16 CLARK, Marcus Adamson

 

16 Marcus A Clarke portrait

16 Dvr Marcus Adamson Clark

 

Marcus Clark was born in 1895 in the country town of Narrandera, New South Wales to parents William A and Isabella Elizabeth nee Adamson. Marcus also had 4 brothers and two sisters.

Growing up in Narrandera he was good friends with fellow sappers , 88 George Casburn and 121 Percy Talbot Griggs also originals in the 1st FCE.

In 1914 Marcus was just 19 years old when he enlisted, a Blacksmith and Farrier by trade working alongside his brothers from the age of 14. He had developed a good understanding of horses and was a robust young man for his time, around 5ft 10” and 12 stone.

Although Narrandera was a long way from Sydney, like so many of the young men from country New South Wales they were keen to enlist in their home state. Marcus was extra keen and must have raced to Sydney on one of his trusty steeds, his low number of 16 indicating how quickly he was in the queue on the first morning of enlistments.

His older brother David Miller Clark also a blacksmith also later enlisted on the 19th January 1915 and was a member of the 1st Anzac Camel Btn. no. 1 Co.

On landing day at Gallipoli on the 25th April 1915 , young Marcus was one of the drivers of the company attached to a transport ship awaiting to land with horses and loaded wagons.

He was in the company of approximately 25 fellow drivers, including two fellow farriers, 178 Walter Blattman and 218 Mervyn Lambert a New Zealander and Boer War veteran.

Marcus had sent a letter home to his family detailing the landing day events and his birdseye view while anchored just 1/2 a mile offshore.

“Where they landed was just one mass of high hills, supposed by the Turks to be impregnable………Pinnaces took the men ashore from the troopships. The water was too shallow for the boats to go in close….there were only 1000 of our boys in the first charge and as they charged they let out a murderous yell…………….We were anchored within half a mile of the shore. We could hear the rifles (sic?) and see the shrapnel bursting over our boys heads…..the cruisers were continually planting shells among the Turks.

The hospital ship was near and she got full in no time for the snipers played havoc with our chaps and were very keen on shooting Officers and Red Cross men.

By about sundown we were in close…………..All day Sunday and Sunday night the firing was terrific. Although we were so near the fighting we would not get any news until about four days after when about twenty of our wounded chaps came on board.

All the above happened on Sunday the 25th April,  on Tuesday 27th the “Goebens” (German destroyer) started shelling…… several shells landed close by us and one went through the ships rigging……………On Friday the 7th May she started shelling us again and hit one of the boats, but did very little damage.

We have not been able to land the horses as the country is too rough, they have to use mules. We left this morning 12th May, on our way back to Alexandria……..we arrived back in Alexandria on May 14th.”

When the drivers of the 1st FCE  had returned to Egypt and settled back in camp they were just five miles from Alexandria and only a mile from the sea. The weather was dry and extremely hot, however they were able to enjoy bathing every night.

Marcus described the daily work schedule of the farrier’s……………..

We are camped with New Zealander’s and English, and there are a lot of horses. We have reveile at 5.30, and my mate and I shoe from 6 to 7.30, and  knock off at 11, when we are finished for the day. None of the troops work after dinner…… Our food is good now, being supplied by the English A.S.C.

It is too hot to wear long trousers and leggings, so we cut off our trousers at the knees, and wear white shoes without socks, which is far more comfortable. Only five of us sleep in one tent which is supposed to hold 15, so we have plenty of room. We have as much leave as we want, but without pay.  All of our officers are at the Dardanelles and  a Sergeant is in charge of us……We may be here for a couple of months and then we take the horses to England very soon.”

Marcus and his skill with horses did not go unnoticed and his story was featured in the Sydney Mail in January of 1916.

Incorrectly titled Trooper.
16 Marcus Adamson Clark with his trained horse –  incorrectly titled Trooper.

SOME WAR SIDELIGHTS: MAINLY EGYPTIAN.

Trooper M. A. Clark, of Narrandera, and his Trained Horse.

“No mounted infantry in the world take a greater pride in their horses than the Australians. In Egypt some of our men have gone to great pains to specially fit their steeds for war work. The horse in the photo has been trained to do many things outside his ordinary routine, one of them being to lie down in face of the enemy and permit his master to fire over him. Trooper Clark is attached to the mounted section of the Field Engineers”                       Source: NLA – Published Sydney Mail 1916.
In mid March 1916 Marcus was promoted to Lance Corporal – Shoeing Smith just prior to the company embarking to France.  His promotion was short lived and in May he was later absent from parade and had used insubordinate language and as a result his punishment meant he reverted back to rank of driver and he also forfeited 14 days pay.

Perhaps like many soldiers who were never comfortable with being responsible for other men, Marcus quite happily gave up promotion for this minor disciplinary infraction. This may have been the case for young Marcus or more concerning for him may have been the news of his fathers passing back home in Narrandera. News of this kind would have been unsettling enough.

“The Short Account of the Formation of the 1st Field Coy Engineers “ tells how twenty drivers under original 174 L/Cpl Eveleigh Hodges embarked for Marseilles France,  with the sappers on the S.S Invernia, arriving on the 28th March 1916. Also mentioned was the Mounted Section which had embarked on the Knight Templar and arrived at Toulon a day earlier.

A few months after arriving in France, fellow Driver 174 L/Cpl Hodges had requested his own change of rank to sapper. Four weeks later, Marcus Clark was remustered as a Sapper.

Over the course of the following years Marcus managed to fight through a long medical case of V.D , a serious bout of rheumatism and then the shear brutality of the western front right up to the Battle of Polygon Wood, Belgium of September 1917.

This battle was the most costly of all for the originals. On the 22nd of September, Marcus like a few other originals who were wounded during this battle, probably considered themselves among the lucky ones.

Marcus was wounded with a gun shot wound to his right hand and shortly after was on a hospital ship bound for England .

Marcus’s mother Isabella had received news of his wounding. Isabella had not long lost her husband and news of her son’s wounding was not doubt another huge shock and she responded with a desperate letter to the base records office wanting to know if her son is OK and can she cable him and what would be the cost.

Sir,
I have received 2 cables from your office re-my son Lance Corporal Marcus Clark being wounded in France and admitted to Beauford War Hospital Bristol England.
My son’s father died about 18 months ago. I would like to know , could and what would be the cost to cable to the hospital to see how my son is? It is 3 years now since he left Australia with the first Division for active service.
Yours Faithfully
Isabella. E. Clark

letter from Mothet isabella
Original letter from Isabella Clark

Marcus returned to Australia on the 22nd March 1918. On his return he settled in Victoria and resumed his trade as a blacksmith.

In 1922 he married  Ethel May Robinson and they were settled in the small farming town of Dookie, Victoria, not far from Shepparton. Marcus had an established business and had become well known in the area. Together they had four sons, William, Donald, Raymond and Douglas. Sadly after an extended illness his wife Ethel died in August 1939.

Marcus remarried Mary Eileen Ryan in 1939 and together the family was extended with children Eric, and Gregory and Helen.
In 1942 they were living in Dandenong in Victoria  and  Marcus was still blacksmithing.
By 1949 he had moved to Leeton NSW and with his wife Eileen and was perhaps too old to be bashing steel and was now a shopkeeper.

 

In 1953 Marcus had been in ill-health for seven months and he died on the 15th June 1953 at the age of 56…….Marcus always proud of being a Narrandera boy was buried in Narrandera Cemetery.

article156126366-3-001

 

Story Copyright©VanceKelly2016

 

Sources: AWM, NLA, NAA

Family Notes:

Marcus Adamson Clark was born on July 1, 1895, in Narrandera, New South Wales, the child of William A and Isabel E. Clark.

Father Willam Clark – died in 1916

Mother Isabella Clark – died in 1925

He married Ethel May ROBINSON on about April 15, 1922, in Melbourne, Victoria.

He then married Mary Eileen Ryan and they had three children together.

Marcus Adamson Clark died on June 15, 1953, in his hometown, at the age of 57.