Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Fighting Families" Otorohanga Memorial

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. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Horsman Brothers - Otorohanga Memorial

"Brothers give their Lives" 

In the Poverty Bay Herald on 16 January 1917 the deaths of two sets of brothers were reported from the Front.  One set of these brothers were Sergt-Major Arthur W.C. Horsman and Private Gordon C. Horsman.

The brothers originally from South Canterbury worked with their father on bush land at Otorohanga before enlisting.

Arthur had been a keen military man before enlisting being a member of the Legion of Frontiersmen, he was also reportedly a skill axeman.  He embarked on 8 January 1916 as part of the  3rd Reinforcements 1st Battalion, E Company.  He was killed in action on the 15th September 1916 at the Battle of Flers on the Somme, he was 24 years old

Gordon embarked prior to his brother on 14 February 1915 with the 3rd Reinforcements attached to the Canterbury Infantry Battalion (CIB).  Whilst serving at Gallipoli Gordon received shrapnel wounds to the head and contracted Enteric fever causing him temporary memory and speech loss.  After a long period of convalescence in England he rejoined the CIB at the Front.  He too was killed in action at the Battle of Flers on 16 September 1916, aged 22.

Both brothers are remembered together on the Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial.

Their parents Christopher and Amy Horsman would have been devastated to have lost both their sons in the same battle.  The Battle of Flers on the 15 September 1916 incurred the greatest loss of the New Zealand life so far in WWI.  Passchendaele would eventually hold that unenviable record.

Monday, February 6, 2012

71 Memorials visited so far....

Just updated my memorial list looking forward to getting down to researching them all.  Roll on March.