A Rifle Volunteer who enlisted in 1888 and re-enlisted into the Territorials in 1908
Portrait of William Clewes showing the Distinguished Conduct Medal, Queen South Africa Medal, 14-15 Star, British War and Victory Medals and possibly a WW2 Defence Medal.
[Image courtesy of the Clewes family and Mel]
1888 to 1908 and the 4th Volunteer Battalion
William Clewes was born in 1869 in Newark the son of James and Mary Clewes. William enlisted into the 4th Volunteer Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters in July 1888 and saw action in the Boar War with the Volunteer Service Company of the Derbyshire Regiment.
Army Service Record showing William’s enlistment in 1888 and promotion to Sergeant by 1891.
Queen’s South Africa Medal Roll (above) showing his entitlement to the “Cape Colony”, Orange Free State” and “Transvaal” Clasps. He was also awarded the “South Africa 1901” date clasp under Army Order 233 issued in October 1902 (below).
1908 to 1914 and the Pre War Territorials
In April 1908 William re-enlisted into the 8th (Nottinghamshire) Battalion, the Sherwood Foresters at the age of 39 and attended all the Annual Camps between 1908 and 1913. .
“D” (Mansfield) Company, 8th (Nottinghamshire) Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters at Scarborough Camp in 1911.
Drum Sergt. William Clewes with the 8th Battalion Band at Abermaide Camp in 1912.
1911 Census recording William and Emily with their four children living at 2 Coopers Yard in Balderton Gate, Newark. Their eldest son George William was also a member of the 8th Battalion and had previously served with the 4th Volunteer Battalion (1902-1908).
1914 to 1916 and sniping in the Great War
William signed the Imperial Service Agreement in September 1914 whilst in Harpenden the 1/8th Battalion (above). He proceeded overseas with the 46th North Midland Division on the 25th February 1915. His Army Service Record (below) records the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal in the London Gazette of January 1916.
The 8th Battalion History records in detail some of his exploits as a Battalion and Brigade sniper:-
“May found us beginning to feel our feet. The Commanding Officer had talks with Officers as to a more aggressive attitude being taken up; we had a lecture from Major Howard, R.E., at Kemmel as to the construction of an invisible loophole, low down in the parapet, and so built as to afford a good field of fire and permit of our replying better to the Hun snipers. Sergt.-Drummer Clewes also got into action with his telescopic rifle from sniping posts cunningly placed behind the front line, the only possible position from which really successful sniping could be done, and was not long in getting quite a good “bag.” Shortly afterwards he was put in charge of the newly-formed Brigade Sniping Section”.
“At sniping we more than held our own, though the enemy were very keen, and used to fire from steel plates fixed round the mine craters. We were unfortunate in losing at this period Sergt.-Drummer Clewes, who went home for discharge. He had done much excellent work in charge of the Brigade Snipers, his own “bag” being stated to amount to considerably over 100. As some recognition of his good work he was later awarded the D.C.M. His son, Corpl. G. W. Clewes, another excellent sniper, left at the same time. L.-Corpl. Hagues took over the duties of N.C.O. in charge of Snipers, and with 2nd Lieut. Marshall, did some splendid work, including the blowing-in of several loophole plates with Col. Fowler’s Elephant Gun, which was now brought into use again”.