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Remembered Today:

Private William 'Billy' Clarke S/11210 8th Seaforth KIA 31/7/1


rgalley
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I'm hoping to find out more about William 'Billy' Clarke's time in the army, particularly if there are any photographs of him.

Here's the info I have so far:

Billy Clarke was born in 1894 and lived at 48 Clifton Road, Canning Town, in London’s East End (in the area now known as Newham). His father, William senior, was a ship’s fireman, born in Kingston, Jamaica, while mother Leah appears to have been born in Canning Town. At the time of the 1901 census for West Ham, Billy had two brothers and a sister, with perhaps other siblings born post-1901.

Billy moved to Wick around 1911 to work as a cinema pianist (we don’t know anything about his musical training or early career); he was employed at the Breadalbane Hall cinema and may also have worked in a similar role at the Pavilion.

By all accounts he was warmly welcomed into the community. Contemporary reports in the Groat describe Billy as “exceedingly popular” and “a musician of marked ability”. He was a member of a local organisation called the Wick Brotherhood (does anyone have any knowledge of this group?)

When war broke out he enlisted in the 8th Seaforth Highlanders (Private William Stanley Clarke, S/11210). While serving in the army, Billy took every opportunity to play the piano or harmonium, thereby boosting the morale of the troops and he instigated a successful local appeal for hymn books for the men to use.

In July 1916 reports appeared in the local press announcing that Billy had suffered a serious head wound.

In August 1916 it was reported that he had not regained consciousness and had passed away. His actual date of death was July 31st 1916, so he was 22 when he died. A report in the Groat stated: “He was a great favourite in town, and his death will be sincerely regretted.”

Billy is buried in Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery at St Omer.

All info greatly received.

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MIC adds a bit more you havent quoted

Thanks Coldstreamer

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Some info on the Wick Brotherhood is at:

http://www.caithness.org/community/worship/cos/bridgestreetwick/final_days.htm

"During its history - in addition to Sunday Schools, Bible Class, Women's Guild, the Church Choir and Sunday School choirs, Young Mothers' Group, Young Men's Christian Association, Ladies Work Party, the Christian Endeavour and the Youth Fellowship - Wick Bridge St Church has also been home to a Literary Society, the Girls Guildry, a Girl Guide Company, Wick Youth Club and one organization which drew crowds too large even for a church of this size. This was the “Brotherhood” whose monthly open meetings were sometimes so well attended that people sat in the aisles and even on the the pulpit steps. The banner of The Brotherhood, designed by the wife of the Reverend Alfred Coutts who ministered between 1909 and 1912, has recently been gifted to Wick Heritage Centre."

and Billy is mentioned in this article:

http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/Features/Celebrating-100-years-of-cinema-in-Caithness-17092013.htm

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Many thanks Ken, much appreciated.

Richard

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