Lyonel came from a long line of engineers. His grandfather Josiah Latimer Clark was particularly distinguished being involved (with his elder brother Edwin) in the construction of the Menai Straits Bridge in 1848, but more famous for his work as an Electrical and Telegraphic engineer. He was a partner in the firm which laid the underwater cable to America and patented many telegraphic devices.
Lyonel’s father, Lyonel Edwin Clark, was the son of Josiah by his first wife Margaret Helen Preece. I believe Margaret’s father had helped to finance many of Josiah’s early telegraphic works. Josiah worked all over the world and possibly this contributed to the collapse of his marriage. He divorced Margaret on the grounds of adultery in 1860-61 (not a common event at that time) and in 1863 she married the co-respondent Frederick Richard Window. Josiah married Maria Wilkinson Webb on 7th April 1866. Lyonel Edwin was living with his father and step-mother in 1871.
Lyonel Latimer was born the son of Lyonel Edwin and his wife Annie in 1898 and arrived at Dunhurst in September 1906 at the age of eight and a half. In September 1910 he moved up to Bedales and stayed for the next three years. He moved from Bedales to Clayesmore for his final two years of schooling where he had a successful career rowing and playing cricket (the school has provided a photograph, which accompanies this case study, of a very handsome young man in sporting dress).
Lyonel seems to have slipped out of the Bedales records so I have obtained an account of his war service from the Clayesmore Archivist. In March 1915 he volunteered as a Private in The Inns of Court OTC. He visited Clayesmore in July where he told the Editor of the school magazine he had been training in Berkhampstead with H Company and was about to transfer to “some works where they are engaged in making munitions of War”. However, by July 10th he was in the first stages of applying for the Territorial Force and signed a declaration in preparation for his Medical Examination. On 20th July 1915 he made his formal application, expressing a preference for the Leicester Horse Artillery and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 6th August.
In April 1916 The Clayesmorian recorded: “He was engaged in coast defence at Norwich, where he had some exciting experiences. He was also stationed at Loughborough for some time but is now at Salisbury Plain. Writing from Loughborough he says:-‘One thoroughly appreciates being an officer after six months as a private. Although I wouldn’t have missed it for anything; also the men respect you far more’”.
In March 1916 Lyonel was transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and joined his squadron at Gosport. The squadron moved its base to France in May 1916 and Lyonel qualified as an Observer in aerial reconnaissance. He sent back to The Clayesmorian dramatic accounts of encounters with German Fokker aircraft. On one occasion he ended with “a bullet through my windscreen and two through the main spar on the machine”.
The Clayesmorian reported:- “It would seem that Clark was flying a Morane biplane, … attached to the Headquarters Staff, and met his death at Estrées near St. Quentin”.
On hearing the news of Lyonel’s death, a master (probably JHB himself) wrote from Bedales. “We can be glad and proud through all the loss; and indeed it is not loss, somehow, somewhere we may be sure it will find fulfilment, all the splendid vigour and promise of youth that is being poured out, to make the new world better than the old”.
The War Office had recorded Lyonel as “missing in action” but finally, on 24th March 1917, having received a photograph of his grave which his father had obtained from the Queen Victoria Jubilee Fund Association in Geneva, they agreed to record him as “killed in action on 2nd August 1916”. His body now lies in Beaumetz Communal Cemetery, Cartigny.