Private Arthur Pocklington

Date of Birth c. 1893
Age at Death 23
Date of Death 31 October 1916
Service Number 12605
Military Service 10th Battalion Devonshire Regiment
Merton Address 98 High Street, Colliers Wood
Local Memorial Christ Church, Colliers Wood

Additional Information

Born in Lambeth in 1893, Arthur was the son of William and Louisa Pocklington. The couple also had two older children - Jane and William, plus two younger offspring - Elizabeth and Albert. Arthur’s father was a ‘Railway Wagon Saw Sharpener’. By 1911, he and his family were living at 98, High Street, Colliers Wood. Arthur was now employed as a Grocery Assistant; William Jnr was a Paper Hanger (or decorator) and Elizabeth was working as a Laundry Maid.

Arthur joined the 10th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment, enlisting as a Private. On the 23rd September 1915, the 10th (Service battalion) was mobilised for war as part of the 22nd Division and headed for Boulogne.

The men were later transferred to the port of Salonika in Greece (now called Thesalonika). Here their intention was to aid Serbian forces in their fight against the Bulgarian army. By the time the expeditionary forces arrived, the Serbs had already been beaten, but it was decided to keep the British troops in place both to protect shipping in the Mediterranean and supply lines to Palestine. This policy was lampooned by the British media, which dubbed the Devonshires ‘The Gardeners of Salonika’ because they had not fought as many battles as troops in France and Belgium. Such criticism was unfair, particularly as thousands of British troops were killed by shell fire from Bulgarian troops who dominated the high ridges. They also faced freezing winter winds and suffered bouts of malaria in the summer.

During 1916, the Division fought in the Battle of Horseshoe Hill and the Battle of Machukovo. Arthur was killed in action on 31 October 1916, at the age of 23. He is buried at the Doiran Military Cemetery in northern Greece and his name also appears on the Mitcham War Memorial. His mother chose the following inscription for his headstone - "Man is like a thing of nought: his time passeth away like a shadow".


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