Service number: 42407 | Rank: Private | Regiment: ‘Y’ Company, 2nd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment. Formerly of Essex Regiment (28113).
Killed in action, August 21, 1918, in Flanders. Aged 21.
Buried at RAILWAY CUTTING CEMETERY, COURCELLES-LE-COMTE, Pas de Calais, France.
WHAT I KNOW ABOUT HECTOR …
For reasons unknown, Hector’s name on Brandon’s war memorial is listed as J Hector Lockwood, and newspapers of the time refer to him as Hector Lockwood. Yet, his birth name was Ernest Hector, which also appears as the name his parents wrote on the 1901 and 1911 Census returns.
Hector was born on 27th April 1897 at Santon Downham to William and Belinda Lockwood and William was a gamekeeper for Colonel Mackenzie at the Downham Hall Estate. In 1901 the family were living at High Lodge Farm in Santon Downham and Hector was the fourth son in the family. He was educated at the County Council School in Brandon and in his last year of education, in 1911; his family were then living at Hall Farm, on Mackenzie’s Estate. At this time his father was no longer a gamekeeper but instead, according to the census return, he was a gardener. On leaving school Ernest himself became an under-gamekeeper on Mackenzie’s estate.
On 1st May 1916 Hector went to the Army Recruitment Office in Norwich and enlisted to join the military and was placed into the Suffolk Regiment and from 22nd July he served with the Suffolks in the British Expeditionary Force in Flanders. On 21st August the objective of the 2nd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment, was the Albert-Arras railway in the area of Courcelles-le-Comte. The initial assault was successful and Ernest’s unit passed through the area to secure the railway line. However there was a very thick mist which was further thickened by the smoke of artillery shells and tank gun fire which led to many men getting lost. The mist was so thick the men had to use compasses to get their bearings because no landmarks were visible. Although the main objective was achieved some men on the right flank of the attack encountered pockets of enemy resistance. With the objective achieved, and the railway line secured, the men withdrew under cover of darkness to trenches between Courcelles and Ayette. The battle cost the battalion 188 men killed, wounded or missing. Ernest was one of those who did not return from the attack.
At the end of September 1918 Hector’s parents received the official notification from the War Office stating their son had been missing from his unit following the attack on the railway line. A week later they received another telegram from the War Office, but this time it informed them that he had been killed on the 21st August 1918. The couple then received a letter from Ernest’s Commanding Officer who wrote his men had later returned to the site of the attack and had found Ernest’s body. They then buried him in a cemetery near the railway line. Hector was 21 years old and unmarried. His parents had two others sons in the military, one serving in France and one in the Royal Navy.
Hector’s mother provided the inscription for his headstone, “When Jesus Calls The Brave, Our Darling Will Be There.”