Saxmundham Memorial Trail
High Street, Blenheim Villas, stop 2.
Private 473141, Clifford John Welham, Military Medal, 88th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps, 1897 – 23 November 1917
Clifford John Welham witnessed the dreadful horrors of war as a member of the Field Ambulance. It is likely that he was a stretcher bearer and evacuated stricken soldiers from the front to the Advance Dressing Stations and Main Dressing Stations. In 1917 before his death, Clifford was awarded the Military Medal for acts of gallantry in the field.
In 1911, Clifford the second eldest of five surviving sons of John and Jane Annie Welham was employed as a grocer’s apprentice and lived with his parents in Albion Street. (Thereafter the family moved to Blenheim Villas, recorded as Low Estate but is located at the North end of the High Street). Three years later, aged seventeen, Clifford described as being of dark complexion and hair with grey eyes, five foot, four inches tall and weighing eight stone, ten pounds enlisted in the Territorial Force of the Royal Army Medical Corps. Less than a month later he was assigned to the 1st East Anglian Field Ambulance on 3 September 1914. This division was formed during late 1914 generally from units arriving home from the distant garrisons of the Empire.
Forget concepts of vehicles, the Field Ambulance were mobile front-line units responsible for casualty evacuation from the front to Advanced Dressing Stations, Main Dressing Station as well as dealing with walking wounded. Likely Clifford was involved in stretcher bearing and dealing with the needs of stricken soldiers. In his role he daily witnessed the horrors of war, and the Field Ambulance Units were present in all major battle areas.
From March 1915 to March 1916 Clifford’s unit served in Alexandria and Gallipoli before returning to Europe. Thereafter Clifford served in France from March 1916 until his death on 23 November 1917 and was involved with battles on the Somme and at Arras. During his service in France, he was awarded the Military Medal for acts of gallantry in the field. This was awarded by the Corps Commander on 5 May 1917 whilst Clifford was based in Arras. The official notification appeared in the Supplement to the Gazette in July 1917.
Six months after Clifford’s death, in March 1918, his mother received Clifford’s personal effects. Poignantly, these included letters, photographs, purses and tools for his work, scissors, knives, and steel mirrors. Sadly, dealing with Clifford’s effects was left to his mother who dealt with his estate, receipt of pension, medals, death plaque and scroll, and for the wording on Clifford’s War Grave.