George Francis CLARKE MM

CLARKE, George Francis

Service Number: 1887
Enlisted: 23 February 1916, Sydney, New South Wales
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: AIF Headquarters
Born: Paddington, New South Wales, Australia, 18 October 1893
Home Town: Parramatta, New South Wales
Schooling: Crown Street Superior Public School, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation: Clerk Sydney Morning Herald
Died: Natural causes, Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, New South Wales, Australia, 20 April 1927, aged 33 years
Cemetery: Rookwood Cemetery & Crematorium
Zone C Anglican 9 0628
Memorials: New South Wales Garden of Remembrance (Rookwood Necropolis)
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World War 1 Service

23 Feb 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 1887, 53rd Infantry Battalion, Sydney, New South Wales
14 Apr 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 1887, 53rd Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
14 Apr 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 1887, 53rd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ceramic, Sydney
1 Sep 1918: Honoured Military Medal, Mont St Quentin / Peronne
13 Feb 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, 1887, AIF Headquarters, Sydney, New South Wales

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Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

George Francis Clark was the only son of Mr. George Clarke, of Parramatta North.  Born in Paddngton in 1893 he was educated at the Crown Street Superior Public School.  He joined the clerical staff of the Sydney Morning Herlad in 1913.

Early in 1916 he enlisted as a Private, and sailed with reinforcements for the 53rd Battalion, which he joined in France on the Somme in October of that year.  At Flers he was incapacitated for a little while on account of trench feet.  He rejoined his battalion again in May, 1917, and saw continued fighting at Ypres, Wytshcaete and elsewhere until the beginning of the final offensive in August, when he took part in engagements from Villers Bretonneux to Peronne.

He acted as despatch runner at Peronne, having meanwhile been made a Lance Corporal, and was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry on the field.

Military Medal

'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty as Battalion runners during the attack on PERONNE on the 1st, and 2nd September 1918. During the whole of the operation the shell fire was intense, and consequently telephonic communication was frequently interrupted. Owing to the heavy casualties amongst runners these two men [CLARKE and 3259 E. BARRON] were almost continuously employed for a period of 36 hours carrying messages between Battalion headquarters and the Front Line. The approach to the Front Line was under direct enemy observation, and consequently any movement over this ground drew intense direct Machine Gun fire; notwithstanding this, these two runners volunteered on several occasions to carry urgent messages across to the Front Line and in every case succeeded in delivering their messages and bringing back the replies. The extreme bravery and utter disregard of their personal safety displayed by these two men set the finest possible example to the remainder of the runners, and they were in no small measure responsible for the excellent communication maintained throughout the operation.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 115
Date: 10 October 1919

The death occurred on Wednesday at the Prince of Wales' Hospital, Randwick, of Mr. George Francis Clarke, son of Mr. and Mrs. George Clarke, of Northmead. Mr. Clarke, who  was a returned soldier, was a member of the advertising staff of the "Sydney Morning Herald," and was recently married to Miss Marie Reilly, of Croydon. While on active service  he was awarded the military medal for gallantry on the field. He enlisted in 1916, and was attached to the 53rd Battallion, which was engaged in the fighting at Ypres,  Wytschaete, Villers Brettonneaux and Peronne. Deceased was a brother-in-law of Mr. Hedley Horwood, the well-known builder, of Parramatta. The funeral took place this morning, when the cortege left the parlours of Metcalfe and Morris for the Church of England cemetery.