Private Clarence Hames

6690 5th Bn., Seaforth Highlanders who died on 13 November 1916

Photographs reproduced with the kind permission of the Smith Family

 

Family History

Clarence was born in Oadby in 1895 and was the son of Frank, a shoe clicker, and Mary Ann (nee Ward) Hames. In 1901 Clarence was living with his parents and siblings John Clifford, Beatrice and Edward in New Street, Oadby. By 1911 he was also working as a shoe clicker. His brother John Clifford (aged 15) was a golf caddy. Edward (10) and younger sister Elizabeth (7) were still at school. Beatrice (14), a hosiery hand, was living nearby on London Road with an aunt and uncle. A third sister, Gladys, was born later in 1911. By the time of Clarence’s death the family were living on London Road.

 

Service Record

Clarence’s service record no longer exists but his Medal Index Card and a family portrait show him to have been in the Royal Army Medical Corps when he first enlisted.

Cigarette card illustrating the work of the Royal Army Medical Corps

A family source has indicated that Clarence suffered from bad eyesight and was initially turned down for active service in a combatant unit. However during a home leave to Oadby he was handed a white feather. A white feather was a mark of cowardice and following its receipt Clarence re-enlisted in an infantry regiment, 1/6th Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders (probably in January 1915). He later transferred to the 1/5th Battalion.

Private Clarence Hames in Seaforth Highlanders uniform and the regimental brooch memento he sent home to his family.

Seaforth Highlanders at work repairing boots on the Albert-Fricourt Road, near Becordel, July 1916. As a shoe clicker it is possible that Clarence was employed in this type of work. Those who mended army boots were known as ‘snobs’.

The 1/5th Seaforth Highlanders arrived on the Somme in July 1916 and were involved in a number of actions including fighting at Mametz Wood where they lost 130 soldiers.

The War Diary of 13/14th November 1916 records that the battalion took part in the attack on Beaumont Hamel, starting at 5.45am: ‘Owing to the enemy M.C. fire and uncut wire the advance was delayed and the ‘barrage’ was lost. There was also a very thick fog…. The first German line was easily carried except for just south of Beaumont Hamel Road where a party of enemy put up a good fight. The 2nd line was soon afterwards carried, but the advance to the third line was held up by fire from two enemy machine guns. These were at length knocked out and the third line was occupied. In (the) evening the battalion which then consisted of 90 men under Major Robertson…… went through to Beaumont Hamel and consolidated a line beyond…… Total casualties for two days: 80 killed, 14 died of wounds, 193 wounded, 5 missing.’ Among those killed was Private Clarence Hames.

Memorials

Private Clarence Hames is Remembered with Honour at Mailly Wood Cemetery, France

Clarence’s obituary in the Leicester Illustrated Chronicle 30 December 1916

Clarence’s death was recorded in the minutes of the Oadby District Council although unfortunately his surname was spelt incorrectly (Leicester Mercury 9 December 1916)

 

Other Family Members

Five members of Clarence’s family also saw military action – the 1918 Absent Voters List for Oadby names his brother John Clifford and his uncles Albert, Ernest and William as on active service.

Clarence’s cousin William Ernest Hames (Sherwood Foresters) died 27th May 1918 and is also commemorated on the Oadby war memorial.