William Angus Clarke
Service Number: 461
Unit: 8th Machine Gun Company
Personal Information/ Enlistment information: William Angus Clarke was born in Tarlee South Australia on the 3rd of August 1893. His mother Sophie Jane and his father William Angus, along with his 7 brothers and 2 sisters all grew up on the farm Ryelands. Along with Bernard his brother he enlisted to go to war on the 26th of May 1916. At the time he was 5 foot 11 and ½ inches tall and he had blue eyes, brown hair and a medium complexion. He was also my Great, Great Uncle and was always known by his middle name, Angus. This is interesting as my grandma is also known by her middle name.
He traveled with his brother on the “Ulysses” to England arriving in Plymouth at the end of December 1916. On the 24th April 1917 he moved to France and was taken on by the 8th Machine Gun Company. He was wounded on the 27th October 1917 toward the end of the Battle of Passchendaele, not returning to his unit until the 11th of December. It wasn’t too long after that he was again wounded by a bullet to the right leg on the 28th April 1918. Then on the 5th of September he was wounded yet again. Struck by a shell to the chest, doctors tried skin grafts to try and cover the missing body. After the operation was done, the organs of Angus could still be seen functioning through the thin layer of the skin. This was not going to hold properly so the doctors placed a leather pouch over the skin grafts, which remained with Angus for his lifetime. William was extremely lucky to survive this injury. The documents state that at one stage his ribs were removed from his body to try and repair the deadly wound.
William returned to Australia on the 28th of August 1919. As he was carried out of the train at the Adelaide Railway station on a stretcher, his mother knelt down on the platform and kissed her wounded son. Having lost Bernard in the war the family was grieving. William eventually recovered and become a dairy farmer. For a man who fought hard for his country, he then had to fight the Government to receive any compensation when his land was required for the Mount Bold Reservoir. It was expected that he would never work again, so his recovery was remarkable. William married Lillian but he did not have children. He died at 55 years of age from natural causes. However, it is remembered that his wounds were a major role in why he passed away.