Claude Clement Arthur Sparkes

Claude was born in Barningham, Suffolk to Elizabeth and William A Sparkes on 5 February 1894. His father was a miller and a stationary engine operator.

He had five siblings

Hetty born 13 February1892

Edith M born 16 December 1895

Victor Albert born 27 October 1897

Doris born 8 January 1900

Wilfred R born 14 April 1904

In 1901the family lived in Sneath road, Aslacton, Norfolk. The family moved to live in Saxlingham Thorpe and in 1911 the family were living at The Mill, Saxlingham Thorpe.

Claude was working for the Reverend Huntley Curtois at the Vicarage, Croxton, Thetford. He was employed as a page.

The rest of the family were living in Saxlingham Thorpe. Hetty was employed as an Elementary School teacher. Two years later she married Ernest Madgett and moved to live in Hempnall. They had a son Raymond who died as a Japanese prisoner of war whilst working on the Burma railway in Thailand in 1943.

Victor became a gardener and Wilfred a shop assistant in a grocery. Doris worked as a barmaid and Edith as a domestic servant.

Claude enlisted on 16 June 1915. He was in the 1st East Anglian Royal Field Artillery. His original service number was 2284 and then later 875903.

He was a gunner and became a bombardier 18 December 1915. When he enlisted he was 21 years and 4 months old and had been working as a footman. He was 5 feet 7 inches tall with a 37 inch chest. On joining his father was given as his next of kin. This was later changed to his mother.

He was in England until 28 September 1917. On 18 August 1916 he was reprimanded for hesitating to obey an order and for his insolence to a NCO.

On 29 September 1917 he was posted to India with 102nd Battery, 21st Brigade Royal Field Regiment. They arrived in Bombay on 23 November 1917. He remained in India, Hyderabad until 29 November 1919. He arrived back in England on 22 December 1919 and left the army on 31 March 1920.

On 9 April 1930 Claude married Gladys Alice Henrietta Whessell, born 15 November 1902, in St. Michael and All Angels’ Church, Hackney. His address was given as Maskell House, 30 Broadway, Hackney and hers was Perserverance, 112 Pritchard Road, Hackney. He was a licensee. Gladys came from a family connected with the licensing trade. Her father was a publican and until his death in 1907 had run the beer house, Perserverance. Her mother continued to run the business.

In 1931 and until at least 1934 his siblings were all living in Broadway, Hackney. 

In 1936 Claude and Gladys ran The Sun public house, 120 Askew Road, Hammersmith. Also living with them at that time were Doris Jane Sparkes, Claude’s sister, and Annie Elizabeth Whessell, his mother-in- law.

In 1939 Doris was still working there as a bar maid.

Her sister Edith had married, and Victor and Wilfred had moved back to Norfolk and were living in the Krons bungalow, Hempnall with Hetty Madgett and her family.

Claude and his wife were killed in an air raid during the Second World war. Their public house The Sun was bombed on 25 September 1940.just before closing time. Fourteen other people were also killed. Some of the records say they died on 25 September and some 26 September. Claude was aged 55 years old and Gladys 37 years.

The Sun Public House after being bombed on 25 September 1940

Doris had married in the Spring of 1940 and Annie had moved into lodgings in Kent and so they were not among those killed.

Probate was granted to Annie Whessell in March 1942. The effects were £813 4s 11d. Probate was redone in September 1948.  It was recorded that Gladys had died after Claude. That was probably done for legal reasons as she was younger than him as they were killed on the same day. Probate was granted to Florence Edith McCarthy, the sister of Annie Whessell. Annie had died in 1945.

They are buried in Hammersmith Old Cemetery.


England & Wales, Birth, marriage, death index 1837-2005

UK Census Collection

British Army Medal Roll Index cards, 1914-1920

1939 Register-

Norfolk Electoral Rolls-Southern Division Saxlingham Nethergate and Thorpe,  (Absent Voters Lists 1918-1920)

British Army Service Records

London Electoral Rolls.1930-1939

England & Wales, National Probate Calendar 1858-1995

UK, W11 Civilian Deaths 1939-1945  

Hammersmith Pub History.

Photographs of Sun Public House- Vincent O’Loughlin

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