Royal Garrison Artillery
Place of birth:
Date of death:
Cause of death:
Grave or panel reference:
Name of father:
Charles Morton Hocking
Name of siblings:
Elsie Maud; Florence Mary; Percy Frank; Gladys Mary
Name(s) of children:
Joyce Muriel Grace; Dennis Charles Ernest
Date of birth:
Place of enlistment:
Age at death:
Cemetery or memorial:
Name of mother:
Caroline, nee Edwards
Name of spouse:
Ethel Grace, nee Brown; Esther Eva, nee Lewis
1911- 42 Marquis Road
1914- 131 Ferme Park Road
Charles John Hocking was one of two brothers whose service is commemorated at St Mellitus, and one of a small number of men who went on to serve in the Second World War as well as the First.
Charles was born on Christmas Eve 1887, the second child of Charles Morton Hocking and his wife Caroline, nee Edwards, who altogether had three daughters and two sons. He was baptised at New Court Congregational Church the following July. Charles Hocking senior was a builder and the family lived first in Evershot Street, then in Victoria Road, and by 1911 at 42 Marquis Road. In the census that year Charles was 23 years old and working as a warehouseman’s assistant. In April 1913, Charles married Ethel Grace Brown, and their daughter Joyce was born the following April; she was baptised at New Court on 17 May 1914. The family were living at 131 Ferme Park Road.
Charles’ service records show that he joined the Army in 1916. Until that year soldiers were all volunteers, but the heavy casualties meant a shortage of manpower and conscription was introduced in January 1916 for single men aged 18-41, and in May for married men like Charles, so he may have been conscripted. In October 1917, the London Gazette lists Charles among men promoted from Officer Cadet Units to be 2nd Lieutenants, the first rank of officer. Charles was in the Special Reserve of Officers, who were supplementary to regular units or corps, and he was attached to the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA), an Infantry regiment.
Charles and Ethel’s second child, a son called Dennis, was born in early 1918 at Richmond, in North Yorkshire. It is reasonable to assume that Charles was at that time stationed at the large Army camp at Catterick, just south of Richmond. The RGA had three depots/training schools there: No 2 Reinforcing Siege Depot; No 2 Reserve Brigade (Siege); and No 5 (C) Mountain Reserve Battery.
In May 1918 Charles was sent to France, but there are no details of where or in which actions he served. We know only from the London Gazette of October 1919 that he had been promoted to Lieutenant on 1 April 1919, still in the Special Reserve of Officers and the Royal Garrison Artillery. Charles’ third appearance in the Gazette, dated 24 November 1920, shows that he relinquished his commission on 1 April 1920 – nearly a year and a half after the Armistice – and retained his rank.
Charles and Ethel lived at 67 Cecile Park, Crouch End, in 1922, but they parted and each remarried in the mid-1920s. Charles and his new wife Esther moved to Surrey and in the 1939 Register Charles’ occupation was Master Builder.
Charles’ son Dennis joined the Army at the start of the Second World War, serving as a Private in 6th Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment. He was killed in action in France on 20 May 1940. Dennis is buried in France and commemorated on the war memorial of J Lyons & Co, the food company, in Hammersmith, for whom he had worked before the war.
Records show that in August 1940 Charles resumed his own military service, aged 52. He was given a Regular Army Emergency Commission (the type given after September 1939 in which ‘emergency’ refers to the duration of the war) once again becoming a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery. Charles survived his second war, returning to live in Surrey, where he died in 1972.
Charles’ younger brother Percy, a highly decorated soldier who served in the London Regiment, is also commemorated at St Mellitus, as are George Pike, the husband of his sister Florence, and five of his cousins from the Edwards family.