Clarke, Alexander (MM)

Alexander Clarke (MM), Corporal 32474, 17th Bn. Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regt)
Died of influenza and pneumonia 11th July 1918 in Blackpool, aged 30

 

EARLY LIFE

Born at Sutton, Macclesfield on 7 May 1888, the son of Alexander and Hannah Clarke.

 

WWI SERVICE

A biography of Alexander’s life was printed in De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, 1914-1919:

CLARKE, ALEXANDER, M.M., Corpl., No 32747, 17th (service) Battn. The Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regt.), son of the late Alexander Clarke of 42 Brown St by his wife Hannah, daughter of (—) Henshall of Sutton; born Macclesfield, Cheshire, 7 May 1888; educated Sutton, Macclesfield; was employed at the Calico Printing Works, Birch Vale, New Mills; enlisted 17 Nov 1915; served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from 6 March 1916;  was gassed in July 1917 and on recovery returned to the depot at Derby where he contracted pneumonia and pleurisy; later was sent to the convalescent hospital at Blackpool, and there developed influenza, pneumonia again supervening, and died at Squires Gate, Blackpool, 11 July 1918. Buried in the Macclesfield Cemetery. He was awarded the Military Medal for devotion to duty on the field at Beaumont Hamel 3 Sept 1916; unmarried.

On 14 December 1916, the Manchester Evening News reported that Alexander had been awarded the Military Medal:

NEW MILLS MILITARY MEDALLIST – Information has been received at New Mills that another local soldier, Private Alexander Clarke, has been awarded the Military Medal. Private Clarke worked at the Birch Vale Printworks, when he enlisted in the Notts and Derbys in the early days of the war.

The news was also printed in the High Peak Reporter on 23 December 1916:

Corporal Alec Clarke of Thornsett has been awarded the Military Medal. He belongs to a Macclesfield family, but both his parents are dead. He came into the district eight years ago and was employed as an Apprentice to Machine Printing at the Birch Vale Printworks. He has been at the front since February 1916 and seen so many of his pals killed, including Corporal Isaac Ramwell. He has been associated with the Thornsett Independent Sunday School.

Corporal Clarke was repatriated to England in July 1917 after being badly gassed. He recovered but was later sent to hospital in Ripon, suffering from pneumonia and pleurisy. After treatment he was transferred to The King’s Lancashire Military Convalescent Hospital at Squires Gate, Blackpool (a hospital converted from the grandstand at Clifton Park Racecourse) where he contracted influenza followed by another attack of pneumonia; he died there on 11 July 1918.

The news of Corporal Clarke’s death was printed in the High Peak Reporter on 13 July 1918:

News reached Birch Vale on Thursday afternoon, that Corporal Alec Clarke, [Alexander Clarke] serving with the Sherwood Foresters, has died of pneumonia [supervened from influenza] at a home hospital. A native of Macclesfield, but had resided at Birch Vale for a number of years and was serving as an Apprentice Machine Printer at the Birch Vale Printworks. Died of Influenza and Pneumonia at the Military Hospital, Squires Gate, St. Anne’s on Sea, Lancashire – his sister was present at his death. His address and that of his sister was given as Brown Street, Macclesfield.

Corporal Clarke’s death was also reported in the Macclesfield Times on Friday 19 July 1918:

The death has occurred at the King’s Lancashire Military Hospital of Corporal Alexander Clarke, whose sister resides in Brown Street, Macclesfield. He was 30 years of age and enlisted in November 1915, going out to France in March 1916. In September of that year he was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous devotion to duty on the field at Beaumont Hamel. In July 1917 he was rather badly gassed, and was invalided to England. He was discharged from hospital in December and rejoined his depot, being later admitted to Ripon hospital suffering from pneumonia and pleurisy. Afterwards he was sent to Blackpool Convalescent Hospital. He contracted influenza, which resulted in another attack of pneumonia and this proved fatal. The funeral took place at the Macclesfield Cemetery on Wednesday with military honours. The Macclesfield Town Band played the “Dead March” in Saul. A firing party was supplied by the Volunteer Regt. The “Last Post” was sounded by Bugler Parker.

 

COMMEMORATION

Corporal Alexander Clarke is buried at Macclesfield Cemetery, Cheshire, in grave ref. G. 5470. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Corporal Alexander Clarke, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.

Locally, Corporal Alexander Clarke is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall and St Michael’s Church war memorials, and St John’s Church roll of honour.

 

NOTES

Thanks to Lesley for her assistance and information about her great-uncle, Alexander Clark.

 

SOURCES

De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour 1914-1918 (Find My Past)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
High Peak Reporter: 
23 December 1916, 13 July 1918
Manchester Evening News: 14 December 1916
Macclesfield Times: 19 July 1918


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