News People Faces of Gallipoli: Francis Herbert Stokes

Faces of Gallipoli: Francis Herbert Stokes

Francis Herbert Stokes
Australian War Memorial
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Francis Herbert Stokes had military in his blood, even if it did skip a generation.

His father was the Reverend Francis Herbert Stokes, but his grandfather was Lieutenant General Sir John Stokes, who fought for Great Britain in the Xhosa Wars in South Africa.

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A resident of Henley Beach, he certainly lived by the ocean, but there is some conjecture over whether he died by the sea.Francis Herbert Stokes-2

Stokes left his job as a clerk to join the scouts of the Tenth Battalion, and from there went to train in Egypt, as did the others.

During the Gallopoli landing, it seems he made it ashore, and then went back to rescue the wounded floating in the water, dragging them to the safety of the cliffs.

On the Roll of Honour, it is claimed he and others saved many lived doing this.

From there, things are less clear.

According to one account, that of fellow scout Arthur Blackburn, he was wounded during one of these rescue missions, and died within minutes of having arrived at Gallipoli.

This differs from the version of events recounted to Gordon Bruce by Chris Stokes, who says the Stokes family were told in writing by Blackburn that Francis was killed not on the beach, but later on by shrapnel a few yards from the Brig.

The official record has Stokes’ date of death as the 27th of April, not the 25th when the landing was made.

In researching the issue, Gordon Bruce attributes the confusion to the chaos of the landing that obscured the exact details of the deaths of many soldiers.