Chailey resident Reg Philpott remembers that “Dick; Richard, had a rough time of it. I don’t know that he was wounded but he had a rough time.”
Chailey Parish Magazine first mentions him in December 1917, noting Clarkson, Pte R, 30th TRB. In January 1918 it reports that he is serving with the 3rd Wiltshire Regiment and in July 1918 notes that he is missing. A few months later in September it notes that he is a prisoner and in February 1919 amends his battalion from the 3rd Wiltshire Regiment to the 3rd Devons; still noting that he is a prisoner. This information is then repeated up until July 1919.
There are a number of points to note about the information in the parish magazine. The 30th TRB (Training Reserve Battalion) was originally the 10th (Reserve) Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment and formed part of the 5th Reserve Brigade. Similarly, the both the 3rd Wiltshire Regiment and the 3rd Devonshire Regiment were reserve battalions which remained in
throughout the war. Richard Clarkson certainly would not have
been captured whilst serving with either of these units. England
Not for the first time, John Oldaker, headmaster of Newick school, comes to the rescue. Richard had been a pupil there from 1908 to 1913 and Mr Oldaker made notes of all his old boys. He also asked them to send him a photograph of themselves. The one Richard sent appears on this page.
John Oldaker’s notes for Richard Clarkson read:
“Enlisted 5th March 1917. 31st Training Reserve Batt, transferred to 2nd
. Taken prisoner 27th May 1918 at
Pontavert at the France Battle of the Aisne.
Employed for two months behind the German lines. Afterwards at Cassel, Limburg
Richard was a very young soldier. He was born in late 1898 or early 1899, his birth recorded at Lewes in the March quarter of that year. He appears on the 1901 census of
England and as two year old living with
his family at Wales South Street,
Chailey. Present when the census was
taken were Ellen Clarkson (head, aged 39) and her six sons: Thomas Clarkson
(aged 11), John William Clarkson (aged nine), James Clarkson (aged eight),
Victor Clarkson (aged four), Richard, and Edward Clarkson (aged one
month). All the boys were born in
Chailey and John and Thomas would also serve their King and Country during the
First World War. The boys’ father,
Thomas Clarkson, is recorded on both the 1891 and 1901 census as working at The
Hooke, Chailey. Aged 43 in 1901 he was
born in Goosnargh, Lancashire and is listed as
My thanks to Simon Stevens for the photograph and information contained within John Oldaker's notebook.