Corporal William Stokes, “A” Signal Depot, Royal Engineers, died of pneumonia on 13th November 1918 at Kempston Military Hospital, near Bedford. He was 41 years old and, prior to the war, was a bricklayer’s labourer.
William Stokes was born in Birmingham on 7th March 1877 and was the third of the four children of parents, Albert (a pearl button cutter) and Mary Ann. By 1881, the family had moved to London, and they were still in Tower Hamlets by 1887. They had returned to Birmingham by 1891, when 14-year-old William was working as a carriage lamp maker. The family had moved to Nuthurst-cum-Hockley Heath by 1901.
William married Fanny Green in the Solihull district in 1901, by which time he was a bricklayer’s labourer. The couple set up home in Knowle and had ten children, of whom three had died by 1911. Poignantly, the couple included on their census return of 1911 the names of the three children who had died – Lewis William (born and died 1901), Florence Beatrice (born and died 1902), and Elsie (born and died 1909).
The youngest child, Jesse Eileen, was baptised at Knowle parish church on 21st November 1915, by which time her father was serving in the Royal Engineers and was listed as a cook’s mate. It doesn’t appear that William saw any overseas service as we have been unable to find any evidence that he was awarded any medals for his war service.
He is buried in Knowle churchyard and is commemorated in the Soldiers’ Chapel at Knowle parish church. If you have any further information, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977
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