Awards & Titles:


Early Life :

The majority of this legend is courtesy of Geoff Cuthill of the Province of West Lancashire, to whom the project is grateful.

David was born in 18th March, 1887, at Willaston, Nantwich, Cheshire, the fourth child and first son to David and Sarah Clarke (nee Kenyon) who had married at the local Baptist Chapel in Oldham on 9 April 1882. Until his marriage in 1913 it would seem that David spent his life at The White House, Whitehouse Lane, Willaston.

Although his father was a successful accountant, formerly at Oldham, and then Nantwich, David decided he would follow a maritime career and was awarded his certificate of competency as 2nd Mate Square Rigger, at Liverpool, numbered 040735, in February 1908 at a relatively young age. He is described as being five feet eleven inch in height, fair complexion, fair hair, with brown eyes and with a tattoo of “clasped hands” on his right wrist. His residence is given as “The White House” Nantwich, Cheshire. He would achieve his certificate No 006252 for First Mate for foreign going steamship in March 1911 and that of Master for steamship in August 1913. He spent almost all of his career with the Elder Dempster Company.

David married Gladys Salter, a Nantwich girl herself, born in 1893, in the summer of 1913. She was the daughter of local celebrity Joseph Salter, then a respected breeder of flat coated retrievers.

Descendants of David have helped with information, which was part of the B.B.C. television programme, “Peoples War”. A number of artefacts, and letters of David’s are still in the possession of the family, (now residing in New Zealand). One of which is a letter written on “S.S.Yola”, 10 August 1908 from the port of Vera Cruz, Mexico, to his younger brother Frank. In this letter is also mention of his three sisters, Rosie, Nettie, and Florrie. David goes on to say how the ship is leaving for New Orleans, to pick up mules, on then on to Bombay, calling at Port Said within a month. Later information, from the same B.B.C. programme, shows David had two children, both born in Nantwich, Mabel K born 1915, and Ronald K born 1917. David’s last voyage was aboard the “R.M.S. Burutu” as Chief Mate, the vessel being under the command of Captain William E Potter.

Service Life:


Unit / Ship / Est.: SS Burutu 

Action : Naval Campaign 

Naval Campaign is defined as to include all sea operations where attrition rates are in ones and twos and which do not fall within specific naval battles such as Jutland, Coronel, Falklands etc. This includes Merchant Navy losses.

Detail :

“R.M.S. Burutu”, was built in 1902 as No 394, by Alexander Stephens & sons of Glasgow, with a gross tonnage of 3863. She was designed to carry 100 first class, and 50 second class passenger, which was later altered to 60 first, 20 second, and a limited number of steerage passengers. She was named after the town of Burutu in which the Niger Company had its headquarters, and is situated five miles upstream of the port of Forcados. Used on the West African run as a mail ship, the “Burutu” gained the reputation of living something of a charmed life. Twice in 1917, first in the April, and then again in the November, she had been attacked and torpedoed at sea, and survived on both occasions, with the loss of only one life.

On 19 September, 1918, she left Freetown, Sierra Leone, for Liverpool, carrying mail, 103 passengers, and a full cargo of West African produce, besides the ships compliment of 95 crew. She sailed within a convoy of nine, plus an escort of an armed cruiser, being joined on 2nd October by six destroyers, and nearer to British waters a number of armed patrol boats arrived to escort them home safely.

The convoy split into two off the coast, heading for their different destinations, when the weather closed in and took a turn for the worse. It would be at 10.50 p.m. 3rd October, on a rough Irish sea, about 25 miles South West of Bardsey, Wales, that the “Burutu” met her end. Coming from Liverpool, travelling to Montreal, Canada, was the Ellerman-City liner the “S.S. City of Calcutta”, and by the time the two ships spotted each other and tried to take avoiding action it was too late, the “Burutu” was hit on the port side. The time between sighting the “City of Calcutta” and the collision was just forty seconds; nine minutes later the “Burutu” had taken her final plunge. Of the 198 people on board, 50 survived, David was one of those who didn’t; he was 30 years of age.

On the return sheet for 1918, his address is given as 6 Roxburgh Avenue, which is off Aigburth Road, Liverpool.
It then says “died Oct 1918”, which is when, on the 3rd day of the month, the “S.S.Burutu” sank.

The Maritime Register shows D.K. Clarke born Nantwich, Chief Mate S.S. Burutu died age 31 years supposed drowned at sea when ship was lost 3 October 1918. David is commemorated on the War Memorial outside St. Mary and St. Nicholas’s Church, Nantwich, Cheshire.

David Kenyon Clarke is buried at the Barony Cemetery, Nantwich, later buried in the next grave was his son-in-law Sergeant Navigator Cyril Johnson 1615489 who lost his life in a flying accident while serving with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve on 14 October 1943.

Masonic :

TypeLodge Name and No.Province/District :
Mother : Downshire No. 594 E.C.West Lancashire

3rd May 1917
24th January 1918
28th March 1918

David was initiated into Downshire Lodge No 594, on 3 May 1917 while residing at 24 Chermside Road, Aigburth Road, Liverpool. Passed to the fellow craft degree 24 January 1918, raised as a master mason on 28 March 1918 with his Grand Lodge Certificate issued on 12 July 1918.

Source :

The project globally acknowledges the following as sources of information for research across the whole database:

Additional Source:

Last Updated: 2021-02-26 14:34:16