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Herbert John


1883 - 1915

Early Life

HERBERT JOHN CLIFT was born in December 1883 and baptised at the Parish Church in Bocking, Braintree on the 6th January 1884.

His parents were married in the Parish Church in Great Waltham on the 16th December 1871, James’ occupation given as a Labourer. Herbert was one of 9 children born to James and Emily Clark (née Gowers) who were living in Bocking at the time of his birth, his father was employed as a Coachman to Colonel Nevill and Eleanor Tufnell.  Herbert had two sisters and six brothers and was the fourth youngest child.

In 1911, Herbert, known as ‘John’ on the Census return, was employed as a Domestic Groom at Woodhill, Danbury. In the same village, his future wife, Ella Bertha Blyth, originally from Flempton, in Suffolk, was working as a Domestic Maid to Sir Frederick Carne-Rasch. 

It is very likely that it was here they met and on the 26th October 1912 they married in Great Waltham Church.

Their only child, Arthur James was born on the 11th December 1913 and was baptised in the Parish Church at Great Waltham on the 8th February 1914. By now Herbert and his family was living at the Waterfall Lodge in Great Waltham and employed as a Machinist, Ball Bearing Grinder at Hoffman Manufacturing Company in Chelmsford.

Military Life

Herbert enlisted at Warley, as a Private, Regimental No. 7745, in the 1st Battalion, Essex Regiment and had served in the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) and participated in the Relief of Kimberley and the Battle of Paardeburg. He first served in France, and was invalided home and was a Reservist, before being subsequently ordered to the Dardenelles.

The 1st Battalion sailed from Avonmouth for Gallipoli in Turkey, via Egypt and Mudros and landed at Cape Helles on the 25th April 1915. Gallipoli is the most frequently used name for the peninsula to the west of the Dardenelles Straits, and the fighting that took place there between British and French troops of the Allies against Turkish troops between April 1915 and January 1916. The Regiment took part in the first, second and third Battles of Krithia.

Death and Memorial

On the 13th June the trenches were bombarded by a large Howitzer and this continued over the next few days with heavy shelling and with field guns. The enemy had advanced and attacked close to the line, armed with bombs. Herbert was killed in action, possibly by sniper fire on the 16th June 1915. He was 31 years old.

He was later buried at Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery, Helles, Turkey

Plot I. Row F. Grave 14.

His grave is inscribed with the text -

‘Thy Will Be Done’

Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery was made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from isolated and small burial sites in the battlefield. There are also buried in the Cemetery, 142 officers and men from the Essex Regiment who died on the 6th August 1915.

Herbert is also remembered on the War Memorial in Great Waltham.

He was awarded the Victory Medal, British Medal and the 1914 Star.

UK Army Soldiers Effects

His widow, Ella received £5 Gratuity payment on the 11th December 1919.

She never remarried and moved to Suffolk with her son, Arthur. She died there in 1962.

Herbert’s brother, Albert Victor Clift, was also killed in action in Belgium on the 16th June 1917, exactly two years later.

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