Our People - James Coleman Clarke & George Clarke
12 August 1916
#5053 Private James Coleman Clarke
45th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force
Died 12 August 1916, aged 30
Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. Ref VIII.B.134
Son of James C. and Annie Clarke, of 41, Church Terrace, Higher Walton, Preston, England.
INSCRIPTION: "SO HE PASSED OVER TO THE OTHER SIDE TO THE SOUND OF THE TRUMPETS"
#2240 Lance Corporal George Clarke
1/4th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Survived the war
James Coleman Clarke was born c. October 1885 at Preston, the fifth of eleven children born to Thomas Clarke, an Army Pensioner born at Uppingham, Rutland and Annie Clarke born at Dublin.. His brother George (born 1894) who would serve in the 1/4th Battalion was their ninth child.
By 1891, the family had settled at 22 Church Terrace and Thomas was employed as a Police Constable. James was apprenticed for several years at Dewhurst's Mill in Higher Walton. He and George were keen athletes, representing football teams in Higher Walton. He was also a bell ringer at All Saints, Higher Walton and is mentioned in the Memorial Book of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.
James emigrated at some time after 1910 to Parramatta, New South Wales, where he became a boot repairer. He is listed as single on his military record, which survives in its entirety in the Australian archives. He took the oath at Liverpool, New South Wales on 29 December 1915.
The 45th embarked at Sydney on 30 March 1916 aboard HMAT A16 Star of Victoria bound for Egypt. They then sailed from Alexandria on 7 June, landing at Marseilles on 14 June. On 14 July, less than a month before his death, James wrote home (see image) a poignant letter more concerned with the welfare of his brother George and the rest of his family.
The battalion was plunged into the Battle of the Somme at Pozieres from 23 July 1916. James was badly wounded on either 5 or 6 August, probably in fighting in or around Pozieres and taken to the 4th Australian Field Ambulance. On 6 August he was transferred to the 44th Casualty Clearing Station near Puchvillers and on 7 August to the 13th Stationary Hospital, Boulogne, where he died of his wounds on 12 August. James is buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. Ref VIII.B.134. He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. James also appears on the Higher Walton - All Saints Cross, the Higher Walton - All Saints Roll of Honour and a memorial on a family headstone in the nearby churchyard. He appears Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Panel 139 and the Memorial Book of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.
Meanwhile George took part in various engagements including the Battles of Festubert (15-25 May 1915) Guillemont, Ginchy, Flers-Courcelette, and Morval in 1916. Wounded in the autumn of 1916, he was shipped back to Britain to convalesce in hospital in Glasgow. He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. George appears on the Higher Walton All Saints Roll of Honour.
James Coleman Clarke in uniform. Reproduced from Play Up Higher Walton by Peter John Holme
Click on any image to enlarge