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War Memorials



In Memory of
CLARENCE EDWARD BARNES
Private 27489
2nd Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Who was killed in action on Tuesday, 9th October 1917
Age 19

No Known Grave

Remembered with Honour

Clarence Edward Barnes was born in Beeston, Notts in 18981, the son of William Edward (b.c1865, Nottingham) and Annie Maria, his wife (b. c1872, Cotmanhay, Derbyshire, née Wildey)2. By 1901, the family was living at 66 Wollaton Road, Beeston with William Edward working as a colliery labourer3. By 1911, they had moved to Ilkeston, where they were living at 46 South Street. William Edward was then a self-employed coal carter and their son Bert Wiley, now living with the family, was working as a coal loader. Clarence, aged 12, was still at school4.

As Clarence's Army Service Record has not survived, we do not have a precise record of when he enlisted, but it was probably in May 19155 at Stapleford, Notts6, when he was only 17. It appears that he was attached originally to the Sherwood Forester but later transferred to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, attached to - in succession - the 10th, 14th and, finally, the 2nd Battalion7. Again, we do not know when he was sent to the Western Front. Technically it should not have been before some time around the middle of 1917, when he would have been 19 - the minimum age for overseas duty - but, as he had apparently overstated his age by a year when he enlisted, he may have left for France a year earlier in 1916. If that was the case, he would have faced the full horrors of the Somme battles of that year

Whatever, the detail of his deployment, we can be fairly certain that by the end of July 1917, when the three-month long series of bitter battles which made up the Third Battle of Ypres - also known as Passchendaele - began, he was part of 2nd Battalion as part of 22nd Brigade of the 7th Division. Then, he would have seen action at The Battle of Polygon Wood, the Battle of Broodseinde and The Battle of Poelcappelle - a succession of Passchendaele battles in the Flanders region of Belgium.

Poelcappelle began om 9th October in atrocious conditions. Heavy rain had begun on the 3rd, creating swampy conditions in ground already heavily damaged by shelling. There was more rain the next day and this continued on the 5th and 6th, becoming a downpour on the 7th. The resulting atrocious ground conditions severely hampered the need to position artillery, ammunition and supplies. The poor weather also restricted air observation and therefore reduced the effectiveness of British artillery8. Nevertheless, 2nd was one of two battalions of 22nd Brigade that was able to assemble to the east of Polygon Wood on the 7th and to attack against the enemy early on the 9th, in and around Judge Copse. Despite facing continuous machine gun fire early progress was made and the copse was eventually cleared. During the action, between 1st-11th October, 2nd Battalion suffered heavy casualties, recording 6 officers and 54 other ranks killed, 6 officers and 188 men wounded, 70 missing, 5 died of wounds and 2 suffered shell shock. Private Barnes, it appears was one of those missing and eventually presumed killed9.

Private Barnes' body was never identified and, unusually and sadly, he has not been commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, either as an individual memorial stone or as an entry on one of the memorials to the missing10.

He was however posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal10 and his financial effects, amounting to £3 2s 8d were paid to his mother on 11 March 1918 and she was also paid his War Gratuity of £11 on 19 November 191911.

His brother Bertred served in the Machine Gun Corps during the war and survived.


Footnotes
1His birth was registered in Basford Registration District (of which Beeston was part) in Q2/1898 (Ref 7b 213).
2William Edward Barnes married Annie Maria 'Willde' at Beeston Parish Church on 20 April 1893. 'Willde' appears to be an alternative spelling of 'Wildey' that appears in various records around this time. The couple appears to have been in a relationship for some years prior to this date. The birth of Annie's son, Bertred Wildey was registered in Basford Registration District in Q1/1891 (Ref 7b 185) and he was baptised at Beeston Parish Church on 4 February 1891 as Bertram Willde. Annie and Bertram were then living with her parents at 17 Burrows Street, Beeston. In the 1911 census, William Edward appears to acknowledge Bertred as his son.
3Beeston, Notts, 1901 Census: Piece 3153 Folio 22.
4Ilkeston, Derbyshire, 1911 Census: Piece 20410 RD429 SD2 ED19 Sched 122. A boarder lived with the family
5The probable date of Clarence's enlistment has been calculated from the amount of his War Gratuity.
6He is recorded as having enlisted at Stapleford, Notts in 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.
7These attachments are recorded in his Medal Roll listing - available on ancestry.com. His Service Number when with the Sherwood Foresters was 3880.
8This account of the Battle of Poelcappelle is summarised from its Wiki page (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Poelcappelle) 9This account of the battalion's involvement in the Battle of Poelcappelle and the casualty numbers are derived from its war diary. Some researchers believe that the Battalion casualties were much higher.
10Details from Clarence's Medal Card - available on ancestry.com.
11Details from "Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929" - available on ancestry.com.

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