|Born||6 April 1894|
|Died||10 June 1947(aged 53)|
|Place of birth||Winsford, Cheshire|
|Place of death||Rochdale, Lancashire|
|Buried at||Rochdale Cemetery|
|Years of service||1915-1919|
|Rank||Regimental Sergeant Major|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
James Clarke VC (6 April 1894 – 10 June 1947) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
He was born in Winsford, Cheshire. Leaving school at the age of 14, he worked as a day-labourer, before enlisting in the Lancashire Fusiliers in October 1915. He was 24 years old and an acting company sergeant major in the 15th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, British Army during the First World War when he performed the deeds which resulted in the award of the Victoria Cross. His citation reads:
For most conspicuous bravery and initiative during the attack at Happegarbes on 2 Nov. 1918, when in command of a platoon. He led his men forward with great determination, and on being held up be heavy machine-gun fire, rushed forward through a thick, strongly held ridge, captured in succession four machine-guns, and single-handed bayoneted the crews. Later he led the remnants of his platoon to the capture of three machine-guns and many prisoners. In the later stages of the attack on the same day, when his platoon was held up by enemy machine-guns, he successfully led a tank against them over very exposed ground. Continuing the attack on 3 Nov., after capturing many prisoners and gaining his objective, he organized his line most skillfully and held up the enemy. On 4 Nov., in the attack on the Oise-Sambre Canal, under heavy fire from the canal bank, he rushed forward with a Lewis Gun team in the face on an intense barrage, brought the gun into action, and effectively silenced the enemy's fire, this enabling his company to advance and gain their objectives. Throughout the whole of these operations Sergt. Clarke acted with magnificent bravery and total disregard of personal safety, and by his gallantry and high sense of duty set an inspiring example to all ranks.
He did not find much success in civilian life. On 8 June 1946, Clarke participated in the World War II Victory Parade. He died the following year of pneumonia. His VC is on display in the Lord Ashcroft Gallery at the Imperial War Museum, London.
References[edit | edit source]
Further reading[edit | edit source]
- Monuments to Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
- The Register of the Victoria Cross (This England, 1997)
- VCs of the First World War - The Final Days 1918 (Gerald Gliddon, 2000)
[edit | edit source]
- Find A Grave entry
- Location of grave and VC medal (Lancashire)
- Regimental details of Clarke and his VC
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