Captain Leslie Cecil Bentinck CLARKSON


Regiment/Service:
Royal Army Service Corps
Unit:
3rd Base Supply Depot
Service Number:
(32387)
Date of Death:
31 March 1917 - Died
Age:
24
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
VII. A. 17.






Personal History:
Leslie was born on the 27th February 1893, the only son of George Richard ("private means - allowance from father") and Helena Evelyn (née Schreiber) Clarkson of Club Mansions, Third Avenue, Brighton, Sussex (1901 Census RG13/936) and later of 64 Dyke Road, Brighton. In 1911 (Census RG14/5177) Leslie was boarding at 9 Brunswick Avenue, Hove, Sussex, and was a 'Student', one of three being tutored by Fraser Thornber at that address. He subsequently became fluent in French and German.

At the time of his enlistment in December 1914 he gave his address as 3 Michael's Hamlet, Liverpool, but correspondence address as Palace Hotel, Southport. It also stated that he spoke fluent French and German. On the 30th November 1915 the father's address was given in his Service papers as "The Union Club, Brighton". However, when the War Officer wrote to Leslie's father in April 1917 to inform him of his son's death, the address was 'The Gables', Buxton. Probate Records show that Leslie left £3004 14s 10d (£3004.74) to his father. [N.B. This would equate to almost £140,000 at today's (2013) relative value.]

Military History:
Leslie enlisted into the Army Service Corps on the 8th December 1914 for a period of four years.
Somewhat unusually he was almost immediately posted overseas. His Service Papers were
endorsed that Leslie was Gazetted on the 14th as a French speaking Officer and was report to
the Warrant Officer for immediate service overseas. His Medal Index Card shows that he entered
France on 16th December 1914.

The Army Service Corps were: "The unsung heroes of the British army in the Great War - the
ASC, Ally Sloper's Cavalry. Soldiers can not fight without food, equipment and ammunition.
In the Great War, the vast majority of this tonnage, supplying a vast army on many fronts, was
supplied from Britain. Using horsed and motor vehicles, railways and waterways, the ASC
performed prodigious feats of logistics and were one of the great strengths of organisation by
which the war was won."

Officially, Leslie was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on the 14th December 1914 (London Gazette, 31st December). He was promoted to Lieutenant on the 20th March 1915 (London Gazette, 20th May) and to Captain on the 27th February 1917 (London Gazette, 28th February).

Leslie's first posting was as "R.S.D. Officer" [Railway Supply Detachment Officer] at the Boulogne Base Supply Depot, from 14th December 1914. On the 27th February 1916 he was became the "Local Purchasing Officer", also at Boulogne.

No 3 General Base Depot for Canadian forces was established at Le Havre in 1914. "Base Depots were established at the Channel Ports in France and at other places on the lines of communication. Goods arrived in bulk by ship and were broken down into wagon-loads and sent on by rail to the Regulating Stations. General Base Depots were the centres for collecting, sorting and despatching reinforcements."

On the 3rd March 1917 he was granted two weeks sick leave to England, suffering from "Debility" whilst recovering from "… measles, complicated by jaundice." Leslie returned on the 17th, and a week later, on the 24th, was appointed "No 13, L. of C. Support Coy" [Lines of Communication], also at Boulogne, but died just one week later on the 31st March 1917.

Leslie died at 5.55 a.m. on 31st March in the "No 7 Stationery Hospital, Boulogne" and the cause of death was eventually given as "Rabies". He had been admitted to hospital on the 29th ".. with a history of 3 days slight illness commencing with slight stiffness of the neck. During the afternoon of the 30th March, his temperature rose and he became delirious: at 7.00 p.m. he began to vomit and this continued until 5.55 a.m. on the 31st March when he died.

At the autopsy no cause of death was found and is now dependant on the pathological report from Pasteur Institute, Paris."

His father was informed that he had been buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery and his grave "… is marked by a durable wooden cross with an inscription bearing full particulars." However, he did write to the Army Council with opinion that his son's death ".. was a mystery as Capt. L. Clarkson never mentioned that he had been bitten by a dog."

The final page on Leslie's Service File has the stamp shown right - closing it to any further correspondence.

Sources:
· I am grateful to Robert (Great War Forum) for the photo of Leslie from 'The Sphere' Magazine.
· I am also grateful to Phillip Evans (Great War Forum) for sending me Captain Clarkson's Service papers
· Notes on Base Supply Depots above sourced from 'The Long, Long Trial'

Commemorated on:
Captain Clarkson's name does NOT appear on the Brighton War Memorial. See: Men missing from the Old Steine Memorial
Link to CWGC Record
Capt Clarkson's Grave in Boulogne
Captain Clarkson's Medal Index Card
Capt Leslie C B Clarkson
poppy