4155-private-roy-allison-clark-image19.jpeg
Pte Roy A. Clark (1895-1916)
Australian War Memorial Collection H06248

Roy Allison CLARK

Regimental Number
4155
Rank
Private
War Service
Egypt and Western Front
Prior Military Service
Citizen Military Forces
Enlistment
20 Aug 1915 at Warwick Farm, NSW
Embarkation
20 Dec 1915 from Sydney, NSW, on the HMAT A60 Aeneas
Next of Kin
Father - Mr W. A. Clark, Terminus St, Liverpool, New South Wales
Date & Place of Birth
22 Jan 1895, Jerilderie, NSW
Parents
Hannah Eliza (nee THOMAS) and William Allison CLARK
Marital Status
Single
Siblings
None, only child
Occupation
Jeweller
Physical Description
5 feet 4 3/4 inches, 113 pounds (164.5cm, 51.3kg)
Eyes brown, Hair dark brown, Complexion pale
Religion
Presbyterian
Fate
Killed in Action, 20 Jul 1916, Fromelles, France. On German Death List - aged 21
Place of Burial
No known grave
Commemorated
V.C. Corner, (Panel 10), Australian Cemetery Memorial, Fromelles, France
Positively Identified
No

Roy Allison Clark - Known unto God.

roy-allison-clark-known-unto-g-image3.jpeg
Roy Clark
source Australian War Memorial Collections H06248

The Sydney Morning Herald – 12 August 1916 :

“Private Roy Allison Clark, only son of Mr. W. A. Clark, of High-street, Liverpool, is reported missing in France. Clark was 21 years of age, and previous to enlisting was employed by Mr. W. Kerr, jeweller, George-street, Sydney. He was a prominent member of the Liverpool Bicycle Club, and left for the front in December last.”

Source: WAR CASUALTIES. (1916, August 12). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842 - 1954), p. 14. Retrieved May 1, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15678385

The Sydney Morning Herald – 23 December 1916 :

“PRIVATE ROY CLARK. Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Clark, of Enfield and late of Liverpool, have been notified that their only child, Roy Allison Clark, who was reported missing for some months, was killed in action on July 20 last. Private Clark left this State 12 months ago. “

Source: WAR CASUALTIES. (1916, December 23). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842 - 1954), p. 12. Retrieved May 1, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15674114

Roy was reported missing on 20 July 1916 after the 54th Battalion in which he served launched a diversionary attack at Fromelles and suffered heavy losses.

The German death list included Roy’s name and German authorities reported his death as occurring on about 19th July in the neighbourhood of Fromelles. They returned his pay book and identity disc to AIF authorities through established intelligence and Red Cross channels. His identity disc was later returned to his father as next of kin.

roy-allison-clark-known-unto-g-image4.jpeg
Part of the German records passed on to British authorities in relation to Private Roy Clark’s paybook
source NAA B2455, Clark RA, page 24, 29

In an enquiry as to his fate, an unofficial report that Roy had returned to his battalion was found to be incorrect. An eyewitness, Private James A. Whitney 4725, gave evidence that:

"He was killed close to me, blown to pieces at Levantie at 9 a.m. on 20th July. He was small, dark, about 20."

AWM, Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing File, page 6

It was officially ruled that Private Roy Clark had been killed in action on 20th July 1916.

The Search for DNA

Roy remains unidentified. His father died in 1920 and his mother lived on until near the end of the next war, dying in 1944. Hannah, born in Buninyong, Victoria during the gold rush, never remarried and would have mourned the loss of both husband and son for the rest of her life.

As is usual with our research, and because Roy was named on the German death list, a number of researchers both in Australia and in Scotland, have attempted to find that elusive paternal link. Researchers were able to locate a very willing mitochondrial DNA donor, but never did we get “close” to locating a very much needed paternal line donor. Roy’s father, William, was born in Paisley, Scotland and we have been unable to locate paternal family and we have been unable to provide sufficient DNA donors for the Army to undertake full DNA matching. Thus, we “think” Roy lies in Pheasant Wood Military Cemetery, but cannot prove that notion, one way or another.

The 2019 Search in Scotland

President of the Fromelles Association of Australia, Royce Atkinson, recently wrote and requested help to trace any family of William’s still living in Scotland. Royce explained that the Association is a non-profit organisation run entirely by volunteers working for the past eight years to re-unite families with a loved one.

William’s parents were William Clark, an engineer, and Elizabeth Stewart/Stuart. The following is an extract from an advertisement made in Paisley and surrounding areas during a 2019 “last ditch” attempt to locate family:

Roy was born in Australia, but his father William Allison Clark was born in 1851, in Paisley Renfrewshire. No paternal family survive in Australia and so family of his father, William Allison Clark are being sought in order to give Roy a final resting place.

Mr. Atkinson said “a living male Clark, who shares a male Clark ancestor with Roy, is sought. (The Y DNA line)”.

William immigrated to Australia, and his son, Roy fought and died for his adopted country, and was one of nearly 1,800 KIA in a single 12-hour period at the Battle of Fromelles in 1916.

In 2008 a mass grave of 250 Australian soldiers was discovered at Fromelles. Roy is on a list created by the German Army of men placed into the grave. In 2019, 166 soldiers have been identified through family DNA, but Roy’s is yet to be identified and currently we believe he lies beneath a headstone marked “Known Unto God”. All of the soldiers were reburied in a new cemetery in 2010. DNA had been taken from all remains, and the Fromelles Association must seek DNA in Scotland.

William and Roy are listed on the Ancestry tree “Fromelles Soldiers”. Anyone with information can contact Royce on E mail. royceatkinson@hotmail.com.

Source: Royce Atkinson

Rogue DNA!

The complication in trying to find a DNA match for Roy, has been his father’s marital and extra-marital lifestyle. While Roy is publicly stated to be an only child, records relating to his father, William Allison Clark, seem to contradict that claim.

1875 Sydney - Probable 1st (Common Law) Marriage - Mary Ann Graham

William Allison Clark and Mary Ann Graham had a son, Graham Allison Clark, who died aged five. Graham was born in Surry Hills on 22 September 1875 and died on 18 October 1880.

Mary Ann Graham went on to marry Thomas Henry Riley in 1886 and had seven more children. The first born before their marriage was listed as Clark, but is presumed to be a Riley due to geography if nothing else.

1880 Sydney - First Proven Marriage - Emily Gertrude McCamley

William married Emily McCamley in St Patrick’s Church in Sydney on 26 June 1880. They had no surviving children.

1888 Bathurst - Divorce One - Newman v Newman

In 1888 during his marriage to Emily McCamley, William Clark was named in the sensational Newman divorce case. It was a long and well reported case, in fact it was reported in almost every newspaper in the colony. During the divorce hearing, Mr Newman stated that his youngest two children were probably fathered by Clark. The divorce was granted, and Mr Newman packed up and left Bathurst with all four children.

1891 Bathurst - Divorce Two - Clark v Clark

Emily successfully sued William for divorce in 1891.

1892 Bathurst - Clark and Mrs Newman (nee Mary Jane Hughes)

The Newman divorce in 1888 left Clark and Mrs Newman together. She subsequently had a daughter, Ivy Grace, in 1892 recorded as a Newman when born but stated as Ivy Hughes when she married in 1915.

1893 Jerilderie - A Second Proven Marriage - Clark and Hannah Thomas

Although, both the Newman and Clark divorces were finalised William and Mary Jane never married. William relocated from Bathurst to Jerilderie, and married Hannah Thomas in 1893. Roy was born of that union in 1895 and that marriage appeared to continue.

A Dilemma for Researchers

Factually, and despite the courts awarding custody of all four children to Mr Newman, the paternity of the youngest two Newman children was never established. Thus, a dilemma arose for our research team, and that was: how could we prove that Roy did have three half-siblings who may share paternal DNA with Roy?

And what happened to the possible half-siblings?

The 3rd and 4th born “Newman” boys grew up to become railwaymen and worked as railway engineers in Sierra Leone. Record of membership was located at the Freetown Masonic Lodge. As far as research can confirm, neither had issue. Both died in England.

It seems that every male half-sibling of Roy died without marrying or producing issue, and we have been unable to establish links to Roy’s paternal family in Scotland.

Still Lying in an Unknown Grave

So, this is the story of cyclist and jeweller, Roy Allison Clark, who fought and died for his country.

It is a major sadness, that we have been unable to locate a paternal line DNA donor, nor really to know much of Roy’s early life – for irrespective of his father's lifestyle, Roy deserves a headstone with his name engraved on it! We are still seeking DNA donors.

Seeking DNA Donors

Fromelles Association of Australia

Contacts

The Fromelles Association welcomes all contact regarding this soldier.
(Contact: royce@fromelles.info or geoffrey@fromelles.info).
We also urge any family members to contact and register with the Australian Army
(Contact: army.uwc@defence.gov.au or phone 1800 019 090).

Donations

The Fromelles Association maintains this web site, purely by donations received.
If you are able, please contribute to the upkeep of this resource.
(Contact: bill@fromelles.info ).