One of our readers has got in touch to tell the story about two of her ancestors, John Edward and Harry (Henry) Clarke:
John was born in Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire, in 1879, the son of Edward and Margaret Ellen Clarke. By 1891 they were living at the rear of a lock-up shop at 21 Oxford Street, Bilston, together with John’s siblings Samuel, Alice, Frederick W., Ellen and Herbert. Harry was born in Bilston on 29 August 1899. They had moved to 56 Oxford Street by 1901, by which date the 21-year-old John had become a house painter. Along with Harry, he had an additional two siblings, Florence and Rachel. John married Eleanora Edwards in 1900, and they went on to have two children, Sarah Ellen and Ernest Edward.
John enlisted first with the Lincolnshire Regiment (number 15536) and later with the Infantry Battalion of the Machine Gun Corps (number 9161), but was killed in action on 11 April 1917. His next of kin and sole legatee is given as his mother, Margaret, rather than his wife, and in the 1911 census he appears alongside his parents and is listed as “single”. I have been unable to confirm, however, what happened to his wife. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial in France.
The much younger brother, Harry, was still at school in the 1911 census. He later enlisted with the 5th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment (number 48360). Unfortunately, he was also killed in action on 27 May 1918, and he is remembered on the Soissons Memorial. Both men are also remembered on the Bilston New Town Ward Roll of Honour.