193451 PTE. R. H. CLARKSON. A.S.C.
Robert Henry Clarkson was born on 23 September 1885 in Bamber Bridge and baptised at St Saviour’s on 11 October. His father was Joseph Clarkson (b. 1859 in Lostock Hall), a card master in a cotton mill. His mother was Isabella Chapman (b. 1858 in Preston). Joe and Isabella were married at St Saviour’s in 1882 and they had 6 children, losing one in infancy; the survivors were: Joseph Victor (b. 1884), then Robert, then Margaret (b. 1890), Mary Elizabeth (b. 1893) and Bertha (b. 1896). The family lived at Dewhurst Row in Bamber Bridge.
Robert was married in 1906. His wife was Mary Kirkham (b. 1884 in Preston) and together they had two children: Ernest (b. 1907) and Arnold (b. 1910). They lived at 7 Lostock Fold, Bamber Bridge. Robert was a cotton grinder.
Robert was probably called up in late 1916. He joined the Army Service Corps and was given service number M2/193451. There are no attestation papers for Robert and the ASC did not keep War Diaries so there must be some speculation about what he did and where he served. The M2 prefix to his number indicates that he served with Mechanical Transport. He died in Mesopotamia. A number of ASC MT Companies served in Mesopotamia from February and September 1917 and my guess is that he was posted to one of these units. They were principally concerned with the supply of ammunition but ASC Companies were overall responsible for all provisions and supplies to troops in the field. The early campaign in Mesopotamia had been a disaster, in part due to the poor infrastructure in the port of Basra and the difficulty of maintaining supplies to troops up the River Tigris. When General Maud took over command of the Tigris Corps in July 1916 he set about reorganising and resupplying British and Indian troops in Mesopotamia and by March 1917 Baghdad had fallen. An armistice was signed with the Ottoman Empire on 1 November 1918 and British troops then remained in Mesopotamia whilst the politicians tried to agree the terms of peace. It was about this time that the ASC was given the title ‘Royal’.
Although the fighting was over, conditions in Mesopotamia remained poor, with soldiers suffering from the heat and poor sanitation. Typhoid and malaria were rife and it’s likely that Robert succumbed to one or other of these illnesses. He died in Baghdad on 15 May 1919. He was 33 years old, leaving a wife and two young children.
Service Number: M2/193451
Date of Death: 15/05/1919
Regiment/Service: Royal Army Service Corps, Advanced M.T. Depot.
Cemetery/memorial reference: VII. D. 10.
Cemetery: BAGHDAD (NORTH GATE) WAR CEMETERY