Private, London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers), 3rd Bn.
Service No. 279057
Died 31 May 1918, aged 19.
Remembered at Pernois British Cemetery, Halloy-Les-Pernois, France
Chris Burge writes:
Stanley William Clarke was born on 7 April 1899 and baptised on 24 October 1900 at Forest Gate, St James, Essex. Stanley was the third of the five known children of Thomas and Elizabeth Mary Clarke. He was about five when the family settled in Lambeth.
In the 1911 census, Stanley, his four siblings and their parents lived in four rooms at 27 Angell Road, Brixton. Stanley’s father was a foreman motor fitter and his older brother Sydney was working as an office boy.
With the introduction of conscription in 1916, Stanley’s parents knew that, if the war continued, all but the youngest of their four sons might have to fight. What happened to his older brothers Sydney and Harold is not known, but Stanley, who was just 15 in 1914, was conscripted in 1917. He become eligible for overseas service at the age of 19 and was sent to France on 3 April 1918 as a private 654707 Clarke of 21st Bn., London Regiment. He was transferred and renumbered as private 279057 Clarke four days later, on his 19th birthday.
Stanley reached the support line on the 13 April, part of a 70-man draft, in cold and wet weather. After moving to the front line, their position was attacked on 24 April. Fierce fighting led to over 200 casualties in a 48-hour period. The battalion was relieved and in the first two weeks of May they played a football match and were entertained by concert parties. They returned to a forward position on 22 May, in fine weather. The situation remained quiet until sporadic shelling three days later caused 10 casualties, of whom Stanley was one. He passed down the evacuation chain to reach the 4th Casualty Clearing Station at Pernois, but succumbed to his wounds on 31 May 1918.*
The Clarke family were living at 40 Tasmin Road when they received news of Stanley’s death. His father Thomas died in 1930, aged 60. His mother Elizabeth, who continued to live in Tasmin Road with her youngest daughter Ivy until at least 1939, died in 1956, aged 87.