Private 15486 Benjamin Oakley

Oakley Benjamin 96 387x600Oakley Benjamin 96 382x600

Died of Wounds on Monday, 7th June 1915, age 24.
Buried in Grave V. A. 22. Enclosure No.2 at Bedford House Cemetery, Zillebeke, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

3rd Bn., Worcestershire Regiment. 7th Brigade of 3rd Division.

Husband of Mrs Jessie Oakley, of 42 Coppice Street, Tipton, Staffs. Son of Mr and Mrs Benjamin Oakley, of 73 Furnace Parade, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Dudley, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 19th December 1914.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/483449/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Benjamin Oakley registered June quarter 1892 at Dudley.

1901 Census
4 Park Lane West, Tipton, Staffs.
Benjamin Oakley (35, Iron Pump Dresser, born Tipton), his wife Pamela (34, born Tipton), and their 7 children: William (11, born Tipton), Joshua (10, born Tipton), Benjamin (9, born Tipton), Thomas (8, born Tipton), Pamela (5, born Tipton), Joseph (3, born Tipton), and Arthur (1, born Tipton).

1911 Census
78 Furnace Parade, Tipton, Staffs.
Benjamin Oakley (44, Iron Dresser, born Tipton), his wife Pamela (45, born Tipton), and 10 of their 11 surviving children: Joshua (20, Canal Boatman, born Tipton), Ben (19, Canal Boatman, born Tipton), Thomas (17, General Labourer, born Tipton), Pamela (15, born Tipton), Joseph (14, born Tipton), Arthur (11, born Tipton), Frank (9, born Tipton), Samuel (5, born Tipton), Nellie (3, born Tipton) and Leonard (9 months, born Tipton).

Marriage of Benjamin Oakley and Janet B. Clark registered June quarter 1913 in Dudley. The birth of their daughter Elizabeth E. was registered September quarter 1913 in Dudley, and the birth of their son Benjamin F. was registered in March quarter 1915 in Dudley.

Personal Data

Benjamin Oakley was from a large Tipton family, his grandfather William Share was said to have had a dozen grandsons in the army.

Benjamin had 3 brothers also in the army. Thomas was killed serving with the 1st Bn., Worcesters, William served with the 11th Bn., Worcesters in Salonika and survived, and Joshua served with the 6th Bn., South Staffs and survived.

After Benjamin's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £2/2/9d (2 pounds, 2 shillings and 9 pence); this was paid to his widow, Janet B., in November 1915. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his widow in September 1919. Benjamin had enlisted in September 1914.

Action resulting in his death

Stacke "The Worcestershire Regiment in the Great War" p 74
"On the evening of the 5th (June 1915) the Brigade moved through Ypres and up the Menin Road to Hooge. Just short of the ruins of Hooge the guides led the Worcestershire companies into half-dug trenches on the south side of the road, and there the Battalion relieved a mixed force, the remnants of The Royal Horse Guards and the Royal Dragoons, with some officers and men of a Royal Fusilier Battalion. Those units had been consolidating as best they could the line to which they had been forced back by the enemy's onslaught of May 24th. On that day the attacking Germans had succeeded in gaining the high ground on the Bellewaerde Ridge, and from that salient position they had overlooked the opposing British trenches. The cavalry had fought splendidly for many days and nights, but they suffered heavily, and the remnants were in the last stages of exhaustion, when relived by the incoming troops.
The front taken over by the 3rd Worcestershire ran from the Menin Road on the left to Sanctuary Wood on the right and in that line the Battalion worked and fought for the next four days. Late on the evening of 9th June, the 3rd Worcestershire were relieved by the 2nd Royal Irish Rifles and moved back in pouring rain down the Menin Road and through Ypres to Busseboom just east of Poperinghe."

Benjamin Oakley had been wounded most likely between the 5th and 7th June; he died on 7th June. Benjamin is buried in Enclosure 2 of Bedford House Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, but this would not have been his original place of burial. Enclosure No.2 was begun in December 1915, six months after Benjamin's death. After the Armistice, 437 graves were added, all but four of which came from the Ecole de Bienfaisance and Asylum British Cemeteries, Ypres. These were both Field Ambulance locations near the Railway Station at Ypres, so it is likely that Benjamin was treated in one of these and died there.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 3 April 1915
Miss Grace Round, Dame President of the Tipton habitation of the Primrose League, has received several scores of letters from soldiers in France and elsewhere, thanking her for her parcels of clothing despatched as a result of the energies of the Primrose League Sewing Party.
Pte. B. Oakley of the 3rd Worcesters, says:- "I take the greatest pleasure in writing these few lines to let you know I received your parcel; with many thanks. It came in very handy for a change after coming out of the trenches, and is worth its weight in gold."

Tipton Herald 10 April 1915
A SCORE OF RELATIVES IN THE ARMY (Mr & Mrs William Share) Amongst them Pte B Oakley.
After reporting the death of Pte Thomas Oakley..
The deceased soldier's other brothers are Joshua Oakley of the 6th South Staffs., and William Oakley of the 11th Worcestershires, together with Ben Oakley, of the 6th Worcestershire Battalion. The last named only joined Lord Kitchener's Army in September. He must have made himself very efficient as he had never handled a rifle before, but he was sent to France in December, and was soon in the trenches. A letter was received from him this week saying he was getting on all right.

Tipton Herald 26 June 1915
The sad news has been received by Mrs Jessie Oakley, of 42 Coppice Street, Tipton Green, from the War Office, of the death of her husband, Private Ben Oakley, aged 23, of the 3rd Worcestershire Regiment, who received serious wounds in the action of June 7th and died the same day. The brave soldier was a brother of Private Tom Oakley, who was killed in the great battle of Neuve Chapelle, and the son of Mr and Mrs Benjamin Oakley, of 73 Furnace Parade, Tipton. The parents had four sons serving King and Country, and as two have now been killed the greatest sympathy is expressed on all hands for the relatives. The deceased soldier had proved himself exceptionally smart. His life as a soldier did not commence until September 4th last, but so assiduous was he in acquiring military arts that he was sent direct to France, entering the trenches on Christmas Eve. Two children are left by the deceased soldier, one having been born while he was on active service. He was a nephew of Councillor T. Chalstrey, of Tipton, who has over thirty relatives serving King and country.
The deceased's brother, Joshua, aged 24 in May last, had served four years in the Territorials, and enlisted again at the outbreak of war. He is in the 6th South Staffs, and is stationed near London. Prior to joining the Territorials he was for three years in the Boys' Brigade. He married soon after the outbreak of war.
The eldest son, William, is 25 years of age, and joined the 11th Worcesters on September 5th last. He was employed at Messrs Lee, Howl and Co., and had never been in the Army before. He is married, and stationed near Southampton.
The mother of the four soldier sons is a daughter of Mr and Mrs Share of Bloomfield Road, the old gentleman being a veteran of over 80 summers, who still follows his regular employment. Mr Ben Oakley, the father of the four soldier sons, has been employed at Messrs Lee, Howl's for 27 years.

Tipton Herald 29 January 1916
Benjamin Oakley was killed at Hill 60.

Tipton Herald 29 January 1916
Writing to Tipton relatives, Private William Oakley, of a Worcestershire battalion, now in Salonika, says:- " I am going on first rate given the circumstances, because it is all hard work out here. It was a picnic out in France. For Xmas dinner we made things as bright and merry as possible on bully beef and biscuits and trench digging. I had the pleasure of meeting a chap from where I was born. We were just finishing a new fire trench, and when leaving the dug-out I went to the front of the trench, and about 30 yards out I saw some men repairing barbed wire entanglements, so I shouted 'Hello, wear dun yow come from mate?' and when he says 'Tipton' I knew the voice well; it was Joe Hickman, and the first man I have met in 16 months that I knew well. I was very pleased to meet him, I can tell you." Private Oakley proceeds to say that the end of this titanic struggle will be seen over in the direction of the Balkans, and that the war is practically finished in France. Private Will Oakley is a brother of the late Private Thomas Oakley of Furnace Parade, who was killed at Neuve Chapelle on March 10th last, and also a brother of Private Benjamin Oakley, killed at Hill 60 on the 7th June 1916. Another brother (Joshua) is serving with the 6th South Staffs.

Tipton Herald 3 June 1916
Writing to his Uncle (Councillor T. Chalstrey) from Salonika, Private William Oakley of Furnace Parade, says:- "Turkey and Bulgaria are getting 'fed up' with it, and will claim a separate peace soon, no doubt. This year should see the finish, but many thousands will perish before victory is in view. I would rather be in the thick of it than do the navvying which we are now engaged on. Two days ago they raided at 4.30am and it was very exciting. The air seemed to be full of bombs and shells. In the darkness the sky was quite lighted up by the bursting shells. One loud explosion seemed to be quite in the midst of us, and nearly blew me down with the concussion, but it was a bomb which had dropped on a trench magazine, and the sight which followed I shall never forget. We fetched four of the planes down. We have moved nearer Salonica and are under canvas. Several poor chaps were blown to pieces, and many Greeks suffered, several families being wiped out."
Two of the writer's brothers have been killed in France.