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 Gregory “Greg” Clark

Gregory “Greg” Clark

Birth
Death 3 Feb 1977 (aged 84)
Burial Toronto, Toronto Municipality, Ontario, Canada
Memorial ID 10435 · View Source
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Major Gregory Clark, O.C., O.B.E, M.C., was a Canadian war veteran, journalist, and humorist/newspaper cartoonist.
In 1967, this diminutive writer of great note was made one of the initial Officers of the Order of Canada, awarded - "for the humour which he has brought to his profession as a newspaper writer and radio commentator.
Major Gregory Clark, O.C., O.B.E, M.C. is interred in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Surviving 3 long years ( 1916 - 1918 ) in the Trenches of World War I, Gregory Clark returned to Canada in 1918 as a Major with the Canadian Mounted Rifles, having been awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry at Vimy Ridge.
After the Armistice, Clark returned to his job as a newspaper reporter for The Toronto Star newspaper.
With about 10 times the per capita casualty rate of the United States spread out over four full long years of debilitating declared war, Canada in 1918 had whole villages and neighbourhoods stripped of most of their young men. Armless, legless, blind, and insane veterans returned to scarce if any public services. Profound social, demographic and political consequences took decades to work their way through a Canadian nation newly aware of its sacrifice and strength. In his famous short story "None Else of Name," Greg Clark expresses regret, loss, pride of accomplishment, and respect for fallen comrades with an anti-triumphalist, self-deprecating subtext.
Clark's comrades, TOMMY HOLMES, a Victoria Cross recipient at seventeen at Passchendaele, Corporal JAMES POST, awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal ( second only to the VC ) at 16, a sergeant at 17, and returned to England a private before 18 for misdemeanors behind the Lines - and a dozen more - merited respect and mention by name. So too did the hundreds of others Clark could have written of if he had had the time.
Canadian experience of the war is a story in large remarkable part for its impossibility of fair description. Pithy example must suffice.
Three Officers and seventy-eight men of the Canadian Mounted Rifles later answered the roll call on 4 June 1916 out of the original 22 Officers and 680 men who had stood at Sanctuary Wood on 2 June. The Canadian Mounted Rifles reformed. The Regiment fought bravely and well to the bitter end on 11 November 1918. They knew what they had done. Others could sing their praises.
Too old for active service, in World War II Greg Clark returned to the battlefield as a reporter.
To his peers he was the Dean of Canadian War Correspondents, reporting on the German Blitzkreig from France in 1940, on Dunkirk and later Dieppe from England, and on the Italian and North-West Europe campaigns from the Front.
Awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his service as a war correspondent, Clark left The Toronto Star for The Toronto Telegram at the War's end.
It is believed that his having been denied leave by The Star after the death of his only son in action in 1945 may have inspired the move.
Both before and after World War I, Clark worked for The Toronto Star. After the war, he soon became a leading correspondent and reporter.
At the Toronto Star, Clark befriended and mentored a young Ernest Hemingway, who said that Clark was the best writer on the paper.
In later life Hemingway called Clark one of the finest modern short story writers in the English language.
Clark's later war reporting and reminiscences of soldiering have a poignancy uncommon to first person reflective writing about war.
Clark's haunting memoir "The Prayer" is perhaps the definitive description of a young officer having to bury his dead after his first battle. Beginning "Along about sunset, I began to think of the dead ... " it follows with a tight, telling description of the field interment of seven dead young Canadian soldiers. The exhaustion and shock of battle having purged the Lord's Prayer from his memory, Clark leads his surviving men in prayer over the grave with "Now I lay me down to sleep ...". The hardened sergeant approved. Clark had done his best to proper effect. War is about compassionate respect for one's dead comrades "God Bless these seven men", not punctilious memory of Orders of Service.
Mass syndicated in the 1950s, Clark's superb parable "One Block of Howland Avenue" puts face, name and consequence to the demographic catastrophe of World War I to Canada. Clark's elderly father asked his two decorated veteran sons never to walk up the street past the neighbours to their house at 66 Howland Avenue again. Go the long way around so the neighbours won't see you boys. All the young men of their block were dead, except Greg and his brother Joseph. Clark senior tried to balance his pride and joy of both sons back home with his grief and concern for his neighbours and friends - who might be looking out their windows.
Though he was probably Canada's most honoured journalist, an initial Officer of the Order of Canada, and decorated as both a fighting soldier and as a war correspondent, Clark's work is sadly out of print.
Rather randomly published in anthology compilations between the late 1950s and the early 1970s in Canada by Collins, Ryerson Press and McClelland and Stewart, Clark's work may have had so little serious academic attention in part because it was mostly written by a working journalist for publication in newspapers and popular magazines - hiding in plain view, as it were.
Clark wrote about four or five dozen disarmingly charming, granite-hard war stories. Many have a profound point well told. Some are just a fine read. All are a worthy read.
Clark's three stories The Prayer, One Block of Howland Avenue and None Else of Name, resonate today as a the insights and memories of a toughened gallant veteran who bore the scars, yet emerged with enhanced compassion, dignity and a still-effective sense of duty. Free of bombast and triumphalist cant, Clark's work is long overdue for a modern compilation.

Quote: " A sportsman is one who not only will not show his own father where the best fishing holes are but will deliberately direct him to the wrong ones."
from a speech to the Empire Club of Canada in 1950: " Are bombs the only way of setting fire to the spirit of a people ? Is the human will as inert as the past two world-wide wars would indicate ?"

Bio by: CLAY MARSTON


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 9 Jul 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 10435
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Gregory “Greg” Clark (25 Sep 1892–3 Feb 1977), Find A Grave Memorial no. 10435, citing Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto, Toronto Municipality, Ontario, Canada ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8) .