Hartest remembers The Great War - an John Philip Clarke. after WW1 the British Government issued to the next of kin this memorial plaqye bearing the name of the soldier who had died. In all 450 tonnes of bronze were minted into these 5 inch discs. The one for John Clarke who died on 6th March 1917 is for sale at an online auction house.
John and Marie Clarke had 5 boys in their Churchgate home on Hartest Green. John was the fourth son to be born, in 1891. his older brother Charles worked as the postman and he too was called up to serve his country despite being nearly 40 years old. Unusually both boys ended up in regiments based far from Suffolk; The 1st Battalion of the East Surreys in the case of John.
In late winter 1917 the Regiment was in North France near the town of Lens. It was a cold time and neither side seemed willing to push forward. Better to keep your head down and huddle in the trenches near to a brazier. the war diary for the 1st Battalion records that:-
A working party started digging trenches but this could not be completed owing to the frozen state of the ground. Meanwhile the enemy remainded passive, except for an occasiional salvo. Our guns fired a few rounds at intervals. During the day the post was unmolested. In fact the enemy remained as peaceful as ever.
No fatalities are recorded during this period, but some injuries had been incurred during Febraury due to German shells dropping too near the trenches. John must have been one of these unlucky ones as he is recorded as having died of woulds and is buried at Bethune Cemetary.