Private Horace Yorke, a former resident of Marston Green Cottage Homes, died on 1st May 1916, serving with the 13th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment. He was born in London and was living at the Cottage Homes in 1911, when he was aged 16. We haven’t been able to discover how he came to move from London, or why he ended up in the Cottage Homes (these were built to house children who would otherwise have gone into the workhouse).
It looks as if he originally joined the Royal Navy in December 1914 for the “period of hostilities”. However, he was discharged to sick quarters in April 1915 suffering from “Diptheria Neura[s]thenia” and invalided out of the Navy.
According to the Register of Seamen’s Service, Harold Yorke was born on 4th November 1896 in Stoke Newington, London and was a waiter when he enlisted in 24th December 1914. He was described as being 5ft ½in tall, with dark hair, brown eyes, dark complexion and a scar under his chin. This date of birth is a slight discrepancy with the 1911 census entry, which suggests a date of birth in 1894/5. We haven’t been able to find Horace Yorke on the 1901 census, nor details of his birth registration.
On Christmas Eve 1914, Horace Yorke joined H.M.S. Vivid I, which was the shore training establishment for seamanship, signalling and telegraphy at Devonport, Plymouth. On 13th February 1915 he transferred to another training establishment, H.M.S. Powerful, but his service record notes that he was discharged sick less than two months later. His character was recorded as very good, and his ability as satisfactory.
It looks as if he then moved back to Middlesex and joined the Army, as Soldiers Died in the Great War indicates that he was living in Forest Hill and enlisted at Mill Hill, Middlesex. His Army service record appears not to have survived so we don’t know when he enlisted. Soldiers Died indicates that he died of wounds.
The Register of Soldiers’ Effects reports that he was killed in action and that his effects were sent to his mother, Mrs Mary S. Kerr.
He is buried in France at Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord. As far as we’re aware, Private Yorke isn’t commemorated on local memorials in Middlesex, although he is listed (as H. York) on the memorial at Marston Green Cottage Homes.
If you have any more information about Horace Yorke, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6934