Remembering those who fought in the Great War.

William Clark(Argylls)

SON OF JOHN AND GRACE CLARK, OF "MAYBANK," 25 BAWHIRLEY RD., GREENOCK. School teacher at Chapelton School, Port Glasgow. His brother Richard was also a school teacher - joined RFA

A tribute to William Clark Second Lieutenant, 5th Bn, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Who died on Monday, 23rd April 1917. Age 27 The recent Centenary Commemorations of the Battle of Arras have prompted me to gather together a few thoughts. Around 1992 I had reason to visit an elderly lady, Miss May Clark, in Kempock House in Gourock. She was well into her nineties but a preparatory telephone call the previous day had assured me that the former piano tutor had all her marbles and was indeed as sharp as a tack… and yes, she certainly was. I had taken along a photograph for her to see that I knew would have been of interest to her. It was a picture from 1913 of the first office-bearers of the newly formed Masonic Lodge, Crawfurdsburn Greenock No 1121. Her father, John Clark, was the first Master and he is centred in the shot. Miss Clark took the photograph from me but remained silent with no reaction. I pointed out her father dressed in his full regalia but her attention was already focussed on another younger man in the second row. ‘That’s William’, she said quietly, ‘My brother. He died in the war’. The silence returned as this ninety-something-year-old lady became a younger doting sister in her early twenties having just heard the news. A seventy-five-year-old tear came to her eye and a resigned smile came to her lips. She mentioned the impact of his death on her parents. This was my introduction to William Clark, a man who remains to this day as my personal connection to the Great War. He is also a man with whom I seem to share so many similarities. We both grew up in the same street in the east end of Greenock, Bawhirley Rd, he at number 25 and I at 75. We both attended Hillend Primary School and both went on to the Greenock High School. We were both Secretary of Lodge Crawfurdsburn – William at its founding and myself exactly one hundred years later. He was a talented young man. He was an assistant school master at Chapelton School in Port Glasgow and was a great student of art. It was generally thought by many that Art would eventually become his chosen profession. He was an inspirational character by all accounts. I have read in his own handwriting how he heard the call of Lord Kitchener. I read also a letter from him dated 1915 saying how happy he was to be back at the lodge in which he modestly fails to mention that he had sustained injuries in fierce fighting at the Battle of Loos with the 6th Cameron Highlanders. He received his commission for gallantry in the field. In early 1916 he joined the 5th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and was retained as an instructor at Ripon for almost a year. Early in 1917 he returned to France and by April he was involved in the conflict around the city of Arras. He was killed on the 23rd of April of that year. A day that has been named as ‘Black Monday’ in the memoirs of others. Some official documents list his death as the 24th of April which suggests a cold interlude between death and the recovery of his body. The Greenock Telegraph described him as a popular officer, winning by his frank lovable nature and his devotion the confidence and respect of both officers and men. His loss is deeply mourned, but he has died gloriously it states. In 2001 I drove to France. Part Holiday, part unspoken pilgrimage. It was a cold, wet and windy March day when we visited that small cemetery on the Heninel to Croisilles Road. His grave was not difficult to find. Out of the three hundred or so plots, half are unidentified and eleven are German. I stood in front of the stone inscribed William Clark, aware that his final resting place would not have been initially a single plot but a long trench, and the tears came to my eyes. The futility and the waste. The unfulfilled talent of a generation. And for what? Andrew S McKenzie April 2017

Injured at Loos with the 6th Cameron Highlanders. Commissioned with 5th Argylls and served as Instructor at Ripon for a year prior to deployment. Buried at Heninel-Croisilles Road Cemetery, France. Grave Reference II. C. 36.

Newspaper Clippings relating to William Clark(Argylls)

William Clark(Argylls)