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Jack Clarke - Church Lads' Brigade, pre 1910?

Janet McNamara sent several photos featuring Brentford's John May (Jack) Clarke, adding: 'the uniform seems to be of the Church Lads' Brigade and I wonder if that's the same group that gets reported in the newspaper as the St Faith's Rifle Club? Jack Clarke is seated at the left of the picture.'

'I wonder if the picture is taken somewhere behind St Paul's Church as it looks like a church spire at the back.'

Jack was born in 1889 and looks to be aged 16 to 18 (may be older?) in the photo (see enlargement below), suggesting a date of around 1905 - 1908 or later.

The military uniform includes a pillbox hat worn at a jaunty angle, white sashes worn over the right shoulder and three of the youths have a second, darker sash over their left shoulders. All wear a dark leather belt over trousers and jackets with metal buttons. Two (may be three) youths carry a rifle and some have medals, badges and chevrons.

Six youths posed outside around a table of trophies

Enlargement showing John May ClarkeEnlargement showing John May Clarke.

Thanks to Rob Bolton, Archivist, The Church Lads’ & Church Girls’ Brigade, January 2013 for providing all the following information and also the emblem at the end: 'The Photo you have is of members of ‘The London Diocesan Church Lads’ Brigade’ formed in 1891 at the same time as the ‘Church Lads’ Brigade’.

'The two organisations merged operations in 1917 and formally united in 1936. At the time the photo was taken there would have been about 8,000 members (aged 13 – 20) in the London Area in about 16 Battalions.'

'The Lads on the photo are wearing the typical full tunic uniform worn prior to 1914, in some cases a few years after that date. Activities did include Rifle-Shooting, but the rifles they have in the photo are the Martini-Enfield’s used for regular Drill etc.'

'There are some good pics on the Church Lads' and Church Girls' Brigade (CLCGB) website of the Eastbourne Redoubt, a place where the London Diocesan CLB went for their Annual Camp Each Year prior to WW1.'

'In 1911, along with the CLB, the LDCLB joined the ‘Territorial Cadet Force’ and were part of the military set-up of the country prior to War.'

'Like the CLB the LDCLB were connected to Anglican Churches only. Often confused with the Boys’ Brigade which is Interdenominational.'

'For a while they were known as the ‘Church Cadet Brigade’, which again is a bit confusing.'

'Our Records (for the year 1900) show that the Company in Brentford, was based at St George, Old Brentford. They were part of the 14th Battalion and were ‘Company ‘C’. Formed in March 1895. They met on Tuesday evenings at 8.00 p.m. in the Church Rooms on High Street.'

Church Lads' Brigade Emblem

If you can add any names please get in touch.

Published October 2012; updated February 2013