JENNER-CLARKE, John William

Lieutenant, 6th Bn., Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, attd 43rd Trench Mortar Bty.

Born

2nd December  1897.
Son of William Jenner-Clarke (Surgeon, rtd) and Edith Jenner-Clarke, late of Newbury, Berkshire.

Permanent address

Mansfield, Douglas Ave, Exmouth.

Education

Blundell's School, “Old House” from the age of 14.
May 1912 to July 1914.
He was a member of the school OTC from 1912 until he left, attending camp in 1912, 13 and 14.

Service

Lt Jenner-Clark joined the 8th DCLI then on 1st March 1916 was gazetted to the 43/1 Trench Mortar Battery as Temp Capt (See Gazette 29636, 23 Jun 1916), where he served until 7th September 1916 when he was gazetted out “relinquished the acting rank of Captain upon ceasing to command a Trench Mortar Battalion” (Gazette 29846 1st Dec 1916). At the beginning of Sept 1916 he joined the 6th DCLI taking part in the attack upon Gueudecourt on Sept 16th. He was reported ‘wounded’ not ‘wounded and missing’. His father made several attempts to find out what had happened to his son but, receiving no further information, employed Petherick & Sons of Exeter to fight for information on their behalf.

Trench Diaries

The 6th Bn. DCLI were part of 43rd Brigade, 8th 14th (Light) Division. The battalion arrived in the Somme from the Arras area on 6th August 1916 by train to Mericourt. They provided carrying parties for the Somersets and were then engaged in Delville Wood where they were sent to the front line on 15th August 1916. They took part in an attack on Hop Alley and Edge trench in the South eastern corner of the wood on the 18th August, taking heavy casualties during severe hand to hand fighting. They were relieved on the 20th August and were sent to camp west of Fricourt where they remained until early September. On 14th September they moved forward to Pommieres Redoubt and attacked Gird and Gird Support Trench in front of Gueudecourt on 16th September. The battalion moved forward as a single wave at 9.25am under heavy machine gun fire from the right which brought the assault to a standstill. A renewed attack at 6.55pm also failed; the two attacks had cost 309 casualties.

Death

16th September 1916, aged 18; Somme.
Letter received by his family on 21st Nov 1916 stating that he was now ‘wounded and missing’. An “Information only” document from the War Office dated 24th Aug 1917, reports that “In the view of the lapse of time since he was reported missing his death has now been accepted for official purposes.”

Burial/Commemoration

Lt. Jenner-Clarke has no known grave so is commemorated on Thiepval Memorial, Thiepval, Somme, France.

Memorial

Theipval Memorial is on the D73, off the Main Bapaume to Albert (D929). The Memorial, 150 feet high, was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and can be seen from many of the battle sites in the surrounding area. It has sixteen piers on whose faces the names of all the men who have no known grave, is inscribed. An excellent interpretation centre has been built nearby with research facilities and an “on line” memorial to the missing which contains much valuable information.

Research

Commonwealth War Graves Commission - www.cwgc.org
The Blundellian, 1914, p 131, December 1916, p 272
The National Archives Kew WO 339/14459
The Register of Blundell's School, Part II 1882 – 1932” (1932) MAHOOD, A.S., Ed. Entry No. 5527
Cemeteries & Memorials in Belgium & Northern France (2004) Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 25/490
Archives of the London Gazette, www.gazettes-online.co.uk; Issue 29636, 25th June 1916 page 6221 and Issue 29846, 1st December 1916
“British Battalions on the Somme” WESTLAKE, R. (2004) Pen and Sword
Field visit (JEA & GRY 28/7/2006)

 

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