Rockhampton War Memorial

The small village of Rockhampton lost only five of its sons in the First World War but its memorial to them is no less impressive. Designed by church architect William H. Randoll Blacking, it was built in 1921 by the craftsman W. Howell and stands in the churchyard. It is no taller than an expensive grave and easy to walk past  if you are looking for a traditional obelisk or cross memorial. It is built in the arts and crafts style and is carved with the image, but not the shape, of a Christian cross. In the small, traditional village churchyard the memorial looks out of place and it makes one wonder why this design was chosen. Nonetheless, it makes for an interesting memorial and something different from the usual.

The names:

Charlesworth's grave
George Frederick Charlesworth: Little is known of George's early life but he was described as having light brown hair and blue eyes. He joined the Royal Navy aged 18 in 1910, when he first served aboard HMS Vivid. He sailed on a number of ships both during peacetime and in the war. One of his final placements was to the HMS Mimosa where he served as a petty officer stoker. He is buried in Rockhampton, having died from tuberculosis, but it is interesting that the War Graves Commission recorded his next of kin as 'friend' Louisa Perkins: the mother of fellow fallen serviceman William.

Percy Arthur Pearce: Percy was born in Rockhampton in 1887 to Arthur, a corn porter, and Fanny. By 1911, he was unemployed and living with his brother-in-law in Cam. He initially volunteered with the Gloucestershire Regiment, before being transferred to the 8th battalion Lancashire Fusiliers. He was killed on 4th September 1918, the day following his division's recapture of the village of Lebucquiere, in the final drive of the Germans off of the Somme. He is buried in Lebucquiere Communal Cemetery Extension.

Image result for white house shepperdine
White House, Shepperdine, with lighthouse (source)
William James Perkins: He was born in 1895 at White House, Shepperdine to William, a Lighthouse keeper on the river Severn, and Louisa, as the fourth of seven children. He worked as a general labourer before enlisting in Bristol. He was originally posted to the Royal Field Artillery before moving to the 13th battalion of the Alexandra, Princess of Wales' Own Yorkshire Regiment, known as the "Green Howards". He died on 27th July 1917, while his battalion were in action during the German retreat to the Hindenberg Line. He is buried in Fins New British Cemetery to the east of the Somme region.

Harold Tiley
Harold Tiley: Harold was born in 1895 in the Custom House borough of West Ham (then in Essex) and it is from East Ham that he enlisted in the army. His direct connection to Rockhampton is not known, although his parents were originally from Gloucestershire. His father, George, was a cook to the Atlantic Transport Line, having progressed from the role of grocer twenty years previously. Harold served in the 32nd battalion Royal Fusiliers, a unit of Kitchener's Army which was raised in East Ham. They saw action in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette on the Somme in September 1916 and at the Battle of Messines in Ypres in 1917. He was killed during the Battle of Menin Road on 22nd September, and his body was lost in battle. This was a key phase of the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) and was successful in advancing the British Army past the Menin Road to the east of the Ypres Salient. Harold is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

Richard Sully Ponting: The eldest child of William Harris and Jemima Spilling of Elmhurst, Thornbury, Richard was 31 at the outbreak of the war. He worked as a draper's assistant, most likely working for his father, and had recently married Ada Eleanor of Cheltenham. He fought with the 2/6th battalion Glosters, who were a territorial unit. They fought at the Battle of Cambrai from 20th November, 2017 and it is likely that Richard would have seen the first use of massed tanks in battle. The initial assault was a huge success, but the British were driven back in the German counter-attack. He died on 2nd December, the day before Haig ordered a retreat. His body was lost in action and he is remembered on the Cambrai Memorial.


If you have any further information about the men on the Rockhampton memorial, please get in touch.

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