The Barrett J. Carr Collection of Boer War Medals

Date of Auction: 7th March 2007

Sold for £310

Estimate: £250 - £300

Three: Stoker Petty Officer W. Clarke, Royal Navy

Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902,
no clasp (Lg. Sto., H.M.S. Magpie); British War Medal 1914-20 (141070 S.P.O., R.N.); Royal Navy L.S. & G.C., V.R., narrow suspension (Lg. Sto. 2 Cl., H.M.S. Magpie), generally very fine (3) £250-300


Just 89 Queen’s South Africa Medals were awarded to the ship’s company of H.M.S. Magpie, 75 of them without clasp.

William Clarke was born in Branscombe, near Exeter in April 1868 and entered the Royal Navy as a Stoker 2nd Class in May 1887. He subsequently served in the gunboat H.M.S. Magpie from November 1899 until November 1902, a period that encompassed her two commissions off South Africa and his advancement to Leading Stoker 1st Class. Interestingly, Magpie’s departure for South Africa was delayed by the disappearance of her secret codebook, an event that caused an investigation to be carried out by a group of Scotland Yard detectives - but to no avail. Once on station, Magpie was regularly employed in transporting Boer P.O.Ws, and at one point acted as guardship at St. Helena, a period of employment that witnessed the apprehension of two Boers who had smuggled themselves aboard a Norwegian vessel.

Having been awarded his L.S. & G.C. Medal in August 1902, and been advanced to Stoker Petty Officer, Clarke was pensioned ashore in December 1908, soon after which he enrolled in the Royal Fleet Reserve. Recalled on the outbreak of hostilities, he served ashore in Vivid II and the Torpedo School Defiance, but was invalided in December 1917.