James Clarke VC

Name: James Clarke

Conflict: First World War

Gazetted: January 6, 1919

Service: Army

James Clarke VC
James Clarke Medals
Medal group

Place/date of birth: Winsford, Cheshire/April 6, 1894

Rank when awarded VC (and later highest rank): Sergeant

Date of bravery: November 2 – 4, 1918

London Gazette citation:

No. 37721 Sjt. John Clarke, 15th Bn., Lanc. Fus (Rochdale).

For most conspicuous bravery and initiative during the attack at Happegarbe on 2nd November, 1918, when in command of a platoon, he led his men forward with great determination, and, on being held up by heavy machine-gun fire, rushed forward through a thick, strongly held ridge, captured in succession four machine guns and single-handed bayonetted the crews. Later, he led the remnants of his platoon to the capture of three machine guns and many prisoners.

In the later stages of the attack on the same day, when his platoon was held up by enemy machine guns, he successfully led a Tank against them over very exposed ground.

Continuing the attack on 3rd November, after capturing many prisoners and gaining his objective, he organised his line most skilfully and held up the enemy.

On 4th November, in the attack on the Oise-Sambre Canal, under heavy fire from the Canal bank, he rushed forward with a Lewis gun team in the face of an intense barrage, brought the gun into action, effectively silenced the enemy’s fire, thus enabling his company to advance and gain their objectives.

Throughout the whole of these operations Sjt. Clarke acted with magnificent bravery and total disregard of personal safety, and by his gallantry and high sense of duty set an inspiring example to all ranks.

Click here to see full Gazette entry.

Other decorations:  N/A

Place/date of death: Rochdale, Lancashire/June 16, 1947

Grave/memorials: Rochdale Cemetery, Lancashire

Origin of VC to the Lord Ashcroft collection: Purchased at auction, Spink, London, 1996

Current location of VC: Displayed on rotation at The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes exhibition, Imperial War Museum