Roll of Honour
They left all that was dear to them, endured hardship, faced danger, and finally passed out of the sight of men by the path of duty and self-sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom.
Let those who come after, see to it that their names are not forgotten.
Photographs of our War Memorial are available by clicking
Andrew Vickers has done a brilliant job of researching the people whose names are on our War Memorial in our Churchyard.
He has compiled the information into a ring-binder, one copy is kept in the Church, another lives in a "pocket" attached to the Silent Hero Memorial Bench that is outside the Shop. You are invited to rest awhile on the bench, and read some of the stories uncovered by Andrew. Both copies are updated whenever more information comes to light.
Here is the first, as a sample:-
WILLIAM HENRY CLARKE
Pte 14452 6th Battalion (Pioneer), South Wales Borderers
Killed in action, 30th October 1915, aged 42.
Buried in Grave III G2, Ploegsteert Wood Cemetery.
William was the son of Charles and Catherine Clarke . His father Charles’s birth was registered in Sturminster in Q1, 1839, so he was probably born in Okeford Fitzpaine. He joined the Army and saw the world. He married Catherine, a lady with an unusual place of birth - the island of St Helena, off the West Coast of Africa. In the 1881 census the family are living at Anglesea Barracks, Portsea, Hants, and William is a seven year old scholar born at Chatham, Kent. By the 1991 census 52 year old Charles the father is no longer in the Army, the family are living at 62 Okeford where father Charles operates an engine at the Butter Factory and William the son is a general Labourer.
In Q3 1891 William married Caroline Woolridge in Sturminster District, probably in Okeford Fitzpaine – her birth was registered in Sturminster in Q1 1871.
By 1901 William had left Okeford Fitzpaine, and followed in his father's footsteps by joining the Army. Now 27, he is recorded as a “soldier on furlough”, born Chatham, Kent, a visitor at Raperra Park, Llandaff, Glamorgan, where he was visiting George Lewis (37) and his wife Eliza (36) who was also born in Chatham.
In the 1911 census, William is living in Llanvihangel, Monmouthshire with his wife Caroline and their 4 children. Caroline and all the children were recorded as born in Okeford Fitzpaine. William is now an Iron Foundry Worker. Interestingly he now gives his place of birth as St Helena; not Chatham.
The search of the CWGC records for W Clarke returns numerous possibilities, but the search with Soldiers Died reveals William enlisted in Newport Monmouthshire, served in the 6th SWB and gave his birth place as St Helena, West Indies. There is a hamlet called St Helena on Trinidad, but what are the chances of all the other pieces of this scenario fitting a separate person with a wife and children born in Okeford?
The 6th (Service) Battalion, South Wales Borderers was raised at Brecon on the 12th of September 1914 as part of Kitchener's Third New Army and joined 76th Brigade, 25th Division, which assembled in the area around Salisbury, with the 6th South Wales Borderers based at Codford. They spent the winter in billets in Bournemouth. In February 1915 they converted to a Pioneer Battalion. They moved to Hursley Park in April for a short while then moved to Aldershot for final training. They proceeded to France, landing at Le Havre on the 25th of September 1915. the division concentrating in the area of Nieppe and spent the winter in the Armintieres sector doing heavy work in flooded trenches.
Unusually for a British war diary the death of Pte Clarke is recorded by name. The role of a pioneer Battalion is to do engineering work, in WW1 this usually meant digging trenches, dug outs and drainage systems. The war diary for October shows the Battalion working in the Pluegsteert (known universally as Plug Street) area of the Ypres salient, particularly The Moated Farm and Fort Boyd features. The diary for the 30th simply records “Work aa yesterday. CO visited A & C Coys. No.14452 Pte W H Clarke killed, No.17170 Pte Davis wounded.” Presumably the men were either hit by random shell fire or sniped, there is no detailed description of his death.
William is buried in the Ploegsteert Wood Cemetery, Grave Ref. III G 2.
Ptoegsteert Wood Military Cemetery is located 12.5 Km south of Ypres on the road to Armentieres. The Cemetery was created by the enclosure of a number of small regimental cemeteries made by the 1st Battalion The Somerest Regiment in December 1914. Plot III contains 16 graves of the l/5th Gloucesters, made between April and May 1915, and in Plots III and I there are 12 graves of the 8th Loyal North Lancs from October to December 1915. However, these plots were known as CANADIAN CEMETERY, STRAND, from the 28 Canadian graves of June to October 1915 in Plot III and from the trench running nearby.
The cemetery as a whole was used sparingly in 1916, and again by the New Zealand Division in July and August 1917. It was in German hands between 10 April and 29 September 1918.