Date of Birth: 1885
Place of Birth: Coxwold, Husthwaite, North Yorkshire
Service number: P/O 12872
Ship: HMS Good Hope
Died: Sunday 1st November 1914 aged 29 years
Death Location: Lost at sea during the Battle of Coronel, Chile
Life Before the War
Cecil was born in born in 1885 in Coxwold along the southern edge of what is now the North Yorkshire Moors National Park.
By the time of the 1901 census he was boarding at Moorside Cottage, Cowthorpe, Wetherby. He had become a 16 year old Horseman on Moorside Farm.
By 1911 he was a 27 year old Private in the Royal Marine Light Infantry and was based at Portsmouth. He was part of the team on the Powerful-class of protected cruiser HMS Terrible which had been laid up after the Boer War as an economy measure. During World War 1 the vessel had its armaments removed to serve as troop transports and later accommodation ships.
In 1913 Cecil married Frances Ellen Snelgrove in Southampton. They had no children.
During World War One Cecil was to serve aboard the HMS Good Hope.
The HMS Good Hope was a Drake Class Armoured Cruiser built on the River Clyde and launched in 1901. She had 43 coal fired Belleville boilers feeding 2 four cyclinder triple expansion turbines and was taken out of reserve three months before World War 1. Under the leadership of Sir Christopher Cradock’s Fourth Cruiser Squadron a team of reservists were hurriedly sent with other ships to prevent the German forces from interrupting established trade routes along the Chilean coast. Having located Maximilian Graf von Spee’s German East Asiatic Squadron Cradock decided not to wait as ordered for the back up of HMS Canopus (another troubled vessel dragged out of reserve) and went into battle in the stormy seas off Coronel, Chile. Cradock was still expecting HMS Defence to arrive but this ship was given fresh instructions en route.
Cradock was determined to engage with the enemy and on the evening of Sunday 01 November 1914 set out to attack. When the German forces responded the HMS Good Hope and HMS Monmouth were quickly set ablaze by enemy fire becoming easy targets in the dark. HMS Good Hope continued to return fire but was ultimately lost at sea.
This was Britain’s first naval defeat for over 100 years.
The German population of Valparaiso welcomed Von Spee and his men of the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Nürnberg as heroes on Tuesday 3rd November 1914. They would meet their fate on Tuesday 8th December 1914 at the Battle of the Falkland Islands.
Cecil became entitled to the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal – affectionately known as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred.
Cecil Stockdale is honoured on the Southampton Cenotaph, the Memorial Wall, the De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, upon the Portsmouth Naval Memorial and back home on the memorial in St Nicholas’ Church, Husthwaite.
Cecil’s widow applied for his place on the Cenotaph from 259 Northumberland Road, Southampton. She continued to live here after marrying Thomas W Ovens in 1920.
Researched by Robert Whale, May 2014.