Service number: 200190 | Rank: Private | Regiment: Norfolk Regiment
Died, April 19, 1917, at Palestine
Remembered at JERUSALEM MEMORIAL, Israel.
Born and enlisted in Brandon.
WHAT I KNOW ABOUT HARRY (HENRY) …
By the age of twenty-one Harry had already served as a Volunteer in the Norfolk Regiment and in March of 1914 he took himself into an Army Recruitment Office in his hometown of Brandon and signed up again to serve his country. This was at a time when he was employed by Mrs Hall in Weeting as an agricultural labourer. In order to become a Volunteer he had to sign a declaration stating that he would serve his country should a national emergency arise. There can be no less a national emergency than a declaration of war and just a few months later Britain was at war with Germany and Harry was thrown into the action.
In July of 1915 Harry travelled to Liverpool and embarked on the troopship, ‘H.M.T. Auquitania’, and had become part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, serving with the Norfolk Regiment, and destined for the Middle East. After leaving Britain the shipped docked in the Greek port of Mudros and later that year, in December, it finally reached Alexandria in Egypt.
Harry’s unit were involved in the fighting at the Second Battle of Gaza against troops from the Ottoman Empire. A heavy artillery barrage by the Allies began on the 18th April directed at the enemy trenches and the Norfolk regiment began their attack at 7.30am on 19th April. The 4th Battalion was on the left and the 5th Battalion on the right. Harry’s battalion were cut down and their attack faltered within 500 yards from their objective and by this time two-thirds of the men had become casualties. The Hampshire Regiment reinforced the surviving Norfolks but they too suffered massive casualties and no further advances were made from their position. Harry was one of the casualties and did not return to his unit. Initially he was listed as missing, and eventually the War Office declared him to have been ‘killed in action’. This failed attack decimated the Egyptian Expeditionary Force while serving to boost the morale of the Ottoman forces.
Harry was the older brother of Robert Docking who had been awarded the D.C.M. before being killed in the Somme Offensive of July 1916. Just before the end of the war, in September 1918, Harry’s father, also named Henry, passed away. By the end of the war Harry’s mother, Eliza, of 97 Thetford Road, had lost two sons and her husband.