Topic: Frank (William Francis) Clarkson

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Frank Clarkson (Service No. 6/2107) was a first World War soldier with links to Hornby and Upper Riccarton.

Frank Clarkson Frank Clarkson was born in Christchurch on 10 February 1896, the sixth child of Emerson and Annie Clarkson and died in France 27 March 1918. Frank was one of a large family of nine children and one of two sons who fought in WWI. Annie Hill and Emerson Clarkson were married in 1887 in New Zealand and their first child Margaret Bowes was born the next year in 1888, followed by Alice Mary (1889), Frances Elizabeth (1890), Emerson (1891), Lydia Hill (1893), Beatrice Annie (1895), William Francis (1896), Susann Annie (1898) and George Ure (1900).

Emerson Clarkson came to New Zealand alone as an 18 year old labourer on the ship Lancashire Witch. He was born in Masham, Yorkshire, England in 1848 and died in Christchurch in 1926. He was buried at Linwood Cemetery alongside his daughter Lydia who had died in 1920. His wife, Annie, had died earlier in 1912 and is buried with another daughter Susann in the St Peter's churchyard cemetery in Upper Riccarton.

William enlisted 26 February 1915 and gave his date of birth as 10 February 1895, however, his true birthdate was a year later on 26 February 1896 so he was really too young to enroll. Prior to enlisting his occupation is given as a drover working for Mr Henderson in Dunsandel. He presumably attended primary school in Hornby, although an article from The Press (11 April 1918, Page 8) states he was educated at Elmwood School. He played rugby at school and later joined the Dunsandel Rugby Football Club. Due to fluctuating fortunes the family moved several times living variously in Hornby, Papanui, Bryndwyr, and finally at 34 Papanui Road, which is the address given on his enlistment papers. His Aunt Mary Hill, from that address, was given as his next of kin. 

William's medical examination describes him as having blue eyes, fair complexion and light brown hair. He was 5 feet, 7 3/4 inches tall and weighed 161 pounds. He had a scar from a childhood operation for an abcess. The examiner said he had to have two teeth removed before he could be declared fit.

He was assigned Service No. 6/2107 and attached to the 4th reinforcements of the Canterbury Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion. They left Wellington, New Zealand 17 April 1915 and disembarked at Suez before finally arriving at Gallipoli on 31 July 1915. He was wounded several times in 1915 and received medical attention in Egypt. When the ANZACs pulled out of Gallipoli they regrouped in Egypt before being sent to France. William was wounded again in October 1916 and 1917.  Each time he convalesced in London and Boulogne and returned to the front. He was given a months leave in England in February 1918. He seems to have remained philosophical despite any injuries and greatly enjoyed his time in England according to family correspondence, where he took the opportunity to visit relatives. He rejoined his battalion at the beginning of March 1918 and was killed in the field 27 March 1918. At his death he was a Lance-Corporal with the First Battalion of the Canterbury Infantry Regiment. 

William's Brother Emerson also served in the First World War rising to the rank of Sergeant Major. Sisters Beatrice and Frances were both nurses who went to Samoa to work at Apia Hospital in 1920. The capture of Samoa from the German's was New Zealand's first task in the war. 

William was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. 

William Francis Clarkson's body was never identified but his name is engraved on Stone No. 4. A of the Grevillers (New Zealand) Memorial in the Grevillers British Cemetery, France. Four hundred and fifty New Zealanders, with graves unknown, are commemorated on the Memorial. He is also remembered on the Hornby Primary School War Memorial, Elmwood School War Memorial, and the Upper Riccarton Memorial Library Roll of Honour. 


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Frank (William Francis) Clarkson

First Names:William Francis
Last Name:Clarkson
Place of Birth:Christchurch, New Zealand
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License
Frank (William Francis) Clarkson by SueC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License