Ancestry: Clifford was descended from Elijah Emptage and Martha Hatcher, who married in 1792, in Birchington, Thanet.
Parents: Clifford Herbert Emptage and Ellen Elizabeth (Nellie) Fox.
Birth: Clifford was born in Margate, in 1889.
Siblings: Cyril George, born in 1894 and Gladys Marion, born in 1898. Both were born in Thanet.
Lived: By 1901 the family had moved to Ashford and by 1911 they were living in Camberwell, south east London.
Employment: Clifford was a clerk in solicitor’s office before he joined the army.
Marriage: Clifford married Dorothy Mothersole in 1922. They were married for 36 years, living most of their married lives at 132 Coldharbour Lane in Brixton.
Death: Dorothy died in 1958 age 65. Clifford outlived Dorothy by a further 6 years and he passed away at the St Richards Hospital in Chichester age 74.
We are lucky to have the “Pension Records” for Clifford which, although not showing his terms of engagement with the enemy in WW1, does show more detail than is accorded to his brother Cyril, whose records (both Pension and Service) are missing.
Whilst living in Ashford, and aged nearly 16, Clifford signed up to the 5th Battalion the “Buffs” Regiment. He probably underwent some military training on a part time basis but on the 18th of June 1908, aged 18 years and 8 days, he enlisted into the 21st London Regiment and was assigned his military number of 650037.
Clifford was not a tall man and the military record his height as just over 5 ft 6 inches and weighing 134 lbs.
He appears to have enlisted for one year only and then transferred to the reserves. The 1911 census showed him at home with his family, working as a solicitors clerk.
He rejoined his regiment (was embodied) on 5 August 1914. He was promoted to Corporal on 16 November 1914 and to Sergeant on 15 January 1915.
The Army Records indicate he was based in England from the 29th May 1908 up to 14th March 1915. He was then sent to France on 15 March 1915.
On the 3rd of November 1915, Clifford was admitted to a military hospital in Etaples (Pas de Calais), a fishing port on the Canche river in Northern France after being wounded in battle. He was transferred to England to the 5th Northern General Hospital in Leicester for treatment.
According to the military records Clifford was wounded in Hulluch France, when he was in a trench examining a machine gun belt when a piece of enemy exploding shell weighing about one pound landed on the top of his right foot. The main impact was on the dorsal aspect of the big toe. Since then he was unable to bear any weight at all on that toe. When Clifford left the army he was awarded a 40% disability pension.
Because of Clifford’s injury, he served just 269 days in France and remained in England from the 11th of November 1915.
On the 13th April 1916 Clifford was promoted to Colour Sergeant Major. He was a specialist in Machine Guns and had become a Training Instructor. And he was appointed Acting Warrent Officer Class II on 22 June 1918.
Up to the time he was demobilised on the 15th August 1919 he spent his time training new recruits, the military recording his demobilisation as “Surplus to Military requirements” (which doesn’t sound very polite after years of dedicated service).
Clifford was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Clifford’s younger brother Cyril George Emptage also enlisted into the 21st London Regiment and he, like his brother became a Sergeant. Tragically Cyril was killed at the Battle of Lys on the 9th April 1918. Cyril was buried at Aire Communal Cemetery (Pas de Calais) in the town of Aire, 14 kms south east of Omer.
Research: David Emptage
Note: Colour Sergeant or Staff Sergeant is a non commissioned title in the Royal Marines and Infantry regiments of the British Army, ranking above Sergeant and below Warrant Officer class 2. It is the equivalent to the rank of Flight Sergeant in the Royal Air Force and Chief Petty Officer in the Royal Navy. The insignia is the monarch’s crown above three downward pointing chevrons. The rank was introduced into the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars to reward long- serving sergeants. Colour Sergeants are referred to and addressed as “Colour Sergeant” or “Colour”, never as Sergeant. (Extract courtesy of wikipedia).