London; King's (Liverpool)
16th Battalion (Queen's Westminster Rifles); 25th Battalion
Place of birth:
Date of death:
Cause of death:
Grave or panel reference:
Name of father:
Name of siblings:
Irene Maude; Frank Harold
Name(s) of children:
Date of birth:
Place of enlistment:
Age at death:
Cemetery or memorial:
Prudential Assurance Company Roll of Honour 1914-18
Name of mother:
Elizabeth Stokes (née Donald)
Name of spouse:
May (née Fishenden)
1911 census – 58 Oakfield Road
George Sidney Stokes, known as Sidney, was the elder of two brothers who served in the First World War and returned home safely.
Born on 11 February 1895, Sidney was baptised at New Court Chapel on 19 May that year, at which time his family were living at 17 Inderwick Road in Crouch End. His father and mother, George and Elizabeth, had been members of New Court since 1891 and 1883 respectively.
George senior was in the printing trade, rising to be a ‘Printer’s Manager, Letterpress’ by the time of the 1911 Census, in which Elizabeth, Sidney’s younger brother Frank Harold, and his older sister Irene are also listed. By then the family had moved a little closer to New Court, to 58 Oakfield Road, where Elizabeth and George’s mothers, both widows of ‘private means’, lived with them.
The 1911 Census records Sidney’s occupation as ‘Clerk, Insurance’. He had joined the Prudential Assurance Company on 13 March that year at the age of 16, having been introduced to the firm by his uncle A.L. Stokes, who was an employee, such introductions being a common practice in the early 20th century. The Prudential’s records show that Sidney had been working in Department K when he joined the Army soon after war was declared in 1914.
Sidney enlisted as a Private in the 16th Battalion of the London Regiment, the Queen’s Westminster Rifles, who had their HQ in Buckingham Gate. At least four other young men from New Court joined this regiment, including the Edwards cousins Herbert, who was sadly killed, Oscar and Cecil, and Eric Ellis.
Records show Sidney disembarked in France on 24 January 1915. The Queen’s Westminster Rifles were in the Armentières sector of the Western Front before moving up to the Ypres Salient in Flanders. There are few details about Sidney’s early service except that he was listed as wounded in the War Office Casualty List of 13 May 1915.
Casualties tended to be reported four to six weeks after the event, so Sidney may have been wounded as early as late March 1915. It’s not known what happened to Sidney or how severe his wounds were, whether he required hospitalisation and if so, where, but he was awarded a Wound Stripe when they were introduced in 1916. Soldiers were often sent back to the front line very quickly after an injury; if this was the case for Sidney and he was still with the Queen’s Westminster Rifles by December 1915, he may have witnessed the death of fellow soldier Herbert Edwards, also from New Court, who was shot while advancing under fire to a support position during a gas attack near Ypres.
At some point Sidney was transferred to the 25th Battalion of the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment, where he was promoted to Lance Corporal.
After the war, Sidney returned to his job at the Prudential and worked in various departments in the imposing head office building in Holborn, central London. In 1924 he married May Fishenden from Ilford in Essex. When the 1939 Register was compiled at the outbreak of World War II, Sidney and May were living in Slough, to which his department of the Prudential, S Divisional Centre, had been evacuated. He is listed as an Assurance Clerk and May is a housewife and Ambulance Driver with South Buckinghamshire ARP (Air Raid Precautions).
Sidney died on 5 July 1951, according to the Prudential records ‘following an operation for a duodenal ulcer’. He is commemorated in the Prudential Roll of Honour, published in 1920, as one of the 8,375 members of staff who served in the First World War.