William Henry Stockdale was born in Keswick, Cumberland on 10 December 1889, the son of William and Annie. He went to school there, and on completing his secondary education he attended Bede College 1908-1910. William was a college prefect and Captain of Rugby in his final year. He completed his certificate in 1910, with merit. During his time at the college, like most of his fellow students, he volunteered in the 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry (Territorial Force). He began teaching at Blaydon Council School, Newcastle upon Tyne, and was married to Miss Edith Pritchard of Heaton in May 1915. He returned to Durham in 1915 to join his old college unit and enlisted into the C Company, 8 D.L.I.
The battalion fought in the Ypres Salient, and on 2 March 1916 whilst occupying a support trench at Hill 60, just south of Sanctuary Wood near Zillebeke, two miles south-west of Ypres, C Company was heavily shelled. William’s trench was hit and many men were killed or wounded. William himself was mortally wounded and this account by a comrade is contained in a memorial to him in Bede Magazine:
You will see by the papers that there has been some fighting in our district again. Our battalion was in the adjoining trenches, and we suffered more than the troops officially engaged; because the Huns thought we were going to attack and therefore shelled us unmercifully. Our casualty list I am sorry to say was pretty large. Poor Will Stockdale was one of the men killed. He was with his men in his part of the trench when a shell came and wiped out about six or seven of them. He was not killed outright, and his first thoughts were for his men, and he ordered that they should be attended to first. He passed away quite peacefully. He was a credit to his Battalion, and to his old College; he was beloved by one and all
Bede Magazine, March 1916, p.27
A similar account appears in the Roll of Honour within Keswick at War which names the sender of the letter as Sergeant G. S. Jackson. This account further states, “[h]is loss will be keenly felt, his adjutant had strongly recommended him to apply for a commission, but alas it was not meant to be.” William is buried at Railway Dugouts Burial Ground (Transport Farm), a cemetery near Poperinghe.
William Stockdale is remembered on the war memorials at Keswick, Blaydon, and Durham County Hall, and on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour. His name is also recorded on two plaques (1, 2 and image) in Heaton Baptist Church, Newcastle upon Tyne, and in the National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919 (1920).