Photograph courtesy of Roll of Honour – Cambridge
Born: 7th October 1879, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire.
Died: 6th January 1900; age: 20; at Suffolk Hill, Colesberg, Northern Cape, South Africa.
Residence: 36, Adam & Eve Street, St. Andrew the Lees, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire.
Occupation: for several years in the Buttery at Jesus College.
In August 1897, William enlisted in the Suffolk Regiment, 1st Battalion.
He first saw service with the regiment in Malta, before returning to England, where William was stationed at Dover. He took part with his Battalion in manoeuvres on Salisbury Plain.
Whilst serving in South Africa William was appointed Officer’s Servant to Lieutenant Cecil Arbuthnot White. KIA.
Rank: Private; Service Number: 4745.
Regiment: Cambridge Territorial Regiment allied to the Suffolk Regiment, 1st Battalion, South Africa Field Force.
Clasp Awarded: Cape Colony.
1881 43, Adam & Eve Street, St. Andrew the Lees, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire.
William was a year old and living with his parents.
Fred Stock, a Groom, born Babraham, Cambridgeshire.
Caroline Stock (nee Mulberry), 24, born Wimpole, Cambridgeshire.
36, Adam & Eve Street, St. Andrew the Lees, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire.
William was 11 years old and living with his widowed mother & siblings.
Caroline, 34, a Charwoman.
Harry Stock, 9, born Cambridge.
Jane Elizabeth Stock, 7, born Cambridge.
Bertha Ann Stock, 5, born Cambridge.
William’s father, Fred Stock died January 1890, Cambridge.
Cambridge Independent Press – Friday, 12th January 1900 – The sad case of death has cast a shadow upon the home of Mrs. Stock, a widow living in Adam and Eve Row, who is utterly prostrated with grief at the loss of her son, 4745 Private William James Stock. He was the eldest of four children, and only as recently as October last entered upon his twenty-first year. Before serving under the Queen, the young lad was employed for several years in the buttery of Jesus College. In August 1897, William enlisted in the 1st Suffolk Regiment. His first journey out of the country with the regiment was to Malta, but the Battalion soon returned to England and was stationed at Dover. He took part with his Battalion in the recent manoeuvres on Salisbury Plain, and was at home on furlough in October last, celebrating his 20th birthday at home. After having three weeks’ absence, he was called upon to proceed with his regiment to the seat of war in South Africa. His friends and relatives, however, scarcely expected him to do any real hard fighting, as he was recently appointed officer’s servant to Lieutenant Cecil Arbuthnot White, but it seems that both he and his master were in the thick of the fight, as both were killed in action.
Cambridge Independent Press – Friday, 12th January 1900 – A LAST LETTER FROM PRIVATE STOCK – Only last Sunday, Mr. Patrick Canty, of the Crown and Harp, John Street, received the following letter from the late Private Stock. The letter which was dated 18th December, only reached Mr. Canty the day after the engagement which ended so fatally for Private Stock. It has since been handed over to the bereaved family:-
“Dear Mr. Canty, It may interest you to know how we are getting on in this damnable place, South Africa. I can tell you it is not all pleasure out here. We all think the war will soon be over. General Buller is doing some grand work out here, and I do not think it will be long before we see the Union Jack floating over Pretoria. At present, we are stationed at a place, Naauwpoort by name. It is a horrid place. The sandstorms are something dreadful. We have not seen any fighting yet, but we hope to later on. We expect to advance with Warren’s division. I am told to go with the company. So I shall be pretty safe at any rate. I hope to be in your house in about another six months’ time, talking about and drinking Kruger’s health. Dear Mr. Canty, you must excuse my choice of writing paper as well as my writing, as there is no convenience for anything in this place, but I thought I should like to write to you, as I knew you were deeply interested in the doings of the troops in South Africa. Now for the physical features of Naauwpoort. It is a fairly large junction, with a native village at the back of it. On the northern side of the town lies a piece of country stretching for about 19 miles, surrounded by hills and mountains called koppies. We find five companies for outlying for the night, and one for inlying, and one for guard. Considering we are the only infantry regiment here you may know that duty is pretty stiff. It is cold here at night, and very hot in the daytime. While I am writing this a vast swarm of locusts come over the camp. We are all patiently waiting for orders to shift, and I think we shall all be glad to get away from this dismal hole. The R.H.A. and a regiment of mounted infantry on our left, the 6 D. Guards on our right, and A.S.C. are pitched all over the place. By the way, I expect this paper will be fairly dirty by the time I have finished writing, as we are having another of these awful sandstorms. We have had two or three very sharp showers, accompanied by thunder and lightning. Please remember me to Stephen, and tell him that I am well, and I hope he is well too. By the way beer is very scarce out here; you cannot get any under 2s. a pint and that is not worth drinking, so you may guess I wish I was in the vicinity of the Crown and Harp. What do you think og General Gatacre? We all think it was scandalous of him to advance on a position without knowing what odds he had to meet with. Now I do not think I have much more to say. Remember me to all the dirty cuffs (the pseudonym for the Suffolks). Wishing you all a happy new year, I must now conclude, with best wishes, from
4745 Pvt. W. Stock,
“H” Company, 1st Suffolk Regiment,
Field Forces, South Africa.
One of the notable Battles with a large loss of Suffolk life was the “Battle of Suffolk Hill” at Colesberg, Northern Cape 5th- 6th January 1900. The hill was originally called Red or Grassy Hill. The Suffolk Regiment was ordered to make a night attack on a Boer position on the heights, four companies, 354 of all ranks, set out at midnight under the command of Col. Watson. A storm of bullets met the Suffolks. The Colonel was amongst the first to fall, and the party later retired with 11 officers and 150+ men killed, wounded or captured.