Private Robert Clarke


Robert Clarke was born on 19 February 1882 at 20 Burrow Street, Belfast, the second of five children of caulker Joseph Clarke and his wife Agnes (née Blair).

Clarke enlisted in the Army Service Corps at Belfast on 10 October 1900 (No.16835). Over the next three years he served at Woolwich, Cork, Fermoy, Dublin and Aldershot, before being transferred to the Army Reserve. He was discharged from the reserve on completion of his twelve years service on 9 October 1912.

On 3 October 1904 Clarke married Sarah Johnston at Trinity Church of Ireland Church, Belfast. The couple moved to 90 Louisa Street, where they had six children over the next twelve years. In the 1911 Census Clarke was recorded as working as a labourer in a foundry.

Clarke enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Belfast on 28 August 1914 (No.1047). He gave his occupation as 'groom'.

While with the regiment at Antrim, and later at Cople, Bedford, where D Squadron was camped awaiting orders for France, he was rarely out of trouble. On 5 March 1915 he was court martialled for escaping from confinement, for which he was awarded 42 days' detention (the sentence was not confirmed, following appeal).

On 13 July 1915 Clarke was discharged for misconduct (paragraph 392 (xi), King's Regulations). His military character was recorded as 'bad'. Another document on his file states:

This man has not misconducted himself with a view to discharge. He is incorrigible.

After his discharge Clarke lived with his family at Louisa Street and worked as a carter.