Saturday 21 May 2016

Unionist Killed in a Trench Raid

Sunday 21st May 1916: Readers will remember that on 4th May the 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, suffered a raid by the enemy which resulted in 66 casualties, 16 of them killed. One of those who paid the ultimate price was Sergeant Harry Clarke. Letters of sympathy have been received by the widow from friends and deceased’s officer now at the front. The latter wrote: “May I express my deepest sympathy with you in the loss of your husband. I, his platoon commander, had only known him for a fortnight, but I should never wish for a better sergeant. His loss has been much felt especially by his own men, who were very fond of him. He was killed at his post while encouraging the men of No. 10 platoon to stand up against a heavy bombardment sustained in the early morning of Thursday. I am thankful to say that death was instantaneous. With sincere sympathy, yours truly, R E COLES. PS – A photograph of himself and his family was picked up the next day. His friend, Lance Corporal Knight is writing to you as to whether he can retain it”(1)

The late Sergeant Clarke was employed at the Britannia Iron Works at Bedford and was 41 years of age. He was an energetic worker for the Unionist party in Bedford and was a street list man since the formation of the Saint Mary’s and Saint John’s Ward of which Mr C H Woodford is the secretary. The deceased leaves a widow and two children, for whom much sympathy is felt.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard 19th May 1916

(1) This may be Corporal George Knight, killed in action on 16th November 1916.

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