Eric Clements

Date of birth: 20th January 1893
Place of birth: Bermondsey, London
Service No.: 15459
Rank: Private
Regiment / Division: Canterbury Regiment
Battalion: 1st Battalion, 12th Company
Died: 25th August 1918 aged 25 years
Death location: France


Life before the War
Eric was born in Bermondsey on 20th January 1893 to Alfred Lewis (b.12/08/1856 – d.6/08/1933) and Elizabeth Clements, nee Stokes (b.1860 – d.13/04/1931).  Alfred and Elizabeth were married in London in 1877.   There were probates for Eric’s parents:

‘CLEMENTS  Elizabeth of 36 Shirley Park-road Southampton (wife of Alfred Lewis Clements) died 13 April 1931.  Administration Winchester 5 May to the said Alfred Lewis Clements retired ironmonger.  Effects £112 9. 7d.’

‘CLEMENTS Alfred Lewis of 21 Gurney-road Southampton died 6 May 1933.  Probate Winchester 12 June to Frank Percival Clements chemist and Lily Dorothy Elizabeth Shinn (wife of Herbert John Shinn).   Effects £157 19s. 2d.’

Eric had 4 brothers and one sister.  His siblings were:

Alfred Lewis (b.1879 – d.1950).  Married Gertrude Annie Jones in Thornton Heath, Surrey on 22nd October 1903.   The 1911 census shows Alfred is visiting at 6 Clarence Gardens, Brighton.  He is employed as a Superintendent of a Life Assurance Agents.  Gertrude is living at 34 Ilminster Court, Clapham Junction, with their 3 children Ernest Alfred (b.1906 – d.11/03/1968), Vera (b.1908) and Cecil Edwin (b.14/10/1910 – d.1991).

William Charles (b.1882 – d.10/07/1934).  Married Rose Houldsworth in Windsor in 1907.   On the 1911 Census they are living at 7 Victoria Avenue, Hounslow, with their children Winifred Rose aged 2 and 11 month old Lily Adele.

Sidney Ernest (b.1884 – d.1955).  Married Lydia Cole in Ealing on 10th April 1909 and on the 1911 census they are living at 43 Graham Avenue, West Ealing, Middlesex.

Lily Dorothy Elizabeth (b.26/03/1895 – d.1977).  Married Herbert John Shinn in Southampton in 1914.  Herbert died on 5th December 1960 and Lilly married again in 1967, to Albert F Bishop.

Frank Percival (b.31/08/1896 – d.1983).  Frank enlisted in the 35th Training Reserve Battalion on 8th August 1917 in Winchester.  At the time he was living with his parents at 152 Malmesbury Road, Southampton and gave his father as his next of kin.  He transferred to the Labour Corps and was sent to France in October 1917 and on demobilisation he transferred to the Army Reserve.  He was awarded the Victory and British War Medals.  Frank married Margaret E Green in Southampton in 1926.

Alfred and William emigrated to Australia and sailed from London aboard S S Osterley on 16th February 1912.  They arrived in Sydney on 28th March 1912.  William’s wife Rose and their children Winifred, Lily and a third daughter Clarice, sailed from London aboard S S Marathon on 17th July 1913 arriving in Sydney on 1st September 1913.

No emigration records can be found for Alfred’s wife Gertrude or their children although there are marriage records in Surrey, England for Ernest and Cecil so they may have not travelled to Australia with their father.

On the 1901 census Eric is living with his family at 1 Ecclesbourne Road, Croydon.  His father is employed as an Insurance Superintendent and his brother Alfred is an Insurance Agent.

By the 1911 Census Eric is living at 43 Graham Avenue, West Ealing, Middlesex with his parents, sister Lily and brother Frank.  Also at the address is his brother Sidney and sister-in-law Lydia.  Eric is working as a Provision Merchants Porter.

Eric emigrated to New Zealand with his brother Sidney and sister-in-law Lydia but the travel records cannot be found as after 1900 very few passenger lists survive.  However there is a New Zealand Electoral Roll for 1914 which shows that Sidney and Lydia lived at 830 Colombo Street, Christchurch, but none can be found for Eric.

Records also exist to show that Sidney, Lydia and their children Ronald, Eileen, Marjorie and Eric travelled to the UK in 1923 and returned to New Zealand on 14th August 1924.

Military History
Eric’s service papers, the grave registrations documents and the New Zealand Nominal Rolls all show his Service number as 15495, but the Memorial websites e.g. CWGC show it as 101495

Eric was working as a farm hand when he enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on 5th April 1916 at Trentham, Wellington.  He was posted to the 15th Reinforcements Canterbury Infantry Battalion, ‘C’ Company.  On his Attestation Papers he stated that prior to this he served in the 8th Middlesex Territorials in England and left this service when he left the country.

He gave the address of his father as 113 Derby Road, Southampton and that of his brother, Sidney, as 242 Kilmore Street, Christchurch, New Zealand.

On 28th April 1916 he was promoted to Lance Corporal and to Corporal on 6th June 1916.

In July 1916 two troopships, Waitemata (HMNZT 59) and Ulimaroa (HMNZT 60) sailed from Wellington, New Zealand en route for Devonport, England.  As well as Eric’s unit, onboard were 5th Reinforcements Maori Contingent, 9th Reinforcements NZ Rifle Brigade 1st & 2nd Battalions and 6th Reinforcements 3rd & 4th Battalions.

A total of 1055 men were aboard and Eric embarked the Waitemata on 26th July aboard Waitemata, arriving on 3rd October.  Troopship Ulimaroa sailed on 29th July and arrived on 28th September.

Eric was stationed at Sling Camp, Salisbury Plains and posted to the 1st ‘C’ Company as a Private.   On 16th October he was appointed to be temporary Lance Corporal and remained at the camp until he was sent to France on 20th October 1916.

On 8th November 1916, whilst in France, he relinquished his temporary appointment of Lance Corporal to Private and joined the 1st Battalion Canterbury Regiment, 12th Company.  Eric remained with his unit until 12th May 1917 when he attended the Corps school at Morbecque as a Batman.  On 9th July he transferred to the Anzac school, again as a Batman where he stayed until he returned to his unit on 27th November 1917.

Eric was killed in action on 25th August 1918 and he was originally buried at Avesnes, Bapaume, France, near to the railway line, so he may have been involved in the Battle of Bapaume.

The following is extracted from

‘With the Germans now clearly on the defensive, the Allies looked to maintain the pressure with a series of fresh offensives. On 21 August, the British Third Army (including the New Zealand Division) attacked along a 15-km front north of Amiens, breaking through the German line and driving toward Bapaume. The New Zealand Division played a support role for the first few days of the battle, then spearheaded the attack from 24 August, capturing Grévillers, Loupart Wood and the village of Biefvillers in a single day.

On 25 August, the New Zealanders reached Bapaume. After two days of savage fighting, the German defenders abandoned the town on the night of 28 August, slipping away to new positions to the east. New Zealand troops entered Bapaume next day, then push east through the villages of Frémicourt and Bancourt. After clearing strong German positions on Bancourt Ridge, the New Zealand Division advanced another 6 km before halting near Bertincourt to regroup. The Battle of Bapaume was over.’

Eric’s final resting place is at Beaulencourt (British) Cemetery, Ligny-Thilloy, France.  Beaulencourt is a village south of Bapaume.  The grave reference is Plot 3. Row H. Grave 4.  The cemetery was originally made by the 3rd, 4th, 43rd and 58th Casualty Clearing Stations which were posted in Beaulencourt.  It was enlarged after the Armistice by graves from neighbouring battlefields.

Eric was awarded the Victory and British War Medals and these were sent to his father on 3rd October 1921.  The Plaque and Scroll were also sent to his father on 18th July 1921.  His father’s address was 152 Malmesbury Road, Shirley Southampton.

Military information reproduced with kind permission from the Auckland War Memorial Museum:
Cenotaph Database record, Auckland War Memorial Museum [  Cenotaph Database record for Eric Clements (15495).


Researcher: Jackie Chandler
Published.: 29th September 2014
Updated: Insert dates here

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