Herbert Herald Clarke

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† Clarke, Gunner Herbert Herald no.31806

5th Divisional Australian Medium Trench Mortar Battery 5th Reinforcements “Swansea”

Ninth Avenue, Campsie.

Metal polisher.

Born at Newtown, son of John William Richard & Emilie Harriet Clarke.

Enlisted Campsie 16/10/1916, aged 26.


Church of England.

Next of kin, mother, Mrs E.H. Clarke “Swansea” Ninth Avenue, Campsie.

Embarked from Sydney 2/12/1916 per HMAT A67 Orsova.

Mortally wounded 3/10/1917.

Casualty List SMH30/10/1917.

Killed in Action 4/10/1917.

Died of wounds 4/10/1917, probably after action at Broodseinde Ridge.

Buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium, grave XX.H. 17.

No record of parents or other relatives in 1931.

AWM File IDRL428 Letters to Red Cross re Australian servicemen:

O/C No.17 Casualty Clearing Station9/4/1918: He was admitted to this station suffering from severe wounds of the head and foot and in a critical condition. His condition gradually became worse and it is with regret I have to inform you of his death which occurred at 10.00pm on the night of the 4/10/1917 as a result of these wounds. He was buried the following day in the Soldiers’ Cemetery near to this Hospital, his grave being duly marked and registered.

Letter from H.R Dunford, Brook War Hospital, Shooter’s Hill, Woolwich, S.E., 19/6/1918: Dear Secretary,

Unfortunately I am unable to supply you with the particulars that you require concerning Gunner Clarke, as I had only known him for a short period There are a few particulars that I can supply. He was about 27 years of age, five feet 10 inches in height and inclined to be fair. Transferred from Medium Battery to Heavy Battery 5th Division on 3/10/1917, was wounded the following day at Polygon Wood was taken on a stretcher to the Advanced Dressing Station. “Wounded in foot and leg and head’’. He died a couple of days later from shock but when I cannot say. In my opinion he would be sent back to the Clearing Station after being dressed at Advanced Dressing Station and after death buried in a soldier’s cemetery in the vicinity of Dickie Busch. We were camped at Dickie Busch at the time.

Yours faithfully, H.R. Dunford

P. S. If I can find out anything further from any of the boys I will let you know.

Private G.H. Dawes no.32715 “Hazledene” Myrtle Street, Stanmore/No.4 AGH, Randwick, 9/10/1918: We were carrying up shells to the guns on the night of 3/10/1917, just outside Ypres, when we came into a heavy barrage. We took shelter in some shell holes, but a shell fell near Clarke and wounded him. He was taken out, but died next day. I think he came from Campsie. He was a big man, neither fair nor dark.

Gunner RH. Dawes no.32715 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery, Weymouth (written Gunner Dunford) 17/6/1918: We were carrying bombs up to Guns to right of Ypres between 5pm and 11pm on evening of 3rd October. Took long time to go up on account of enemy barrage. Three men were sheltering in crater about 50 yards from me, shell fell close to these men, wounding Clarke in foot. He was taken back to the Dressing Station about 20 yards, by one of men on his back. Was conscious and calm - asked for cigarette. Leg must have been numb. This was the last I saw of him - heard after, he died after operation, amputation of leg. Know nothing of burial. Gunner H.R. Dunford No. 32716 now at Brock War Hospital, Woolwich, was with Clarke and was eye- witness. We were with the Heavy TM Battery not the Medium.

Gunner Percy Gresser no.30919 AIF 10th Trench Mortar Battery, Military Hospital, Edmonton, 15/7/1918: At Glencorse Wood Ypres, on October 1917 at night time, a party of us had gone to carry ammunition to the guns and before we reached our objective shelling began. One shell bursting and landing near the party. Clarke was hit in several places and was unconscious from the first. I was alongside of him, it was a very dark night, he was carried to the Dressing Station and died on the way there.

Eyewitness: Yes

Description:- Dark complexion, rather short, he was clean shaven, he came from Sydney I believe, but I knew him but slightly.

Bombardier G. Strange no.796 Y5A Medium Trench Mortar Battery 5th Division, now changed to 9th Trench Mortar Battery 5th Division, no.1 Australian, Rouen, 25/7/1918: Clarke joined the unit so to speak on one day, and went up the line the next night and was struck by a piece of shell the same night. They got him back to the Dressing Station all right but the next report I heard of him was that he had died there of his wounds. We were at the time in the Ypres District, near Glencorse Wood. We were going to fire that night and he was in the ammunition party whilst I was in a gun crew. I think 4 or 5 of the Battery got hit that night. I did not see Clarke hit myself but the whole of the incidents of the night were the subject of conversation in the whole unit. Full details could be given by Gunner Calthorpe, RE and Gunner Dixon R(?) who carried Clarke out. Both these men were with the unit when I left it wounded on the 15th July. I had met Clarke at the base at Le Havre and knew him. He was I think then waiting to become of age in order to go up the line. I believe he was then only about 19. He was about 5ft 6ins, dark complexion. He was not very stoutly built. I do not know what state he was from or anything about his private life.

Anzac Memorial: Died of Wounds

Australian War Memorial record available at: https://www.awm.gov.au/people/rolls/R1994225/ [accessed 30/09/2016].

Special acknowledgement

The primary source of the information on this page is copied from the prize winning publication Canterbury's boys : World War I & Sydney's suburban fringe. This book is the culmination of 12 years (1988-2000) research by a team of volunteers from the Canterbury and District Historical Society led by Dr Lesley Muir. Without this team's effort and dedication and the Society's willingness and support, this information would not be available today.


An uneditable version of the book Canterbury's boys : World War I & Sydney's suburban fringe is in the eBook section of this wiki. In the main section, there is an alphabetical list of the 1,911 individuals recorded in the book - the list is titled Canterbury's Boys List. Each name in the list is linked to an editable biographical file created by copying the biography copied from the book. These editable biographies have been created to provide the space for descendants, historians, researchers, etc to add information, photographs, newspaper articles, memories, etc. they have discovered so it is available for this and future generations.


Canterbury's boys : World War I & Sydney's suburban fringe. Edited by Lesley Muir. Campsie, N.S.W. : Canterbury and District Historical Society, 2002