Bob was born in Liverpool on April 3rd 1909. By the time he left school the era of mass unemployment which afflicted the nineteen twenties and thirties had arrived. He had various jobs, including at the docks, but work was hard to find and hard to keep. At the age of 19, in 1928, he emigrated to Canada where he lived precariously, doing farm work and travelling the country hobo-style.
After a year of this he returned to Liverpool and got a job, in the galley of the “Scythia”, a Cunard Line ship. A strike of the crew took place and Bob was amongst those victimised,
He returned to Liverpool, where he was taken on in the galley of the Scythia, a Cunard Line ship. A strike of the crew took place and Bob Clark was amongst those who were victimised. After a long period of unemployment, he went to a government training camp for a six month’s course in bricklaying. Occasional work on building sites throughout the country followed this before a sustained period of unemployment, interspersed with casual work.
Having returned to Liverpool, Clark became active in the Young Communist League and then joined the Communist Party and the National Unemployed Workers Movement.
He was one of the volunteers to go to Spain with the International Brigade, where he was engaged in active service for fourteen months from August 1937. He fought at Teruel, Segura de Los Baños, Belchite, and at the Ebro. At Gandesa Hill 481 he was wounded, loosing the sight in one eye after sustaining a bullet wound.
He was prevented, amongst other things, by his Spanish injury from joining the forces in World War Two, Bob Clark went into the Liverpool Fire Service. His unit spent six months in Wadebridge, Cornwall, as part of the D-Day preparations in 1944. During this period, Clarke wrote an account of his time in Spain that was not published until 1984.
After the war, he moved to London to work in the building trade, where he continued to be active in solidarity work with the underground anti-fascist movement. In 1956, he moved to take up inside work in the Beecham’s factory in Crawley for ten years and became a T&G shop steward. Eventually, on reaching retirement age, Clarke moved to Helston, Cornwall, where he died in his eighties. His earlier writings about his time in Spain were published in his “No Boots to My Feet” in 1984.
Source: Bob Clarke No boots to my feet: experiences of a Britisher in Spain 1937-38, Student Bookshops, Stoke on Trent ( 1984)