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eMedals-A Valour Road Victoria Cross Recipients Memorial Plaque

Item: C2850

A Valour Road Victoria Cross Recipients Memorial Plaque

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A Valour Road Victoria Cross Recipients Memorial Plaque

A Valour Road Victoria Cross Recipients Memorial Plaque - Memorial Plaque: Bronze, (LEO CLARKE). Naming is in raised lettering, maker marked "WA" (Royal Arsenal, Woolwich) on the reverse, 120 mm, drilled holes on either side for mounting, oxidation spots on the obverse, near extremely fine. Accompanied by his Canadian Expeditionary Force Death Certificate (inscribed "This is to Certify that the records at Militia Headquarters show that on the nineteenth day of October 1916, 72132 Acting Corporal Leo Clarke, V.C. 2nd Battalion, died of wounds.", dated "December 12th 1918" at Militia Headquarters, Ottawa, 245 mm x 321 mm, lightly soiled), Cemetery Register Card from the Minister of National Defence (white cardboard, printed in black ink, 120 mm x 174 mm), a Cardboard Box marked "Effects 72132 Pte Clark (sic) L. 2nd. Bn" in ink, with a partial label visible to the left, 94 mm x 125 mm x 53 mm), two Corporal Stripes (olive green embroidery on navy blue wool, 27 mm x 77 mm each), a Watch Fob (steel, flexible link chain, functioning clip at one end and ring at the other, each with spring release, 278 mm in length inclusive of all hardware), two Traditional Dice (plastic with black dies, 12.5 mm x 12.5 mm x 12.5 mm each), four French Suits Dice (plastic with black and red insignias: hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades, anchors, crowns, 15.5 mm x 15.5 mm x 15.5 mm each), a Two-Blade Field Pocket Knife (steel blades with bakelite cover, 18.5 mm x 88 mm x 9.5 mm, partial separation of the cover from the unit), a Sweetheart Photograph (black and white, faded to a sepia-toned look, inscribed in black ink "With fondest Love / Yours Ever Nellie 14/8/16", 82 mm x 132 mm, postcard address backer), fourteen Personal Photographs (black and white, some faded, many with inscriptions on the reverse, some with references to Winnipeg, ranging from 40 mm x 54 mm to 86 mm x 135 mm), a Studio Portrait of a Young Clarke before Enlistment (black and white, faded to a sepia-toned look, matte finish, 127 mm x 192 mm), a Photograph of  Leo's Brother in his 2nd Battalion Uniform (black and white, faded to a sepia-toned look, gloss finish, 108 mm x 157 mm, in a lightly soiled paper presentation cover with vellum, marked "A Portrait by Fredk. Thurston T.R.P.S. Studios Luton & Harpenden." on the front cover), a Group Portrait of Twenty-One Members of the 2nd Infantry Battalion (black and white, semi-gloss finish, 182 mm x 202 mm), a Valor Road Commemorative Print (black and white, gloss finish, with the portraits of Leo Clark, Fred Hall and Robert Shankland, all Victoria Cross winners from same block (700) and the same street, Pine Street, in Winnipeg, 191 mm x 237 mm), four Letters and Notes from Home (one of which is from his father, on Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, Winnipeg North District Letterhead), three pages of Under Clothing Inventory, a Table of Clothing Sizes and two books, one entitled "History of the 2nd Canadian Battalion in the Great War, 1914-1919" (by Colonel W.W. Murray, OBE, MC, 2nd Canadian Battalion, CEF, hardcover, published by The Historical Committee, 2nd Battalion, CEF, printed by Mortimer Ltd., Ottawa, dated 1947, 428 pages printed in black ink, interspersed with photographs), the other entitled "The War Graves of the British Empire", France 121 to 130 (paperback, complied and published by order of the Imperial War Graves Commission, London, dated 1924, 56 pages printed in black ink, with maps and graveyard layouts).   Footnote: Leo Clarke was born on December 1, 1892 in Waterdown, Ontario (although his Attestation Paper states that it was Hamilton, Ontario), the son of Henry Trevelyan Clarke and Rosetta Caroline Nona Clarke. He spent his early years in England, home of his parents, but returned to Canada and settled in Winnipeg, Manitoba around 1903. Before the start of the First World War, Clarke was working as a Surveyor for the Canadian National Railway in the Canadian north. He signed his Attestation Paper as a Private (72132) with the 27th Infantry Battalion "City of Winnipeg Regiment" on February 25, 1915 in Winnipeg, at the age of 22, naming his next-of-kin as his father, stating that he had no previous military service, that he was not married and that his trade was that of Resident Engineer. The Battalion was raised in Ontario and Manitoba, with mobilization headquarters at Winnipeg, Manitoba under the authority of G.O. 36, March 15, 1915. The Battalion sailed May 17, 1915 under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel J.R. Snider with a strength of 33 officers and 1,039 other ranks, arriving in England near the end of the month. In early June, he was transferred to the 2nd (Eastern Ontario Regiment) Infantry Battalion, joining his brother, Private Charles Clarke. Leo Clarke was taken to the 2nd Canadian Field Ambulance on December 8, 1915, suffering from a gun shot wound to his right side. He was transferred the same day to the 2nd Casualty Clearing Station and after three days, returned to duty on the 11th. In the following Spring of 1916, he was admitted to No. 3 Canadian Field Ambulance with a case of Influenza on April 10th, and after fifteen days, was transferred to the Casualty Clearing Station on the 25th, where he was to remain for one week, before rejoining his unit on May 2nd. In the Fall of 1916, the main assault of the Battle of Flers-Courcelette was scheduled for September 15th. Its objective was to occupy a chain of trenches between Martinpuich and Courcelette. On September 1st, Clarke's battalion was charged with capturing a fifty-yard-long salient between the Canadian position at Mouquet Farm and Courcelette to the north. Eight days later, on September 9th, near Pozieres, France, the first three companies of Clarke's battalion went over the top, leaving the fourth in reserve. Clarke, in the rank of Acting Corporal at the time, was assigned to take a section to clear the enemy on the left flank, to allow his Company Sergeant to build a fortified dugout that would secure the Canadian position once the salient was overrun. When his section reached the trench, it was so heavily defended that they had to battle their way through with hand grenades, bayonets and their rifles as clubs. Clarke was the only man left standing, the rest either having been killed or wounded. About twenty Germans, including two officers, counter-attacked. Clarke advanced, emptying his revolver into their ranks. He subsequently picked up two enemy rifles and fired those too. One of the officers attacked with a bayonet, wounding Clarke in the leg, but Clarke shot him dead. The Germans retreated, with Clarke pursuing, shooting four more and capturing a fifth in the process. In all, Clarke killed nineteen of the enemy. For his efforts that day, Clarke was awarded the Victoria Cross, as mentioned in the Fourth Supplement to the London Gazette 29802 of Tuesday, October 24, 1916, on Thursday, October 26, 1916, page 10395, his citation reading: "For most conspicuous bravery. He was detailed with his section of bombers to clear the continuation of a newly-captured trench and cover the construction of a "block." After most of his party had become casualties, he was building a block when about twenty of the enemy with two officers counter-attacked. He boldly advanced against them, emptied his revolver into them and afterwards two enemy rifles which he picked up in the trench. One of the officers then attacked him with the bayonet, wounding him in the leg, but he shot him dead. The enemy then ran away, pursued by Acting Corporal Clarke, who shot four more and captured a fifth." He was briefly hospitalized "sick" with the wound to his leg on September 18, 1916, before returning to his unit on the 24th. Clarke's battalion was ordered forward to secure the newly captured Regina Trench on October 11, 1916, the trench still under heavy enemy artillery fire. He was crouching in a hole at the rear of the trench, when a shell exploded and the back of the trench caved in, burying him. His brother, Charles, dug him out, but Leo Clarke was now paralyzed, the weight of the earth having crushed his back and injured his spine. He was rushed and admitted to No. 1 General Hospital at Etretat. In his Medical Case Sheet, dated October 18, 1916, Major J.W. Richardson RAMC documented Clarke's "Paraplegia", his situation noted as "Dangeously Ill": "Admitted shortly after from Amb. (Ambulance) team No. 280. Lower limbs completely paralyzed. Very weak, restless and groaning. Answered questions with difficulty. Passed a fair night with some sleep but restless and talking. In the morning was cyanosed (turning blue and/or purple) and much worse, died 11 am." Clarke died from his wounds on October 19, 1916, at the age of 23. He is buried at Etretat Churchyard, Seine-Maritime, France, Plot II, Row C, Grave 3A, sixteen miles north of Le Havre, and is commemorated on page 67 of the First World War Book of Remembrance. According to a contemporary newspaper article, shortly before his death, he wrote his parents, stating: "I don't care so much for the Victoria Cross as getting home for a couple of months." Clarke was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross in Spring of 1917. It was presented by the Duke of Devonshire (Governor General of Canada) to Leo's father before a crowd of 30,000. In 1925, Pine Street in Winnipeg was renamed "Valour Road", in honour of Clarke and fellow Victoria Cross recipients, Frederick William Hall and Robert Shankland, all of whom lived on the 700 block. A plaque in Clarke's honour was erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch in Waterdown. His story was featured in a Historica vignette, which aired nationally in Canada.  For Price and any further questions please email:  The Government of Canada has published a Historical Vignette on the actions of Leo Clarke which can be viewed here:  
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