Victoria Cross - First World War, 1914-1918

Lionel (Leo) Beaumaurice Clarke

Lionel (Leo) Beaumaurice Clarke

Lionel (Leo) Beaumaurice Clarke was born in Waterdown, Ontario on 1 December 1892. On 9 September 1916 Corporal Clarke was with the 2nd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force when it attacked the German trench line in a 500 metre-wide salient in front of the town of Pozières, in France. Leading a party to clear the left flank, Clarke entered the trench and with his men forced his way toward the centre of the enemy position. Casualties were heavy, and Clarke eventually found himself contending with a German counterattack without any support. Despite a bayonet wound, he continued to fight alone, killing eighteen of the enemy and taking one prisoner. For his actions on this day, Corporal Clarke was awarded the Victoria Cross. A month later, on 5 October 1916, he was fatally injured when the blast from a shell caused him to be buried in a trench.

Citation

“For most conspicuous bravery.  He was detailed with his section of bombers to clear the continuation of a newly-captured trench and cover the construction of a “block.”  After most of his party had become casualties, he was building a “block” when about twenty of the enemy with two officers counter-attacked.  He boldly advanced against them, emptied his revolver into them and afterwards two enemy rifles which he picked up in the trench.

One of the officers then attacked him with the bayonet, wounding him in the leg, but he shot him dead.  The enemy then ran away, pursued by Acting Corporal Clarke, who shot four more and captured a fifth.

Later he was ordered to the dressing-station, but returned next day to duty.”

(London Gazette, no.29802, 26 October 1916)

 

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