Date of birth: 1888
Date of death: 24.10.1915
Area: Outwood, Wakefield
Regiment: King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Family information: Son of William Henry and Sarah Stocks
Rank: Lance Corporal
Service number: 213
The 5th Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry was formed in 1908 as a Territorial Force, part of the 1st West Riding Brigade, West Riding Division (TA), with its headquarters in Doncaster. The 4th Battalion had its headquarters in Wakefield. Both the 4th and 5th Battalions mobilised when war was declared on 4th August 1914. Immediately the two battalions volunteered for foreign service, two reserve battalions were raised, to supply replacement troops for the first line battalions. Consequently the original battalions became known as the 1/4th and 1/5th Battalions, KOYLI. After mobilisation the West Riding Division assembled on Doncaster racecourse. In November 1914 the 1/5th KOYLI was on coastal defence work at Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire, before moving via Sheffield to York.
After a period of organisation and training Hubert Stocks and his colleagues in the 1/5th KOYLI left York on 13th April 1915 and travelled via Folkstone to Boulogne. On arrival in France the battalion joined the rest of the West Riding Division at Doulieu. On the 12th May the West Riding Division was designated the 49th (West Riding) Division and the brigade became the 148th Infantry Brigade.
On the 20th May 1915 orders were received for the brigade to advance the front line near Touquet within the Bois Grenier sector. For the next week the 1/4th and 1/5th KOYLI was deployed digging a trench line and suffered heavy casualties, due to the constant enemy bombardment.
On the 29th June the 49th Division moved north to take over the left flank of the British line in Flanders, on the left bank of the Yser, north of Ypres. At 21.00 hours on 9th July the 1/5th KOYLI went into the front line trenches south of Boeshinge. Here the 148th Brigade encountered considerable activity, both in attack and defence, with enemy shelling and gas attacks. In September there was a period of prolonged heavy rain, which resulted in the trenches becoming full of water, trench parapets were washed away and many dug-outs collapsed. On 21st October 1915 the 1/5th KOYLI was relieved from their front line duties and moved to positions at the rear.
On 24th October 1915 Lance Corporal Stocks was away from his platoon, visiting headquarters. It was at this time that a shell burst on the back of the trench behind him and a fragment struck him on the head. Lance Corporal H Stocks never regained consciousness and died as he was being carried out by the stretcher-bearers. He was buried at the nearby Bard Cottage Cemetery, which now contains 1,639 burials from the First World War. Bard Cottage was a house, set back from the front line, close to a bridge called the Bards Causeway, the cemetery was set in a sheltered position, under a high bank. Hubert Stocks is not included on the memorial plaques at the Parish Church or Methodist Church at Outwood. At the time of his death his father, William Henry Stocks, was living at Princess Avenue, Outwood.
Hubert Stocks was born on 31st October 1888, the youngest son of William Henry and Sarah Stocks of Johnston Street, Wakefield. He was baptised on 5th January 1889 at St Andrew’s Church, Wakefield. The family later moved to George Street, Wakefield and it was here that his mother, Sarah Stocks, died in 1903. Twelve months later his father married Harriet Bentley, a widow.
On completing his education Hubert Stocks found employment as a draper’s assistant and joined the local Territorial Force as a bugler. At the time of the 1911 census Hubert was staying with his brother Albert and family, at Pilkington Street, Wakefield. His father’s home was at Annie Street, Outwood, though his work as french polisher was undertaken at Taylor’s Court, Northgate, Wakefield. In 1914, when war was declared, Hubert Stocks was working as a traveller for a Wakefield tailor.