Conisborough Miracle – Deaf and Dumb Seaman Restored (picture)

April 1916

Mexborough and Swinton Times April 22, 1916

A Conisborough 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, of 5, Holywell Lane, Conisborough.

Before enlisting, in September, 1914, he was employed at the refining works of Messrs 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 explosive shell, and was extricated unconscious. When he recovered consciousness he found himself in the hospital at Malta, on 11 June, without the power of speech or 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 home to Conisbrough about six months ago, and it was not until Sunday last at 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 careful intelligence to the family, and discovered to his delight that he was also able to hear. His speech was a little huskey, 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 lady who had grown quite used to considering him a deaf mute was so startled when he stopped her 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.