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Clephan, W.R., 2nd Lieut., M.C., 1917

Medal Index Card

Gazette entry for Military Cross

Barclays Bank WW1 War Memorial

Barclays Bank WW1 War Memorial

On the Arras Memorial at Faubourg-D´Amiens Cemetery, Arras is the name of 6/2301 Second Lieutenant William Richmond Clephan, serving with the 1/6th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers who died 07/07/1917.

William Richmond Clephan was born in July 1884 in Coatham, baptised on the 25th August 1884 the youngest and only boy of three children to Thomas Richmond Clephan, [born September 1850 died 7th March 1927], and Margaret Emily (nee Hunter), born November 1853, baptised 1st December 1853, died 19th July 1911 at Camberwell, they were married on the 26th December 1876 at York. [His father Thomas Richmond was the son of William Clephan {House Surveyor & Builder Master}, and his wIfe Jane who were residing at Elysian Place, Stockton on Tees Durham], was a Borough Councillor in Stockton on Tees for several years in the 1880’s. At the 1881 census Thomas (Clapham) was recorded as a merchant living in Chirton, at the 1891 census William’s parents are recorded as visitors staying with a grocer and his family in Aysgarth, North Yorkshire. Margaret was recuperating from some unknown illness.

In 1911, Margaret Emily was residing with her daughter Ethel Hunter Clephan at 1 Raie Maisonettes Barry Road, East Dulwich, Camberwell, Margaret died there leaving £1075 13s 3d to Elizabeth Jane Hunter ad Frank Brown chartered accountant.

Whellan & Co. Directory of Durham for 1894 records Thomas as a ship-owner living at Castle Hill in Middleton St. George; other members of the Clephan family were architects and builders in Stockton in the Victorian era and designed several of the public buildings in the town. In the 1901 Census Thomas is described as a secretary to an iron works and boarding at Middleton St. George and in the 1911 census his occupation is given as Retired Tug Coal Contractor boarding at 9 Alpha Street, Stockton on Tees.

William Richmond had two older sisters, Ethel Hunter, born 1st January 1878, and Charlotte Walker, baptised on the 12th March 1879, who were both born in Stockton. The two sisters were staying with their {John and Elizabeth [nee Knaggs] Hunter} grandparents and are shown in the 1881 census at Newham Grange. Ethel Hunter became a teacher in a Secondary School by 1901, and was boarding at 29 Moorland Road, Dewsbury, Yorkshire, by 1911 she was employed by the London County Council as a teacher in the South East of London, she was residing at 1 Raie Maisonettes, Barry Road, Dulwich. In 1926 she left the UK departing from Liverpool onboard the Blue Funnel Line ship 'Ascanius', ship number 183798, on the 5th June for Capetown, where she was taking up a teaching post in Natal. She returned to the UK onboard the P and O Liner 'Warwick Castle', ship number 162527, travelling 3rd Class on the 17th April 1933 at Southampton, her intended residence address was given as Robert H. Forest Lodge, Stockley. The other sister Charlotte Walker, went on to be a Matron at the Princes Club Hospital, 100-108 Jamaica Road, Bermondsey, SE16 4SG, and was awarded the register of the Royal Red Cross 2nd Class in October 1917. In 1939 now a retired school mistress, she was residing at 38 Medina Villas, Hove, Sussex. In 1947, she was residing at 12 Park Street, Grosvenor London W1. She died on the 27th March 1951, at the Royal Waterloo Hospital at Hendon, London,

At the 1901 census William Richmond was 16 and is described as a visitor at Piercebridge Mill, west of Darlington, staying with Stephen Clarke, 48, a farmer, and his wife Annie 49, their young son Stephen 6, and Ellen Richmond 15, a niece who was described as a domestic servant.

By the 1911 census William Richmond Clephan was a banker’s clerk employed by Barclays Bank, living in Wylam, in a furnished bedroom above the shop in Laburnum House in the Main Street in the centre of the village. A fellow lodger was a George Douglas Alexander, aged 26, from Glasgow and working as a colliery clerk. The landlord was David Dunn, a grocer/draper who lived in the rest of the house with his family. (This David Dunn was uncle to Captain Frederick George Dunn, RFC. who also originated from Wylam. He died in 1919 and is remembered on the School War memorial.)

William Richmond Clephan continued to keep his Wylam address up to his death in the war in 1917 and he is registered in the local voters' lists for 1914 & 1915.

William Richmond Claphen was working now at the Collingwood Street branch, Newcastle-upon-Tyne of Barclays bank when he enlisted, he was earning £150 a year then. William Clephan enlisted after the 1st December 1914, with the 1/6th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, which was based at St Georges Drill Hall, and known as the 'City Battalion' recruiting business and office workers such as Clephan a bank official.

The 1/6th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, a territorial battalion was based in St George's Drill Hall, Newcastle when war broke out in August 1914. After training they proceeded to France in April 1915, to join the 149th Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division. They took part in the Second Battles of Ypres in 1915 and the Battle of the Somme in 1916, the Arras Offensive where they captured Wancourt Ridge and The Second Battle of Passchendaele in 1917. In 1918 they again saw action on The Somme and Battles of the Lys and Hindenburg Line.

William was at Seaton Sluice on the 20th April when the battalion marched to Blyth when they caught the train to Folkestone, embarked on the 'SS Onward' ship number 120522, and arrived at Boulogne. The Medal Rolls show that William’s initial rank was that of Private, he was discharged under Kings Regulations 392 Para XIX a, due to being commissioned on the 4th December 1915 to a 2nd Lieutenant on probation in the Northumberland Fusiliers.
12298 SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 8 DECEMBER, 1915.William Richmond Clephan to be Second Lieutenant. Dated 4th December, 1915

On the 27th August 1915, Private William Clephan is admitted to hospital.

William was awarded the Military Cross, the citation reads : SUPPLEMENT TO THE EDINBURGH GAZETTE, APRIL 19, 1917. MILITARY CROSS.2nd Lt. William Richmond Clephan, North’d Fus.For conspicuous gallantry and devotion toduty. He carried out several dangerousreconnaissance’s and obtained most valuableinformation. Later, he led an offensivepatrol and made a gallant attempt to rushan enemy sap. He was wounded.
Also recorded in the London Gazette 17/04/1917.

His award of the Military Cross in April 1917 as has been set out earlier. He had been wounded in the action which resulted in the award. Four months later on 7th July 1917 the War Diary of the 6th Battalion records his death when the battalion was at Henin Sur Cojeul.

The War Diary entry just reads 7th July 1917. Heavy thunderstorm
2nd Lieut. W. R. Clephan M.C. took out a fighting patrol of 10 [O]rdinary [R]anks He gave instructions when near the enemy wire that the patrol was to return in pairs to our own line and he and his servant would bring up the rear. Neither he nor his servant have been seen since.’

William's' servant or batman was 267464 Private J. Bacon identified by his buttons boots and clothing when the body was exhumed and removed to its present cemetery in 1923.

Williams medals were sent to his father at a c/o address, the address William provided during the war that was given for his parents were Finkle Chambers, 10/11 Finkle Street, Stockton-on-Tees.

When Thomas Richard Clephan died he was residing at 14 The Square, Stockton-on-Tees. He left effects of £1231 2s 4d to Sir Frank Brown Knight and William Frank Hall estate agent.

William Richmond Clephan is remembered in Newcastle on NUT049 and NUT137, at Stockton in S138.18a page 12, (where it shows the wrong battalion and the incorrect Regiment), also at Wylam on W73.01 and W73.02.

William is also remembered on the Barclays Bank Roll of Honour War Memorial in London. The memorial was previously located in Lombard Street within the City of London.

Acknowledgments Wylam War Memorial Study Group/Jeremy Clephan/Barclay Bank Archive.

Princes Club Hospital
The CWGC entry for 2nd Lieutenant Clephan

Wylam Local History Society Study

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk