Clarence Case ANTHONY
Rank: Captain
Unit: 13th Battalion ROYAL FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 15 December 1915
Age: 38
Cemetery: Henu Churchyard, Pas de Calais, France

Clarence (known as Clare) was not a native of Stockport and may never have visited the town. His connection is through his younger sister, believed to be called Cora Genevieve. In 1909 she married Norman Parish at Hereford but they set up home at 71 Mile End Road, Stockport. She will have arranged for his local commemoration on the Stockport War Memorial.

Very little is known about Clare's early life. His father, Edwyn, was a barrister practicing at 86 Claventon Street, South West London. Clare is believed to have been born abroad and lived his early life outside of England. Records differ about his place of birth - the 1901 census suggests he was American by birth but a naturalised Briton. And a note in his service file at the National Archives suggests he was Rhodesian.

The Census record shows him to have been visiting 4 Church Lane, Merton, Surrey and was then living on his own means. He is, however, also believed to have served with the army in the Boer War so may have only just returned from southern Africa. He later returned to Africa to marry - and this would prove to be controversial.

Clare's service file does not indicate when he joined the army but it suggests he was a pre-War regular army officer, rather than a wartime recruit, but this may not be the case. The 13th Battalion only went to France at the beginning of August 1915 and Clare was in command of its No. 3 Company. In mid-December, the Battalion was undertaking tours of duty in the trenches near Monchy and Hannescamps - just to the north of where the Battle of the Somme would be fought the following summer. The Battalion War Diary entry for the 15th records simply "Capt. Anthony died of wounds received this morning. He was hit by a stray bullet near entrance to Lulu Lane". Lulu Lane was a support trench some little way behind the front line. After he was shot, he was quickly evacuated to the main dressing station provided by 50th Field Ambulance but died there. His service file suggests that he was not buried at Henu for nearly three weeks - on 5 January. This must be an error.

When someone dies, it is not uncommon for there to be family arguments over the person's estate. And this was going to be a bitter dispute. As mentioned above, Clare had returned to Africa to marry Violet Tench Wright. But it would appear that his family in England attempted to convince the War Office that they were not actually legally married. Although she had no marriage certificate, she was eventually able to provide satisfactory evidence that they had, indeed, married in Johannesburg on 10 April 1909.

Clare's service file contains a note written by someone at the War Office on 29 December (presumably 1915, although there is no year on the note). "Mrs Anthony (mother) called and stated that he did not live on good terms with his wife who is now in England (Hotel Metropole, Bournemouth). I promised her we should not part with effects or cash until we had enquired whether there was will or not."

A few days later, on 3 January, there was another note saying a Miss Anthony had called and said there was a will in her favour but she did not have it. She had received a letter from Clare's servant saying Clare had tried to tell him something as he was dying but he could not understand what Captain Anthony was trying to say.

In the event, no will was ever found and, as next of kin, Clare's estate went to his wife. In the early 1920s, she lived at 85 Sandmere Road, Clapham, London.

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