[Skip to content]



  • Family headstone Nottingham Church (Rock) Cemetery. Photograph Rachel Farrand
Person Details
Nottingham
George was born in 1885 the son of William a lace maker and Jane Rockley née Wright of 76 Union Road, Nottingham. William was born in 1851 at Bingham, Jane Wright in 1856 at Nottingham. Married in 1874, they had eight children, seven surviving infancy - William Henry b.1877, Lizzie b.1879, Eliza b.1881, Gertrude b.1883, George b.1885, Jenny b.1888 and Albert Rockley b.1884. In 1911, they lived at 76, Union Road, Nottingham. Lizzie was a plain net mender, Eliza a lace measurer, Gertrude a lace patterner, Jenny a lace mender and Albert a warehouseman. George married Mary Goodacre in Nottingham in 1911 and they went on to have a son Dennis Rockley in 1915 in Nottingham.
George was an upholsterer.
07 Jun 1917
32
920577 - CWGC Website
57678
Nottingham
Private
11th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
George Rockley enlisted in Derby. 11th Bn Sherwood Foresters formed part of 2nd Army's attack on Messines Ridge, the highly successful operation to clear enemy forces off high ground to the south of Ypres as a prelude to the 3rd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) launched on 31st July. In early June the unit moved from St Lawrence camp to Halfway House, then Ritz Street support trenches before assembling ready to attack. A series of huge mines were detonated at 20 second intervals causing panic and many casualties amongst Germans defending the area. According to 11th Sherwood Foresters' War Diary (TNA WO95/2187/3), they formed 'the left hand bn of the whole attack. Zero hour was at 3.10am at which hour the mines were exploded. The battalion occupied their objective with four casualties.' However 66 men, including Bingley, lost their lives on June 7th (CWGC Debt of Honour Register). 'The majority,' the War Diary reports,' took place from sniping and shell fire after the position was carried.' Battalion orders had insisted 'All ranks are to be warned that there is no such word as "RETIRE" and that anyone using such a word is in all probability a German.' The unit's response was impressive; Major CE Hudson MC was awarded the DSO for his part in the action. Three officers won the MC and 40 men from the ranks were decorated - 4 with DCMs and 36 with MMs. John Cotterill reflects: ‘It (7/6/1917) was really a day of mixed fortunes for the battalion. As their main responsibility was forming a flank they did not have to advance as far as everyone else but they hit the only really uncut wire. The very left of their objective was the only part of the British objective not to fall although you would not know that from the battalion history or war diary. Despite that, they did pretty well and advanced about 1,000 yards. The confusion and delay when their left hand company hit the uncut wire, unseen in a small hollow, was only sorted out by the energetic intervention of Edward Hudson, a remarkable man with an MC on the Somme, a DSO at Messines , a bar to his DSO at Passchendaele and a VC on the Asiago plateau (Italy). I think the 4 casualties recorded in the war diary just reflect an initial report. The battalion history records 41 x KIA, 169 x WIA and 15 x MIA on 7 June. If one adds KIA to MIA one is only a few short of final CWGC figure of 62. 70 Bde , of which 11th Foresters comprised one quarter , suffered 183 x KIA , 768 x WIA and over 400 x MIA . As few British became PW on 7 Jun one must assume most of the MIA were actually KIA. This gives the brigade nearly 600 dead so 11th Foresters casualties were proportionally the lowest in the brigade, presumably reflecting their flank holding role. The level of gallantry awards reflects more or less what one expects from a successful battalion attack. The DSO which would normally go to the CO, if he did a good job, obviously went to Hudson as second in command. The CO, Watson, had only come out of hospital on the day of the attack so it seems that Hudson was effectively in command. 3 x MCs is slightly less than the average of one per company, which would have given 4. Only 3 of the DCMs were actually for 7 Jun 1917, as the 4th (Sgt Legate) was for a raid on Hill 60 on 9 Apr 1917. Sgt Ellis was right up there with Hudson in terms of bravery with an MM in Sanctuary Wood in Oct 16, a DCM at Messines in Jun 17, a bar to his MM at 3rd Ypres in Sept 17 and a bar to his DCM on the Asiago plateau in Jun 1918. Although the battalion attacked in the first wave at 0310 hrs, it is clear that they did not start taking heavy casualties until German counter attacks began at 10.30 hrs and that , after that , they took a lot of punishment from both counter attacks and heavy and sustained German artillery fire . It seems remarkable that, with a total of 225 casualties, which is over 1 in 3 of the attacking infantry men, the 11th Foresters still had the lowest butcher’s bill in their brigade.’ Military Research by David Nunn and John Cotterill
Family headstone Nottingham Church (Rock) Cemetery: In loving memory of George, the beloved husband of Mary Rockley, who fell in action at Messines Ridge, June 7th 1917, aged 32. ‘The Supreme Sacrifice’ Published in the Nottingham Evening Post 13th April 1918 :- ROCKLEY. – Wounded and missing June 7th, 1917, now reported killed the same date, Pte. G. Rockley, the loving husband of Mary Rockley (née Goodacre). Ever in our thoughts. – Wife and child. “ROCKLEY. – Reported missing June 7th, 1917, now officially reported presumed killed on that date, Private G. Rockley, Sherwood Foresters, dearly loved second son of Mrs. and the late William Rockley, 27, Lees Hill-street, Sneinton. Sadly missed. – Sorrowing mother, sisters, and brothers (Albert in France).” Above is courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918
Remembered on

Photos

  • Family headstone Nottingham Church (Rock) Cemetery. Photograph Rachel Farrand
    George Rockley - Family headstone Nottingham Church (Rock) Cemetery. Photograph Rachel Farrand
  • Family headstone Nottingham Church (Rock) Cemetery. Photograph Rachel Farrand
    George Rockley - Family headstone Nottingham Church (Rock) Cemetery. Photograph Rachel Farrand