Private George Leonard Strotton

Regiment: 9th Battalion Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Service No: 44115
Date & place of birth: 2nd qtr 1879 at Cocking, Sussex
Date & place of death: 12 November 1918 (aged 39) in Northern France

George Leonard Strotton was born in Cocking in 1879, although at the time he enlisted into the army at Rottingdean, he was living at Warren Farm, near Brighton. His army records are not available but at the time of his death in 1918, he was a member of the 9th Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

Family background

In 1881, 18 month old George was living in Cocking with his parents and his brother, Walter, who was a year older. His parents were Charles Strotton (1839–1923) and Caroline née Long (1838-1924), who had both been born in the village. The couple married in late 1880, after the birth of both sons. In the following two census returns, the family remain in the village although they are mistakenly recorded under the name Stratton.

In 1891, the family were living at Horley Farm, where Charles was employed as an agricultural stockman, Walter as a ploughboy and George was a scholar. Ten years later Walter continued to live in the family home (now at The Street, Cocking) with his parents but George appears to have left the village and no record can be found for him. In 1911, Charles and Caroline were still living in Cocking, at Post Office Cottage, and were retired but Walter was now married and had left home.

George reappears on the 1911 census at Meadow Cottages, Warren Farm, near Brighton, where he worked as a carter on the farm, and was lodging with James Artlett, a cowman on the farm, and his family.

Military service

It is not known when George enlisted in the army but he served in the 9th Battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. The battalion was originally formed in Pontefract in September 1914, as part of the Third New Army before moving south to spend time in Berkhamsted, where they joined the 64th Brigade of the 21st Division. The Brigade then moved on to Halton Park, Tring, Maidenhead and then to Witley before mobilising for war.

In September 1915, they landed in France and were engaged in various actions on the Western Front during 1916 and 1917, forcing the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line. They continued fighting throughout 1918 culminating in the Battles of Cambria and The Selle.

Death and commemoration

The circumstances of George’s death are something of a mystery. His death is recorded as 12 November 1918, the day after war ended, just prior to his Battalion moving to Limont Fontaine, north-east of Aulnoye in France. The last military action in which the battalion had been engaged was on 7 November, but as George has no known grave, this would imply that he was killed in action.

George is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial in Haucourt in the Department of Pas de Calais, France. He was entitled to the Victory and British War medals. He is also commemorated on the Cocking War Memorial.

Other family members

At the time of George’s death it would appear that he was unmarried. His parents remained in the village, living in Post Office Cottage, until their deaths in the early 1920s.

In 1902, his brother Walter married Edith Sweet, the sister of Tinny Sweet, who is also commemorated on the Cocking War Memorial. By 1911 they were settled in a cottage on Manor Farm, Heyshott, where Walter worked as a wagoner. The couple appear to have had no children.

Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project