Comrades spoke highly of gunner

Keighley News: Gunner James Raymond Clapham Gunner James Raymond Clapham

Joseph and Ruth Clapham heard about their son’s death only three months after he arrived at the Front.

Letters from Gunner James Raymond Clapham’s comrades may have gone some way to helping the Keighley couple cope.

Fellow soldiers spoke both of Gunner Clapham’s popularity and the fact his death – from an artillery bombardment – was quick.

Second Lt Eric Quaile said: “His cheerful disposition and willingness made him most popular with his comrades.

“His death was instantaneous, and he had no time to be under any pain.”

The Reverend H A Norton, a chaplain, told the Claphams the enemy had heavily shelled their son’s gun battery.

He said: “After the arrival of the first shell, he and the others were making for a safe place and splinters of shell struck him and caused his death.

“We laid them to rest this evening in the presence of officers and men in a little cemetery nearby. They spoke of him in the highest terms.”

Gunner Clapham, 19, had been sent to the front lines in 1917, ten months after enlisting in the Royal Garrison Artillery.

Before the war, the former student of Keighley Trade and Grammar School had worked for the Prudential Assurance Company in Keighley.

He had also been a member of Wesleyan choirs at Exley Head, Keighley and Leyburn, where he worked immediately before the war in the London Stock Bank.

Gunner Clapham is buried at La Plus Douve Farm Cemetery.

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