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A Great War 1915 ‘Battle of St. Eloi’ D.C.M. group of four awarded to Sergeant J. Clarkburn, 1st Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, who was wounded in action on 16 June 1915

Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.V.R. officially named to: 7387 Cpl. J. Clarkburn. 1/Nth’ld Fus:

1914 Star, with clasp officially named to: 7387 Pte. J. Clarkburn. 1/North’d Fus.

British War and Victory Medals officially named to: 7387 A-Sjt. J. Clarkburn. North’d Fus.

Provenance: Eric Knowles Collection, Dix Noonan Webb, September 2006.

D.C.M. London Gazette 30 June 1915:
‘For conspicuous gallantry at St Eloi on the night of 14 April 1915 when, after extricating himself from the ruins of a fortified house which had been blown up by a mine, he assisted to extricate his men and restored order with great coolness.’

John Clarkburn attested for the Northumberland Fusiliers on 22 December 1900, and from 1902 to 1907 served in the West Indies and South Africa, earning two good conduct stripes. He transferred to the Army Reserve in 1913, before being recalled for active service during the Great War, and served with the 1st Battalion on the Western Front from 9 November 1914. He was promoted Corporal on 20 March 1915.

On 14 April 1915, Clarkburn’s battalion was holding the trenches at St. Eloi Craters, Vourmezeele. “Y” Company, of which Clarkburn was a part, was occupying the part of a trench that ran through a large fortified house, ‘the enemy shelled the support trenches again in the afternoon after which all was quiet until 11:15 p.m. (when opposite Q1) the enemy suddenly opened rapid rifle fire. After about 5 minutes they also opened with shrapnel on the trench which was held by a portion of “Y” Company under Captain Roddam ... but shortly after the enemy’s artillery started, a mine was exploded ... the latter was completely wrecked by the explosion and a large portion of the parapet was shaken down blocking the way to the communication trench running from here to the house.’ (Battalion War Diary, for 14 April 1915, refers).

Battalion casualties during this attack were 5 men were killed, and 38 wounded, and for his gallantry during this action Clarkburn was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. He was wounded two months later on 16 June 1915, when he received gun shot wounds to his chest, arm and leg, and was discharged on 26 March 1919.

Note: The recipient’s Medal Index Car states ‘Ineligible for 14 clasp’, and no authority has been found to the contrary.

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Product Code: EM3302

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