The AIF Project

Ernest William CLARKE

Regimental number2799
Place of birthGlatton, Huntingdonshire, England
Place of birthPeterborough, England
SchoolNational, England
Other trainingNil
Age on arrival in Australia32
ReligionChurch of England
AddressGnowangerup, Western Australia
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation34
Height5' 6"
Weight150 lbs
Next of kinFather, J Clarke, Vine Cottage, Caldcote Stilton, England
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date5 July 1915
Place of enlistmentBlackboy Hill, Western Australia
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name11th Battalion, 9th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/28/3
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Fremantle, Western Australia, on board HMAT A20 Hororata on 5 October 1915
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll51st Battalion
FateKilled in Action 3 September 1916
Place of death or woundingSomme, France
Age at death37
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsAustralian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France

Villers-Bretonneux is a village about 15 km east of Amiens. The Memorial stands on the high ground ('Hill 104') behind the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Fouilloy, which is about 2 km north of Villers-Bretonneux on the east side of the road to Fouilloy.

The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux is approached through the Military Cemetery, at the end of which is an open grass lawn which leads into a three-sided court. The two pavilions on the left and right are linked by the north and south walls to the back (east) wall, from which rises the focal point of the Memorial, a 105 foot tall tower, of fine ashlar. A staircase leads to an observation platform, 64 feet above the ground, from which further staircases lead to an observation room. This room contains a circular stone tablet with bronze pointers indicating the Somme villages whose names have become synonymous with battles of the Great War; other battle fields in France and Belgium in which Australians fought; and far beyond, Gallipoli and Canberra.

On the three walls, which are faced with Portland stone, are the names of 10,885 Australians who were killed in France and who have no known grave. The 'blocking course' above them bears the names of the Australian Battle Honours.

After the war an appeal in Australia raised £22,700, of which £12,500 came from Victorian school children, with the request that the majority of the funds be used to build a new school in Villers-Bretonneux. The boys' school opened in May 1927, and contains an inscription stating that the school was the gift of Victorian schoolchildren, twelve hundred of whose fathers are buried in the Villers-Bretonneux cemetery, with the names of many more recorded on the Memorial. Villers-Bretonneux is now twinned with Robinvale, Victoria, which has in its main square a memorial to the links between the two towns.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Commemorated in abandoned church graveyard, Denton, Cambridgeshire, England. Parents: John and Harriet CLARKE
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Joined 11th Bn, Tel el Kebir, 7 January 1916.

Transferred to 51st Bn, Serapeum, 29 February 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 5 June 1919; disembarked Marseilles, France, 12 May 1916.

Admitted to 13th Australian Field Ambulance, 26 June 1916 (septic foot); discharged to duty and rejoined Bn, in the field, 26 June 1916.

Reported missing in action, 3 September 1916; subsequently confirmed as killed in action.

Buried in vicinity of Thiepval. H. 25d. Sheet 57d, by 3rd Cavalry Division Dismount Party. Grave subsequently lost.

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
Miscellaneous details[Grave image from an abandoned church in Denton, Cambridgeshire, UK, kindly provided by Alison Moore]
SourcesNAA: B2455, CLARKE Ernest William
Red Cross File No 0740804N

Print format