Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Clapham Family of Soldiers Returned to Region; Brothers and Cousins Lived Long Lives on the Land after Serving in Second World War

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Clapham Family of Soldiers Returned to Region; Brothers and Cousins Lived Long Lives on the Land after Serving in Second World War

Article excerpt

NOT many families can say that they sent 10 soldiers to the Second World War and that all returned including one who was a Prisoner of War in Malaya/Thailand.

However, this is the story of the Clapham family from Nimbin. William and Harriet Clapham (nee Styles) both came from England about the 1850s. They had a large family and seem to have moved frequently between New South Wales and Queensland. William died in Toowoomba and Harriet died in Inverell. Three of their sons, Alfred, John, and William, all married and settled in the Nimbin area as farmers, clearing the land and then dairying.

Of the 10 soldiers who enlisted, eight were the sons of Alfred and Mabel Clapham. They were Alfred John (Jack), Archibald Edward (Archie), Donald Raymond (Don), Gordon Wallace (Gordon), Henry Horace (Harry), Oswald Ferris (Ossie), Robert James Bloomfield (Bob), and William George (Bill). Archie was the youngest son and served in the Signals Corps. It was he who was a Prisoner of War in Malaya, later working on the notorious Burma Railway. Cousins Thomas Edward (son of John and Sarah Clapham) and Arthur Donald (son of William and Clara Clapham) completed the family of soldiers.

All the boys were interested in sport, especially boxing. No doubt their athletic ability helped to keep them alive, especially Archie. Even so, when he returned to Australia Archie had to spend about ayear recuperating. He then became a dairy farmer and married. However, in 1952 he enlisted in the permanent army. It is interesting how many ex-POWs did this. Perhaps it was a desire to help prevent future conflicts, or perhaps it was to regain the mateship found in the POW camps. After leaving the Army he went into the hotel business. He died in 2002 at Urbenville.

Donald and Bob made names for themselves as boxers. Donald was the North Coast Welterweight Champion in the 1930s and later was the Welterweight Champion in the Army. …

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