What's on in Stoke

Bert Clarke’s Story

Bert’s was a gloving family. His parents, William and Susan Clarke (nee Shoemake), both worked in the gloving industry, as did his brother, Harry. William was born in Milborne Port and the eldest boy, Edwin, was born there in 1878, but the couple didn’t marry until 1882. The 1891 census records the next child, Frances, as a girl but the only Francis Clarke registered in Yeovil in 1881 was obviously male – Francis James – so perhaps the census enumerator did not look at the eight year old very closely. There followed four boys – Harry, George, Bertie, and Arthur – and three girls – Mabel, Lucy and Beatrice (“Beartrice”). William and Susan had nine children and managed to raise them all which must have been something of a record.

Bert’s was a gloving family. His parents, William and Susan Clarke (nee Shoemake), both worked in the gloving industry, as did his brother, Harry. William was born in Milborne Port and the eldest boy, Edwin, was born there in 1878, but the couple didn’t marry until 1882. The 1891 census records the next child, Frances, as a girl but the only Francis Clarke registered in Yeovil in 1881 was obviously male – Francis James – so perhaps the census enumerator did not look at the eight year old very closely. There followed four boys – Harry, George, Bertie, and Arthur – and three girls – Mabel, Lucy and Beatrice (“Beartrice”). William and Susan had nine children and managed to raise them all which must have been something of a record.

The family were living on Ham Hill in 1901, not far from the Trott family. Bertie was ten and would have known the two Trott boys – Frederick aged 19 and
Percy aged 3 at the time – who were in the Somerset Light Infantry and died, one in 1915 and the other in 1916.

Bert didn’t follow his parents into the glovemaking business but became a farm labourer like his elder brother, George.

Bert may well have been one of the lads who joined up at the beginning of the war as by 7th April 1915 he had arrived in France with the 1st Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry. In April 1915, the 1st Battalion were in the Steenwerck area, just south of Ypres. It was just before the start of the 2nd Battle of Ypres, when the Germans used gas as a weapon for the first time. I don’t know whether Bertie took part in this fighting. It is likely that he did, and then transferred at a later date to the 7th Battalion (Service), Gloucestershire Regiment.

The 7th Battalion was formed in August 1914. It was in billets in Aldershot in February 1915 and landed on Gallipoli in July 1915. On 12th February 1916 it moved to Mesopotamia to join the forces being assembled near Sheik al Sa’ad for the relief of the besieged garrison at Kut Al Amara.


Kut


Indian anti-aircraft machine gunners in action during the siege of Kut.

Indian anti-aircraft machine gunners during the siege of Kut.



Bert may have joined the Gloucesters in time for the action in Gallipoli, or have been sent out to Egypt to join them in 1916 , taking part in the action at Kut Al Amara.

He died of wounds in Mesopotamia on 16th December 1916 and is buried in the Amara War Cemetery in Iraq.

Bert Clarke was cousin to James and Gilbert Shoemark from Stoke who died in Gallipoli. He was also second cousin to Cyril Gold.

Bert is remembered in the Amara War Cemetery.

IRAQ-Case

The following list contains information about Private Bert Clarke. Click on the document name to open a pdf of the document.