Withy worker from New Town, Kingsbury Episcopi killed in Italy
Albert Walter George Pocock : Private 5678154 2nd Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry
Albert Pocock married Daisy Rosina Best on the 19th April 1944. They lived in a cottage in Lavers Row, between Kingsbury Episcopi and Thorney in an area called Newtown. These cottages were old, and by the mid 20th century were in such a poor state they were demolished. In living memory families who lived in the cottages recall that they used to flood regularly from the ditch that ran along the back of the cottages, which runs down to the river and Coombe Bridge. The photograph and map at the top of this page show the location of the cottages – behind the puddle and the hedge on the corner of Thorney Road and Coombe Lane.
From the 1939 Register we know that Albert was living at 41 Colickshill, Stoke St.Gregory, probably as a lodger with Edward and Florence David. He was still single at this time.
Albert was a willow labourer in Stoke St.Gregory, which today is the home of Coates English Willow, one of the largest producers of willow and willow products still operating in Somerset. Albert’s parents lived in Stoke St.Gregory.
His father Albert Ernest Pocock 1879-1954 was a miner, his mother was Emma Jane, nee Boobyer, a common surname in Stoke St.Gregory. Edmund Boobyer was a local Withy Grower and Merchant, whose business had grown in the First World War when there was a huge demand for willow which was used for pigeon baskets and shell carriers. On the 1939 Register there is a Boobyer family living at number 42 Colickshill. Withy Merchant Edmund’s daughter, Kathleen Boobyer, married Percy Coate in 1940, so the two successful willow-growing families were linked through marriage.
Albert enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry in the Second World War. He was amongst the Allied forces which invaded the Italian mainland in September 1943.
Following the fall of Rome in June 1944, the Germans retreated, making successive stands on a series of defensive lines. In the northern Apennine mountains, the last of these lines was breached by the Allies during the autumn, and the front inched forward as far as Ravenna. But at this point, Allied Divisions were moved to support other offensives in France and this allowed the Germans to dig in to a number of key defensive positions.
The Allied advance in October and November 1944 slowed down and then stalled. There was heavy fighting in the area between Rimini and Ravenna in appalling weather conditions. It was here that Albert lost his life.
Albert is buried in Forli War Cemetery, Italy. Grave No. IV.D.20. He is also remembered on the war memorials in the Parish of Kingsbury Episcopi.