Biography of Corporal Harry Proctor Clarke (1281)
5th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment
Died 29th March 1915
- Name: Harry Proctor Clark
- Date of birth: 31st March 1894
- Place of Birth: 24 Lee Street, Louth, Lincolnshire, England
- Date of Birth Registration: April – June 1894
- Place of Birth Registration: Louth, Lincolnshire, England
- Name: Fred Turner (Foster Father)
- DOB: 15th September 1862
- Place of Birth: Louth, Lincolnshire, England
- Occupation: Engine fitter on farm
- Name: Harriet Clark (Biologcal Mother)
- Name: Fanny Stamp (Foster Mother)
- DOB: 10th December 1864
- Place Of Birth: Louth, LIncolnshire, England
- Marriage: 1891 Louth District
Siblings: (Name), (DOB), (POB)
- Albert Turner, 1893, Louth
- Harry Proctor Clark, 1894, Louth (Foster child)
- Hazel Turner, 1895, Louth
- Reginald Turner, 1897, Louth
- Dorothy Turner, 1899, Louth
- Savile Turner, 1901, Louth
- Katie Turner, 1903, Donington On Bain
- Richard Turner, 1905, Donington On Bain
- 1901: Harry is living with his foster parents at 15 Northgate, Louth, Lincolnshire. He is listed as a nurse child.
- 1911: Harry is living with his foster parents at 2 Railway Cottages, Donington on Bain, Lincolnshire. The census gives him an age of 16 and he is listed as a Grocers apprentice.
- None found
- No marriage for Harry has been found and because of his age we can assume that he never had the opportunity to marry.
- Grantham Journal Saturday 1st May 1915
THe following casualties among N.C.O.’s and men of the LIncolnshire Regiment have been reported under the dates given:-
April 11th. – Killed: 5th Battalion (T.F.), Clarke 1281 corpl. H. P.
- Lincolnshire Past and Present No 102 Winter 2015/16
In the article with an extract from Captain Robert Stainton Fieldsend’s War Diary.
Captain Stainton notes that E company were on duty in the Ploegsteert Wood section of the front line. He also comments that the distance between the trenches was between 60 and 200 yards and the ground between them was covered with the bodies of men and animals. Most of the action appears to have been from snipers and the battalion suffered a few casualties including “Coropral Carke who served in Topliss’s shop at Donington on Bain who was killed.
Soldier’s Died In The Great War
- These records show that Corporal Harry Proctor Clark, 1281, 5th Bn Lincolnshire Regiment was killed in action on 29th March 1915 in the Western European Theatre in France and Flanders.
Effects Left To
- Foster mother Fanny Turner
- The British Medal
- The Victory Medal
- The 15 Star
- Bourne, Roll of Honour in Boutrne Abbey Church
- Bourne War Memorial in the Memorial Gardens
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
- In memory of Corporal Henry Proctor Clark, 1281, 5th Bn., Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 29 March 1915
- Foster son of Mrs F. Turner, of 1, The Terrace, Bourne, LIncs.
- Remembered with honour, Lancashire Cottage Cemetery
- Grave I. F. 19.
© Picture taken by South Lincolnshire War Memorials
© Picture taken by South Lincolnshire War Memorials
Military Service Timeline
Today we remember Harry Procter Clark, who is remembered on the Bourne War Memorial. Harry was killed in action whilst serving with the Lincolnshire Regiment on this day (29th March) 1915 near Ploegsteert Wood, aged 20- just two days before his 21st birthday.Harry was born on March 31st 1894 at 24 Lee Street Louth to Harriet Clark, a domestic housekeeper. Harry was fostered by Fred Turner, a farm engine fitter, and his wife Fanny (nee Stamp) who lived at 15 Northgate, Louth. It is believed Fred was present at the birth as recorded on his registration dated May 8th 1894.Harry was to be brought up in a large family. Fred and Fanny were to have 7 children in total:Albert (born 1893)Harry Proctor Clark (fostered 1894)Hazel (1895)Reginald (1897)Dorothy (1899)Savile (1901)Katie (1903)Richard (1905).By 1911, the family had moved to 2 Railway Cottages, Donington-on-Bain. Aged 16, Harry was working as a grocer’s apprentice.Official documents show that Harry attested to the Lincolnshire Regiment on October 18th 1911, aged 17. He was passed fit for Territorial Service in the Lincolnshire Reserves on August 11th 1912.When war broke out in August 1914, Harry began his service on the Homefront from August 5th. It is likely that he was called up having joined the Lincolnshire Regiment three years prior to help with recruitment. He was to stay in this act of duty until February 27th 1915. This was defined by war officials at the time as ‘embodied service’.Harry was to rise through the ranks over the years. He was appointed Lance Corporal on November 28th 1914, to progress to the rank of Corporal on February 20th 1915- just one month before he was to be killed in action.Harry was posted to the 5th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment and embarked for Le Havre, Normandy on February 27th 1915.Excerpts from the 1/5th Battalion diary provides detail into the action surrounding the day Harry was killed:29th March 1915- PloegsteertLovely day but very cold.1 1/ 2 Companies went into trenches for night work, all companies received further instruction all day.One Corporal killed and two privates wounded in trenches.30th March 1915- PloegsteertLovely day but cold.Companies received further instruction in trench work + R. C work outside the trenches.31st March 1915- PloegsteertLovely day, warmer.Battalion returned to billeting area at Steenwerck.In the war diary of Captain Robert Stainton Fieldsend, later complied by his Great Nephew Chris Ward and posted in Gun Fire and Lincolnshire Past and Present, a mention of Corporal Clark was made. Captain Stainton notes that E company were on duty in Ploegsteert Wood section of the front line. He also comments that the distance between the trenches was between 60 and 200 yards. The ground between them was covered with the bodies of men and animals. Most of the action appears to have been from snipers and the battalion suffered a few casualties including ‘’Corporal Clark, who served in Topliss’s shop at Donington on Bain who was killed.’’When looking at the battalion diary and that of Captain Stainton, we can conclude that the ‘one Corporal killed’ was indeed Harry Procter Clark. We have to assume, sadly, that Harry was the first death in the Battalion.In order to issue his war medals in 1920, the army received correspondence a Ms Louise Sutton (nee Johnson) who declared her relationship to Harry as his fiancée. Louise was shown to have given her full address in Grimsby. Louise went on to give information on Harry’s family, saying that he had no full blood relatives and his next of kin was his foster mother Mrs Fanny Turner, now recorded to be living at 1, The Terrace, Bourne.Harry is buried in Lancashire Cottage Cemetery, and is one of 265 burials at this site. The cemetery coined its name from the 1st East Lancashire regiment who began the cemetery with 84 burials in November 1914. The 1st Hampshires were also some of the first to use this cemetery, burying 56 of their men here. The cemetery fell into German hands from April 10 to September 1918 and made a few burials of their own during this time. In total, the cemetery commemorates 256 Commonwealth burials and 13 Germans. The cemetery was designed by Charles Holden.Harry is buried in grave I. F. 19.https://southlincolnshirewarmemorials.org.uk/our-villages/bourne/harry-procter-clarke/
Excerpt from the 1/5th Battalion Diary
29th March 1915 – Ploegsteert
Lovely day but very cold.
1 1/2 Companies went into trenches for night work, all companies received further instruction all day.
One Corporal kiled and two privates wounded in Trenches.
30th March 1915 – Ploegsteert
Lovely day but very cold.
Companies received further instruction in trench work + R.C. Work outside the trenches
31st March 1915 – Ploegsteert
Lovely day, warmer.
Battalion returned to Billeting area at Steenwerck
Reading back the diary from the battalion’s arrival in Le Havre on 1st March 1915, The night of the 29th was the first mention of 1/5th Battalion casualties in the diary. We have to assume, sadly, that Harry was the first death in the battalion.
In information received via a facebook post following our remembrance post for Harry Proctor.
“Part of the Battalion went into the line at the end of March for experience and training, particularly for the officers and it was during this period that Harry Clarke was killed”.
- WW1 Soldier’s Records (www.ancestry.co.uk)
- British Newspaper Archive.
- Fold 3
- Find My Past
- Forces War Records
- British Army Service Numbers
- War Gratuity Calculator
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- National Archives – Battalion War Diaries
- General Registry Office