CLARKE, William Gillies
(Service number 4/2063)

First Rank Sapper Last Rank Sapper


Date 28 February 1894 Place of Birth Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date 17 December 1915 Age 21 years
Address at Enlistment Telegraph Office, Greymouth
Occupation Telegraphist (NZ Govt)
Previous Military Experience Territorials. P & T Corps - serving
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Reverend J. CLARKE (father), The Manse, Wyndham
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 11th Reinforcements, New Zealand Field Engineers, Signal Company
Date 1 April 1916
Transport Tahiti or Maunganui
Embarked From Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Service Medals
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date 16 December 1917 Reason No longer physically fit for War Service on account of pre-enlistment disability aggravted by Active Service.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations



Date 14 August 1972 Age 78 years
Place of Death Nelson
Memorial or Cemetery Marsden Valley Cemetery
Memorial Reference Block 15A, Plot 61
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

William Gillies Clarke was born on 28 February 1894 at Timaru, Otago, the eldest son of James Izatt and Jane (née Walker) Clarke. His father was a Presbyterian minister and was called to various churches, being at Fairlie early on in his ministry in New Zealand. In early 1918, when he was stationed at Wyndham, he responded to a call from Knox Church, Waimate. William Gillies was a telegraphist at Greymouth when he enlisted, doing so on 17 December 1915. His father, whom he named as next-of kin, was still at Wyndham and moved to Waimate in 1918. James Izatt Clarke died at Waimate in April 1919, after a very short illness, and was buried there, Mrs Jane Arnott Clarke with him in 1944. He had been recovering well following a heart attack, but collapsed and died only days after taking a Bible lesson at the school, In little more than a year he had become loved and honoured in Waimate, being remembered especially for his “really memorable funeral sermon on Dr Margaret Cruickshank.” The Reverend J. I. Clarke was a patriotic man, whose address at Wyndham on Anzac Day 1918 was very moralistic. He, too, was the one who had addressed edifying words to the departing men at a Waimate soldiers’ social in June 1918. At the Armistice Day celebrations at Waimate, the Rev. J. I. Clarke mimicked the Germans in proclaiming to applause, “This is ‘The Day’! This is not ‘The Day’ that the Germans have made. This is the day which the Lord hath made! The Allies have won The Day.” Rev Clarke, himself, had two soldier sons – William Gillies Clarke and David Adamson Clarke, who was in Palestine when his father died. “Many in Fairlie, Palmerston South and Wyndham will join with the Waimate community in moruning the loss of a beloved pastor, . . . .”

Joining the Signalling Corps, W. G. Clarke reported to Trentham on 18 November 1915 and embarked on 1 April 1916. A bottle which washed ashore at Martin’s Bay and was picked up on 26 January 1917, contained 10 messages to friends from soldiers on an outgoing troopship. One of the messages, in an envelope, was addressed to Mrs J. I. Clarke, Wyndham, while one of the other messages contained the names and addresses of six soldiers, including Sapper Clarke, Wyndham. Sapper Clarke was William Gillies Clarke.

William Gillies Clarke was discharged on 16 December 1917, being no longer physically fit for War Service on account of a pre-enlistment disabilitywhich was aggravated by Active Service. He had arrived home in September 1917 in a contingent of sick and wounded soldiers from the Western battlefields. On 16 April 1919 at St Andrew’s Church, Christchurch, he married Milford Adelaide Newton. He resumed his employment with the Post Office, being Chief Postmaster at Hamilton in 1951. William died on the 14 August 1972 at Nelson, aged 78 years, and was buried at Marsden Valley Cemetery.His wife, Milford, died in December 1971.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [10 November 2020]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [10 November 2020]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [10 November 2020]; Marsden Valley Cemetery burial records (Nelson City Council) [12 November 2020]; Waimate Cemetery headstone transcription & burial records; Southland Times, 3 November 1915, Evening Star, 2 April 1917, Timaru Herald, 27 March 1918, Southern Cross, 4 May 1918, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 8 May 1918, 6 June 1918, 13 November 1918, 2 [x 2] & 4 April 1919, Otago Daily Times, 2 May 1919 (Papers Past) [10 November 2020]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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