William James Clark

William James Clark (“Will”) was a long-standing resident of Peterborough, and a member of the local militia (artillery of the 57th Regiment – Peterborough Rangers) from 1911 to 1914. He volunteered to go overseas with the first Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) at the outbreak of World War One. The summons sent out August 6, 1914 by the Minister of Militia named the place of mobilization as Valcartier, north-west of Quebec City. His attestation papers were signed at Valcartier on September 24, 1914. He was 21 years old.  Clark was an ordinary private of the Canadian Field Artillery, Service No. 42089.

Photo of Clark Family. Circa 1919. Photograph. Copy in possession of Leigh Doughty, Peterborough, Ontario. There are no enlistment photos of Clark from World War One. This family photograph of Clark with his mother, father, sisters and brother shows him in uniform. This was most likely taken upon his return to Canada, when he arrived home to Peterborough on May 28, 1919.

The uniform Clark wears in the photograph is the British pattern, noted by the five button closure with a box pleat on the breast pocket and button closures on the lower pockets. On his collar he wears a Canadian Field Artillery collar set. Clark is also wearing CEF puttees. Puttees were strips of wool cloth which were worn with ankle boots, and wrapped around the lower leg in a spiral pattern, from the ankle up to below the knee. This provided ankle support and prevented debris and water from entering the boots or pants.

Clark served as a gunner and driver, 1st Canadian Divisional Artillery (CDA), 3rd Brigade, in the 4th Battery, and later the 7th Battery of the Canadian Field Artillery (CFA). Canada’s first fighting division in Europe was comprised mainly of troops from the First Contingent who had sailed in fall 1914, and served as an individual division under British command.

His active duty included the Battle of Mount Sorrel in the Ypres salient from June 2 to 13, 1916. The Canadian Corps was defending the southern section of the salient, including some of the last high ground there in allied hands. The Germans launched an offensive to take this. An opening bombardment resulted in many casualties and was followed up by an immediate infantry assault. The Canadians were forced back, losing the village of Hooge and Mount Sorrel. The Corps commander, Sir Julian Byng, organized a counterattack and regained most of what had been lost. The Canadians suffered over 8,000 casualties in all.

Clark was among those wounded. He was hit in his right shoulder and leg and admitted to No. 13 General Hospital in Boulogne, France on June 12, 1916. He was transferred to St. Luke’s War Hospital, Halifax, Yorkshire U.K. on June 24, 1916 for medical treatment.  From June to November 1916, Clark recovered at Hillingdon House Canadian Convalescent Hospital, Uxbridge, U.K. 
Hillingdon House, the former estate of Frederick Cox, was a large brick and stone mansion with extensive outbuildings, ornamental gardens, 200 acres of parkland and an artificial lake. The British Government purchased the estate in 1915, with the intention of establishing a prisoner of war camp. The local population strongly opposed the plan and the government relented. Instead, Hillingdon House became a Canadian Convalescent Hospital for injured soldiers evacuated from the front line during the First World War. Hillingdon House was in operation during 1915 – 1917, and at the height of capacity accommodated 500 soldiers. In 1917, the hospital closed and the Royal Air Force Station was established at Hillingdon House.

Interior of a Ward, Canadian Convalescent Hospital, retrieved from http://wartimeheritage.com/storyarchive1/story_cc_hospital_uxbridge.htm. Used with permission of the War Heritage Association, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

Clark returned to active duty on February 10, 1917. He finished active service in World War One, and was discharged at Halifax on May 25, 1919, serving four years, eight months.  His demobilization papers were stamped June 2, 1919, at Disposal Station “B”, Military District No. 6.  
As part of Clark’s demobilization he was required to undergo a medical review which noted “two lacerations (scars) on leg, pain in ankle, and inflammation from gunshot wound”. On the discharge record he noted that he had a shell splinter lodged in his head, the date of origin was June 12, 1916, and that it was shown by an x-ray plate while he was in hospital and was never removed. This was not an uncommon occurrence. The artillery used different shells for different purposes. Shrapnel shells were timed to explode over enemy lines, sending down hundreds of tiny metal balls. This rain of metal exploded outward in a shotgun blast and caused terrible injuries to soldiers.

For his regular service Clark received $1 a day, plus a service gratuity in April 1919 in the amount of $350.  He sailed home on the S.S. Aquitania, embarking from Southampton on May 18, 1919, and arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on May 25, 1919. He made his way from Halifax, arriving at the family home at 633 Rogers Street, Peterborough, Ontario.
For his service he was awarded the 1915 Star, a medal awarded to those who served in any theatre of the First World War during 1914-1915. This medal is a bronze four-point star, and is always issued with the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.   Additionally, Clark received the War Services Badge Class “A” No. 226327, and was authorized to wear one wounded stripe, and a good conduct badge.

Clark was born and raised at 633 Rogers Street, Peterborough, where he lived from 1893 – 1938, when not serving overseas. He worked as a "helper", that is an apprentice, and then as a plumber at Adamson & Dobbin on Simcoe Street.  Adamson and Dobbin, founded in 1908, was and continues to be, a plumbing, drainage and heating company in Peterborough. 
Clark never married.  He died on March 9, 1962. He was in his 70th year. He is buried in Little Lake Cemetery beside his parents Clarkiam Shaver Clark and Agnes Wallace Clark.  His name is on the Peterborough Veterans Wall of Honour in Confederation Square, City of Peterborough.

Research by Martin Deeley and Leigh Doughty

Adamson and Dobbin, 1908 Peterborough Directory, Stan McBride fonds, Trent Valley Archives, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

Canada and the First World War. Artillery and Mortars. Ammunition. Canadian War Museum.  http://www.warmuseum.ca/firstworldwar/history/battles-and-fighting/weapons-on-land/artillery-and-mortars/ Accessed October 25, 2017
Canadian Convalescent Hospital, Hillingdon House, Wartime Heritage Association, Accessed September 21, 2017. http://wartimeheritage.com/storyarchive1/story_cc_hospital_uxbridge.htm

The Canadian Expeditionary Force. Canadian War Museum. http://www.warmuseum.ca/firstworldwar/history/life-at-the-front/military-structure/the-canadian-expeditionary-force   Accessed October 27, 2017

Galliford Try awarded St Andrew’s Park contract.  May 18 2017.  http://www.gallifordtry.co.uk/press-centre/news/2017/st-andrews-park-contract. 

Hillingdon House, London, England. Geni a MyHeritage Company.  https://www.geni.com/projects/Hillingdon-House-London-England/29411 Accessed October 26, 2017

Library and Archives Canada, Personnel Records of the First World War, Government of Canada. https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/personnel-records/Pages/personnel-records.aspx Accessed September 21, 2017.

Martha Anne Kidd fonds, No-90, Series D, Historical Properties, Trent Valley Archives (TVA), Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

The National Archives, St. Luke’s (War) Hospital 1914-1920, Government United Kingdom. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/hospitalrecords/details.asp?id=2260&page=25 Accessed September 21, 2017.

146 Overseas Battalion. World War One Uniforms. Uniforms. http://146battalion.ca/uniforms.htm  Accessed October 28, 2017. 

Peterborough Veterans Wall of Honour in Confederation Square, City of Peterborough. http://www.peterborough.ca/Living/Arts__Culture__amp__Heritage/Peterborough_Veterans_Wall_of_Honour.htm

3rd Canadian Field Artillery Brigade and Ammunition Column, Nominal Roll of Officers, Non –Commissioned Officers and Men. http://data2.archives.ca/e/e444/e011087941.pdf Accessed Oct 24, 2017

Typescript of 57th Regiment Minutes, Peterborough Armouries, 1914, Trent Valley Archives, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

Typescript of Province of Ontario Death Register, 1928, Peterborough Museum Archive, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

Vernon’s Peterborough City Directories, Vol 1910-1928, Trent Valley Archives, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

War Diaries of the First World War, June 11, 1916.  http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e046/e001134460.jpg Accessed October 25, 2017.