Walter was born in Widnes the
son of Robert and Isabel Clarke of 82, James Street, Widnes, his father,
who predeceased him, being employed as a waterman.
Educated at West Bank School, Walter was a member of the Oakland Street
Chapel and was employed as a soap works labourer at Gossages Soap Works
where he was for many years a member of the works band playing the euphonium.
Walter married Betsy Birkenhead Tollit on Sunday 23 August 1914 at the
Hartland Weslyan Chapel, there being one child to the marriage, Walter
Alfred Clarke, born on Monday 22 May 1916.
He enlisted at Widnes in March 1917, initially serving in the South Lancashire
Regiment with service number 40188. Transferring to the Worcestershire
Regiment he was drafted to Italy with the rank of ‘Drummer’.
At the time of his death his battalion was in support trenches at Kaberlaba.
On the night of his death the sister battalion, the 1/8th Battalion, was
making a raid on the enemy positions at ‘Charles House’. The
enemy replied to the raid with artillery fire, some of the shells falling
on the support lines. The War Diary records,
“3 August 1918 - Raid by 3 Companies of 8th Worcestershires with
Zero at 2.30am. Battalion occupied its alarm positions during the raid.
Captain H.G.W. Wood killed by a shell just at the end of the bombardment,
1 OR also killed and 2 Sergeants wounded.”
A letter to Walter’s widow stated,
“He was killed with the Captain by a shell that pitched in the mouth
of the dug out, and also wounded two Sergeants. Perhaps it will ease you
a little to know he did not suffer at all, for he was killed outright.
He is buried in a very nice place, and with the Captain”.
Walter was 27 years of age. He is buried in Boscon British Cemetery in
Plot 1. Row A. Grave 8. He is also commemorated on the memorial at St.
Mary’s Church, West Bank.
Walter had four brothers serving, Tom who became a prisoner of war, Alec
and Joe who served at Barrow in Furness and Jack who also served in the
Worcestershire Regiment. All survived the war. Betsy later remarried changing
her surname to Owen upon marriage to Walter Owen of Widnes.