The Philanderer

Major Laurence Clark
211th (Alberta Americans) BattalionClarkEL

He is a high strung individual and a “worrier.” He complains of insomnia and that he dreams a great deal.

He is markedly nervous and is 18 Ibs under weight. The Board is of the opinion that this Officer will not improve in this climate and recommend that he be invalided to Canada

(Proceedings of a Medical Board, 9 Aug 1917)

Laurence Erastus Clark was a traveling auditor for a New York banking firm. He was born in Buffalo on 17 February 1883 and had been an officer in the state National Guard. After the formation of the 97th American Legion in Toronto, Clark enlisted as a lieutenant. By February 1916, he had transferred to the 211th Alberta Americans to become second-in-command.

Despite the efforts of the 211th commander, Lieutenant Colonel Morrill Sage, to keep the American battalion intact, it was reorganized into a railway unit. Clark proceeded to France in June 1917 with the 10th Railway Troops but lasted only two months in the field.

Suffering from chronic bronchitis, laryngitis and a painful hernia, he was hospitalized in England before discharge back to Canada in October 1917. Doctors found him physically unfit due to his aliments and also noted he appeared nervous and worried.

After the war, he became a successful stock broker and prominent member of Toronto social circles. In 1928, his wife, Winnifred Clark, daughter of former Yukon MP Frederick Tennyson Congdon, sought a divorce through the Canadian Senate. Alleging adultery on the part of her husband, Winnifred successfully dissolved the marriage on 11 June 1928.

Less than two months later, Clark married an aspiring American film actress named Sheila Terry. At the time, Terry was eighteen while Clark was forty-five. They separated two years later. In 1934, Terry formally sued for divorce claiming that her estranged husband “criticised me, ridiculed me and belittled me.” A Los Angeles judge awarded the divorce due to “mental cruelty” inflicted on Terry.

In addition to being a poor husband, Clark was allegedly a shady and corrupt businessman. In 1931, he and members of the defunct broker firm G. A. Stimson & Co. were indicted for defrauding shareholders.

He died on 8 December 1943.

Digitized Service File (LAC):
http://central.bac-lac.gc.ca/.item/?op=pdf&app=CEF&id=B1755-S004

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2 thoughts on “The Philanderer

  1. Excellent site. I am a collector of Canadian militaria with a special interest in the 211th and 218th battalions [merged into 8th CRT]. I recently acquired Major Laurence Clark’s British War Medal.

    Keep up the good work!

    All the best,

    Peter

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