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Old 14-04-14, 08:02
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Default Week 2 - Walter Henry Clark

Walter was my grandfather. He was born on April Fools’ Day 1888 at Paddingham, a hamlet in the village of Winscombe, Somerset, son of Henry Robert Clark, a school master at Sidcot Quaker School and his wife, Mary Louisa née Buck and elder brother of my Week 1 entry, Clifford Stanley Clark.

Walter was brought up in the Quaker Faith and was educated at Sidcot School, as were all his siblings.

He left school in 1905 and initially worked as a designer at Poole Pottery in Dorset for about a year. Walter then moved to London where he worked for various London department stores as an interior designer.

Walter didn’t join the army immediately war broke out, but on 25th February 1915 he joined the Territorial Force, signing up at the Inns of Court Officers Training Corps (10 Stone Buildings, Lincoln’s Inn, London) for four years’ service. His attestation papers state his religion as Quaker and the oath has been altered from “I, Walter Henry Clark do swear by Almighty God…..” to “I, Walter Henry Clark do solemnly and sincerely affirm…..”. They also give his age as 26 years and 10 months, height as 6’1¾” and his expanded chest measurement as 39” with an expansion of 4”. Eyesight good, physical development good.




Walter at the family home, Winscombe, Somerset, probably in 1915


From the end of February until May 1915 Walter was posted to the Inns of Court training school at Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire. In May he was appointed a commission and on 2nd June 1915 he was posted to the 3rd Battalion (Reserve), The Dorset Regiment as a Second Lieutenant. At that time this regiment were stationed at Wyke Regis in Dorset which happened to be where Walter’s maternal grandfather had been born in 1818 and his ancestors had lived prior to that back to at least 1700.

Walter remained in Wyke Regis until December 1915 and during these few months he completed the Chelsea Course at Chelsea Barracks (pass) and the Southern Command School of Musketry Course at Hayling Island (distinction).

On 4th December 1915 Walter was transferred to the 1st Battalion, The Dorset Regiment and that day they sailed for France.

Typically, at the moment I know little of what happened to Walter whilst he was in France, except that he remained there for several months, until the outbreak of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916.

On that fateful day when so many were killed, Walter was fighting near Authuille and was injured – a fact that he put down to Pythagorus’s Theorem (his father was a mathematics teacher)! He told the story that there was a British trench and a German trench positioned at right angles to each other. Hand grenades were being thrown by both sides but none reached their target as the distance was too great. Thanks to Mr Pythagorus, Walter moved further down the trench to make the diagonal distance to the target area in the other trench shorter. As he put it, “Unfortunately, they must teach Pythagorus in Germany too and the Germans learn more quickly!!” So, he was caught by a lot of shrapnel in his arms and hands and also received a bullet wound to the face. Walter was lucky in that none of his injuries were serious, though the injuries to his hands (nerve and circulatory damage) did affect his work for the rest of his life, but he said the bullet wound to his face vastly improved his appearance! I have to remember this story was for the benefit of his children and family – if it sounds a little flippant, it would have been designed to make light of the horrors of war. It's the only 'war story' he told.

Walter was sent back to the UK in the second week of July, to the London Hospital to be patched up. He was eventually returned to service, this time with the 3rd Battalion, The Dorset Regiment, on 4th November 1916. During this recovery time my grandparents met for the first time on a London railway station. My grandmother told me she knew he was a good looking man even from the back, and despite him having both arms in slings!

The next year, from November 1916, was spent with the 3rd Battalion at Wyke Regis. During the first three or four months of this period Walter completed various courses: Lewis Gun, Hotchkiss Machine Gun and Range Finding training at Hayling Island and a Revolver Course at Wareham, Dorset. These were all passed with 1st Class. From March to November 1916 Walter held the position of Musketry Officer at Wyke Regis Camp. Also during this time he was promoted from Second Lieutenant to Lieutenant on 1st July 1917.
On 8th November 1917 my grandparents were married at All Saint’s Church, Wyke Regis. I imagine they married there, rather than in her home town of Twickenham, because Walter could not get away as he was awaiting orders to be posted overseas again. On 17th November he went back to France, this time with the 5th Battalion of the Dorset Regiment.

I have no idea where they went or what happened during this period abroad, but they returned to Wyke Regis on 18th January 1918, at which point Walter was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. Next came some more training, this time at Grantham Lincs., where he passed a three month Vickers Machine Gun course on 2nd May 1918.

A few days later he was transferred again, this time to the 32nd Battalion, the Machine Gun Corps and they were posted to France. Walter spent the first month at Camiers, passing a further Vickers Machine Gun course.



This photo was taken in France. Date unknown.


According to several sources in his army papers, personal papers etc Walter remained in France from May 1918 until May 1919 with the 32nd Battalion, the Machine Gun Corps. Hopefully he had some leave during this time, as my grandmother was supposed to have become pregnant in the later part of 1918.

Walter definitely returned to England on 2nd May 1919 and was demobbed on 21st May just ten days before his brother, Clifford (who I wrote about last week) died of pneumonia in Cologne, Germany whilst still serving with the Army of Occupation. So, happiness turned to sorrow and there was more sadness when, following the news of the death of her brother-in-law, my grandmother went into early labour and lost her baby; my grandparents only son.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~

As well as using my grandfather’s WW1 army papers as a source for the above, I also gleaned further info from his WW2 army papers (he rejoined in 1940), where he had to complete forms about his WW1 service, and also from his WW1 ‘Officer’s Record of Services’ (Army book 439).
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Old 16-04-19, 13:01
gethine45 gethine45 is offline
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Edmund husband of Ethel, sister to Clifford and Walter, also awarded the MC

Edmund 2nd Lieu Cambridgeshire Reg Awarded MC 18.10.17 Gaz. He commanded his company when the company commander had been wounded, and led a most successful counter attack, which saved the flank of a neighbouring battalion and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. He also rallied and took command of men of another unit, and when runners had failed to get through, he went under a heavy enemy barrage to the brigade forward station to report on the situation. He set a splendid example of leadership and determination.
Gazette issue 31480. 2nd Bar to the Military Cross; For conspicuous gallantry and initiative near Mametz on August 15th, 1918. The battalion had to attack over 3,000 yards to reach its objective. On crossing a ridge all companies came under extremely heavy artillery and machine-gun fire and the centre of the attack lost direction. He immediately went forward. The flanks of the attack had meanwhile become hung up by machine-gun nests, but the rapid advance of his force proved the turning point of the attack, and the whole line was enabled to resume the advance and consolidate. On arrival at the objective, he led a bombing party and drove the enemy out of a communication trench. Throughout the operations he showed marked courage and leadership.
Gazette Issue 31183. 2nd Bar to M.C. His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the Award of a 2nd Bar to the Military Cross, in recognition of his gallantry and devotion to duty in the Field. The acts of gallantry for which the decoration has been awarded will be announced in the London Gazette as early as practicable.
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Old 16-04-19, 14:31
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Welcome to the forum, gethine45.

If you are connected to Edmund (or Walter etc) I'd be interested to know who you are!
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Old 16-04-19, 15:22
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Oh, is the connection that you are a Quaker? (I googled)
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