William Charles Hockley was born and raised in Chelmsford. He survived service in the army during the war, but was fatally injured in a cycling accident in July 1921 near Purfleet. His home was in Roman Road. His father worked for the Essex Chronicle for 60 years.


Private, Essex Regiment

Pt. Calver and Miss D. E Keeble. of Elm Lane. West Thurrock (an eye-witness to the accident), were called, bearing out the above facts. —The medical evidence showed that a post-mortem examination revealed extensive fracture of the skull and laceration of the brain, death being due to shock arising from the injuries the case being hopeless from the first.

The Coroner recorded a verdict of Accidental death, expressing his sympathy with the family of the deceased. He also commented on "the lack hospital accommodation at Purfleet," although in this case nothing could have been done for the deceased. It was thought at Purfleet that the case was one of cerebro-spinal meningitis, and for that reason it was removed to the South African Hospital."

William was buried in grave 2750 at Chelmsford Borough Cemetery on 5th August 1921. The following week a report of the funeral appeared in the newspaper which William's father helped to produce:

"Impressive scenes were witnessed at the funeral of Private W. C. Hockley, whose death as the result collision while reported last week, at Chelmsford, on Friday. The sad ceremony being carried out with military honours.

Men of the Depot Essex Regiment, from Warley, formed a firing party, and, with arms reversed, led the cortege from Roman Road to St. John's Church. Crowds of people watched the procession, and there were many expressions sympathy and regret. The coffin covered with the Union Jack, on which were the late soldier's belt, sidearms, and service cap, and practically hidden by handsome floral tributes, was carried on a hand-bier, pall bearers of the Essex Regiment, in charge of Pte. A. Dewil, walking on either side.

At the rear the coffin, and preceding the mourners, was Lieut. J. H. Andrews, the Depot Essex Regiment, wearing black armlet and full-dress sword. Sergt, T. Aldridge was in charge of the firing party, Cpl. W. Smith heading the formation. Near St. John's Church the soldiers received the order, "Slow march," and outside the gates formed two Lines with heads bowed and rifle barrels pointing to the ground.

The mourners were met outside church by Canon Sacre (acting priest in-charge St. at John's) and Rev. G. C. Twist (curate). Canon Sacre who served as an Army Chaplain during the war, had pinned to his robes the 1914-15 Star and the Victory Medal.

The service was of impressive simplicity, Canon Sacre reciting the opening sentences, and the Rev. G. C. Twist reading the lesson.

Outside the church there was large number of sympathisers, including many ex-Service men, who, bare-headed, stood at attention. Canon Sacre performed the last rites at the Cemetery. Three volleys were fired over the open grave, and Drummers J. H. Cardinal and E. W. Warner rendered the 'Last Post.'"

William was born in Chelmsford in 1898 the second son of Frank Hockley (c1872-1949) and Eliza Hockley (nee Day) (born in 1873). William's parents had married at St. Mary's Church (later the Cathedral), Chelmsford on Boxing Day 1895. At the time William was aged 23, a compositor - he had started work at the Essex Chronicle in 1887 and was to remain there for 60 years - and lived at Haycock's Row in Chelmsford. Eliza was aged 21 and lived in Duke Street, Chelmsford.

William's siblings included Frank Ernest Hockley (1896-1970), Alice May Hockley (1899-1969), Sidney George Hockley (1901-1964), Harry Arthur Hockley (1904-1982), Katie Emma Hockley (1907-1983), Violet Mary Hockley (1910-1968), and Alfred Thomas Hockley (1914-1969).

In 1901 the census found William, aged two, with this parents and two siblings at 25 Baddow Road in Chelmsford. A decade later William, aged 12 was recorded by the next census with his parents and six siblings at 11 Baker Street in Chelmsford. At the time he was a school boy.

During the First World War William served as a Private in the 5th Battalion of the Essex Regiment, serving in its Middle East campaigns. After the Armistice he joined the 1st Battalion of the same regiment as Private 5999313. His family home was at 5 Roman Road, Chelmsford (now demolished).

On 27th July 1921 William, while riding a bicycle, was involved in a near collision with a pedestrian at West Thurrock from which he sustained serious head injuries. He was taken to the South African Military Hospital in Richmond, Surrey but died there on 28th July 1921. He was 23. His father had received a telegram stating that William was dangerously ill but William died fifteen minutes before his father's arrival from Chelmsford. His death and the inquest that followed was reported in the week's Essex Chronicle:

"The inquest was held at Richmond Wednesday before Dr. H. M. Taylor, coroner.—From the evidence it appeared that the deceased and Lt. Albert Calver (of the same regiment) had cycled from Purfleet to Grays on the previous evening, and on the return journey, while passing through West Thurrock, shortly before 9 p.m., a lad started to cross the road in front of the cyclists.

Calver passed the boy safely, and Hockley jammed on his brakes hard to avoid a collision, with the result that was thrown several yards from his machine, striking the ground with great force. The bicycle was not damaged.

The poor fellow was conveyed motor car to Purfleet in an unconscious condition, and at noon on Thursday was taken by ambulance to the South African Military Hospital, Richmond, where he passed away at 11.15 p.m. without regaining consciousness.