Topic: Albert Henry Clarke

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Albert Henry Clarke (Service No. 8/743) was a First World War soldier with links to Upper Riccarton

OTAGO WITNESS, ISSUE 3266, 18 OCTOBER 1916, SUPPLEMENTAlbert Henry Clarke was born in RIccarton on 30th April 1892, the eldest child of Mary Upton and Charles Henry Clarke. Mary and Charles were married in New Zealand in 1892. They went on to have a large family of ten children; Charles Ernest (born 1893), Annie Elsie (1895), Theodore Leslie (1897), Charlotte Georgina (1899), Lilly Pretoria (1900), Gwyndoline Mary (1902), Horace Reid Sutton (1904), Clarence Tristan (1907), and George Harold Stanley (1909). Charles died 28th June 1917 and Mary 6th July 1945. They are both buried in St Peter's churchyard, Upper Riccarton, New Zealand.

Albert Henry Clarke volunteered for the army 26th August 1914 less than one month after the beginning of World War 1. He was working as a labourer, for Sir George Clifford, at Elderslie, about ten miles from Oamaru. Sir George Clifford was a well known horse breeder. Albert's parents were living at 91 Waimairi Road, Upper Riccaton. Albert listed his father as next of kin but there is an additional note on his file requesting that W S Witty MP, Wellington, be advised as well. This may refer to George Witty who was the Liberal Member of Parliament for the Riccarton electorate from 1902 to 1925.

Albert is described in his medical check up as being 5 feet 4 1/2 inches tall and weighing 126 pounds. He had a fair complexion, fair hair, grey eyes and good teeth. He was affiliated to the Church of England.

At first Albert was assigned to the Otago Infantry Regiment, before being transferred to the Canterbury Regiment. Albert left New Zealand by ship on 15th October 1914 and arrived in Alexandria, Egypt on 3rd December 1914. By April 1915 he was fighting in the trenches on the Gallipoli Peninsula. He was wounded in the head on 9th September 1915 and didn't rejoin his unit until 11th October 1915. Fortunately his unit was taking rest and recuperation at Sarpi Camp near Mudros Bay on the Greek Island of Lemnos. Most of the New Zealand troops were in poor condition because of life in the trenches and were sent to Sarpi Camp to receive medical attention and regular meals to build up their strength. In December 1915 ANZAC troops were withdrawn fom Gallipoli and shipped to Egypt to regroup as part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. In January 1916 Albert was assigned to the Machine Gun Section. By April 1916 he had been reassigned to the European theatre of war in France and only five months later, on 15th September 1916, he was killed in the field.

Another brother, Ernest Charles Clarke (Service No. 12981), also served in the army. He enlisted a year after Albert but had to have dental work done on his teeth before he was accepted. Ernest also saw action in France where he was promoted to corporal. He had a number of stints in hospital for illness but doesn't appear to have been wounded even though he was attached to the Tunneling Corps on 13th March 1917. Albert returned to New Zealand at the end of the war, married Emily Winifred Mantell in 1926 and eventually died in Christchurch in 1971.

The body of Albert Henry Clarke lies in a marked grave in the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, France. He was only 24 years old when he died. Albert was awarded the 1914-15 Star Medal, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Albert Henry Clarke is remembered on the Roll of Honour at the Upper Riccarton Memorial Library and on a plaque next to his parent's grave in the St Peter's churchyard cemetery.


Related resources


  • ROLL OF HONOUR.,Star, Issue 11819, 3 October 1916, page 6
  • FOR KING AND EMPIREDARDANELLES CASUALTIES. Sun, Volume II, Issue 502, 18 September 1915, page 8

  • Death notice for Frederick Henry Clarke DEATHS., Press, Volume LIII, Issue 15940, 29 June 1917, page 1
  • Death notice for Mary Clarke DEATHS.,Press, Volume LXXXI, Issue 24620, 17 July 1945, page 1

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