Contributed by: Jean Hart, on 2008-11-05
|Year of Birth||1885|
|Year of Death||1916|
|Place of Wartime Residence||Bolton, Lancashire|
Ralph Clarkson 18059 2nd Battalion Border Regiment was my great uncle, my grandfather's brother
When I was little my graddad used talk with emotion about his youngest brother, Ralph, who was killed in World War 1. Ralph was born in the Halliwell area of Bolton in 1885, the 7th and youngest child of Mary Ann (Vose) and John Clarkson. His mother died when he was 2 and his father when he was 10. The family was split up and Ralph was adopted by his mother's cousin, Thomas Kay and his wife Martha who had no children of their own. Ralph married Ada Higson, a local girl, in1905 and they had one surviving son, Thomas Kay Clarkson. Ralph worked in the mill and was also a part time fireman and secretary for the local branch of the Grand Order of Oddfellows. In 1914 he was a member of the Malitia and in November of that year joined the Border Regiment in Carlisle (probably one of Kitchener's volunteers.) This was his brother's old regiment his brother having served in the Boer War and no doubt having returned with many tales to tell. His Attestation Papers tell us that Ralph stood 5ft 8ins tall, had a chest measurement of 35ins and had a scar on the tip of the middle finger of his left hand, no doubt recorded for identification purposes but in the event of no use. Ralph was posted on 1st May 1915 as part p of a reinforcement group bound for Ypres. On 19th June, he received a gunshot wound to his left hand and was sent first to the hospital at Le Treport and on the 1st July to England. On 1st May 1916 he returned to the front in France joiing his regiment on the 25th on the Somme.He was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal (unpaid). He was killed on the first day of The Battle of the Somme whilst his regiment was attempting to take "Apple Alley." The assault was successful but Ralph was one of the missing. His body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Thiepvel Memorial. His obituary appears in The Bolton Journal and Guardian on Friday 21st July 1916 and contains a grainy photograph of Ralph. He left behind a widow and a 9 year old son who after the war received his service medals and his bronze plaque and scroll. He was also named on the Roll of Honour at St John's Church in Bolton and in the regimental Memorial Book in Carlisle Cathedral.