1/4th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment who died on 10th May 1915
Photograph reproduced with the kind permission of Malvern College
Ambrose Childs Clarke born in July 1896 in Devonport, Devon. He was the son of Mr William Arthur Clarke a solicitor and a member of the Oadby Urban District Council and his wife Ruth Lillian (ne Rendle) of The Homestead, Manor Road, Oadby. The Homestead, now known as Howard House is owned by the University of Leicester.
Mrs Clarke’s father was Charles Banbridge Rendle a noted surgeon of Kensington and Mr Clarke’s father a vicar and former grammar school headmaster in Thorveton, Devon. ‘Thorveton’ was the name the Clarke’s gave to their house in Stoneygate Avenue where the family lived before building The Homestead in 1912. The family also owned a second home in Sherringham, Norfolk and this was where Mrs Clarke was holidaying at the time of the 1911 census with Ambrose’s younger siblings Naomi and David, a friend from Oadby with her two children and a governess, nurse and maid. Mr Clarke remained in Oadby attended by two servants. Meanwhile Ambrose, aged 14 was a scholar at Malvern College, Worcestershire.
The Clarke family home, The Homestead, Manor Road Oadby
Stoneygate Preparatory School, London Road, Leicester
Malvern College Worcestershire
Prior to attending Malvern College, Ambrose was educated at Stoneygate Preparatory School, Leicester and Kings College Choir School, Cambridge. He was a boarder at Malvern College from September 1910 until July 1914 where he was a College Prefect and played for the 3rd XI football team. Had he survived it seems likely, given his family background that Ambrose would have entered one of the professions.
At the outbreak of war, Ambrose was in camp with the Malvern College contingent of the Officer Training Corps. He returned to Leicester and received his commission, as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1/4th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, on 6 August 1914. He went through training at Leicester, Luton and Bishops Stortford. He left for France with his battalion in April 1915.
9 May 1915 – in the Trenches
The 9 May started quite peacefully. However by early evening both sides were engaged in heavy artillery fire. It was during this heavy bombardment of the trenches near Messines, that Ambrose was placing his men under cover, refusing to take shelter himself until all his men were out of danger. He had just saved a man’s life by telling him to take cover when Ambrose was killed instantaneously by a shell. Ambrose was only 18 years of age.
He was buried during the evening at One Tree Farm on 10 May. A brother officer, who was later killed, wrote that,
‘He honestly was one of the cheeriest, best, most capable and well-loved officers in the battalion, especially taking his age into consideration’.
Trench 8, Wulvergem-Messines road April 1915
His obituary in ‘The Malverian ‘, the College magazine tells how, ‘ His last thought was for others, for when his trench came under fire , he refused to take shelter until he had seen all his men were under cover. He had just got the last man to a place of safety when he was killed… He was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant last August at the age of 17. His keenness and capability had already won him the reputation of being one of the most promising young officers in the regiment.’
Ambrose was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
Lt Ambrose Childs Clarke is remembered with honour at Packhorse Shrine Cemetery, Wulvergem, Belgium
Ambrose’s death was noted in the Oadby Urban District Council minutes. Leicester Daily Post 15th May 1915