Private A Clark was employed in the Co-operative Wholesale Society’s soap works in Irlam. This factory was purpose built , producing up to 400 tons of soap a week and located alongside the Manchester Ship canal. During the First World War a margarine factory was opened alongside the soap works as any unsuccessful margarine products could be recycled in the soap factory .
Clark joined the army in August 1914, and was sent to fight in the Dardanelles. The Dardanelles is a strait which was seen as a vital supply route to the Russian Empire via the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Winston Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty, was a strong supporter of the Navy attacking the Dardanelles to secure the supply route and to have a foothold near Turkey. The campaign here lasted from March 1915 to January 1916, and many regiments from Manchester and the North-West of England fought here. The campaign was deemed to be a failure, with the British sustaining high casualties and being unable to advance beyond the beaches where they had landed. Private Clark was listed as being among these casualties. He was deemed to have been missing in action since 7 August 1915.
The date of the battle means it is likely that he died during the landings in Suvla Bay, which took place between 6 and 9 August, part of the August Campaign. This was the last campaign in which the British attempted to break the deadlock around Gallipoli. After this they simply reinforced their position, before withdrawing in January 1916.
Co-operative News, 9 October 1915, page 1341.
WWI co-operative voices
This post is part of ‘WWI co-operative voices’ which shares the stories of co-operative workers and members during the conflict. In order to mark the centenary of the WWI, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum is staging an exhibition entitled ‘From shop floor to front line’ and the accounts of these soldiers, shop workers and conscientious objectors will run alongside it. They are tales of death, duty and of those who chose not to fight.
Through ‘WWI co-operative voices’ we will be releasing new posts about these individuals throughout the duration of the exhibition (due to open mid-May 2015 and run until May 2016). Read about the co-operative movement’s involvement in a war that shook the world by selecting a name from the column on the left. You can also follow us on social media for regular updates.
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We wish to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the ‘From shop floor to front line’ exhibition and project.