farm Cottages, Barnham with his father William CLARKE [40] farm bailiff born Wordwell; his mother Everlina [38] born Knettishall; sisters Maud [7], Elsie [4] and Edith [2]. All the children were born in Barnham.

1911 census...Aged 19, a labourer, he was at Dukes Ride Cottages, Barnham with his parents (father now farm labourer) and sister Edith

Given the proximity of the addresses above to the Elveden Estate it is presumed that William was eventually employed there and thus found his way on to the war memorial.

He enlisted in Bury St Edmunds in the 1st Battalion, Suffolk Regiment.
The 2nd Battalion, Suffolks was in it's assembly area on the night of 1st March near Bedford House on the St.Eloi-Ypres road. They were to try and retake our trenches recently lost to the Germans
The attack started at 0445 'B', 'C' and 'D' companies on the south side of the Bluff. Immediately star shells were sent up by the Germans turning night into day. Our artillery then opened up on their 2nd line, our troops already being through the first line, having taken the enemy by surprise. 'A' company on the left was not so lucky, being caught by a counter barrage before they could leave King Street. By 0700 the lost trenches had been re captured. The ground was in a terrible state, churned up by the barrages and the battalion left the line sparsely occupied while they returned to the assembly trenches. An enemy barrage continued all day, but our artillery countered effectively. A successful operation result in the recapture of all the ground previously lost, but at the cost of 250 casualties out of the 500 employed. It was, incidentally, the first operation when they wore the newly issued steel helmets (the tin hats)

CWGC records 53 killed, and only 6 having an identified grave.

photo: Commonwealth war Graves Commission

William Clarke is commemorated on the Menin Gate, panel 21

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