Courtesy of Mary Craven
Warrant Officer David Edward Clancy
Pakenham & District War Memorial and St Patrick’s Catholic School Roll of Honour
Born: 12 November 1893 - Pakenham, Victoria
Enlisted: 6 November 1915 aged 21
Unit: 1st Divisional Ammunition Column, 14th Reinforcement (SERN: 11927)
Served: Western Front
Died: 2 May 1969 - Melbourne, Victoria
David was a younger brother of Jack Clancy, and also attended St Patrick’s Primary School. After finishing school, David became a farmer like his father (1). but was working as a clerk when he enlisted in November 1915 (2). At Broadmeadows Army Camp, David was attached to the 1st Divisional Ammunition Column (DAC). He embarked from Melbourne on 28 January 1916, as an acting Corporal. After a period in Egypt, David was sent to the Western Front. There, David was quickly promoted to the temporary rank of Sergeant and attached to the 45th Battery. Later, he served with the 4th DAC and the 12th Field Artillery Brigade (FAB) (2a). In a letter to his mother Elizabeth, David graphically described the work of the artillery: to ensure that “Fritz [i.e. the Germans] receives over a 100 pounds of iron explosive - his iron ration - to be followed almost instantaneously by another, and another until the attack is beaten off, and the battery position is a cloud of dust and burnt cordite fumes. That is when the gunner is happy. He is doing something to win the war - something to compensate for the hours of waiting, the weeks of training, the days of suffering and hardship, the moments of grief and hardship everyone of us knows ... That is the time that nothing matters but the job in hand. The direction of Fritz’s strafe does not worry us then and we can’t hear his shells above the din we are creating (2b).
While serving with the 12th FAB, David was wounded in action in Belgium on 19 October 1917, receiving a severe wound to the hand (3). According to the Brigade’s official war diary, the 12th FAB was camped near Rheninghelst, when the camp was bombed by enemy aircraft during the night. Five soldiers were killed and four others wounded (4). David’s name appeared in the same casualty list that confirmed that his brother Jack had been killed in action (5), something which must have distressed his parents greatly. After hospitalisation, David served out the rest of the War in England. In late 1917, David was selected for “referendum work” in London, which probably involved manning one of the booths where the soldiers themselves could vote. One of the other NCOs assigned to this work was Corporal Clair Whiteside of Officer, who thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity the “cushy little job” provided to see the sights of London, including enjoying its theatres (5a). In 1919 David was temporarily promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer. While awaiting demobilisation and repatriation to Australia, the Army arranged for him to work for three months on a farm in Huntingdon, England. David was apparently “very attentive to his work and made very good use of his opportunities. His conduct was all that could be desired” (6).
David returned to Australia in early 1920. He and and several other Diggers received an official welcome home at the Mechanics’ Institute in May 1920, the last such event held in Pakenham. At this, they were presented with special gold medallions from a grateful community (7). David resumed farming, and for a time operated (with Ethel Fennell) the general store at Old Pakenham, which later became Mrs Bumpstead’s store (8). Later, David was an insurance agent (8a). He was also a well known local cricketer and footballer. The early to mid 1920s was a great era for the Pakenham football team, which won four consecutive flags from 1924 to 1927, with the 1926 team being captained by Dave (9). Over the years, David was also involved in a range of community activities, including the Mechanics‘ Institute committee and the local RSL sub-branch. David married Pauline Meyrst in 1927 and raised a family. Later, he worked as a contractor. During WWII, David enlisted again, serving in Australia as a Warrant Officer Class 2 with the 22nd Field Regiment. David put his age back two years to enlist again (10). After WWII, David applied for a War Service loan to purchase his home in Main Street (11). Later, he and Pauline moved away from Pakenham. David died in May 1969 (12).
The assistance of David’s granddaughter Mary Craven; Bruce Stephenson, Anne Blair and the late Kevin Clarke is gratefully acknowledged.
(1) Ancestry.com.au - ER - Flinders - Pakenham 1916, p. 5.
(2) (2a) (3) (6) & (11) NAA B2455, CLANCY D E
(2b) PG 13/12/1918 p. 3
(4) AWM4 Subclass 13/39 - Unit War Diary HQ 12th FAB - October 1917
(5) Argus, 26/11/1917 p.4
(5a) Whiteside (2002) pp.127-128
(7) SBMJ 20/5/1920 p. 4
(8) PG 11/2/1966 p. 5. Also see The Age 5/9/1924 p. 8
(8a) & (12) NWFHG 2016, p. 27
(10) NAA B884 V27216