All text and images © Helvellyn Consulting 2018
William Sydney Stockdale was born in Penrith in 1892, the second son of Isaac and Annie (nee Johnston) Stockdale. William’s father was a joiner and carpenter. He had been born in 1856 in Temple Sowerby, the son of Ann Stockdale and George Waugh. Ann married William Hardisty in 1861 and they had 2 daughters Elizabeth and Esther. Isaac was initially a farm servant at Edenhall but by 1881 he was an apprentice joiner at Pooley Bridge.
On the 21st October 1882 he married Annie Johnston in Penrith. They had four children whilst living in Penrith in the 1880s, Elizabeth Ann (1882), Albert (1884), Emily (1886), and Tom (1889). In 1891 William’s father Isaac was living at Myers in Glenridding and working as a joiner at Greenside Mine. We believe his wife Annie was still living in Penrith with the children and in the 1890s as well as William, two more girls were born -
Sadly more tragedy was to beset the family in 1901, when Annie died whilst giving birth to her youngest son, James, on the 10th March 1901. At the time the family were living at 32 Friar Street in Penrith and by now William’s eldest brother Albert was working as an apprentice stonemason. Just over a year later further tragedy hit the family when William’s father Isaac died, on the 8th May 1902 of epithelioma of cheek. We believe the children then went to live with their their Aunt Elizabeth Hardisty in Princes Streert Penrith, although Mary Alice died in 1908, aged just 12.
By 1911 William was working as a Market Gardener’s apprentice and living at Beacon Hill, Penrith, and at some point in the next few years he began work as a gardener at Hallsteads, in Watermillock by Ullswater.
Sergeant William Sydney Stockdale
12180, “A” & “D” Company 7th Battalion Border Regiment
Born 1892 Penrith. Died 24th April 1917 France Aged 23
Son of Isaac and Annie (nee Johnston) Stockdale, Myers Glenridding and Friar Street Penrith
Star player for Ullswater Football Club and Patterdale Cricket Club
Albert’s Name on the Thiepval Memorial, alongside the other 72,193 officers and men who lost their lives on the Somme battlefields and for whom there is no known grave. And below the WWI memorial in the Border Regiment Chapel in Carlisle Cathedral
26066, 11th (Lonsdale) Battalion, The Border Regiment
Born 1884 Penrith. Died 15th April 1917, The Somme, France Aged 31
Son of Isaac and Annie (nee Johnston) Stockdale, Myers Glenridding and Friar Street Penrith
Husband of Annie Mary Wright, 2, Brougham St., Castletown, Penrith
Albert Stockdale was born in 1884 in Penrith, the eldest son of Isaac and Annie (nee Johnston) Stockdale. His early life and the stories of his father and mother are detailed in the biography of his brother William Sydney Stockdale above. By 1901, although still living with his father and younger brothers and sisters in Friar Street Penrith, 16 year old Albert was a stonemason’s apprentice. Ten years later he was still living just up the road in Friar Street, close to his old family home, and was by now a fully qualified stone mason. When war was declared he was working as a mason on the renovation work at Penrith Castle.
We’re not sure exactly when Albert joined up but it was likely to have been later than his younger brother William, who had joined in the first few days of the war. Albert ended up in the 11th (Lonsdale) Battalion of the Border Regiment. The 11th Battalion was universally known as the Lonsdales after Hugh Lowther, the 5th Earl of Lonsdale, who raised the unit in September 1914. Nearly all the men came from Cumberland and Westmorland and it was one of the many so-
It fought on the opening day of the Battle of Somme on 1st July 1916 and suffered over 500 casualties out of the 800 who went into action, including 23 out of the 26 officers, and including the commanding officer -
It was here that he became a member of both the Patterdale Cricket Club and Ullswater Rovers Football Club in Patterdale. We know that he was a key member of the squad who were triumphant in the replay against Appleby in the Penrith and District Cup of April 1914, which Ullswater won 3-
William enlisted in the first days on the war in August 1914. He joined the new 7th Battalion of the Border Regiment which was raised in Carlisle on the 7th September 1914 as part of Kitchener’s Second New Army. They trained at Andover and moved to Bovington in January 1915 and then to Winchester in June 1915. William would have embarked to France with the Battalion on the 15th of July 1915, landing at Boulogne. The Battalion set up near St Omer and and underwent trench familiarisation then took over a section of front line in the Southern part of the Ypres Salient. It was whilst here that William suffered his first war wound, an injury to his foot, around September 1915, just six weeks after he had landed in France. He wrote home to his Aunt to say that he was “doing nicely”, and at some point later that year he was promoted to the rank of Corporal. On the 22nd February 1916 he suffered another injury, this time a shrapnel wound to the head. However by the 16th March he had been discharged from hospital and promoted to the rank of sergeant.
In the Spring of 1916 William’s Battalion were in action near the Bluff on the Commines Canal, south east of Ypres. They then moved to the Somme and saw action in the Battle of Albert where the Division captured Fricourt, and the Battle of Deville Wood, which lasted from 15 July – 3 September. It is probable that it was in this action that William was once again wounded, this time being hit in the left leg by a piece of shell. By the 19th August 1916 he was recovering in hospital in Rouen. We know from his later obituary that we was wounded once again and gassed before his final action.
The Battle of Arras began on the 9th April, a British Offensive to try and break the stalemate on the Western Front. Part of this assault was the Canadian offensive at Vimy Ridge, which involved some of the other men from the Dale who were serving with the Canadian Forces, including John Place. Sadly all we know is that on the 23rd April William was admitted to a casualty clearing station (53rd Field Ambulance) suffering from a gun shot wound to the abdomen. His Uncle and Aunt were sent a telegram to say that he had been severely wounded but later they heard that he had died, a day after arriving at the 8th Casualty Clearing Station, close to the battle.
What a life William had. An orphan at 10, sporting glory in his youth, enlisting in the first days of war and bravely fighting for his country, being rapidly promoted to sergeant, wounded four times and gassed once, and then tragically receiving a fatal wound and dying on the April 24th 1917, aged just 23. He brother Albert had died just 8 days earlier in the same battle.
William is commemorated on the Watermillock War Memorial, in the Book of Remembrance at the Border Regimental Chapel in Carlisle Cathedral, and at the Duisans British Cemetery, Etrun, where his Aunt added the following words to his War Grave: “Now He Sleeps In Peace”.
If you can add anything to William’s story please contact us.
The Ullswater Rovers Football Team in 1914. William is sat in the middle, holding the cup -
William’s Medal Card.
In terms of the rest of William and Albert’s family we know that their grand mother Ann Stockdale had died on 19th May 1908 in Penrith. Their brother Tom had left England for Canada on the 13th March 1915. He died in Florida in 1965.
Their younger brother James married Olive Walker in Wigton in 1924. He had a varied career starting as a shop assistant in Carlisle, and including stints as a railway painter and gardener, also in Carlisle, before moving to the North East, where he was a Caretaker in Newcastle. He and Olive had four children, Doreen, George Walker, Maud and Paul. James died in 1973 in Woolsington, Northumberland.
So far we have been unable to trace the lives of William and Albert’s other sisters, Emily and Maud.
If you can add any more information to the stories of William, Albert of their family please contact us.
He returned to France and in April 1917 Albert and his battalion, alongside his younger brother William, in the 7th Battalion, were involved in the Battle of Arras. The battle began on the 9th April, a spring offensive launched by the British to try and break the deadlock on the Western Front. Just six days later Albert died. Sadly we do not know the details of Albert’s death, and he is one of a staggering 72,194 officers and men whose names are inscribed on the Thiepval memorial who lost their lives on the Somme battlefields and for whom there is no known grave. Just 9 days later Albert’s younger brother William also died from wounds he received in the same battle.
Tragically for their families, news of William’s death was confirmed first. When his death was first reported in the Herald on the 12th May 1917 the report mentioned that another private from the Border regiment had sent a letter to the Stockdale family stating that he’d heard Albert was dead but could give no details. At that time Albert’s wife had heard nothing from the army at all. Sadly by the next week the news had been confirmed.
Albert is commemorated in the Book of Remembrance at the Border Regimental Chapel in Carlisle Cathedral alongside his brother William, and on the Thiepval Memorial (see photo below). We believe his wife Annie died in Penrith in 1927 in Penrith.