From the Thorley Archives

Four Sons of the First World War


In 'We Will Remember Them' I described some of the detailed notes that the Rector of Thorley, Canon J.E.I. Procter, recorded in 1919 about the men of the parish who served in the First World War. Since then many local people have been able to add additional information to the original article so that we now have a growing archive file about these servicemen. Further research at the Hertford Record Office revealed a February 1919 newspaper cutting about a Thorley family entitled:

'A Trooper's Death, Family's Heavy War Losses'.
'General sorrow has been caused in Thorley by the death on Tuesday, from pneumonia, of Trooper Joseph Walter Clark, of the Hertfordshire Yeomanry, the fourth son of Mr and Mrs James Albert Clark of Moor Hall Cottages, Thorley. The deceased, who was in the Hertfordshire Constabulary before joining the Army, had served abroad in France, Egypt, Palestine and Syria and only returned last week after an absence abroad of over two years. His eldest brother, Major Charles Clark, M.C., of the Royal field Artillery, was killed in action in France last April; and another brother, Sergeant Albert James Clark, of the Army Veterinary Corps, died last May. The coffin, wrapped in the Union Jack, was carried into the church by a detachment of the Hertfordshire Yeomanry …… who fired three volleys over the grave ……… The grave was lined with evergreens.'

105748 L.CPL. J.W. Clark's headstone, maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, is to be found in the mid southern section of the churchyard. John Fuller recorded complete details of the grave in our churchyard survey in August. Mr and Mrs Clark's fourth son, Sergeant William Clark, survived the war.

Of the 99 servicemen listed in Canon Procter's notebook 20 lost their lives. All are commemorated on the church war memorial in the nave. The following biographies of the four Clark brothers are from Canon Procter's notes, with photographs again supplied by Geoffrey Harris.

Bill Hardy
November 2001

Albert James Clark

Army Veterinary Corps
Joined the Army on
April 6th 1915.
Went to France in
October 1915.
Died of consumption at Kennington on
May 28th 1918
Aged 27 years.
Before joining the Army he was in the Metropolitan Police.

Home address, Moor Hall Cottages

Charles Clark

Major, M.C.
295th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery
When war broke out he was in India, having joined the Royal Horse Artillery in 1902 at the age of 16 and held the rank of Sergeant. He returned to England in January 1915 and received a commission in the Royal Horse Artillery and went to Gallipoli on April 25th 1915. Here he won the Military Cross for fixing wires and getting a message to Headquarters some time before the next message got through. He was the first to land and almost the last to leave at the evacuation of the Peninsula. Subsequently he went to France, where he was made Lieutenant, and later he was promoted to Captain. Only a few weeks before his death he was promoted to the rank of Major.
He was killed in action at Bienvilliers-au-Bois on April 25th 1918.

Home address, Moor Hall Cottages

Joseph Walter Clark

Lance Corporal
B. Squadron, Hertfordshire Yeomanry
Joined the Army in June 1915
Went to Egypt in October 1915 and then to France. Early in 1917 he went to Egypt and thence to Palestine and Syria.
Returned home on February 4th 1919
and died of pneumonia following influenza on
February 11th 1919
aged 24 years.
Died at his home in Thorley and was buried with military honours in Thorley Churchyard.
Before joining the Army
he was with the Hertfordshire Constabulary.

Home address, Moor Hall Cottages

William Clark

2nd Batt. Hertfordshire Regiment
He was in the Hertfordshire Regiment before the outbreak of War and was mobilised at once. On the formation of the 2nd Batt. he was transferred into it from the 1st Batt. He was discharged on April 4th 1916, having served his time. Before the War he was employed as stockman by Mr F. Newman of Moor Hall.

Home address, Clay Lane


From the Archives