Joseph Clarke, Private 39930, 15th Bn. Cheshire Regiment
Died of wounds 13th October 1918 in Belgium, aged 29
Joseph Clarke was born on 13 December 1889 and baptised at St Alban’s Church on 26 January 1890, the son of Mary (nee Ridgway) and Joseph Clarke, a painter.
Joseph’s father died in 1890, and in 1891, one-year-old Joseph was living at House 3, 108 Steps, Macclesfield with his widowed mother and siblings Elizabeth A (16), William (15), Isabella (11), James (8) and Edith (3), who died in 1893.
By 1901 the family had moved to 22 Cuckstoolpit Hill, and eleven-year-old Joseph lived there with his mother and siblings Elizabeth A (27), James (17) and Leonard (4). Joseph’s mother died in 1907, and in 1911 the family was at the same address; Elizabeth, aged 37, probably looked after her three younger brothers.
In 1913, Joseph married Elizabeth Ellen McDermott at St Paul’s Church, Macclesfield, and the couple later had a son, Leonard. Prior to enlistment, Joseph was employed as a silk spinner.
Standing just five feet tall, Joseph enlisted in the 16th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment (the “Birkenhead Bantams”) in December 1914, receiving service number 20462. In July 1915 he was transferred to the Army Cyclist Corps (service no 8788), and was drafted overseas on 28 January 1916, subsequently being transferred to the 15th Battalion Cheshire Regiment with service number 39930 on 19 May 1916.
It is not known exactly where Private Clarke was when he was wounded on 13 October 1918, but he died from his wounds on the same day. His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on Friday 6 December 1918:
KILLED – Pte Joseph Clarke, Ches Regt, whose wife and child reside at 86 Lord Street, Macclesfield, died on October 13th from wounds sustained in action in France. Pte Clarke was 29 years of age, enlisted in December 1914 and went out to France about three years ago. Some time back he was slightly wounded. Prior to enlistment he was employed by Messrs J Smale and Son. He was an attendant at Fountain Street Mission.
His widow married William Henry Lock at Christ Church, Macclesfield in 1920.
Private Joseph Clarke is buried at Ypres Reservoir Cemetery, Belgium, in grave ref. II. D. 2. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Joseph Clarke, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
Locally, Private Joseph Clarke is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall, St Michael’s Church and St George’s Church war memorials. He may also be the Joseph Clarke commemorated on the G H Heath & Son war memorial.
Brother of Leonard Clarke, who served as Private 51067 with the Imperial Camel Corps and survived the war.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births, Marriages, Deaths
Census (England & Wales): 1891, 1901, 1911
Cheshire Parish Marriage Registers: St Paul’s Church, Macclesfield
Family History Society of Cheshire “Roman Catholics in Macclesfield” CD: Baptism & Marriage Register indexes
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects
WWI British Army Service Records 1914-1920
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards
WWI Absent Voters Lists (FindMyPast): Macclesfield Parliamentary Division
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
Macclesfield Times:6 December 1918