Tuesday, September 09, 2014

SD/3078 Lance-Sergeant Thomas Clarkson, 13th Royal Sussex Regt

Tom Clarkson, remembers Chailey resident Reg Philpott, was a schoolmaster at one time and like his brother Richard, “had a rough time too.” He was born in 1890, his birth registered in the June quarter of that year. He appears on the 1901 census of England and Wales as the eldest of six boys living with his family at South Street, Chailey. Present when the census was taken were Ellen Clarkson (head, aged 39) and her sons: Thomas (aged 11), John William Clarkson (aged nine), James Clarkson (aged eight), Victor Clarkson (aged four), Richard Clarkson (aged two), and Edward Clarkson (aged one month). All the boys were born in Chailey and John and Richard would also serve their King and Country during the First World War. The boys’ father, Thomas Clarkson, is recorded on both the 1891and 1901 census as working at The Hooke, Chailey. Aged 43 in 1901 he was born in Goosnargh, Lancashire and is listed as a butler.

Chailey Parish Magazine first notes Thomas Clarkson in March 1915, stating simply that he is serving his King and Country. In October 1915 he is recorded as a corporal with the 13th Royal Sussex Regiment and by April 1916 it is noted that he is in France. In June that year, the parish magazine reports that his rank is now that of lance-sergeant.

On Friday July 14th 1916 the East Sussex News reported that he had been wounded in action stating simply, “Sergt T Clarkson of Chailey, who is in the Royal Sussex Regiment, has been wounded and is in hospital in England.” The following month, the parish magazine duly reported that he had been wounded and was in France, updating this in October to note that he was in England. The parish magazine continues to record “wounded” against Tom Clarkson’s name up until November 1916. Thereafter, until his final mention in March 1917, he is simply noted as Clarkson, Lance-Sergeant T, 13th Royal Sussex.

Tom Clarkson’s service record survives in the WO 364 pension series at The National Archives. He enlisted in the 13th Royal Sussex Regiment (3rd South Down) at Bexhill on the 17th December 1914 and was given the service number SD/3078. He gave his address as Wickham House, Newick, Sussex (his father’s address) and his profession as schoolmaster. He was 24 years and eight months old. Although single at the time of his enlistment he married Dora Annie Halb, a widow, on 24th April 1915 at St Luke’s parish church in Wolverhampton. He’d been appointed lance-corporal five days earlier and the following month would be promoted to corporal. On 9th June 1916 he was appointed paid lance-sergeant, a rank he would retain until his discharge from the army on 28th December 1916.

Tom Clarkson sailed for France on 4th March 1916 but was only overseas for 120 days before he was wounded on 1st July 1916, receiving a gunshot wound in his right forearm. He returned to England the following day and remained there until his discharge from the army. His address on discharge is given as The Schools, Ifield Road, Crawley.

In December 1916, on Army Form W.3494, Tom Clarkson noted that he held the Certificate of the Board of Education and that prior to enlistment he had been a schoolmaster at Crawley CE School; a position he had held for eight months and one to which he would return. On 8th February 1917 he received the silver war badge and certificate and in due course would also receive the British War and Victory medals from a grateful country. In total, he had spent two years and 12 days serving his King and Country.

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