Hartley Raymond (Ray) STOCKER

STOCKER, Hartley Raymond

Service Number: SX12849
Enlisted: 17 May 1941
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Yorketown, South Australia, 6 February 1913
Home Town: Birdwood (formerly Blumberg), Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Worker Amscol (Australian Milk Supply Co-operative Limited) factory
Died: Killed in Action, Egypt, 22 July 1942, aged 29 years
Cemetery: El Alamein War Cemetery
XVI H 18
Memorials: Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Birdwood Pictorial Honour Roll WWII, Birdwood WW1 & WW2 Soldier's Memorial, Gumeracha Our Fallen Heroes WW2 Honour Board
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World War 2 Service

17 May 1941: Enlisted Private, SX12849, Wayville, South Australia
17 May 1941: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, SX12849
18 May 1941: Involvement Private, SX12849
22 Jul 1942: Involvement Private, SX12849, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion, El Alamein

‘In the garden of memories we meet him every day’

Born in Yorketown on the 6th February 1913, Hartley (Ray) was the son of Nathaniel George and Susan Ellen Adelaide Stocker. He had a brother, George and sisters including Jessie, Nellie, Dorrie, Margaret and Ethel. Ray and the family lived at Birdwood in the Adelaide Hills, a town initially called Blumberg but like Petersburg in the mid-north, the anti-Germanic sentiment post WWI caused some towns to be renamed with an Anglicised name. Post school Ray was employed at the Amscol (Australian Milk Supply Co-operative Limited) factory established at Mount Torrens in 1922, which initially processed milk and made icecream before, in the late ‘30’s also added a large cheese vat room. Ray enjoyed life, including attending a ‘coming of age’ celebration for local cricketer, Phil Turner in July ’37.
With the outbreak of WWII 28-year-old Ray enlisted on the 17th May, ’41 and was given the number SX12849 in the 2/48th Battalion. He was soon on his way to the Middle East. However just 14 months after enlisting, he was killed in action in Egypt on the 22nd July ’42. At that stage, orders had been received to capture West Point of Tel el Eisa in a dawn attack. In late June ‘42 with Rommel crossing into Egypt, the 2/48th were in an offensive to capture Trig 33, which was achieved on the 10th July. In doing so, over 400 Italian prisoners were taken. The 2/48th battalion then advanced south, capturing the Tel el Eisa station and repelling numerous counter attacks. However, they were eventually forced to withdraw, having suffered over 100 casualties. It was during this attack that Private Stan Gurney was awarded the 2/48th Battalion’s first VC having captured two machine gun posts and bayonetting the gun crew firing on his company but was killed attempting to take a third. The 2/48th battalion suffered 215 casualties between the 7th July and 23rd October. Of that number, 64 men were killed and six, died of their wounds, including Art. 125 other men were wounded but survived.
In his book, ‘Tobruk to Tarakan’, John G. Glenn described the ferocious encounter;
‘When the troops were well forward of the start-line they came under terrific fire from shells and mortars from the front and left and suffered heavy casualties. With the slow deliberate movement of perfectly trained soldiers both companies continued the advance in perfect formation, over ground that trembled and erupted with vicious explosions. Through this, sometimes obscured by the smoke and dust, the men moved, and, as they advanced, the fire kept place with them, leaving behind the still shapes of fallen men among the camel bush and sand.’
Back home the Advertiser reported in August that ‘Mrs. E. Stocker, of Birdwood, has been notified that her son, Pte. Raymond Stocker, has been killed in action in Egypt. Pte. Stocker enlisted in May, 1941, and left for abroad in July, 1941. Before enlisting he was employed at the Amscol factory at Mount Torrens.’
A further Army casualty list gave the names of those from South Australia of whom 17 were reported killed in action and 73 wounded in action. In Ray’s list were the men with whom he had fought in the 2/48th Battalion and who had died with him. They were Killed in Action.-Lce.-CpI. Ray B. Lovelock, Karoonda SX7399; Ptes. Ronald A. F. Clemens. Eden SX8230; Ivan C. Hanel. Norwood SX7483; H. J. Hill, Stirling West; G. C. Jury, Torrensville; Ebenezer N. Kilsby. New Hindmarh SX13621; A. L. Phillips, Murray Bridge SX9316; Carle A. R. Sims, Norwood SX8290; H. R. Stocker, Birdwood; E. S. Smith, York; John K. Stone. Willowle SX7740; Wilfred R. Wear, Birkenhead SX7156; Victor L. J. Young. Adelaide SX8636.
Initially the men were buried in the field, but they were eventually re-buried in the El Alamein War Cemetery in April ’43 with Ray in Plot XVI Row H Grave 18. He now rests with his fellow soldiers from the 2/48th who died on the same day, nearby. These included SX8290 35-year-old Carle A. R Sims, SX7535 36-year-old Corporal Patrick O’Loughlin, WX9817 39-year-old Gilbert W.B. Lee and WX10428 36-year-old Rodger H. Shaw as well as others from the 2/23rd and 2/24th Battalions who were killed in the same battle. Ray’s parents chose the poignant inscription ‘In the garden of memories we meet him every day’ for his headstone.
With peace finally declared, communities looked to honour those who had made the supreme sacrifice. At Birdwood, over 250 residents gathered at the Memorial Arch in April ’49 of the ‘new cement, glazed brick and wrought-iron fence which was erected by voluntary labor. The cost was shared equally by the institute and tree planting committees.’ The Mount Barker Courier added that the then Premier, Tom Playford unveiled the names of those who had fallen. Besides Ray’s name, others included 24 year old Private Lindsay Stott SX8271, also killed in Egypt three months after Ray on the 23rd October ’42, 24 year old Norman Dempsey SX632 in the 2/10th who died on the 24th December ’42 in Papua, 34 year old Francis Hardwicke SX21490 killed in Papua in January ’43, 28 year old Corporal James Gower SX7148 from the 2/43rd who was killed in action in New Guinea, September ’43, and 55 year old Lawrence Kain S1572 who served in WWI and WWII and was accidentally killed at Barmera. Following a prayer and the Premier’s address, flowers were laid at the foot of the arch. Ray’s family members and the other soldiers’ next of kin then planted trees on the reserve.
In the years following Ray’s death, fellow soldier, George Hayman SX4995 and the family continued to remember him.
Advertiser Wednesday 12 August 1942, STOCKER. —On July 27 killed in action in Egypt. Hartley Raymond, loving brother of Jessie and Nellie. His duty nobly done. STOCKER. —On July 27 killed in action in Egypt. Hartley Raymond (Ray) 28 years, loving son of Mr. and Mrs. N. G. Stocker. Birdwood, and darling brother of George. Nellie. Dorry, Jessie, Margaret, and Ethel, and brother and sister in-law Rex and Hilda. At the going down or the sun and in the morning, we will remember him. STOCKER. —On July 27, killed in action, Pte Hartley Raymond (Ray), darling brother of Dorrie, Rex, and uncle of Raylene, Maxine, and Hartley, aged 28 years. Too dearly loved to be forgotten. STOCKER—On July 27, killed in action. Hartley Raymond, great friend of the Dally family, Norwood. He died doing his duty. STOCKER. —On July 22, killed In action. Ray, loving nephew of Mr. and Mrs. W Shaddock. We will remember him. STOCKER. —KiIIed in action on July 22. Ray. loving pal of Private G. Hayman (2nd AIF.). He died a dinkum hero, Just to keep Australia free. STOCKER. —On July 22, killed in action in Egypt, Private Hartley Raymond, loving brother of George and Hilda, and uncle of Barbara. Some day we will understand.
Advertiser Saturday 22 July 1944, STOCKER. —Memory of our darling son Ray, killed Egypt July 22 1942. No more we hear your footsteps, no more your loving voice. —Longed for always by mum and dad. Birdwood. STOCKER. —Memory of our dear brother, killed Egypt. July 22. 1942. To be with us in the same old way would be dearest wish today. —Sadly missed by Margaret Tubby. Birdwood. STOCKER. —Loving remembrance of my brother, killed Egypt. July 22. Too little words not hard to write—our brother. —Always to be remembered by George. Hilda, and Barbara, Mt. Torrens. STOCKER. —Loving memories of Ray killed Egypt. July 22 1942. His love was real, my darling brother: the greatest pal I ever had. — Longed for by sister Nellie, brother-in-law George. Birdwood. STOCKER. Hartley Raymond-—Killed in action, July 22, 1942. One of the dearest, one of the best, his beautiful memory is all we have left.—Fondly remembered by his sister Dorrie, Rex and family STOCKER.—In loving memory of dear Ray. killed in action in Tel el Elsa on July 22. 1942. Too dearly loved to be forgotten. —Sadly missed by his sister Jessie, brother-in-law Stan, and little Malcolm. STOCKER. Pte. Hartley Raymond. — A tribute of honor to a brave soldier and stanch friend, killed In action Middle East. 1942.—Ever remembered by Dally family. Norwood. STOCKER. Ray.—ln memory of Pte. Ray Stocker. 2/48th. Killed In action July 22. 1942. His duty nobly done.—Remembered by Mr. and Mrs. V. Thiele, Mt. Torrens.
Advertiser Monday 23 July 1945, STOCKER. —Loving memory of our devoted son Ray. killed July 22 1942. God's greatest gift — remembrance Sadly missed by mum, dad, Birdwood. STOCKER. —Fond memories of my dear brother Ray. killed July 22. 1942 Always in our thoughts. dear Ray. Inserted by sister Nellie. George. Pauline STOCKER In fond memory of my dear brother Ray, killed July 22. 1942. Too far away his grave to see, but not too far away to think of you.—Missed by sisters Margaret and Tubby. STOCKER In loving memory of our dear brother Hartley Raymond, killed El Alamein. July 22. 1942. A cluster of loving memories, where a light burns bright and true; there's a light that burns for ever In our memory, dear Ray of you.—Ever remembered by Dorrie, Rex and family
Advertiser Monday 22 July 1946, STOCKER, Pte. H. R. —In fondest remembrance of our devoted son. killed Tel-El-Isa, M.E., July 22. 1942. This is a day of remembrance, a day of sad regrets; a day we will always remember, when the rest of the world forgets—Remembered always by his sorrowing parents. STOCKER —In loving memory of our dear brother Ray, killed July 22. 1912. Tel-El-Isa. We think of you in silence, we often speak your name: but all we have to answer is your photo in a frame. Remembered always. —Nellie. George and Pauline. STOCKER. —In memory of our darling brother Hartley Raymond, killed in action, July 22. 1942. Love lights the gloom of sorrow, faith seeks the dawn to be; hope waits the great tomorrow, that will bring us nearer thee.—Ever remembered by his sister and brother-in-law. Dorrie, Rex and family STOCKER. —Killed Tel-E-Isa, July 22. 1942 In loving memory of our dear brother Ray. It does not take a special day to bring him back to mind: the days We do not think of him are very hard to find.—Longed for always by sisters Margaret and Tubby. STOCKER. —In loving memory of dear Ray, killed in Egypt, on July 22. 1942. Too dearly loved to be forgotten.—Ever remembered by his loving sister Jessie, brother-in-law Stan and little Malcolm. STOCKER. —In loving memory of our brother, Ray, killed in action at El Alamein July 22, 1942. The years may dawn and fade away, but loving memories always stay.—Ever remembered by George. Hilda and children.
Advertiser Tuesday 22 July 1947 STOCKER. —In loving memory of Ray, killed at El Alamein, July 22, 1942. Time moves on but memories stay.—Ever remembered by George, Hilda and family. STOCKER. —In loving memory of dear Ray, killed Tel-el-Isa, July 22. 1942. His love was great, his heart was kind, a better brother we’d never find.—Remembered by his sisters Tubby, Margaret, and Fred. STOCKER. —In loving memory of dear Ray, killed El Alamein, July 22, 1942. Thinking of you.—Dot, Rex, and family. STOCKER.—In loving memory of our dear brother and Uncle Ray, killed in action, July 22, 1942. You lie so far from us, but the flower that blooms between us is a sweet forget-me-not.—Always remembered by Jessie, Stan and children. STOCKER.—In loving memory of our dear son Ray, killed Tel-el-Isa, July 22, 1942. Away in God's beautiful garden. away from all sorrow and care; on the glad day of reunion, we'll find our dear there.—Ever remembered by his loving parents.

Researched and written by Kaye Lee, daughter of Bryan Holmes SX8133, 2/48th Battalion

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Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

Son of Nathaniel George and Susan Ellen Adelaide Stocker, of Birdwood, South Australia.