Private Norman Sydney Clarke


Norman Sydney (or Sidney) Clarke was born on 28 February 1899 at 35 Lennox Street, South Dublin, the fifth of nine children of Scottish-born parents, tailor Thomas William Clarke and his wife Rebecca Shields Clarke (née Marshall). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 60 Donore Avenue, Merchant's Quay, Dublin, with his parents and his six surviving siblings.

On 19 July 1915 Clarke was involved in a shooting accident which resulted in the loss of two toes of his foot (see article below).

Clarke enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 19 July 1916 (No.2218). He was aged just 17 at the time. He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp until November 1916, when he and around 100 other North Irish Horsemen volunteered to transfer to the Royal Irish Rifles. The formal transfer took place on 7 December (Clarke was issued regimental number 40860), and on that day the men embarked for France. There they were posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, joining it on the Somme front on 12 December.

On 11 January 1917, however, Clarke returned to the UK, perhaps ill or injured. He remained there until 20 February 1918, when he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps (No.145515) with the rank of Air Mechanic 3 and trade classification of clerk (general). He was transferred to the Royal Air Force on its creation on 1 April 1918 with the rank of Clerk 3. He was promoted to Clerk 2 on 1 May 1918.

Clarke embarked for France on 21 July 1918. Three months later, however, he fell ill and was hospitalised in France until late December, when he was evacuated to England and admitted to Graylingwell War Hospital in Chichester, his illness diagnosed as 'disordered action of the heart'. He was discharged on 10 February 1919 and awarded a pension due to his illness, which was attributed to his military service.

After the war Clarke lived in Glasgow and then London.


Wicklow Newsletter and Arklow Reporter, 24 July 1915