Francis Herbert (Bertie) STOKES

Poppy

STOKES, Francis Herbert

Service Number: 40
Enlisted: 19 August 1914, Place of enlistment - Morphettville, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Henley Beach, South Australia, 16 June 1890
Home Town: Henley Beach , City of Charles Sturt / Henley and Grange, South Australia
Schooling: Queens School, St Peter's and Kyre Colleges, Adelaide South Australia
Occupation: Clerk
Died: Killed in Action, Gallipoli, 27 April 1915, aged 24 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Hackney St Peter's College Fallen Honour Board, Henley Beach Council Fallen WW1 & WW2 Honour Board, Henley Beach Council WW1 Service Roll, Lone Pine Memorial to the Missing, North Adelaide St Peter's Cathedral WW1 Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

19 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 40, 10th Infantry Battalion, Place of enlistment - Morphettville, South Australia
20 Oct 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 40, 10th Infantry Battalion, Embarked on HMAT 'A11' Ascanius from Adelaide on 20th October 1914.
27 Apr 1915: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 40, 10th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli, Killed in action on 27 April 1915 at Gallipoli after saving many lives on the day of the landing by rescuing those who fell into the water on the beach and carrying them to the relative safety of the cliff face.

From the book Fallen Saints

Francis Herbert Stokes of ‘Warringa’ at Henley Beach, South Australia was born at North Adelaide in 1890 and gained his early education at Queens School before attending the Collegiate School of St Peter. Prior to enlisting on the first day Morphettville camp opened Francis was a clerical officer with Dalgety & Co., Ltd., Adelaide.
He was initially posted to A Company 10th Battalion as a member of Sergeant John Rutherford Gordon’s 1 Section, 1 Platoon, and sailed with them aboard the Ascanius in October.
‘Bertie’ as he was called by the other scouts was following the orders and example of his inspirational platoon commander and doing great work until killed in action on 27 April; he was 24 years of age.
When completing the Roll of Honour circular for the Australian War Memorial after the war, his father wrote that during the landing, his son and others had saved many lives by ‘rescuing those who fell wounded in the water, and carrying them to safety under the cliffs.’
Two days after the landing, Walter Harris (OS) recorded in his diary how after receiving the command to stand to arms the air was almost immediately rent by the shrieking sound of shells which fortunately most of exploded on the hills behind them. He described the terrific din of battle as sounding ‘as if some fiends from hell were playing some mad orchestra.’
… The white smoke of the shells in the dim light of early morning showed us plainly the course through the air of these messengers of death, and a giant flash of flame and dust indicated where they hit. …

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More about Francis

Francis Herbert Stokes of ‘Warringa’ at Henley Beach, South Australia was born at North Adelaide in 1890 and gained his early education at Queens School before attending the Collegiate School of St Peter. Prior to enlisting on the first day Morphettville camp opened Francis was a clerical officer with Dalgety & Co., Ltd., Adelaide.
He was initially posted to A Company 10th Battalion as a member of Sergeant John Rutherford Gordon’s 1 Section, 1 Platoon, and sailed with them aboard the Ascanius in October.
‘Bertie’ as he was called by the other scouts was following the orders and example of his inspirational platoon commander and doing great work until killed in action on 27 April; he was 24 years of age.
When completing the Roll of Honour circular for the Australian War Memorial after the war, his father wrote that during the landing, his son and others had saved many lives by ‘rescuing those who fell wounded in the water, and carrying them to safety under the cliffs.’

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Biography contributed by Steve Larkins

Francis Stokes was resident at 'Warringa', 33 Esplanade Henley Beach and son of Revd Francis Herbert Stokes. He was the Grandson of Gen Sir John Stokes KCB RE.

His roll of Honour reads "He with others saved many lives at the ;landing by rescuing those who fell wounded in the water, and carrying them to safety under the cliffs"

Francis was one of the "Flowers of the Forest" - the group of nine young men who belonged to the 10th Battalion Scouts, photographed together prior to the landing at ANZAC.  Of the group, four, including Francis Stokes, died at ANZAC.  Four more were commissioned as officers; one of was killed in France, one was awarded the Military Cross as an aviator and the other won a Victoria Cross. The last of that four served throughout most of the War as an officer, after Gallipoli,  in the Royal Artillery having transferred while in England recuperating from wounds sustained at ANZAC.  The last tragically died at  his own hand after the War.  There can be few more poignant images of young men about to head into the abyss of war.

Francis landed with the other Scouts among the very first boats to ground on the pebbles of ANZAC Cove at about 4.30am.  Tom Whyte didn't even make it out of the boat, shot through the pelvis as he rowed his colleagues ashore.  He died aboard ship and was buried at sea.  Francis didn't last much longer according to some accounts.

"Francis Stokes was hit trying to drag a wounded man to shelter on the beach.  He died in the opening minutes of the battle". (Faulkner, Andrew  "Arthur Blackburn VC" p59)

Alternatively, family anecdote has that : "According to a letter from Arthur Blackburn, of which I have a copy, he was killed by schrapnel a few yards from the (later) Brig and not that he mentions on the beach.I also have his photo"  Chris Stokes 2014.

Both of these accounts are at odds with the 'official record' which records his death as 27th April.  However the chaos of the landing (often called somewhat euphemistically the "fog of war") obscured the precise details of many a soldier's death in those early days.

Malcolm Teasedale-Smith was the next to go.  "Mickie to his mates, scaled the first two ridges - the second at Blackburn's side  - with blood oozing from a bullet hole in his neck.  He had been shot while going to the aid of a wounded comrade on the beach.  Later in the day, he was killed when he broke cover to help another wounded man." (Faulkner p59)

Phil Robin was the last of the group to die at Gallipoli some three days later, in as yet undiscovered circumstances, having earlier according to Charles Bean, gained the most ground of any Australians that day or subsequently, at ANZAC.  He and Arthur Blackburn are credited by Bean as having made it to 'Third' or 'Gun' Ridge before falling back in the face of Turkish reinforcements.  Some other men who had reached well forward were cut off and died where they stood.  Their skeletal remains and fired cartridge cases bore mute testimony to their forlorn hope when Bean revisited the Peninsula after the Armistice.

The names of the four who perished at Gallipoli are all engraved on the Lone Pine Memorial, Francis Stokes among them.

The Flowers of the Forest;

Arthur BLACKBURN (/explore/people/930)

Guy FISHER (/explore/people/373586)

John GORDON (/explore/people/198723)

Wilfid JOSE (/explore/people/173634)

Eric MELDRUM (/explore/people/55797)

Philip ROBIN (/explore/people/9135)

Francis STOKES (/explore/people/60171)

Malcolm TEASEDALE-SMITH (/explore/people/190689)

Thomas WHYTE (/explore/people/170704)

 

 

Steve Larkins October 2014

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