LEATHERHEAD WAR MEMORIALS - WWII
Gunner Archibald Clark
88 Field Regiment Royal Artillery
Town Memorial World War II
Service Number 1041730
88 Field Regt.
Buried at KANCHANABURI WAR CEMETERY
Cemetery/memorial reference: 4. C. 35.
Saturday 14 July 1945
DIED IN JAPANESE HANDS
News has just been received of the death in a Japanese prison camp on October 26th, 1944 [sic], of Gunner A. Clark, whose home was at 71, Randalls Park Avenue, Leatherhead. Before the war Gunner Clark, who was 45 years of age [sic], was employed as a gardener at the Royal School for the Blind, Leatherhead.
He was on the Army Reserve and was recalled to the colours on the outbreak of war. He served in France and took part in the evacuation of Dunkirk. Later he was sent to the Far East and was taken prisoner at the fall of Singapore.
He leaves a widow and two young daughters.
[Note that the newspaper report varies from the official record on his date of death and age.]
The notorious Burma-Siam railway, built by Commonwealth, Dutch and American prisoners of war, was a Japanese project driven by the need for improved communications to support the large Japanese army in Burma. During its construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 civilians also died in the course of the project, chiefly forced labour brought from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, or conscripted in Siam (Thailand) and Burma (Myanmar).
Two labour forces, one based in Siam and the other in Burma worked from opposite ends of the line towards the centre. The Japanese aimed at completing the railway in 14 months and work began in June 1942. The two sections of the line finally met near Konkoita towards the end of October 1943 and the completed line, 424 kilometres long, was operational by December 1943.
The graves of those who died during the construction and maintenance of the Burma-Siam railway (except for the Americans, whose remains were repatriated) were transferred from camp burial grounds and isolated sites along the railway into three cemeteries at Chungkai and Kanchanaburi in Thailand and Thanbyuzayat in Myanmar.
KANCHANABURI WAR CEMETERY is only a short distance from the site of the former 'Kanburi', the prisoner of war base camp through which most of the prisoners passed on their way to other camps. It was created by the Army Graves Service who transferred to it all graves along the southern section of railway, from Bangkok to Nieke.
Some 300 men who died (most from a Cholera epidemic in May/June 1943) at Nieke camp were cremated and their ashes now lie in two graves in the cemetery. The names of these men are inscribed on panels in the shelter pavilion. There are now 5,085 Commonwealth casualties of the Second World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. There are also 1,896 Dutch war graves and 1 non-war grave.
Within the entrance building to the cemetery will be found the KANCHANABURI MEMORIAL, recording the names of 11 men of the army of undivided India buried in Muslim cemeteries in Thailand, where their graves could not be maintained. The cemetery was designed by Colin St Clair Oakes.
His lifeHe was born on 15 October 1900 in Chichester, Sussex. His siblings were William Frank (1896-1918), Edward Albert (1898-1901), Florence (1903-1935), Gwendoline (1905-1985).
His father was John William Clark, born Chichester about 1867, a Cabinet Maker and Polisher by trade. He died in Chichester in 1935.
His mother was Frances Florence (Fanny) née Orchard, born Andover, Hampshire about 1869. She died sometime after 1959 in Chichester.
Their marriage was registered in Chichester in the 3rd Quarter of 1896.
In the 1911 Census the family were at 29 Cavendish Street, Chichester, Sussex.
It is not yet known what type and length of military service Archibald had before he went on the Army Reserve, or what kind of work he had in civilian life before becoming a gardener.
In the Electoral Registers an Archibald Clark was resident in the Leatherhead area as follows:
1929: Priory Cottage, Church Street with Cecil and Alice Bullen and Thomas Crawford
1930: Priory Cottage, Church Street with Cecil and Annie Bullen and Thomas Crawford
1931, 1932: Priory Cottage, Church Street with Cecil Bullen and Thomas Crawford
1933, 1934, 1935: Priory Cottage, Church Street with Cecil and Annie Bullen
It appears that Beatrice's sister Catherine Mabel Pain, born 1907, who is listed at St Margarets (Rev EH Griffiths, Katharine Griffiths), Highlands Road, Leatherhead in the 1935 Electoral Register, worked as a Cook either at the Royal School for the Blind (source:1939 England & Wales Register) or for the Griffiths. Rev EH Griffiths RN was the Principal of the Royal School for the Blind.
On the outbreak of WW2 Kings College Hospital requisitioned it as a National Emergency Hospital. Catherine died on 20 January 1975 when living at 26 Montgomery Court, Levett Road, Leatherhead.
The press report above says Archibald was employed as a gardener at the Royal School for the Blind, Leatherhead. Who helped who to get a job there?
Was it Archibald as he had been living in the town since at least 1929?
And was that how he met Catherine's sister Beatrice?
His marriage to Beatrice May Pain, born 24 April 1905, was registered in December 1935 at Pontypridd, Glamorgan. Beatrice died in 1998 in Torbay, Devon.
In the Electoral Registers Archibald and Beatrice were living at the following addresses:
1938: 23 Clinton Road, Leatherhead
1939: 71 Randalls Park Avenue, Leatherhead, Surrey.
However, the 1939 England & Wales Register does not record Archibald at 71 Randalls Park Avenue (it is assumed that the two other names redacted on the form are the two children). The press report above says "He was on the Army Reserve and was recalled to the colours on the outbreak of war."
Probate: CLARK Archibald of 71 Randalls Park-avenue Leatherhead Surrey died 26 October 1943 on war service Administration Llandudno 4 January to Beatrice May Clark widow.
Archibald Clark is remembered on these memorials:
Leatherhead Town Memorial
Leatherhead RBL Roll of Honour, Leatherhead Parish Church
Thailand-Burma Railway Roll of Honour
the website editor would like to add further information on this casualty
e.g. a photo of him, and of any recollections of him
last updated 8 Jul 20