Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rifleman Henry Percy Clarke 1220

Henry Percy Clarke

Henry P Clarke was born in Liverpool on 13th May 1894 and baptised in St Philemon's Church, Toxteth on 11th July that year (see below)

Henry Percy Clarke
Birth Date:
13 May 1894
Baptism Date:
11 Jul 1894
Toxteth St Philemon
Father's Name:
William Clarke
Mother's name:
Mary Jane Clarke

Source Citation: Liverpool Record Office, 283 PHI/2/2.

In the 1901 census the Clarke family lived at 41 Pinehill St in the Princes Park area of Toxteth Park, Liverpool. Henry's father William Clarke was a joiner. Henry was 6 years old and had a brother William Alfred who was aged 5.

In the 1911 census the Clarke family lived at 2 Wesley St (just a few streets away from St James' Church) William Clarke was now working as an 'Engineers' Pattern Maker' Mary Jane was a dressmaker (own account) and Henry was an apprentice ship wright.

The census also shows us that William and Mary had been married for 20 years and had 2 surviving chidren from 3. Their house had 9 rooms so was quite large for 4 people.

*********MILITARY SERVICE***********

Fortunately, Henry Clarke's service papers survive and they show that
Henry Percy Clarke joined the Territorial Force 6th Battalion King's (Liverpool Regiment) aged 17 years and 2 months on 3rd July 1911. He signed up for four years. Being in the Territorial Force meant that Henry had agreed to undergo a certain amount of training and drill each year. As a Territorial he would be called up for home service in times of National Emergency.

His regimental number was 1220 and he was in 'B' Company of the 6th (Rifles)Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment)

He put his occupation as apprentice (not bound) shipwright at Cammell Lairds in Birkenhead. Here is  a close-up of his signature:


Henry's medical report shows that he was 5ft 8inches tall with good vision and of good physical development. His chest measurement fully expanded was 35 inches with an expansion of 4 inches.

His family, listed his next of kin, were his parents and brother all still living at 2 Wesley Street.

When war was declared in August 1914 Henry Clarke would have been mobilised for full-time (home) service with the Territorial Force.  On the 19th October 1914 he signed army form E 624 agreeing to be posted overseas. At this time was was stationed at Seven Oaks, Kent.  He had served 3 years and 3 months with the Territorial Force. 

Henry embarked for France on the SS City of Edinburgh on 24th February 1915
(The SS City of Edinburgh, date unknown, source
The City of Edinburgh was a steamship built in Liverpool in 1899 and originally named Maplemore then sold in 1901 and renamed, then used as a troopship 1914-1918. It was scrapped in 1929.

Less than 2 weeks later he was killed in action on 8th March 1915. Just  2 months before his 21st birthday.
The file of Henry's papers includes some correspondence from 1919 between Henry's parents, the Imperial War Graves Commission and the Officer i/c records about where Henry was buried, it seems that his parents asked where he was buried and were given the answer 'Behind trench B32, Ypres' which came from Henry's service record. Then both the Officer i/c of records and the Imperial War Graves Commission wanted to know where the information came from.

The CWGC database shows that Henry's name in on the Menin Gate Memorial. This means that his body was not identified after the war and reburied in one of the cemeteries, either his remains were destroyed by the subsequent fighting in the area or they were recovered but not identified and lie in a CWGC cemetery as an unknown British soldier, Known Unto God.

The following is Henry's entry in the UK Soldiers Died in the Great War

Henry Percy Clarke
Birth Place:
Death Date:
8 Mar 1915
Death Location:
France & Flanders
Enlistment Location:
King's (Liverpool Regiment)
6th Battalion
Type of Casualty:
Killed in action
Theatre of War:
Western European Theatre

The Battalion War diary  shows that the battalion were at VLAMERTINGHE until the 7th March when they were moved to YPRES. The following entry is for the day Henry Clarke was killed. He undoubtedly is one of the 'other ranks' mentioned.

YPRES 8/3/1915
HQ Ors D Coy moved from VLAMERTINGHE to YPRES. Paraded at 2pm. Battalion quartered in Calvalry Barracks. Casualties in trenches 'B' Coy Other Ranks 2 killed 7 wounded.
(source: King's (Liverpool Regiment) 6th Battalion War Diary, National Archives)

At this time the Battalion was part of the preparations for the second Battle of Ypres.

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