Soldier – Clarke, John William – Deaf & Dumb Seaman restored

June 1916

A Conisbrough miracle

Deaf and dumb Seaman restored

Our attention has been drawn to the remarkable case of Cpl John William Clarke of the Collingwood battalion, Royal Naval division. He is 21 years of age, and the son of Mr and Mrs Thomas Clarke of5 Holywell Lane Conisbrough.

Before enlisted in September 1914, he was employed at the fact refining works of messes Braim and Co Conisbrough. He was trained at Walmer, the Crystal Palace and Blandford, and first saw active service in the terrible landing at the Dardanelles, in April 1915.

On 4 June he was buried in the trench by a large high explosive shell, and was extricated unconscious. When he recovered consciousness he found himself in a hospital at Malta, on 11 June, without the power of speech and hearing. He was transferred to the naval hospital at Plymouth, and after some months careful treatment was still deaf and dumb, and was discharged as unfit for further service in the Navy. He came into Conisbrough about six months ago, and it was not until Sunday last that his terrible affliction passed from him.

It was Sunday morning, and he was suddenly awakened by noises in the house. Under the influence of the excitement, he exclaimed “what’s the matter?” And then he realised that his speech had returned.

He hastened to communicate the cheerful intelligence to the family, and discovered to his delight that he was also able to hear. His speech was a little husky, and his hearing still slightly deceptive, but he had recovered the bulk of these two faculties, and was able to conduct conversations quite easily. He related some of his very interesting experiences in Gallipoli to his family and the neighbours.

His restoration caused a great sensation in the neighbourhood. One old ladywho had grown quite used to consider him a deaf mute, was so startled when he stopped and spoke to her in the lane near his home that she dropped her bucket and ran.

Cpl Clarke has survived some terrible scenes in Gallipoli but he declares that he is willing to serve again, and to undergo his previous experiences if he is considered serviceable. At present his hearing is not quite up to military standard