Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthDecember 3, 1888
Place of BirthRat Portage (Kenora), Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinPhineas Hutchins Clark (father), 615 Minto Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Trade / CallingRailroad Engineer
ReligionMethodist
Service Details
Regimental Number622020
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion44th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Age at Enlistment26
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathFebruary 6, 1949
Age at Death60
Buried AtMountain View Cemetery, Vancouver, British Columbia

Clark, William Hamilton Hutchins

Lieutenant William Hamilton Hutchins Clark signed up with the 44th Battalion in February 1915 and served for overseas for almost four years. He returned to Canada in July 1919 with a war bride.

William was the son of Phineas Hutchins Clark and Triphena Mary Harper of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Phineas and Mary were married in 1868 in St. Thomas, Ontario. They lived in several places in Ontario and Manitoba before settling in Rat Portage around 1886. William was born in Rat Portage (later called Kenora) on 3 December 1888, the youngest of seven children. From 1888 to 1906 his father served as the First Division Court Clerk for the District of Rainy River. The family moved to Winnipeg around 1908 and William’s mother died there in 1911.

The war started in August 1914 and William enlisted six months later, signing up in Winnipeg on 9 February 1915. He was 26 years old and working as a railroad engineer at the time. He joined the 44th Battalion, which had just been organized and was being recruited in Winnipeg. The men trained at Camp Sewell over the summer and headed to the east coast in the fall. They had a short stop in Kenora, William’s old home town, on 18 October. William was promoted to Acting Lance Corporal on 22 October and the next day they embarked from Halifax on the SS Lapland, arriving in the UK on 30 October.

The 44th Battalion spent the next nine months training in England. On 26 July 1916 William was promoted to Acting Lance Sergeant and two weeks later his unit left for France. They became part of the 10th Brigade in the new 4th Canadian Division. The Battle of the Somme had started that summer and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Canadian Divisions were sent to the Somme in late August. After six weeks of fighting, with very heavy losses, they were relieved in mid-October by the 4th Division. The first operation for the 44th Battalion was the assault on Regina Trench on 25 October. From the War Diary of the 44th Battalion, 26 October 1916: ‘The Battalion rested during the day. The condition of their clothes and equipment was deplorable and shows the hardships they had to endure during the [attack]. Many of the men suffering from exhaustion and exposure.‘  Regina Trench was finally captured on 11 November and the Somme Offensive ended a week later.

William was promoted to Sergeant on 15 November. On 20 November he was admitted to a field ambulance suffering from chilblains, which is similar to trench foot, and he was out of action for five days. At the end of the month his unit moved north to join the rest of the Canadian Corps near Arras, where they would spend the winter. On 21 February 1917 William reverted to being a private, at his own request, and the next major operation for the Canadians was the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April. Following the capture of the ridge the 4th Division took part in further operations in that area. Early in June the 44th Battalion was ordered to capture the hamlet of La Coulotte. The operation began at midnight on 2-3 June and the men were involved in heavy fighting as they advanced towards the objective. They reached the hamlet but could not hold on and they were forced back to their original position, suffering about 250 casualties. William was one of the injured, with a bayonet wound to his hand (recorded as ‘acc.’ or accidental) on 3 or 4 June.

William was evacuated to No. 3 Canadian General Hospital in Boulogne where he spent two days, followed by a month at a rest camp. In early July he was sent to the Canadian Base Depot. A few days later he became ill with sciatica and he was admitted to No. 7 Canadian General Hospital in Г‰taples, returning to the base depot at the end of the month. During the Battle of Hill 70 (15-25 August 1917) he served with the 4th Entrenching Battalion and afterwards he had ten days leave in Paris. He rejoined the 44th Battalion at the end of September. They were back in the Lens-Arras sector at the time and on 15 October William was promoted to Sergeant again. His unit took part in the assault on Passchendaele that fall and in January 1918 he was sent to England with the view of getting a commission.

Over the next seven months William served with the Manitoba Regiment Depot, the 18th Reserve Battalion, the 1st Canadian Corps Depot and the Depot Company. He also attended the Canadian Military School at Shorncliffe and the Officers’ Training Centre in Bexhill. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant on 10 August and attached to the 13th Reserve Battalion. William was married in London on 11 September to 26-year-old Maisie Bird and four days later he was sent to France. He arrived at the base depot on 16 September and rejoined the 44th Battalion in the field a week later. His unit took part in the crossing of the Canal du Nord at the end of the month. The final six weeks of the war were a busy time as the Canadians advanced northeast past Cambrai, towards Mons. When the Armistice was signed William’s unit was in Valenciennes and they moved into Belgium four days later.

The 44th Battalion spent the next five months in Belgium and in February 1919 William had two weeks leave in the UK. On 17 April the troops entrained for Le Havre, arriving at the embarkation camp there on 19 April. They were back in England on 28 April. William and Maisie left for Canada together that summer, sailing from Liverpool on 11 July on the RMS Melita and landing at Quebec nine days later. William was discharged on demobilization on 23 July.

When the 1921 census was taken William and Maisie were living in Winnipeg with his widowed sister Louise, his father and other relatives. William found work as a surveyor for the railroad. From Winnipeg he and his wife moved to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and by the late 1920s they were living in British Columbia, where he continued to work as a surveyor. Sadly Maisie died in Vancouver in October 1931, at age 39. William retired in 1942 and passed away in Shaughnessy Veterans Hospital in Vancouver on 6 February 1949, at age 60. He was survived by his second wife Elizabeth Ramsay. William is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver.

By Becky Johnson

1915-10-20-two-bns Clark-William-H-H-90


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