Henry Robinson Dunkley

Name Henry Robinson  Dunkley
Corps Gloucestershire Regiment, 14th (Service) Battalion (West of England)
Rank Private
Service No. 24822
Date/Place of entry Birmingham
Date of death 11 April 1916   Killed in Action
Memorial/Grave G-32 Rue-du-Bacquerot (13th London graveyard) Laventie

Henry Robinson Dunkley was born around 1890, the sixth child and youngest son of John Thomas Dunkley, an estate carpenter, and his wife Mary Catherine nee Tilley. John Thomas was born in Grimscote, Cold Higham, near Weedon Beck. In 1869 he married Mary Catherine Tilley at Cottingham. For a full account of the family background please see the entry for Henry’s elder brother John Alfred Dunkley.

In 1901 John Thomas and Mary Katherine were living on Middleton Hill with five of their surviving children. John Thomas died in 1904 and in 1911 his widow was in East Carlton with her two elder sons John and Sidney while Henry, a grocer’s assistant, was lodging with his uncle Alfred Tilley and family on Middleton Hill. His cousin George Tilley was also a grocer’s assistant. Alfred was a sawyer and Henry’s father had been a witness at his wedding.

Henry enlisted at Birmingham, as did his eldest brother John. He joined the 14th (Service) Battalion (West of England), Gloucestershire regiment, one of Kitchener’s New Armies.
This regiment was formed at Bristol on 22 April 1915 as a Bantam Battalion, i.e. men who were under the normal regulation minimum height of 5 feet 3 inches. The Battalion was assigned to the 35th (formerly the 42nd) Division which landed in Le Havre on 30 January 1916.

By early February the Division was concentrated east of St Omer. It remained on the Western Front for the remainder of the war. Henry was recorded killed in action on 11 April 1916. (There is a discrepancy between his index entry on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission which gives the date as 11 April 1915, and his registration and commemorative roll which has 1916. Given his regiment was not in France in 1915, the index entry is almost certainly an error.)  The Division was not engaged in a major battle until July, so Henry must have been one of those unfortunates who lost their life in minor skirmishes along the Somme or were picked off by snipers. His military record does not survive so it’s not known exactly how and where he died.

He is buried in the Rue-du-Bacquerot (13th London graveyard) at Laventie, four miles south west of Armentieres and not far from Bethune. The Laventie road was close to the Allied front trenches and the graveyard is one of several in the area. It was begun in 1914 by the 1st Royal Irish Rifles and also accommodated burials from the 13th London Regiment. There are 192 Commonwealth burials from World War 1. Henry’s grave registration shows he was buried with men from various regiments including another Gloucestershire Regiment private who had died on 31 March.  .

Henry’s brother John Alfred Dunkley had died while serving in Mesopotamia three months later.