Arthur Gordon Lyon Clark, C de Guerre, KOYLI

Photo circa 1909 in Cape Town

1886 Mar 1. Born Sylhet, Bengal, India son of William Lyon Clark, and Aida Constance Sophia. His father William Lyon Clark was managing a tea plantation in Assam, when he met and married Aida Constance Sophia Lugard Hennessey, She too was India-born and there she produced five sons, two of whom succumbed to Cholera – the three survivors being Arthur, now the eldest, Hugh Mordaunt Lyon and Basil Lyon Lyon-Clark. All three were to return to England for their education. Like so many English children born abroad at that time, the three boys were sent “Home” to school, having spent an idyllic childhood in the sun, flattered and pampered by doting Indian servants. So Arthur, Basil and Hugh were duly dispatched. The school chosen for them was the Oratory, chosen one suspects by their father William – a convert to Roman Catholicism - although his father, Rev William Robinson Clark remained High Church Anglican. His parents returned to UK in early 1900s and were renting Ballinlough Castle in Ireland, possibly so school holidays were not to be spent at the school. Something went wrong and Aida returned to India, and divorce followed.

1898 to 1904 He was educated at The Oratory School. School Captain and cricketer at the Oratory School, was sent to Sandhurst (via a crammer) and on graduation was commissioned

1905 Admitted to Sandhurst

1906 Aug 28. Commissioned 2nd Lt in The King's Own (Yorkshire Light Infantry) Arthur Gordon Lyon Clark, in succession to Lieutenant A. R. Keppel, promoted. He was sent to Roberts Heights, the British Army base outside Pretoria in South Africa.

1907 Nov 1. Arrested for desecrating Krugers Grave

1909 For Arthur, it was a great time to be young and a bachelor. He had his own pony and trap and with his pay regularly topped up by his father who had made shrewd investments in India in coal and flour and was considerably well off. It allowed Arthur to indulge a rollicking bachelorhood and he soon was a regular attendee at the stage door of the touring Gaiety Girls Company, then touring South Africa. One of the dancers, 24 year-old Edith Florence Lee from Sevenoaks, stole his heart

1909 Sep 17. The King's Own (Yorkshire Light Infantry), A. G. L. Clark, resigned his commission and followed Edith Lee to Cape Town where they married by special licence in 1909.

1912 Feb 19. Daughter Elizabeth born in Pretoria.They had the one child. The three were never to have a proper home, living in the Grand Hotel in the seaside resort of Muizenberg on the False Bay coast, with Arthur now employed as a labour broker arranging a steady supply of Black labourers for the gold mines in Johannesburg which kept him away in Mozambique for months at a time.

1914 Served in the Transvaal Horse Artillery between August 1914 and August 1915 in German SW Africa,then in Tanzania. This was an artillery unit and when war broke out Arthur and the volunteers were to accompany the South African Expeditionary Force which invaded German South West Africa under General Louis Botha – the former Boer enemy, the Prime Minister of the newly-formed Union of South Africa. It was a short campaign but Arthur nevertheless did well enough to be mentioned three times in the regimental history and by 1915, Arthur was off with the South Africans, this time to attack the Germans in German East Africa. He was not to see action. He caught malaria severely, spent three weeks in a Dar-es-Salaam hospital and was sent back, discharged medically unfit, to South Africa.

1916 As soon he felt strong enough he was off to England where he was accepted in the Royal Horse and Field Artillery and sent to France. There too luck was not with him. He was gassed and sent to Guernsey to convalesce.

1917 Aug 19. Capt. A. G. L. Clark, S. Afr. F.A., to be temp. Capt.

1917 Sep 4. Gazetted Croix de Guerre. Captain Arthur Gordon Lyon Clark. South African Field Artillery

1919 Arthur became involved with a nurse who became pregnant. Arthur chose divorce as the way out. Edith, back in South Africa was stunned. Arthur refused to tell her why he was leaving her and wrote bleakly that they could “never make a go of it.” Edith filed for divorce in 1921, the papers being served on Arthur via an advertisement in the Daily Telegraph since by then he was judged to be of no fixed abode (in fact he was in hospital in Southampton, due to the effects of German gas).

1920 Oct 4. The undermentioned relinquish their commns. on completion of service: — Temp. Capt. A. G. L. Clark, 14th Oct. 1920, and retains the rank of Capt.

1920 Nov 8. Joined ADRIC with Service no 975. Posted to H Coy

1921 Feb 7. Promoted Section Leader.

1921 Jul 2. Reverted to T/Cadet prior to becoming a Permanent Cadet

1921 Aug 26. Promoted to permanent Cadet in RIC

1921 Sep 5. Arthur married Ethel Madeline Horton in St James Church, Dublin, Ireland but they divorced in 1927. They had at least one child, a daughter Bridget. This marriage appears to have been bigamous, as he only divorced his first wife (Edith Lee) in 1926

1922 Apr 15 Pensioned from RIC

1922. returned to England to Warmans, a small village near Salisbury where Arthur hoped to maintain his army links. That too failed and for the rest of the inter-war years Arthur managed a gentlemen’s fishing lodge west of London, called Thorney Weir.

1926 Divorce Court File: 2654. Appellant: Ethel Madeline Clark. Respondent: Arthur Gordon Lyon Clark. Type: Wife's petition for divorce . J 77/2321/2654 . Oddly this petition was dismissed in 8 Oct 1942

1930 His first wife died in Pretoria

1934 His first daughter Elizabeth found him at Thorney Weir in 1934, where he was now living alone following his divorce from is second wife in 1927. Elizabeth, or Betty as she was called, was, like her mother, a professional dancer, and had inherited some money when she had died, enabling Betty to visit her father, whom she had not seen for 17 years and seek a living as a dancer in the film British industry. But Betty soon had to return to South Africa and contact between her and her father was lost until 1948.

1939 When war broke out Arthur became an assistant censor in charge of the transatlantic telephone service set up to handle secret telephone calls between Britain and America including calls between Churchill and Roosevelt. The operations of the Trans Atlantic telephone service during the second World War are described in a book by Ruth Ive called “The Woman who censored Churchill”, published by the History Press. Arthur features as the young Ruth’s boss, Lieutenant-Colonel A G L Clark (Indian Army. Retired).

1939 Register He is living at 105 Cromwell Road , Kensington, London, and is a Retired Aermy Officer

Brendan Bracken, the Minister of Information, warned that, so far as the enemy was concerned, all radio calls on this system should be looked upon as having no more security than if they were made from a public call box. It should be assumed therefore that the calls were being monitored by the enemy. Only the Prime Minister, the War Cabinet, the Chiefs of the Imperial General Staff, heads of government departments and royalty were to be authorised to use the service, in talking to their American counterparts, and each call was to be monitored by a censor who had full responsibility for its `safeness'. Similar arrangements were established in Washington and Ottawa, and the Radio Department, as it became known, was set up in January 1942, under Lt Colonel Lyon Clark. Colonel Clark's team of eight censors worked from at Union House, St Martin's Le Grande in London.

1942 His daughter married Malcolm Bryer in Salisbury Rhodesia

1945 Jul/Sep Westminster, London Arthur married a younger woman, Gwendoline C Smith, who had worked with him in the secret telephone service

1947 His daughter Elizabeth had not seen him since 1934 and she traced him through the Red Cross to a hospital where he was being treated for lung trouble. Betty paid for both Arthur and his wife travelled from Southampton to Cape Town and then by rail to Salisbury (Harare), Rhodesia where his daughter was living.

1951 Mar 17 Arthur never recovered his health and died in Gatooma, Rhodesia

ADRIC