While researching the Otorohanga Memorial on Papers Past I came across the expression 'Fighting Families". This was generally used in the newspapers of the time to describe those families who had several sons serving in the forces in WW1. One such family was the Clarke family from Otorohanga. William Henry and Agnes Clarke saw six of their sons embark for WW1.
Three of the Clarke brothers are sadly remembered on the Otorohanga war memorial. They are James Reid Clarke, William John Clarke and Henry Wilfred Clarke. James and William enlisted together embarking with the 8th Reinforcements as part of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade from Wellington on 23 September 1916. James was killed in action on 8 June 1917 at Messines. He is remembered on the Messines Ridge (NZ) Memorial. William was killed in action just over a year later at Le Cateau and only a month before the war ended in France on 8 October 1918. He is buried at the Naves Communal cemetery.
Henry Clarke embarked with the 4th Reinforcements attached to the Canterbury Mounted Rifles (eventually he was transferred to the Auckland Mounted Rifles) he would have spent the war serving in the Middle East. Henry survived the war but died en route back to New Zealand on 19 December 1918. I found a death notice which shed light on how he died:
Wanganui Chronicle, Volume LXVI, Issue 17463, 7 January 1919, Page 5, Papers Past
Exactly the circumstances of his drowning are unknown however further research down the track and a look at his military record (which is not at present digitalised) should reveal more.
The remaining three brothers Frederick Arthur Clarke, Robert Allen Clarke and Samuel Bertram Clarke survived the War.
Frederick embarked with the Main Body on 16 October 1914 and served with the Auckland Infantry Regiment. Robert embarked 14 August 1915 with the Auckland Mounted Rifles (AMR) shortly after his brother Samuel who embarked with the AMR on 13 June 1915.
Samuel had a distinguished service record with the AMR being awarded a Military Medal "for bravery in the Field. (Sinai) on 12 March 1917. He was then Mentioned in Dispatches in July 1917 "For Galliant and distinguished conduct in the field or for other valuable services" per Gen A J Murray's despatch dated 1 March 1917.
I would love to hear from any descendants of the surviving brothers of the Clarke family to hear more about the Clarke brothers WW1 service.