100 years ago today, Clarence Roy (Clarrie) McLaren lost his life fighting in Poziers, France.
The McLaren family stem from Ardrossan. Duncan and Elizabeth Ann Adams had nine children mostly in Ardrossan; four or who enlisted in the AIF.
After the birth of Clarence in 1893, the family moved to Bridge Road, Gawler West. Just prior to the war Clarrie was a pupil teacher in Gawler in 1912 and studied at Teachers College in 1913. In January 1914 he was appointed to Wellington Road School as Assistant Teacher. He was re-appointed each year until July 1916, even though he had enlisted on 20 August 1914. He was given leave on that date without pay until his return from war.
Clarrie enlisted on 20 August 1914 when he was 21 years old. He had served one year in the University Rifle Corp, and three years in Senior Cadets.
He was assigned to the 10th Infantry AIF. Sailing on-board the Ionian he joined the Middle East Forces at Alexandria, Egypt. He was sick with otitis (ear infection) at Cairo. After recovering he fought at Gallipoli and sent sick to hospital on 9 May 1915. He re-joined his battalion at Gallipoli and on 25 September 1915 was appointed Lance Corporal. In December he was made Corporal and then Sergeant after the evacuation of Gallipoli.
Clarrie was killed in action in the field on 23 July 1916 at Poziers, France. He is buried in Villiers-Bretonneux, Picarde. He left everything to his mother, who received his effects which included a wallet, trinket, notebook, post cards, letter, pen, photographs, set of chess and board, watch, mittens and soap box.
In November 1918 Mrs. McLaren wrote to the army from Evanston, Gawler asking them to request the women of France to continue to tend to her sons grave as they have been, as it would be a great comfort to her. She mentions that she has three son’s still doing their part in the war. The army replied that they would pass on the request and also that a photograph of his grave would be sent to her. His mother wrote twice requesting a copy of the death certificate.
Clarrie was well known and highly esteemed in the area. He was amongst the first to land at Gallipoli.
A headstone was erected in Angle Vale cemetery for Clarrie and David.
David Francis was born on 20 November1880 at Ardrossan. He became a blacksmith and enlisted in 1917, aged 36 years. David had previously tried to enlist but was turned down because of heart trouble. He travelled to Sydney but failed again. He tried again in South Australia and this time was successful. Initially he was placed on home service, a task he felt was for returned soldiers. He resigned and was then offered a position as a munitions worker and left Adelaide in November 1917. In England he worked in a large factory near Ramsgate doing aeroplane work in a flying school and later at Southampton.
Unfortunately David contracted Spanish influenza and died in the Southampton hospital.
Allan Bruce was a thirty year old Blacksmith when he enlisted on the 1 November 1915. He was placed in the 25th company as a Driver in France. He was invalided out to the UK with pneumonia in October 1918.
James Ross was assigned to the 9th Light Horse Regiment and fought at Gallipoli. After receiving an injury to his left eye he was returned to Australia. James was discharged on 10 October 1919.
A nephew Alexander James McLaren died of wounds in the chest and foot on October 14th 1916 in France. Other cousins were also serving at the front, Private Lloyd Silas McLaren (of Normanville), Stanley Roy McLaren (of Forest Range), Lieutenant J H McLaren (of South Africa) and Sister Tilly McLaren of Western Australia.
Lest we forget!