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  • This is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone marking the grave of James Henry Fisher Clarke in Dantzig Alley British cemetery, Mametz France.
Person Details
Nether Hoyland, Yorkshire
James was born in 1895 the son of Charles a colliery clerk and Nellie Clarke. By 1901 Charles was a widower living T West Bank Nether Hoyland with his son James and daughter Rosie. By 1911 James was boarding at St Cuthbert’s College Sparken Hill Worksop.
He was educated further at King Edward VII Grammar school in Sheffield and was a member of the Officer Training Corp between 1908 - 1913 as a sergeant. He later went to Edinburgh University where he was once again in the Officer Training Corps between October and December 1914.
01 Jul 1916
21
547375 - CWGC Website
Second Lieutenant
7th Bn Alexandra Princess of Wales's Own (Yorkshire Regiment)
James was gazetted on 6th January 1915 as temporary second lieutenant and served with the 7th battalion Yorkshire Regiment. In January 1915 he went to the Western Front where during August 1915 he was wounded. He was killed in action at Fricourt, Somme while taking part in the first day of the battle of the Somme 1st July 1916. He is buried in Dantzig Alley British Cemetery , Mametz, France Grave Reference: II 1 9
Following is an extract from an entry in The Cuthbertian dated December 1916 issue no 4:- We have received the following information of the death of J.H.F. Clarke, Lieut., W.Yorks, from a fellow O.C: "He had several bullet wounds. I was passing along the trench when he was dying.He did not recognise me, although I spoke to him.He had been leading the first assaulting Platoon of his battalion.He was the first man therefore over the top.The objective was Fricourt village.You can understand it was no mean death, but of course we would rather have had him back alive. The attack took place very early in the Somme Push.' " The following letter has also been received: "Sir, I am told by my Coy. Officer that you would like to be told any details of your son's death by someone who was present. I think that as I was there myself, and no N.C.O.s are left who were there at the time, I shall be able to give more information than anyone else. I will start at the beginning and try to describe things exactly as they occurred. If my effort is poor you will excuse it as, of course, I am not quite used to writing descriptive letters. Well, you already know the date. The 7th Yorks were detailed to attack Fricourt, seize the village, and the wood beyond. The German front line ran almost parallel to our own at a distance alternating from 200 to 300 yards. The order of advance was three companies in the front line, with B Company in the centre Nos. 4 and 5 platoons of B Company were to push forward with No 6 in close support. No 7 platoon, commanded by Mr.Clarke, were in local reserve to the Company and were not to advance until the German front line was taken. As I expect you already know, the unexpected happened, and the first two platoons were no sooner over than they were met by a withering fire from the enemy machine guns at close range. Mr.Hornsby, commanding No. 5 platoon, fell mortally wounded before they had advanced ten yards. No. 6 were now ready to advance and leave No. 7 in the trench. Mr. Hillman, command No. 6, climbed the parapet and ordered his platoon forward. He was shot immediately through the head. B Company were thus left without any officers to lead them. The Captain was wounded, and the Officer Commanding No. 8 was too far away on the left to be in touch with the right and centre. On seeing this your son immediately climbed the parapet, saying, "Follow me B. Company, I will lead ." But nothing could exist under that fire, and he fell before he reached our own wire about ten yards in front of our parapet. He was brought in immediately but was past all hope and died almost at once. I think he would not have felt any pain as the wounds would have rendered him unconscious immediately. We laid him side by side with Mr. Hillman on the fire step, and I told his servant to collect his things and send them to Head­quarters. Where he was buried I could never find out, but I think that they must have both been taken away and buried behind the line. In conclusion I should like to say that no gentleman gave up his life for his men more gallantly than he did. On his own initiative he went forward to certain death because he saw the men left without a leader. He was mourned by all those who were left, as not only an officer, but also a true comrade to all his men, and I think he left a void which will never be entirely filled. Only the day before, his platoon sergeant was mortally wounded, and he accompanied him all the way to the dressing station, comforting him as far as possible. When we left, the sergeant asked Mr. Clarke to kiss him, as he had lost both arms. I know how deeply he felt that loss of his Sergeant. We little thought when he re-joined us how soon we were to lose him again. Always kind and considerate to all, he still combined it with the soldierly instinct, which made him a true type of British Officer and gentleman. Now I must close, Sir, knowing how deeply you must mourn. I tender my deepest sympathy in which I am joined by the entire Company. Hoping this letter will in some way appease your natural desire for information, I will close Sir, with best wishes, yours sincerely, Pte. E. Greenwood. P. S. - Sir, on enquiry from the Reg.-Sergt.-Major, I was told that your son was buried with Mr. Hillman, near the railway which ran between the opposing trenches. The grave is marked by a white cross."
Remembered on

Photos

  • This is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone marking the grave of James Henry Fisher Clarke in Dantzig Alley British cemetery, Mametz France.
    James Henry Fisher Clarke - This is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone marking the grave of James Henry Fisher Clarke in Dantzig Alley British cemetery, Mametz France.
  • photo shows Dantzig British Cemetery, Mametz, where James Henry Fisher Clarke is buried.
Courtesy of CWGC
    James Henry Fisher Clarke - photo shows Dantzig British Cemetery, Mametz, where James Henry Fisher Clarke is buried. Courtesy of CWGC