Sydney Charles Clarke
From Our Contribution
Western Mail 9 Nov 1917 Page 1S
|Date of Birth||c1898|
|Place of Birth||Boulder, Western Australia|
|Death||21 Sep 1917|
|Place of Death||Glencourse Wood, Westhoek, Belgium|
|Age at Enlistment||21 years, 9 months (18 years)|
5'9½" (1.77m) tall ; 149lbs|
67.585 kg; fresh complexion ; blue eyes ; dark brown hair
|Religion||Church of England|
|Address||'Clayfield', Watheroo, Midland Railway, Western Australia|
|Next of Kin||Mother , Mrs Kate Alice Clarke|
|Date of Enlistment||14 Jun 1915|
|Unit/Formation||11th Battalion, 7th Reinforcement, transferred to 3rd Machine Gun Company (1st MG Battalion)|
|Date of Embarkation||25 Jun 1915|
|Ship Embarked On||HMAT A63 Karoola|
Gosnells Road Board Honour Roll |
Menin Gate Memorial
Australian War Memorial
Had attended school at East Fremantle.
When Syd first entered Blackboy Hill camp he was allocated to the 2nd reinforcement draft for the 28th Battalion. However, the next day this changed to the 7th draft for the 11th Battalion.
On 1 Aug 1915 Syd was embarked on HMAT A35 Berrima in Alexandria harbour for transport to the Dardanelles, and on 4 Aug 1915 he was taken on strength by the 11th Battalion. He remained with them at Gallipoli until he disembarked in Alexandria from [HMT Empress of Britain] on 7 Jan 1916. In Egypt he was transferred to the 3rd Machine Gun Company at Serapeum on 13 Mar 1916 as part of the reorganisation and expansion of the AIF.
On 29 Mar 1916 he boarded HMT Corsican in Alexandria for France, landing in Marseilles on 5 Apr 1916. Syd was appointed Lance Corporal on 13 May 1917, and soon after on 1 Jul 1917 he was sent to the Machine Gun School in Camiers on the French north coast, rejoining his unit on 28 Jul 1917.
On 20 Sep 1917 his unit was one of those involved in a battle that became known as Menin Road. They received their guns and ammunition at Hooge Crater at 2:00am on the 20th and soon after moved forward to their forming up point. Soon after arrival there a German artillery barrage descended on them, and they moved forward to the west side of Glencourse Wood where they remained until the attack began.
Sydney's Red Cross file AWM Red Cross File confirms that it was while waiting for the commencement of the attack in the vicinity of Glencourse Wood that he was killed by German artillery.
"I was with L/Cpl Clarke on 20th September 1917 at 6 a.m. We were just about to hop over when a very heavy barrage opened on us. I saw a big shell fall amongst 5 of my mates, killed them all. They were Hensbridge, Meredith, Dicky, L/Cpl Clarke, and a 13th L.H. Hotchkiss gunner. After the hop over I returned to bury Capt Ghent our C.O. at 2 p.m. that day. I visited the place where the 5 men were killed, but they were so badly mutilated that it was impossible to recognise L/Cpl Clarke, but I am certain he was killed when the shell landed. I was only about 5 yards (4 metres) away at the time. He was L/Cpl in No 3 MG Coy, about 5ft 8, or 5ft 9, brown hair, fresh complexion, stoutly built, rather heavy features. I do not know anything of his burial." Pte J.E. Palmer 1665.
While his records show 21 September 1917 as the date of his death, the Red Cross file evidence and the Unit's War Diary confirm that it would have been on 20 September 1917.
While Sydney declared that he was 21 years and 9 months old at the time of his enlistment, his birth was registered by his parents in 1898, making him 17 years old when he enlisted.
Parents address was amended from Watheroo to C/- Gosnells Post Office.