b. 18/05/1889 St Ives, Huntingdonshire. d. 29/11/1917 Bourlon, France.
George William Burdett Clare (1889-1917) was born on the 18th May 1889 in St Ives, Huntingdonshire to George and Rhoda Clare, but the family later moved to Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, and lived at 12, Burnsfield Street. It is believed that Clare left school around the age of 12 or 13 and worked briefly for a land surveyor, before finding work as the driver of a builders horse and cart and later working for a veterinary surgeon. Clare, known by many as Billy, was in demand for church services and concerts owing to his singing voice and would often be asked to sing at Yeomanry smoking concerts. Clare joined the local Bedford Imperial Yeomanry troop in Chatteris, serving for eight years before enlisting in the Army, though he had registered for the National Reserve on the 29th January 1914. On the outbreak of war, Clare answered the call and was posted to a Remount Depot before being posted to the 5th Lancers (Royal Irish).
On the 28th/29th November 1917 at Bourlon Wood, when, acting as a stretcher-bearer during a most intense and continuous enemy bombardment, Pte. Clare dressed and conducted wounded over the open to the dressing-station about 500 yards away. At one period when all the garrison of a detached post, which was lying out in the open about 150 yards to the left of the line occupied, had become casualties, he crossed the intervening space, which was continually swept by heavy rifle and machine-gun fire, and having dressed all the cases, manned the post single-handed till a relief could be sent. Pte. Clare then carried a seriously wounded man through intense fire to cover, and later succeeded in getting him to the dressing station. At the dressing-station he was told that the enemy was using gas shells to a large extent in the valley below, and as the wind was blowing the gas towards the line of trenches and shell-holes occupied, he started on the right of the line and personally warned every company post of the danger, the whole time under shell and rifle fire. This very gallant soldier was subsequently killed by a shell.
Clare’s body was lost and he is commemorated on the Louveral Memorial, in St Peter and St Paul's Church, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire and on the Chatteris War Memorial. His Commanding Officer, Lieut.-Colonel H. A. Cape, had recommended Clare for the award and the recommendation had been fully supported by the 2nd (Cavalry) Division Commander Maj.-Gen. W. H. Greenly. Cape later wrote to Clare’s parents and a copy of his letter is held by The Chatteris Museum, and the VC was presented to Clare’s parents on the 2nd March 1918, by the King at Buckingham Palace. The medal has had numerous owners over the years having been sold on at least four different occasions until the Museum of the Queen's Royal Lancers and Nottinghamshire Yeomanry Museum at Thoresby Park, Nottinghamshire, acquired it.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL LANCERS REGIMENT MUSEUM, THORESBY PARK.
BURIAL PLACE: NO KNOWN GRAVE - ON CAMBRAI MEMORIAL, FRANCE. PANEL 61 TO 63.
George Clare's name on the Cambrai Memorial to the Missing, France.
St Peters Church, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire
Thoresby Park - Picture courtesy of Paul Reed