Lieutenant-Colonel Clarence John Elkan, DSO, OBE was an English officer of the British Army who served during the First World War.

He was born on 15 May 1877, in London, the son of John and Harriet Elkan (née Samuel), of London and Liverpool, respectively. His father was the governing director of John Elkan Ltd, a goldsmiths and jewellers,[1] while his mother belonged to one of the Jewish community's most prominent families. After studying at the City of London School, Elkan enlisted as an other rank on 24 July 1893, in the Hampshire Regiment. With the Hampshires, Elkan served in China during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900,[2] and eventually reached the rank of corporal.

For his conduct in China, Elkan was commissioned on 14 May 1902 and transferred to Princess Victoria's (Royal Irish Fusiliers).[3] [4] He went to West Africa in 1904 on detachment to the Gold Coast Regiment. Almost a decade of service in West Africa followed, as the Assistant Commandant of the Northern Territories Constabulary and District Commissioner, Gold Coast.[3] In 1911, Elkan led one of two columns into the Tong Hills.[5]

Elkan retired on 18 February 1914, with the rank of captain. War broke out less than six months later, prompting Elkan to be recalled to active service. He rejoined his old battalion, accompanying it when it was dispatched to the Western Front. Elkan's battalion fought at the Battle of Mons and formed part of the retreat to the Marne. His conduct during the retreat was recognised with the awarding of the Distinguished Service Order.[3] He was appointed to Douglas Haig's staff in July 1915, and became Assistant Quartermaster-General at General Headquarters and the Lines of Communication. By war's end, Elkan had attained the rank of lieutenant-colonel and been mentioned in despatches five times. In addition, he was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour and, in 1919, awarded the Order of the British Empire.[3]

He returned to civilian life shortly after the war, and resumed business in the city. When his father died in 1927, Elkan succeeded him on the Common Council of the City Corporation of Bishopsgate Ward. During his tenure, he sat as chairman on the Music and School Committees. Elkan died on 14 December 1940, and was survived by his wife, Gladys Dagnall, of Cape Town, South Africa.[6][7]


  1. The Times (44642), p. 8: "Obituary" 25 July 1927.
  2. The Advertiser, p. 8: "On Active Service". 17 April 1917.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 The VC and DSO, Volume II, p. 378.
  4. The London Gazette (27433), p. 3179. 13 May 1902, Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  5. The Times (39573), p. 8: "British Expedition In West Africa". 1 May 1911.
  6. The Times (48807), p. 7: "Colonel C.J. Elkan". 24 December 1940.
  7. ‘ELKAN, Lt-Col Clarence John’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2016; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2014 ; online edn, April 2014 accessed 15 Nov 2016
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