Private William Harwood Stockdale

Photograph of Private William Harwood Stockdale in his uniform

​Note: The numbers in the square brackets refer to the references which are listed on the  Private William Harwood Stockdale - References page.

William Harwood Stockdale was born on 19th March 1895 in Skutterskelfe, Hutton Rudby, Yorkshire[1].  His father was John Stockdale, and his mother was Ann Stockdale (née Harwood[3]).

In March 1901 William’s family were living in Peter Hill, Hutton Westside, Hutton Rudby, Yorkshire[1]. A  house named Peter Hill is located 1.5 miles south-west of Hutton Rudby by the lane to East Rounton. William’s father’s occupation was a Hind[1]. This was a term used to describe a farm servant, often living in his employer's house[2].

In April 1911 William was working as a farm labourer, aged 16, with his grandfather at a farm in Seamer near Scarborough[4].

William enlisted in the Yorkshire Regiment, possibly the 4th Battalion as that is stated after his name on the war memorial at Ingleby Cross. However, the 5th Battalion recruited around Scarborough, and it is possible that he joined them first[5]. His service number was 5816, indicating that he joined pre-war. Later his service number was changed to 201837[5].

Two photographs exist of Private William H Stockdale taken during training camps[6a][6b].

There is a photograph of a “Private Stockdale” with the 5th Battalion in “Baptism of Fire” by M Marsay[5]. 

On 23rd April 1917 he was serving in A Company, 5th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment near Arras[9b][9c].

On that date the 4th and 5th Battalions, Yorkshire Regiment took part in a 150th Brigade, 50th Division attack 3 miles south-east of Arras[7b][7c], the start of the 2 day Second Battle of the Scarpe. This was part of the Battle of Arras, a British offensive against the Germans that had started on 9th April 1917 and lasted until 16th May 1917. Losses on average per day for the Second Battle of the Scarpe were nearly twice as bad as those on the Somme in 1916[7a].

The attack from Wancourt towards Vis en Artois started at 0445 hrs. By 0605 hrs neither Divisions to either side had been able to progress leaving 4th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment surrounded by Germans on three sides.  The 5th Battalion’s right flank was also exposed. At 0740 hrs a retirement in successive phases was undertaken, and the 4th Battalion was back in the British front line by 0810 hrs.  11 officers and 352 other ranks were killed, wounded or missing[7b][7c].

During the attack Private Stockdale was captured by the Germans. He was subsequently held in the Douai area[9b]

Inscriptions on the war memorial including the name of William H StockdaleHe was then transferred to the prisoner of war camp at Limburg an der Lahn, near Coblenz, where he had arrived by 19th July 1917[9b].

Later he was moved to the prisoner of war camp at Friedrichsfeld, near Münster, where he had arrived by 12th April 1918[9c].

A photograph was taken of Private W H Stockdale as a Prisoner of War[6c].

He was repatriated via Dover on 2nd December 1918[9d].

It is likely that he was entitled to the Victory Medal, and very possibly the British War Medal, 1914-18[10].

William married Gladys Emily[11] Hunt of Ingleby Arncliffe[6c] in the fourth quarter of 1919[5]. They lived in the village and had one daughter, Rita, born in the second quarter of 1920[5][6].

William H Stockdale is listed on Ingleby Cross Village War Memorial as dying in 1924 (photograph). Although this is outside the date for officially commemorating a soldier of the First World War, he is still remembered by descendants who live in the village and his death is attributed to the effects of the war[6].  One relative has suggested that he may have contracted T.B. whilst a Prisoner of War, and he may have been a patient for a time in a North Yorkshire sanitorium. He returned to his home in Ingleby Arncliffe and it was there that he died[12].

The Grave of William Harwood Sockdale
"In Loving Memory of William Harwood Stockdale, Who died on his 29th Birthday, March 19th 1924, In Gods Keeping"

William Harwood Stockdale was buried in the churchyard of All Saints Church, Ingleby Cross; his headstone states that he died on his 29th birthday on 19th March 1924.

Church yard and church, with william stockdales grave

Photographs: Churchyard view and close up

On 31st October 2018 Malcolm and Vanessa Atkinson-Leighton paid their respects and laid a poppy that had been crocheted by Vanessa on behalf of the residents of Ingleby Arncliffe and Ingleby Cross. The poppy can be seen in the close up photograph. This completed their pilgrimage to visit the graves and memorials of all 5 of the men commemorated on the Ingleby Cross war memorial.

William Stockdale's daughter Rita married Ronald G West who died on 22nd October 1988 aged 71. Rita died on 16th September 2006 aged 86. Photograph: Close up.