By Robert Huntley, Chairman, Walkern Royal British Legion for the November 2009 Walkern Journal
As we approach Remembrance Sunday our thoughts turn towards our brave servicemen who have given their lives in Afghanistan, Iraq and other recent conflicts, such as the Falklands war. We also remember those who gave their lives many years ago in the First and Second World Wars. In Walkern, those past heroes are remembered with their names inscribed on our own memorial, but there are four others whose names do not appear and over time have become forgotten heroes.
Alan Stockbridge, aged 19, and his younger brother, Cedric, 18, both served in the 1st Hertfordshire Regiment and died within minutes of each other on the 18th May 1915 during an attack on enemy positions east of L?Pinette near Festubert. They have no known graves. However, their names are recorded on the Le Touret Memorial in France.
Alfred Holes of the 1/9th London Regiment was killed in action on the 25th April 1918 during the second battle of the Somme. His name is recorded on the Pozieres Memorial. He was 24.
In the Second World War, Alfred Boon, a gunner with 7th Coastal Regiment, Royal Artillery, died between the 2nd and 3rd of August 1942, whilst a prisoner of the Japanese. His name is recorded on the Singapore War Memorial.
Born in Ardeley, Alfred Edward Holes was one of the youngest sons of George and Maria Holes (nee Aldridge). George and Maria were both born in Walkern and started their married life at Church End before moving to Ardeley where George was a gamekeeper,
Cedric and Alan Stockbridge were the sons of Thomas and Mary Stockbridge who lived in Victoria House, Walkern in the 1880s and 90s. Their father Thomas was a clerk at Walkern Brewery and was the grandson of Walkern baker Thomas Stockbridge whose son James continued the baking dynasty in Froghall Lane.
Both Cedric and Alan appear to have lied about their ages when enlisting: Aged 19 years 4 months on his enlistment papers in 1914, Cedric was in fact only 16; and Alan was two years younger than the 19 years 5 months noted on his 1915 enlistment papers.
The parents of the Stockbridge brothers were so traumatised by the loss of both their sons that they could not accept anything connected with war and therefore refused to have their names inscribed on the memorial. The relatives of Alfred Holes and Alfred Boon could not be traced and no permission could be obtained.
It is now 95 years since the Stockbridge tragedy occurred and in all four cases no relatives can be traced. The Walkern Branch of the Royal British Legion considers that it is not too late for these four men to have their names inscribed on the village war memorial. Their sacrifice needs to be properly recognised. If any Walkern Journal reader knows the whereabouts of any close relative, please pass on the name and address to the Editor (861688) before the 1st January 2011.