Harry Arthur Stocker

Harry Arthur Stocker
Harry was born at 21 Filberts Walk, St Ives in 1893, the only son of Harry and Matilda (née Ward). Harry had a younger sister. His father was a bricklayer's labourer, probably working with Harry's uncle, who lived next door. By 1911 Harry was working as a draper's errand boy, aged 13yrs. Subsequently he was employed by Enderby & Co printing and lithographic works.

Harry enrolled with the Bedfordshire Regiment late in 1916 and was then transferred to the 1st Battalion, Dorset Regiment. On 12 July 1917 the Regiment took over the defence of the Belgium seaside town of Nieuport. The following day they were subject to a heavy gas shell bombardment lasting from 8.15pm to 2.30am on 14 July. One officer and twenty-five other ranks were diagnosed as having been gassed during the night.

The indications are they suffered one of the first uses of mustard gas by the Germans, the most deadly of chemical weapons used during the War. Difficult to detect, very little exposure was required to cause injury. One drop landing within five yards would be sufficient. Inhalation was not necessary, any contact with skin enough to cause massive blisters and burns as the gas soaked into woollen uniforms. Temporary or permanent blindness was another outcome. Remaining potent in the ground for weeks after release, symptoms were not evident for hours. Gas masks in use at the time were useless against mustard gas since it not only penetrated the filters but also attacked the whole body.

Mustard gas victims WW1
British soldiers affected by mustard gas
Harry was reported to have died of wounds on Saturday 14 July 1917, aged 19yrs. It is likely he died after being gassed. Harry is buried at Coxyde Military Cemetery, Belgium and commemorated on Hemingford Grey War Memorial. The Hunts Post published news of his death on 27 July 1917.

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Source materials
Click any of the links below to view original source materials.
1901 Census
1911 Census
Medal Rolls Index Card
War diary, 1st Battalion, Dorset Regiment
Commonwealth War Graves Register
Commemorative Certificate

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