Private William Clare Sample

William Clare Sample was born in Harwich Township, Kent Co., Ontario on October 26, 1889. Throughout his life he went by his second name, Clare.

After he completed normal school (teachers' college), Clare Sample moved to western Canada to teach, first in Saskatchewan and later in Irvine, Alberta. At this location he was joined by his brother, Harry Bertrand Sample. Both brothers had received homestead grants in that province but they never took them up; instead, they responded to the general mobilisation call as the Great War in Europe continued and the need for more troops developed.

Clare enlisted on March 4, 1916 at Medicine Hat in the Alberta Regiment and received his initial military training at Calgary. He embarked aboard the "S.S. Saxonia" from Halifax, Nova Scotia, October 4, 1916, and disembarked nine days later at Liverpool, England; he was transferred (November 10, 1916) to the Signallers Base at Seaford, Co. Sussex (now County of East Sussex), England and for a brief period was stationed with the 175th Battalion (December 31, 1916 to January 10, 1917) also at Seaford. On the latter date he was transferred to the 21st Reserve Battalion of the Alberta Regiment which was based at Seaford as well; he was posted, June 1, 1917, for only five days with the 9th Reserve Battalion based at Bramshott, England and then was posted for service at the front (on June 5, 1917) with the 49th Battalion of the Alberta Regiment which was also stationed at Bramshott. He landed in France, June 7, 1917, and joined his unit June 12.

Private William Clare Sample, serial number 696469, was killed in a German artillery barrage at the Battle of Ypres, October 30, 1917, just four days after the death, under like circumstances, of his brother Harry Bertrand. [Because signallers were vital to the movement of troops on the field of battle and were usually located on higher ground, they were targetted by enemy fire.]

Clare Sample, like many who served in the Great War has no known marked grave. His name is inscribed on the Menin Gate Memorial (Panel 28) at Ypres in Belgium along with those of others in his regiment, including his younger brother, Harry Bertrand. A memorial stone to honour the two brothers was erected by Matilda Ann (Quackenbush) Sample in Evergreen Cemetery near Blenheim, Ontario. Also, a plaque in his memory was mounted on the walls of Blenheim Presbyterian (United) Church. For his service and sacrifice, he was awarded the British War Memorial and the Victory Medal, according to documents at the National Archives of Canada, these medals, together with a Memorial Cross were sent to his mother.

This account was contributed by James Maurice Sample, great-nephew of Harry and Clare Sample.

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