Angus Macleod Clarke was born in Tongue in 1895 one of 5 brothers and 2 sisters, the second son of George Clarke and Christina Macleod of Braetongue, Tongue who were married in Tongue on the 22 December 1889. In the 1911 Census he is shown as living at home with his parents and was employed as a farm worker.
He was a member of the Territorial Army at the outbreak of the First World War serving in the 5 Battalion (The Sutherland and Caithness) Seaforth Highlanders.
The 5 Seaforths left Thurso for Golspie on the 6 of August 1914, two days after the outbreak of war; Angus Clarke was in ‘A’ Company. The Seaforths were sent to France with the 152 Brigade, 51 (Highland) Division in early 1915.
Angus Clarke was then transferred to the 2 Battalion Seaforth Highlanders serving in the 10 Brigade, 4 Division at Ypres in Belgium. He joined the 2 Battalion as a battlefield replacement for the heavy casualties they had suffered in holding enemy attacks in the previous months.
On the 25 of April the 2 Seaforths attacked German strong points at the village of St Julien near Ypres and taking heavy casualties; at this spot today lies Seaforth Cemetery, Cheddar Villa containing the graves of some of the men killed that day. Total Seaforth casualties were 61 men killed, 252 wounded and 16 missing.
On the 2 of May the enemy attacked with clouds of poisoned mustard gas, the Seaforth Highlanders again having no gas masks, used handkerchiefs soaked in urine tied over their mouths to hold their ground. The 2 Battalion took heavy casualties, but no enemy soldiers entered into their trench complex as the attack was repulsed with heavy enemy losses. At the end of the battle the enemy dead were piled high about 100 yards from the British trenches, mowed down by accurate fire laid down by the Seaforth Highlanders.
The battalion was then heavily shelled from 3:30am until 8am on the 3 of May, the battalion field dressing station was set on fire. At 9:30pm orders were received to abandon the line and fall back to G.H.Q, 10 Brigade line. This order was carried out at daybreak and the men fell back to bivouacs at Burnt Farm, next to a field dressing station and dug in still suffering the effects of the gas.
Seaforth Highlander casualties, for the period 2 and 3 of May 1915, were 3 other ranks killed, 16 wounded, 24 died from gas poisoning and 321 suffering from the effects of poison mustard gas. The mustard gas attack on the Seaforth lines on the 2 of May 1915 almost destroyed the battalion as an effective fighting force, those who were gassed and survived the war suffered side effects for the rest of their lives (See also Thomas N Mackay, Skerray).
Private Angus Clarke was one of those who died from the effects of gas poisoning on the 3 of May 1915 at Burnt Farm field dressing station, his body was not found when the fighting was over. He had three brothers who all served during the First World War, Jack who also served in the Seaforth Highlanders was wounded twice, Hector served in the Royal Navy and Donald who served in the Canadian forces. All three brothers survived the war to return home to Tongue at the end of hostilities.
SCOTTISH NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL EDINBURGH CASTLE Clarke Angus. (b) Tongue Sutherland. 1204. Private. Died of wounds. F&F. 3-05-15. 2 Battalion Seaforth Highlanders.
COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVESCOMMISSIONClarke Private Angus McLeod. 1204. 2 Battalion Seaforth Highlanders.3 of May 1915. Age 19. Son of George and Christina McLeod Clarke of Braetongue, Tongue, Sutherland. Panel 38.
Private Angus McLeod Clarke 1204 2 Battalion Seaforth Highlanders has no known grave and is remembered on the MENIN GATE, YPRES, BELGIUM.