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Les soldats de la Grande Guerre : Projet de biographies historiques sur les soldats de Fredericton

Les textes explicatifs, les descriptions archivistiques, les commentaires, les en têtes de champs de données et les messages d’assistance à la navigation dans le site Web des Archives provinciales du Nouveau Brunswick sont en anglais et en français. Lorsqu’un élément est extrait d’un document pour être inséré dans une base de données ou présenté comme fac similé, il apparaît dans la langue du document d’origine.

Clark, Fred LeRoy

Private 1257947
9th Siege Battery, Canadian Field Artillery

Background

Private Frederick Leroy Clark was born on July 6, 1891 in Maugerville, New Brunswick, to Henry Finch Clark, of Clarks Corner (Maquapit Lake), and Ada Blanche Chase, of French Lake. Born into a farming family, the 1901 Census reveals that Frederick was the youngest of four documented siblings. He had one sister named Mary and three brothers named William, James, and Harry. Records suggest that the Clark family was hard-working and faithful to their church and country. The family was Anglican (Church of England) and although there is little documented about Frederick’s baptism, his father was baptized by his church on October 14, 1870. According to the 1911 Census, Fred lived most of his early life at home with his parents helping with the farm until he was in his early twenties.

While few records exist detailing the family’s early life in rural Maugerville, New Brunswick, by the time the war came to the community Frederick’s sister had married a Mr. Davis and was living in Fredericton, and his older brothers were working the farm as their father was aging. Frederick Leroy enlisted in Fredericton, New Brunswick, on April 2, 1917, and arrived a few days later to Partridge Island, near Saint John, for training with the 9th Siege Battery. His attestation indicates that he was 25 years old, stood five foot six and a half inches tall, weighed 125 pounds, and was described as having a dark complexion, hazel coloured eyes, and dark brown hair. His attestation also highlights that he was unmarried, had never been part of any health vaccination program, and had limited military training and experience. Older than many other young men from the area, at the age of 25 years, Fred would come to suffer from illnesses almost immediately after enlisting for service.

Wartime Experience

The particular details of Private Frederick LeRoy Clark’s service are difficult to know because so few exist in his service record or in newspapers. Records that do exist suggest that after beginning his training with the 9th Siege Battery in April of 1917, one month after the 9th battery unit actually left for England, Fred was diagnosed in Halifax, Nova Scotia and admitted to a military hospital in June with a case of mumps. Private Clark would be treated and discharged two weeks later on June 14, 1917 and transferred back to Partridge Island, New Brunswick. Between the period of June, 1917 and December, 1918, very little is known regarding Fred’s service because there are so few records to highlight any information, and what appears seems to be contradictory. While Private Clark’s service records shows that he was never formally transferred to any other unit, as the 9th Siege Battery would send more men overseas in 1918, Fred appears to have not served overseas at all and his pay sheets have no record of him ever being paid for his service although it seems he was with the 7th Canadian Artillery Depot.

While the war continued into the fall of 1918, ending with the signing of the armistice on November 11th, the only entry for his record of service was made on December 12th, 1918 as Fred was admitted to the Saint James Street Military Hospital in Saint John, New Brunswick complaining of “severe pains in left side of chest”. His medical history sheet reveals that Fred had been sick for a week with severe pain in his chest and upon closer observation by doctors had an increased but weak pulse, with fast and shallow breathing. Military doctors found fluid in his lungs and that he had been suffering from pneumonia, and was already in a “dying condition”. Although it is not often discussed as a cause of death for soldiers during the First World War, many were casualties due to illness and disease throughout the war period. During the time of his death, the Influenza Pneumonia Pandemic of 1918, known as the Spanish Influenza, was impacting thousands. Only a day after being admitted, Private Frederick LeRoy Clark passed away December 13, 1918, due to complications related to pneumonia. Fred was 27 years of age.

Lest We Forget

According to newspapers, Private Frederick Leroy Clark’s remains were brought to Fredericton before being moved to his former home in Maugerville where his father was also buried the winter of 1918. At the time, Fred’s mother was living in Fredericton with her son on Woodstock Road; however, given the family’s connection to Maugerville, the Christ Church Cemetery was chosen as his place of burial. Fred was buried just behind the church in the north part of the cemetery alongside his father. His mother would pass away in the winter of 1929 and would be buried alongside her son and husband.

*This biography was researched and written by Becky McCann & Faryad Azizi, Grade 8 students (2015-2016) at George Street Middle School located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

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