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Benjamin Chipchase Clayton (1895-1917)

Art teacher from Edmondsley who won the Military Cross

Benjamin Chipchase Clayton, known as Ben, was born in Edmondsley in 1895, to John and Mary Clayton. He had an older sister, Daisy, and younger brother, Thomas. Entries in the registers of births and deaths suggest that Mary might have died in 1899 either during or shortly after the birth of another daughter, Mary Jane Isabella Clayton. The entries also suggest that Mary Jane Isabella died in 1900, before her first birthday.

Between 1901 and 1903, John Clayton remarried, to Isabella, and they went on to have three more children together, Priscilla, William, and Ellen Rita. On both the 1901 and 1911 census, the Claytons are living at the School House in Edmondsley as John was a head teacher.

Ben joined the newly formed 12th Battalion Durham Light Infantry and went out with them in 1915. He was a non-commissioned officer holding the rank of sergeant. In 1916, Ben was commissioned from the ranks. On 14 August 1916, his name appears in the London Gazette to be temporary Second Lieutenant, serving with 2nd Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment.

On 16 August the following year, Ben was an acting captain when his battalion captured and held a position at Zonnebeke Redoubt in Belgium. Ben was killed that day, but posthumously received the Military Cross for his actions (London Gazette 21 September 1917).

A book, ‘Uncle Ben’ has been written about his life by his nephew, and he is also referred to several times in a book by the Colonel of the 2nd West Yorkshires, ‘General Jack’s Diary’.

Civil Parish: Edmondsley

Birth date: 1895

Death date: 16-Aug-1917

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: School House, Edmondsley

Religion: Methodist

Employment: Art teacher

Family: Father: John Clayton
Mother: Mary
Stepmother: Isabella
Full siblings: Daisy, Thomas, Mary Jane Isabella
Half siblings: Priscilla, William, Ellen Rita

Military service:

24955 Sergeant, 12th Battalion Durham Light Infantry
Second Lieutenant, acting Captain, 2nd Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment

Medal(s): 1914-15 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal
Military Cross

Memorial(s): Plaque at Park View Community School, Chester-le-Street

Plaque formerly at St Peter’s Church, Front Street, Sacriston, now at the Working Men’s Club

Gender: Male

Contributed by Durham County Record Office | Caerbadon, Edmondsley

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