Private 9677 Richard Clarke

Clarke Richard 96 400x600
Further photographs at bottom of page.

Died of Wounds on Tuesday, 18th May 1915, age 21.
Buried in Grave II. D. 25. at Rue-Des-Berceaux Military Cemetery, Richebourg-L'Avoue, Pas De Calais, France.

2nd Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 6th Brigade of 2nd Division.

Son of Mr and Mrs Joseph Clarke, of 66, Toll End Rd., Ocker Hill, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Wednesbury, Enlisted: Wednesbury, Resident: Ocker Hill.

First landed France & Flanders, 27th December 1914.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library, and St. Mark's memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/570583/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
5a Hackett Street, Toll End, Tipton, Staffs.
Joseph Clarke (35, Boat Loader, born Tipton), his wife Clara (28, born Tipton), and their 4 children: Richard (7, born Tipton), Joseph (5, born Tipton), May (2, born Tipton), and Eugene (10 months, born Tipton).

1911 Census
1 Toll End Road, Toll End, Tipton, Staffs.
Joseph Clarke (42, Labourer, born Tipton), his wife Clara (38, born Tipton), and their 7 children: Richard (17, Sewerage Labourer - Navvy, born Tipton), Joseph (15, Sewerage Labourer - Navvy, born Tipton), May (12, Worker at Home, born Tipton), Eugene (10, School, born Tipton).

Personal Data

Richard was originally buried within 100 yards of his current grave in Rue-Des-Berceaux Military Cemetery. In 1920 a number of smaller cemeteries and local graves were concentrated into this cemetery to make future maintenance easier, this included Richard Clarke's grave. The photographs at the bottom of this page, courtesy of Michael Morrish, show the original grave as the right-hand grave of the 3, and also a close-up of the inscription.

Action resulting in his death

The Battle of Festubert commenced on the night of 15th/16th May against a German salient between Neuve Chapelle and Festubert, and was the first night attack of the war. The bombardment had failed to significantly damage the German defences, and only the 6th Brigade - with the 2nd South Staffs in reserve - made initial progress.

On the 17th the Germans withdrew 1200 yards to a newly-prepared line, this allowed the British to capture a German strongpoint called the Quadrilateral and over 450 prisoners. Unfortunately a subsequent attack during that afternoon, attempting to take advantage of this success, failed to produce any results.

On the 18th the Canadian Division, assisted by the 51st (Highland) Division, renewed the advance, but this made little progress in the face of effective German artillery fire. The British forces then entrenched themselves at the new front line in conditions of heavy rain. The 2nd South Staffs, as part of 2nd Division, were relieved on the 19th May having lost heavily on the previous day.

When French ordered Haig to terminate the offensive on 25th May, 1200 yards had been gained but at a cost of 16,000 casualties.

On 18th May Richard Clarke died of wounds received at some time during the Battle of Festubert, the wounds may possibly have been received on the 18th when the 2nd South Staffs had the majority of their casualties of the Battle of Festubert. Richard is buried at Rue-des-Berceax Military Cemetery, Richebourg-L'Avoue.

Newspaper Cuttings


Clarke Richard Original Grave
Richard's original grave, the right-hand of the 3 graves. Thanks to Michael Morrish for these 2 photographs.

Clarke Richard Original Grave Closeup
Close-up showing Richard's details on the cross.