Charles Flex Clarke was born in St Petersburg in 1888 and remembered clearly, right up to the time of his death, his younger days in the imperial capital.

He was schooled in England from the age of twelve, travelling back to his parents each holiday, taking some four days on the journey, which he undertook alone. It was perhaps not surprising therefore that he soon learned to speak German, Russian and French fluently.

He joined the 3rd (King’s Own) Hussars in South Africa in 1906 and was soon in the Regimental Polo team which won the Townsend Cup at Bloemfontein in 1910.

He earned his unusual nickname from “Sluiti”, the name of the streams in the veldt, which he referred to as “Sluitski”, and in its shortened form, this name stuck to him for the rest of his days. He served with “B” Squadron in France throughout the Great War, finishing in command of the Squadron, and was one of the few Officers to survive the four years on the same chargers. During this time he was wounded, awarded the Croix de Guerre and mentioned in despatches.

After the War he was transferred to command “A” Squadron and served the next twelve years as such in Turkey, Egypt and India, returning to England in the early thirties as second in command. His love of polo continued as did his success as a steeplechaser and at all other equestrian sports. In 1935 he won the Taunton Vale point-to-point, and the Regimental Heavyweight race; and not surprisingly decided to retire when mechanisation of the Regiment came the following year.

He and Flo, whom he married in 1920, purchased Rudloe Park in Wiltshire so that he could continue to play polo in the summer and so that they could both hunt in the winter. His regimental service will be remembered by those who served with him for his kind heart, his outstanding horsemanship, and
most of all for his devotion and loyalty to the Regiment and its life, from which he had refused to be parted during the whole thirty years of his service.

Florrie will also be remembered for her good looks, her individuality, outstanding personality and equally accomplished horsemanship. They were ever an entertaining pair.

After the war he refused to complete any more forms, of which he had already had his fill at Whitehall; he and Flo, therefore, sold Rudloe and moved to Thomastown in Kilkenny. There they lived a relaxed and contented life in a converted fort, previously owned by a smuggler, and which overlooked the River Nore. They hunted, kept in touch with old Cavalry friends, and maintained their spirits and standards to the end.

Sluiti died at Dangan on 17 September 1977, some 7 years after his wife. In heart, he had been a Third Hussar for 70 of his 89 years.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 3rd Hussars
  2. Timeline: The Western Front 1914-18