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Clifford Joseph Brooke Hunt - a short history

Clifford Joseph Brooke Hunt

Born October - December 1889 - Killed in Action 29th September 1916


Clifford Joseph Brooke Hunt was the younger son of Joseph Brooke and Ethel Hunt of ‘Horseford’, Station Road, Epping. Clifford had been born in Woodford while his parents lived in Haddon House, Fairfield Road, Woodford Green. Joseph had an older brother Frances Brooke Hunt.

Clifford’s father was established in the family business of paper merchant and stationer, a family concern that had been established some 100 years at the time Clifford was born. Clifford was amongst those boys who went to Bancrofts at the beginning of the 20th century and boarded there till his leaving in 1906. While at the school Clifford’s father had died in the June of 1902.

Clifford left school in 1906 and took a clerical appointment - then later in 1910 was offered a position in the Bank of North America in Montreal. Clifford still working as a clerk later returned to Britain once in 1912 and then back in Canada in early 1914 took ship again on a holiday trip from Canada to Bermuda. Clifford continued to work for the bank in Montreal and on the outbreak of war sought to enlist which was not welcomed by his employers.

The clamour to enlist was every bit as strong in Canada as it was in Britain. So, despite his employers wishes Clifford joined the 24th Battalion Canadian Infantry (Victoria Rifles) in October 1914. Clifford’s passage across the Atlantic to Britain and the western front was not itself without incident. Under serious threat of U-boat attack Clifford became a temporary stoker manning a shovel to feed the engines and get the maximum speed out of the transport.

He reached England and completed his training most likely at Shornecliffe on the Kent coast. Then the battalion arrived in France on 16th September 1915. Being older and more experienced than many of his fellow recruits Clifford was relied upon in his battalion as a guide, a scouting position that day or night played a vital role in escorting troops through the rabbit warrens of the allied trench system. In May 1916 he received ten days leave and on his return rejoined his battalion on the Somme front. The battalion had played a continuous role in the front line relieving outgoing units, taking part in trench raids and countless ‘stand tos’ sheltering from shot and shell. The war diary outlines the drudge, the dirt and the erosion of the spirit brought

The first week in July, as the initial attacks were being turned back with massive losses on the Somme, the battalion was in the line around Dickebusch near Ypres. Still manning the line but for the time being a relatively quiet part of the front. By September the scale of the fighting and the losses on the Somme necessitated the Canadians down to assist. Commencing 15th September the battalion had been engaged in an action to take the French village of Courcelette and a sugar refinery which had been converted into a German army stronghold. Despite heavy casualties the Canadians were successful assisted by a creeping barrage of artillery that pounded the ground before them.

Part of the job of the guides like Clifford in such circumstances were to leave their own front line trenches and go back to the support trenches to bring up relief or reinforcements. The 18th of that month brought some relief from the front line but not the weather it was cold and wet. For a time the battalion was billeted in the French village of Herissart.

A week of comparative rest followed then the battalion was back on its feet marching to the Brickfields at Albert and back to the lines. The redeployment to the line was dangerous and vulnerable to attack by German artillery. Clifford’s task and that of a few others were to guide his comrades safely there.

On 29th September performing his duty he was killed by shrapnel from enemy shellfire. The battalion war diary does not mention his loss. He was one of many. On his file was recorded the following: His friends reported:

"...He was a man of very high character and generosity. While fully alive to the dangers of the war, he was always cheerful and looked on the bright side of things. He will be greatly missed by a large circle of friends."

Clifford’s body was perhaps hastily buried at the time and subsequently lost. Today he has no known grave and his loss is commemorated several miles from where he fell on the Canadian war memorial at VIMY RIDGE

Source: The Bancroftian Network (thanks to Simon Coxall)

Owner/SourceSimon Coxall
Linked toClifford Joseph Brooke Hunt

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