Private John Alexander Clarke


John Alexander Clarke was born on 24 December 1897 at Glenmaquin, Letterkenny, County Donegal, the second of seven children of farmer James Alexander Clarke and his wife Elizabeth Jane (née Parker). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Glenmaquin with his parents, his five younger siblings and a great uncle. Prior to the war he lived at 15 Great James Street, Londonderry, and worked as a dental mechanic.

Clarke enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 29 April 1915 (No.1501), overstating his age by two years (he was only 17).

He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve depot before embarking for France with a reinforcement draft for A, C and D Squadrons on 22 September 1915.

In May and June 1916 C Squadron combined with F Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, and A, D and E Squadrons combined to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, each serving as corps cavalry units.

Clarke was wounded on 17 March 1917. He was evacuated to England where he was admitted to Graylingwell War Hospital in Chichester. Following his recovery he returned to the regiment's Antrim base depot at Antrim.

On 30 September 1917 Clarke was transferred to the Labour Corps (No.435279). He was posted to No.664 Home Service Employment Company, and later in the war to No.395 and No.659 Companies. On 22 March 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. His military character was recorded as 'very good'.

Clarke was granted a pension due to 'valvular disease of the heart', which was attributed to his military service. His level of disability was assessed at 20 per cent.