|Date of Birth||August 23, 1894|
|Place of Birth||Edinburgh|
|Next of Kin||Father: Mr. Jas (James) Clark - Keewatin,Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Surveyor|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Address at Enlistment||Not stated but most likely with his parents in Keewatin, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||October 22, 1914|
|Age at Enlistment||20|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||January 17, 1916|
|Age at Death||21|
|Buried At||Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, France|
|Plot||II. C. 60.|
William was the second child and only son of James Clark and Jane/Jean (Heddle) of Keewatin, Ontario. His parents had married on June 16, 1893 in Old Deer, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. He had an older sister, Jeannie, and two younger sisters, Isabella and Jamesina, all born in Scotland. James immigrated to Canada in 1904 and Jane followed with the children in 1905. When the 1911 census was taken William’s father was working as a caretaker at the Public School in Keewatin. At this time the family made their home on Mill Street in Keewatin beside the school.
When William enlisted with the 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion, on October 22, 1914, he was just 20 years old and was working as a surveyor. Known as ‘Bill’ to family and friends he signed up in Kenora to join the war effort. A private of the 27th Battalion during the First World War could expect to earn between $1.00 and $1.10 a day, or around $30 a month. Just over a week after enlisting William and seven other Keewatin lads plus eight from Kenora were off to Winnipeg to start their training with the 27th Battalion. A ‘rousing send-off’ was given to these young men from their home town communities.
Over the winter the battalion trained in Manitoba and the following spring they left for England, embarking from Quebec on May 17, 1915 on the Carpathia. The men spent several months training at Shorncliffe Camp in southeast England. On September 14 they marched from Shorncliffe to Southampton where they boarded a ship bound for France. They disembarked at Boulogne on September 18 and four days later the battalion was in Belgium. The Canadian Divisions were in the Ypres Salient that fall and the 27th Battalion was based south of Ypres near the town of Kemmel, very close to the border with France. Over the next four months the battalion spent time in training, work parties, improving the trenches, going on patrols and raids and doing rotations in the front lines. William was hit by a trench mortar during one of their rotations in the front trenches. It most likely happened on January 12 when the war diary of the 27th Battalion recorded one man wounded. William was evacuated to a casualty clearing station where he died of his wounds on January 17, 1916.
From the Circumstances of Death record for William: ‘Died of Wounds’ While on duty in the front line trenches, he was hit by a trench mortar bomb. He was evacuated to No. 2 Casualty Clearing Station where he later succumbed to his wounds.
William is buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension in the French town of Bailleul, which is very close to the border with Belgium. The extension to the cemetery was made in April 1915 and it contains 4,400 Commonwealth First World War burials, many of them from No. 2 Casualty Clearing Station.
William is commemorated on the Keewatin Cenotaph, the Lake of the Woods Milling Co. plaque, the Kenora and Keewatin High Schools plaque, page 67 of the First World War Book of Remembrance and the Municipality of Keewatin Roll of Honour.
His sister Jamesina married Charles Burgoyne, a Keewatin resident and veteran of the First World War.
By Linda Pelletier
Circumstances of death card courtesy of Library and Archives Canada.