Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Children of Margaret McCallum & Horatio St. John Clarke

Above: Cyril Wilberforce St. John Clarke, elder son of Margaret McCallum
and Dr. Horatio St. John Clarke
Katherine Clarke was the first child born to Dr. Horatio St John Clarke and his wife Margaret MacCallum. She arrived in September of 1874, and was born in the Clarke home in Victoria Street, Richmond.
Her first sibling, a brother named Cyril, was born when Katherine was 17 months old, in February of 1876. Just a few months later, in late July, toddler Katherine fell ill with bronchitis. Despite being doctored by her surgeon father, 21 month old Katherine died on Saturday, July 29, 1876. She was laid to rest five days later in the Boroondara Cemetery at Kew.
Cyril Wilberforce St. John Clarke was the second child and first son born to his parents, Horatio Clarke and Margaret McCallum, on Thursday, February 24, 1876.
As a young man he served his country in the Boer war and later also joined the A.I.F to fight overseas in World War 1.Records show that at the time of his joining the 4th Australian Commonwealth Horse, Cyril was a 25 year old law student from Upper Ferntree Gully, Victoria. His next of kin was given as his mother, Margaret Clarke, from Hawthorn. It was stated that on completion of his service in 1902 he sailed to England from South Africa aboard the ship ‘Custodian’ on July 15, 1902.
Cyril’s military career in the A.I.F was dogged by ill health, and his war record as found on the Australian National Archives website runs to over 170 pages, many of which deal with medical board findings. A brief summary of Cyril’s war service was given by his wife Elsie in a letter dated June 11, 1967, in which she was applying for the new Anzac medal on behalf of her deceased husband. It reads in part:

“ My husband, Lieutenant-Colonel C.W St John Clarke died December 8, 1965. His military record is as follows:
Major Cyril Wilberforce St John Clarke enlisted August 20, 1914. Embarked October 19, 1914. Major of 4th Light Horse, served Egypt, Gallipoli and later 29th battalion in France. My husband, being in a Mounted Regiment, was not at the Gallipoli Landing but, having discarded the horses, he went to Gallipoli one week later.
Incidently, my Husband also served in the Boer war- which, of course, does not concern Gallipoli!! Yours truly, Elsie G. Clarke (Mrs C.W St John Clarke).”

Cyril Wilberforce St John Clarke married Elsie Gwendoline Vagg at Cobden, Victoria, in 1912, when he was aged about 36 years of age. They had two children:
Douglas Hughan MacCallum Clarke born October 26, 1918. Served WW2, service no. VX121590.
Gwendolen Clarke born 1922.

Cyril Clarke worked as a solicitor throughout his adult life. He died of bronchio-pneumonia on December 8, 1965, at Newtown, Geelong, at the age of 89 years. He was buried in the Boroondara Cemetery, Kew, on 10 December, 1965. His wife Elsie Gwendolen Vagg Clarke died on November 21, 1978, aged 88 years.
May De La Pryme Clarke was born on May 26, 1877. Her elder sister Kate having died the year before May’s birth, she became the eldest surviving daughter of Margaret MacCallum and Horatio St. John Clarke.
Not much is known by this researcher about the life of May Clarke. She never married, and died on October 30, 1955, at the age of 77 years. Electoral rolls from 1903,1924 & 1931show her living with her mother and sometimes siblings, and her occupation as ‘home duties’.
Horatio St. John Clarke was the second son and fourth child born to Horatio and Margaret Clarke. He was born on November 23, 1879, in Richmond, Victoria.
Like his elder brother Cyril, Horatio served his country in both the Boer War and WW1. He was twenty years old when he joined the 3rd Victorian Bushmen, regimental number 724. His occupation was given as ‘farmer’, and his address 72 Victoria Street, Richmond. There was a comment on his record in the Oz-Boer Database Project that Horatio had been a member of Cameron’s Scouts, one of alleged Boer sympathisers within the 3rd Victorian Bushmen and also served in the Cyclist Corps.
The main duty of the Cyclist Corps was despatch riding, but they were also used for a variety of jobs as needed. One of their more obscure tasks was the transporting of carrier pigeons, as travel by horseback tended to unsettle the birds!
When World War 1 broke out in 1914, Horatio and his brother Cyril signed up for service abroad. Horatio joined the 8th Reinforcements of the 4th Light Horse on July 1, 1915, but later transferred to the 1st Anzac Cyclist Corp. He was 35 years old at the time, and a farmer from Richmond.
Horatio embarked from Melbourne on board the “Kyarra” on August 20, 1915, and by December 1915 was in Alexandria. In March of 1916 he transferred to the Cyclist Corps, 1st Australian Division, then in July 1916 listed as being with the reorganised 1st Army Corps Cyclist Battalion. Between May 1916 and February 1917 Horatio was serving in France, then on February 20 found himself in Hospital with inflammation of the left knee joint. The same condition flared again several times over the next two years during Horatio’s service in France, but he always rejoined his unit after responding to rest and treatment.
Horatio never married after his return to Australia, and he lived a long life before dying in 1961 at the age of 82 years. He died at the Dunbar Private Hospital, Emerald, Victoria, on July 31, and until then had been living at 1 Yarra Grove, Hawthorn, with his spinster sister, Ethel Clarke.

Ethel Clarke was the final child born to Dr. Horatio St. John Clarke and his wife Margaret McCallum. She was born on October 23, 1880, and like her sister May and brother Horatio, never married.
Ethel had an excellent education when young, and led a very full life. She was educated at the Presbyterian Ladies College in Melbourne, and then attended Trinity College at Melbourne University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts.
Prior to World War 1, she took up secretarial and teaching work. Whilst travelling in India in 1915 she enrolled as a V.A.D (Voluntary Aid Detachments) and volunteered to work at St. Johns Hospital until 1916, and then in the same capacity at Somerville College Hospital in Oxford, England, for six months. Somerville College was a women’s college that had been temporarily converted into a hospital during WW1.
From 1917 to 1920 Ethel served as Unit Administrator in the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary (Q.M.A.A.C). She joined the Q.M.A.A.C on December 3, 1917, and worked as a high ranking administrator in various hospitals and hostels. An extensive file exists for Ethel St. John Clarke on the National Archives Documentsonline site. In it are several glowing references from people as diverse as Bishop Montagu Stone-Wigg, the Bishop of New Guinea; to Captain James Florence of the A.I.F who was related to Ethel through their Hughan grandmothers being sisters; to Owen Thomas Lloyd Crossley, vicar at All saints, St. Kilda, from 1905 to 1910, and later Bishop of Auckland.
Montagu Stone-Wigg wrote of Ethel:
“ Miss Ethel St. John Clarke, B.A., has acted for several years as Organizing Secretary to the New Guinea Mission in Victoria. I gladly testify to the thoroughness with which her work has been carried out and am sorry that a rearrangement of the organization for Missions in Victoria is likely to lead to her work coming to an end. If so, I can freely recommend her as capable and conscientious.”

H.J Melbourne of Bishopscourt, Melbourne East, wrote:
“ Miss Ethel St. John Clarke, B.A., has acted as Secretary for the New Guinea Mission in the Province of Victoria for some years, and has done work with diligence, courtesy and success. It would be difficult to speak too highly of her services, whilst her manners and good sense have commended her to everyone connected with the Mission.”

Ethel Clarke returned home to Australia in 1920.
In March of 1942, Ethel wrote to the A.I.F Base Records Office in Canberra to enquire about her eligibility to receive Service and Victory medals for service during the period 1914-1919. She detailed her service as follows:

“I left Australia in 1915, served as a nursing V.A.D at St. Johns Hospital in India till 1916.At Somerville College Hospital, Oxford, then served as Unit Administrator in Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary from 1916-1920 when I was repatriated to Australia as our Corps was finally disbanded in that year.”

Ethel Clarke spent her later years living with brother Horatio in Hawthorn. She died on August 29, 1964, at the age of 83 years.

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