Before the War, Thomas Clarkson ran a successful roof slating business from premises on Norfolk Street, Portwood. He had married Mary Elizabeth Pearson on 29 May 1907 at St Paul's Church and they lived at 163 Great Portwood Street with their only child.
He was a pre-War member of the Territorial Force - the so-called Saturday Afternoon Soldiers - serving with the local 6th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment as a Colour Sergeant and its Quartermaster. He was mobilised in August 1914 and some details of the Battalion's early months of War service can be found here. Whilst abroad his contracted service as a Territorial expired and he returned home. Thomas re-enlisted into the Cheshires and, in October 1916, he rejoined the Battalion as its Regimental Sergeant Major.
His second stay in France was short-lived as, just before Christmas, he returned to the UK to train to become an officer being assigned to No. 4 Office Cadet Battalion at Oxford. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant with effect from 29 May 1917 and was posted to the 23rd Battalion, Manchester Regiment. Until this time, Thomas had been fortunate to have been serving since the beginning of the War and had probably never taken part in a major attack. This would change in the summer and early autumn when the 23rd took part in the Third Battle of Ypres (commonly known as Passchendaele). The Battalion was disbanded in February 1918 and this is when Thomas was posted to the 12th.
A major German attack had long been anticipated in the spring of 1918 and it duly came on the morning of 21 March. However, in the Manchesters' sector the attack fell on their flanks first by artillery shelling and then with an infantry assault. As far as can be established, their position near Havrincourt was at the northern end of the German attack zone and the force of the assault seems to have been weaker than further south. However, at 1.30am on the 22nd, orders were received to withdraw to defensive positions nearer the village. The Battalion's History (recently republished by the Regimental Archives) records "This movement was successfully carried out. The first enemy attack came at 6.35am and between then and 8.30pm there were four successive attacks, all of which were repelled with heavy enemy losses by rifle, machine gun fire and artillery. The 12th's casualties were 2nd Lieutenant Clarkson killed and about 30 other ranks killed and wounded. Some of these were caused by our own artillery firing short now and again."