b. 13/01/1877 Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. d. 22/06/1940 ?
DATE OF AM ACTION: 30/08/1906 Ferozepore, India.
Born in Australia, he enlisted in the 5th (Militia) Inniskilling Fusiliers in 1898, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant Royal Artillery on 24th June 1898. He was then attached to the Indian Ordnance Department in 1902, and was serving in India at the time of the Ferozepore Explosion in 1906. Following service in India, he served in World War I on the Western Front. He was promoted to Colonel in March 1927, and transferred to the Indian Army, taking the Southern Command between 1927-1931, when he retired. He had married Kathleen Johnston in Bombay in 1903, and they had two sons.
On the 30th August, 1906. a fire broke out in one of the Magazines of the Ferozepore Arsenal comprising 5 cells, in which were stored cordite, small arms’ ammunition and gunpowder. At an early stage the ends of one of the outer cells (No. 10) were blown out by an explosion of cordite, while from cell No. 9, where small arms’ ammunition was stored, smoke was seen to be issuing. Major-General Anderson, who directed the subsequent operations from a roof at the edge of the Magazine Compound, at a distance of some 20 yards, having ordered all persons to be cleared out of the fort, and placed a cordon round it at 1,000 yards distance, a steam fire engine was got to work, and the fire party which had been organized commenced their highly dangerous task of clearing cell No. 8, in which was stored some 19,000 Ibs. of gunpowder; they eventually succeeded in so doing, thereby cutting off the fire by the intervention of an empty cell. Had the powder in this cell exploded, the explosion must have been communicated to cells in an adjoining magazine, where 300,000 Ibs. of gunpowder were stored. Captain Donovan volunteered to clear cell No. 8, and led the fire party, and all concerned acted with the greatest coolness in circumstances calling for a high degree of courage. The door of the cell was opened and the fire hose turned on. Major Campbell joined the party by the cell, and returned in a short while and reported to General Anderson that though the cell was full of smoke, and the barrels hot, there was .no actual fire in the cell. As, however, the explosions in the ruined cell No. 10 Avere becoming more violent, General Anderson, fearing that the barrels of powder which were being removed from cell No. 8 would be ignited, ordered the discontinuance of efforts to clear the cell; the pumping engine was, however, kept at work by Mr, DOW. and. some native assistants. A series of heavy explosions of cordite now took place, and on the occurrence of a lull Captain Clarke went to reconnoitre, and reported that cell No. 9 was still apparently intact. Major Campbell and Mr. Pargiter subsequently went into the enclosure to investigate, and on their report being received a party including 50 lascars was organized, and the removal of the powder barrels in cell No. 8 was recommenced under cover of the fire hose. During their removal the last important explosion of cordite took place some 12 yards away. Eventually all the barrels were removed without accident.
BURIAL LOCATION: UNKNOWN.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: UNKNOWN.
Allan Stanistreet – Image of Hugh Clarke AM