Sunday, 3 July 2016

On this day, 3rd July, in 1916, Private George Hoskin Brock died

George was born on 2nd September 1895 at Tregrove in Linkinhorne, the only son of George and Beatrice Mary Brock. He was baptised on 15th September 1895 at Calstock church. By the time of the 1901 census (31st March 1901) the Brock family was living in Stoke Village, presumably in Lower Town where his parents ran a small sweetshop/grocery shop. They were at the same place when the 1911 census was taken (3rd April 1911) and George, at age 16, is listed as being an apprentice blacksmith. George’s parents later moved to 3, Moss Side, Callington.

Sometime after this George moved to Dursley in Gloucestershire where he was employed in the Zone Works of Mawdsley’s, a large manufacturer of electrical machinery. He may have been one of the many people attracted to the area to work at either Mawdsley’s or R.A. Lister’s. He lodged in Woodmancote, a part of Dursley, and was a regular member of the congregation of St. George’s Church in Upper Cam (a village adjoining Dursley). He was described as a “splendid, willing worker and a nice young fellow with many local friends".

George enlisted into the Gloucestershire Regiment in Dursley at a recruiting meeting held in the R.A. Lister Mess Room on 3rd September 1914. The Regiment was raised from men in the Bristol area as part of Kitchener's Second New Army and joined the 57th Brigade in the 19th (Western) Division. They trained at Perham Down on the edge of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire and in March 1915 moved to Tidworth for final training. The battalion embarked for France and Flanders on 18th July 1915, the date appearing on George’s Medal Roll Card as the date he entered the France and Flanders Theatre of War. The Division concentrated near St Omer. Their first action was at Moulin du Pietre on 25th September, which was a diversionary action supporting the Battle of Loos. It was designed purely to pin down German reserves and serve as a diversion from the main engagement at Loos. But it was perhaps on the smallest scale of any of the holding actions. All that was hoped from it at best was the capture of the German front-line trench upon a front of about 1,200 yards, after which it was intended to join it up to the existing British line. In order to allow the consolidation of the front line, when taken, the second line was also to be captured, and the troops withdrawn as soon as the front had been put into a state of defence.

In the summer of 1916 they were involved in the Battle of the Somme. Although held in reserve for the first day – 1st July – they, as part of the 19th Division, were put into the attack on 2nd July. They attacked south of La Boisselle, using a ruse of bombarding Ovillers in order to confuse the Germans. By 15.30 some of the men had bombed their way into the village; this led to some severe house-to-house fighting with the German defenders, and the village was eventually taken the following day. Counter-attacks from the Germans had to be fought off and only by 5th July could the village be said to be safely in Allied hands.

An extract from the War Diary of the 8th Gloucesters reads:
July 3rd 1915: Location Tara-Usna Line
1.30 am: Moved forward to attack via St Andrews Trench
3.15 am: Attacked La Boiselle and consolidated position. Remained there all day and night. Officers killed: Capt. H.Cox, Capt, E.H.Crooke, Capt. W.J.Mason, 2nd Lt. E.J.Evans, 2nd Lt. F.J.Gadney, 2nd Lt. G.E.H.Ross.
Elsewhere in the diary are given the official casualty figures for the action: Officers killed: 6; Officers wounded: 14; Other ranks killed, missing or wounded: 282.
George Hoskin Brock was one of the men missing and his body was never recovered. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. Pier and Face 5 A and 5 B. As well as the Stoke Climsland War Memorial, George is also remembered on memorials in Callington, where his parents subsequently lived, and Dursley in Gloucestershire, where he enlisted into the army.

A notice about his death appeared in the Cornish and Devon Post on 22nd July 1916. It reads “Private George Brock, who has been reported killed in action, was another old boy of Stoke Climsland Council School. The teachers and scholars of his time as well as the villagers will ever remember George with affectionate regard as a boy of remarkable integrity and sweet disposition. Sympathy is felt for his parents and it is hoped that his splendid character and soldierly bearing will be an example for many a youth in the parish to emulate”.

Another notice appeared on the anniversary of his death (July 3rd 1922) in the Western Morning News. It read “BROCK. In fond and ever-loving memory of Pte. George Hoskin Brock, Sig. Batt. 8th Gloucester Regt., who gave his life for King and country in France, July 3rd, 1916, aged 21 years, the only darling son of George and Beatrice M Brock, 3, Moss Side, Callington”.


1 comment:

Christine said...

Just thought I would say that I went up to Exeter today to see the exhibition in Northernhay Gardens of the 19,240 fallen at the Somme. I would suggest it's worth a visit if you haven't already been. Apparently it is closed to the public on Tuesday when groups if school children are going, but it is open again on Wednesday and Thursday 6th and 7th before being dusmantled, and the figures sold.