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Private Thomas Evan Clark - Manchester Regiment


jaks8373
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Calling all experts!!

I'm trying to find out more regarding my Gt Grandfather, Thomas Evan Clark, brn 1886 in Oldham, Lancs who served with the Manchester Regiment.... unfortunately we do not know with which battallion. We have photo's of him in uniform which confirm the regiment but not the battallion.

We are lead to believe he was 'gassed' and shipped back to a hospital in Cheshire early in hostilities where he met his future wife. He was definately on british soil and in relatively good health in July 1915 as his son is conceived in that month!! Am I right in thinking these dates suggest he may have seen action in France?

His son (my grandad) seems to think he joined up in Warrington or Wigan although his memory is not what it used to be. We also know that the British Legion refused him help in later life..... why would that be? Could he not have been 'gassed' and in fact have been pulling a fast one to get out?

I have checked the medal cards and pensions online but none of them appear to be him

I have posted over on the manchesters forum who have been fantastic....especially with the gas info... however I thought I'd try on here too.

He really is an enigma to us............ can any experts out there help us?

Jakki

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Jakki

Welcome to the Forum. As I'm sure you've already appreciated, it is not easy to trace someone with a relatively common name - he may be there in the records as plain Thomas.

I think there are two possible ways forward to try to identify him. One will be to see if his service record still exists at the National Archives (about 30% do). They're not available online but if you can't get to kew, then you can order the microfilm through any Family Research Centre of the Mormon Church. Assuming he was still living in Oldham, then it will be worth searching the Oldham Chronicle editions for the early part of the war. Often papers will mention men enlisting or returning home wounded.

From what you've written, I gather he had already been on active service, been gassed and was back at home recovering by July 1915. Yes? What's the occupation listed on his marriage certificate - may just say soldier, may give battalion.

Getting married suggest he was well on the way to recovery by July which might, in turn, suggest he had been gassed some time earlier. That means it's likely he was serving with either the 1st or 2nd Battalions. These were regular army units. If he'd served in the army before the war, he might have been recalled as a reservist. Alternatively, he might have joined up just after the war started and joined the regiment as a replacement for casualties.

However, he might have been in one of the Territorial Battalions (joining at Wigan suggests the 5th Battalion). They went overseas in September 1914 and went into action at Gallipoli in early May. Possibly just about enough time for him to be "gassed", return home get married, etc. Just about. You also need to a broad view about what gassing might mean. Poison gas wasnt used till the spring of 1915, but men could still be affected by fumes and whatnot form exploding shells, etc

May I also suggest you have a read of the research of the mother site. Click the link to the Long Long Trail top left of the page.

John

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Jakki

Out of nosiness, I've had a look at the medal cards and see your difficulty.

There's no-one called Thomas E Clark listed as serving with the Manchesters. There are only three Thomas Clark's - and none have a service number that fits with this early service.

So, I looked at Clarke's. There were two Thomas Clarke's that looked a possibility.One had service number 9132 - which fits - but he was killed. There is another one who may be worth exploring. This man originally served with the South Lancashire Regiment (service number 4054) which would tie up with a Warrington enlistment. Later (after 1917) he served with the Manchesters. However, don't bet a quid on it being him!

John

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Jakki

have you read my last post regarding his badge?

chris

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Chris, yes I did and it was really useful...... as soon as I get the photo's from France I'll have a close look.

His Marriage certificate states his occupation as a cotton spinner...... no mention of the army. Does this suggest that he had been discharged?

Jakki

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Hi Jakki,

The problem with marriage certificates is that a person could put down whatever they felt like and get away with it - unless of course someone objected.

On the balance of probability the fact that the occupation is recorded as cotton spinner would indicate that he had been discharged.

Though there is the possibility that he was so disenchanted with military life he did not want it mentioned on any documentation or possibly, that he considered military service as being something he felt obliged to do rather than his occupation.

Doug

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thomas was in one of the manchester pals battalions,16th-23rd,hes not listed in the 24th batt nominal roll.

the photo you posted on the mancs forum confirms this.

thanks to the picture,we can now rule out the regulars+territorial

mack

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we can now rule out the regulars+territorial

And, in that case, we can also rule him out of being injured or gassed in action and back in the UK by July 1915, as the Pals didnt go overseas until November.

John

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ooh the plot thickens!!!!

I'm not remotely suprised..... I know his wedding was a bit of a shotgun affair, I did the maths ;) !!! Maybe the story of him meeting my gt gran in the hospital was a cover story.

He definately was in hospital at some point...... we have the photographic evidence.

I'm not going to give up on this!!!

Jaks

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Jaks

I still come back to my original advice about searching for his service papers and/or looking through the Oldham Chron.

There may be another route about the "shotgun wedidng" and that's through great gran's side of things. If you could establish from the marriage certificate or other sources where she came from, that might tend to confirm (or otherwise) if he was likely to have met her around Oldham or, perhaps, at the hospital. Not conclusive but....

There are good records of British nursing staff so it may be possible to trace if she was a nurse. A PM to Forum member, Sue Light, asking if she's come across the name would be a very good way forward. Sue is The Guvnor when it comes to all things nursing.

John

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His Marriage certificate states his occupation as a cotton spinner...... no mention of the army. Does this suggest that he had been discharged?

When did they actually marry?

We know he was in the UK in July 1915 but I'm beginning to wonder if he might then have not yet been in the army.

John

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There's no-one called Thomas E Clark listed as serving with the Manchesters. There are only three Thomas Clark's - and none have a service number that fits with this early service.

OK. I've gone back to basics based on what we now know.

Assuming that he actually served abroad with the Manchesters and his surname is correctly recorded as Clark (without an "E") in the medal index cards, then I think there is only one candidate.

Only two men are called Thomas Clark (others have a wrong middle initial) and have a number that might relate to one of the Regiment's "service" battalions (not a regular or territorial). One man had the number 24644 - but he is listed as fatal casualty by the War Graves Commission. The other has the number 55142 and must be the most likely person. The number suggests enlistment not earlier than late 1916.

I lurves a mystery, I do.

John

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Thanks everyone....

In regard to the wedding....... Mary was born in Manchester however the whole family were back in Weaverham in Cheshire. On their wedding cert it gives her address as the same road in Oldham, Delamere St, as Thomas..... except he was at no 1 and she was at no 5.

I've attached the medal roll for Thomas Clark 55142

What is R War R ?

thomas_medal_roll.doc

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I think "R War R" must be Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Looks like this man went overseas with the Mancs (I'd say in 1917). He then transfers to the Warwicks (hopefully a Warwicks "expert" might see this and be able to suggest when the service number was allocated). He's then transferred back to the Mancs very much later in the war.

As to the marriage, I assume the couple are the Thomas E Clark and Mary Lee who married in the September quarter of 1915 (at St Mark's, Glodwich). Addresses on the same road don't help us too much. She might have been briefly living there (or just given that address) as a dodge for the church - many parishes used to insist on a period of residency (and attending services) before a marriage ceremony could be performed.

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Again I doubt this is him...... my grandad and Gt Aunt have no knowledge of him being anything other than a private. Maybe because of all the rumours and legends that surrounded him I am underestimating him. I will do a bit of digging on this one.

Thanks again to everyone who keeps helping.

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