Clarke, John Gay

Sixth son of Stephenson and Agnes Clarke of Ardingly, Sussex, all of whom came to Winchester. He entered Morshead’s from Mr. King’s preparatory school at Brighton, and played in Commoner XV, standing on Dress for VI. In 1890 he went out to Australia as agent for the British firm of Norman & Clarke, and continued in business there until 1900.

On the outbreak of war he joined the 9th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, in which he had held a commission some years previously. After some months spent training in England, the Sussex Regiment finally reached France on 31st August 1915 and were rushed to the front, after the briefest of acclimatisation periods, to assist with the impending offensive at Loos. They moved into line during the night of 25th September 1915.

From the beginning their preparations for battle were a shambles, with some units getting lost and ending up with the wrong divisions, and the failure of supplies to get through to them, and all under heavy shelling. Indeed the Brigade commander cracked under the pressure and had to be relieved. At dawn on 27th September the Germans began their counter-attack.

Clarke was killed in action somewhere near the Hohenzollern Redoubt on September 27th, 1915. His body was never found. He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial and by a plaque on the wall of the church of All Saints, Highbrook, near Ardingly. Inside the church is a memorial tablet in marble and brass: “In loving memory of John Gay Clarke, Captain 9th Battalion Royal Sussex Regt 6th son of Stephenson and Agnes Maria Clarke of Brook House in this Parish who was killed in action in France near the Hohenzollern Redoubt on the 27th September 1915, agred 43 years RIP”

Captain Clarke married in 1902 Miss Euphemia Mabel D’Aeth and spent much of his time, both in England and Australia, as an owner of racehorses.

War: World War 1

  • Surname: Clarke
  • Forenames or initials: John Gay
  • House: E
  • Years in School: 1885-1889
  • Rank: Captain
  • Regiment: Royal Sussex Regiment
  • Date of Birth: 29th October 1871
  • Date of Death: 27th September 1915
  • How Died: Killed in action
  • Location in War Cloister: Outer H3
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Unknown but commemorated on the LOOS MEMORIAL Panel 69 to 73