Henry John Oakley was born in 1893; he was one of ten children born to brick layer Frank Oakley and his wife, Emma. In 1911, the family lived at 57 Ray Lodge Road, Woodford Green. At this time, eighteen year old Henry and his brothers were working as farm labourers. At some stage, Henry joined the 6th Battalion, Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment). He was killed in action on 3rd July 1916, and was buried at Ovillers Military Cemetery, the Somme, France.
Research by Redbridge Museum
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Further research by Adrian Lee, Local Historian
Born in 1893 at Woodford, son of Frank (Bricklayers Labourer) and Emma Jane Oakley. 1901: With his family at 3 Ray Lodge Road, Woodford Green. 1911: A Farm Labourer living with his family at 57 Ray Lodge Road, Woodford Green.
He enlisted at Stratford, and seems to have done so with his friend and next door neighbour George Law. Both men joined 6th Royal West Kents, Law having the number G/11122, and Oakley G/11123. His brother Stanley Benjamin Oakley would also serve in that regiment, and be killed on 7th October 1916.
In July 1916 Oakley and his friend Law found themselves at the Battle of the Somme. Held in reserve during the disastrous actions on 1st July1916, the Battalion was part of the attack on Orvillers during 3rd July 1916, intending to take ground and straighten out the line. A late order to cancel an attack to their left resulted in the Battalion being exposed to constant heavy enfilade fire from the Leipzig Salient, but they were also held up by enemy barbed wire, and so became easy victims for machine gunners in Marsh Valley. 375 men out of 617 would become casualties.
Both Oakley and Law who lived next door to each other, joined the same battalion at the same time and served together at the same place, also died together during this attack. Henry Oakley rests in Ovillers Cemetery, but his friend George Law was never found.
X/R: Private Stanley Benjamin Oakley (Brother). Private George Law (Friend & Neighbour).