Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthMarch 5, 1884
Place of BirthLeeds, Yorkshire
CountryEngland
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinThomas Grayson (uncle), Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Trade / CallingFarmer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number198371
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion16th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Address at EnlistmentMoose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Date of EnlistmentNovember 29, 1915
Age at Enlistment31
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 5, 1933
Age at Death38
Buried AtSt. Peter's Cemetery, London, Ontario

Clarke, John

Private John Clarke enlisted in November 1915 and served in France with the 16th (Canadian Scottish) Battalion. He was wounded in August 1918 at the Battle of Amiens and invalided to Canada five months later.

According to his attestation John was born on 5 March 1884 in Leeds, Yorkshire, England. He immigrated to Canada around 1908, when he was about 24 years old. He enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 29 November 1915, giving his address as Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and his occupation as farmer. Next of kin was his uncle Thomas Grayson of Moose Jaw. John joined the 94th Overseas Battalion in Kenora, Ontario, where he may have had friends or relatives living. The 94th Battalion was based in Port Arthur and recruited in towns throughout northwestern Ontario. After training over the winter the Kenora volunteers were sent to Port Arthur in May 1916 to join the rest of the unit. They left for Quebec two weeks later and spent a short time at Valcartier Camp before embarking from Halifax on 28 June on the SS Olympic. In England the recruits were all absorbed into reserve battalions to be used as reinforcements for other units.

John was transferred to the 17th Reserve Battalion on 13 July. That fall the Canadians suffered heavy casualties at the Somme and John was sent to France in November as a reinforcement for the 16th (Canadian Scottish) Battalion. When he joined his unit in the field in December they were based near Arras, across from Vimy. In April 1917 the Canadians captured Vimy Ridge then stayed in the area for several months, holding the new front line. John suffered a sprained ankle on 15 August and he was evacuated to a hospital in Le Tréport. He spent a month there followed by six months at the Canadian Base Depot and the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp, rejoining his unit in March 1918. During the summer the Canadians were given several weeks of intensive training in open warfare and in July John had two weeks leave in the UK.

The final period of the war, known now as the Hundred Days Offensive, started in August 1918 with the Battle of Amiens. The 16th Battalion took part on the first day of the assault, 8 August, and John was one of the casualties that day. He was hit in the right forearm by bullets or shrapnel and his arm was broken in several places. He was taken to a casualty clearing station, where his arm was amputated just below the elbow. From there he was sent to No. 3 Australian General Hospital in Abbeville and two weeks later he was evacuated to England. He spent two months recovering at Bethnal Green Military Hospital in London followed by two months at Granville Special Canadian Hospital in Buxton. During that time his next of kin was listed as his stepsister Marian Braithwaite in Leeds. On 12 December John was transferred to a hospital in Liverpool to await his return to Canada. He embarked on the HS Araguaya on 29 December, landing at Halifax on 7 January 1919. His convalescence continued at the Military Hospital in Whitby, Ontario where he was a patient from 13 January to 22 April. While he was there he was fitted with a prosthetic arm with a hook. He was officially discharged from the army on 29 April in Toronto, listed as medically unfit for further service. He was entitled to wear two gold (wound) stripes.

John’s intended residence on discharge was Kenora and he may have spent some time there after his release from the hospital. Two years later when the 1921 census was taken he was living in Vancouver, rooming with a family on Howe Street and listed as infirm. His stepbrother Bernard Braithwaite also lived in Vancouver. On 13 February 1923 John was admitted to Westminster Hospital in London, Ontario and he spent the last ten years of his life there. Westminster had been started as a military hospital in 1918, used to treat veterans suffering from mental illness after the war. From the late 1920s it also accommodated veterans with other medical needs. John passed away in Westminster on 5 January 1933, suffering from dementia praecox and acute double pneumonia. He was laid to rest two days later in St. Peter’s Cemetery in London.

John is commemorated in Kenora on the St. Alban’s Pro-Cathedral First World War Roll of Honour.

By Becky Johnson

94th-1915-12-4 94th-1916-06-10 Clarke-John-90


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