GEORGE William Burdett Clare was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Battle of Cambrai in the First World War.
Born in St Ives, roughly five miles from Muir’s Huntingdon office, in 1889, Clare was a 28-year-old private serving with the 5th Royal Irish Lancers on 28th-29th November 2017.
It was then, at Bourlon Wood, France, that he would perform his duties with such distinction that he would be bestowed his VC, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Prior to his military career, Clare (pictured right [standing] with an unknown soldier) had been brought up by his grandmother in Chatteris, after his parents had moved from St Ives in search of work.
Clare himself worked as a vet before initially serving eight years with the Bedfordshire Imperial Yeomanry before the First World War broke out.
Clare’s citation in the London Gazette on 8th January, 1918, read: “For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty 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 is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial to the Missing in France (left), and in St Peter and St Paul's Church, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, as well as Chatteris War Memorial.
The town of Chatteris will be commemorating Clare on November 28th, 2017, with a special parade and church service.
Also, a special VC plaque will be unveiled at the war memorial.
A living history day in Chatteris is being held in tribute to him on November 25th, and a new free publication about his life and the battles in which he was involved will also be available, thanks to heritage lottery funding.
(The picture of George Clare VC is used with the kind permission of the Chatteris Community Archive. That of the Memorial to the Missing at Cambrai is used with kind permission from www.victoriacross.org.uk)