Private - London Regiment, 1st/22nd Battalion - Regt. No. 7509
Alfred Willis Hockley was born in Lewisham on 7 April 1893 to Robert Hockley (born 1863 in Gravesend) and Louisa Caroline (née Willis, born 1868 also in Gravesend. In the 1901 Census Alfred is listed as living at 16 Cobham Street, Gravesend with his parents and 1 younger brother Frank Willis (born 14/09/1896). Their father worked as a Wholesale Warehouseman in the Drapery business.
The first school that Alfred attended was the Kempthorne Street School, a Higher Grade British school located in Kempthorne Street, Gravesend. This school had been open since at least the early 1880s, as it is listed in the 1882 edition of Kelly’s Directory. Kempthorne Street School closed in 1909, with the pupils transferring to the newly built Cecil Road School.
Continuing his education Alfred attended The Gravesend County Day School (now Gravesend Grammar School) from 1905. The County Day School had been originally opened in 1893 as a school of science and art, located in Darnley Street close to Gravesend Railway Station. (With the move of Gravesend Grammar School in 1938 to its present site in Milton Road, the original school building is now the Victoria Centre for Adult Education). Frank also attended the School from 1907-12. By the time that the brothers attended the County School, the 1902 Education Act had been passed and the school had become a recognised Secondary School. Although still a fee-paying school, there were scholarships available, however it is not known whether they were scholarship pupils. The Headmaster at the time was H F A Wigley, BA, FCS. In the School Admissions Register the family address in 1905 is listed as 17 Cobham Street, Gravesend.
By the time of the 1911 Census Alfred at 17 was employed as a Retail Drapery Apprentice, probably in business with his father. The family was able to afford to employ Emily Evenden as a General Domestic Servant.
After the outbreak of World War One, Alfred enlisted as a Private in the London Regiment, 12th Battalion at Chenies Street, Bloomsbury, London, Regiment No. 5267. He later transferred to the 22nd Battalion, Regiment No. 7509. Alfred was killed in action in the Somme on 16 September 1916.
Alfred Willis Hockley is remembered at the Thiepval Memorial, near Albert, Somme – Pier and Face 9D, 9C, 13C and 12C.
Brother Frank also signed up at Chenies Street, he enlisted in the 12th London Regiment (Territorial Force) on 29 February 1916, Regiment No. 5267. He was discharged on 7 June 1916 (Para 392 III/CC.KR. Sick), it states that he did not serve overseas, but was still entitled to the Silver Wear Badge. Frank died on 14 June 1950 at Stone Mental Hospital, 4 months after his father’s death.