Eastleach War Memorial – Albert Lockey

Albert Lockey (spelt Lockie on the War Memorial) was born at Lower Hampen, near Shipton Oliffe, towards the end of 1895, the second son of Harry and Agnes Matilda Lockey. Harry was born in Churchill, Oxfordshire and Agnes in Guiting Power. They had married around 1894 and their first son, Walter, was also born in Guiting Power. By the 1901 Census, Harry, a shepherd, and Agnes were living at Cowley with Walter, Albert and Frank who was three and also born in Shipton Oliffe. It seems that the family were like many agricultural workers at the time, re-locating to find employment and by 1911 the family were living in Hawling, near Andoversford and had two daughters, Elizabeth aged eight, born in Whittington, and Edith aged one, born in Great Rissington. Harry and Agnes had now been married for seventeen years and appear to have lost no children in infancy.

By 1911 Walter and Albert, known as Bert to his family, are both working as horsemen on a farm, presumably near to Hawling. However, by 20th July 1915, when Albert enlisted with the 10th Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment in Fairford, it seems safe to assume that he had found employment in the Eastleach area on one of the local farms. It is interesting to note that Urban Williams enlisted on 17th July 1915, also in Fairford and with the same battalion. Perhaps Urban worked on the same farm and encouraged Albert to join up too. They would have trained with the 3rd Battalion at Gravesend and then, on 8th August 1915, would have gone with the 10th, 8th, 12th and 13th to France, arriving in Le Havre the following very hot day. They left No. 5 Rest Camp on 10th August and travelled overnight by train to St.Omer. There was a shortage of water on the journey. By 16th August they were on the move, leaving St. Omer for Bethune at 7.00 a.m. and marching about 18 kms.to Aire where they spent a night at a barracks. Once again the battalion diaries record the shortage of water perhaps resulting in the death of a heavy draughthorse the following day. The carcass was sold for five francs. There were some training days at Ferfay where they were billeted in very poor, cramped conditions and also an outbreak of mumps. By 10th September there was news of the first push by the Allies, when gas was to be used for the first time. They were in the same Division as 1st Gloucesters and both battalions fought together in the great Battle of Loos.

Albert Lockey

On 25th September 1915 the attack was launched at 6.30 a.m. with gas and smoke and they had a hot reception, fighting forward over 400 yards of no-man’s land and through the enemy wire, pressing on despite heavy casualties. The 10th held the German trenches despite their losses. The enemy launched a huge counter attack on 8th October and casualties mounted. Albert’s days were now numbered. On 13th October final preparations were made for an attack on the German firing line just west of the Lens to La Bassee road. After a preliminary bombardment and gas attack the two companies in the firing line attacked but the 10th Battalion failed to reach its objective owing to the heavy rifle fire from the enemy trenches and, at nightfall, they were compelled to fall back to their original line. The casualties among “other ranks” on that day amounted to 150 killed, missing or wounded. Sadly, Albert Lockey was among them. He was twenty and has no known grave. He is remembered on the Loos Memorial to the missing at Dud Corner Cemetery situated in the heart of what was the battlefield. Rudyard Kipling’s son, Jack, also died here, sixteen days before Albert. He is buried at a dressing station cemetery a short distance away. He was eighteen.