Yorke, Henry Reay


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He was the second son of Thomas Edward Yorke DL, of Bewerley Hall, Yorkshire, and Augusta Mary Yorke (daughter of Reverend the Hon. John Baillie, Canon of York). He entered Mr. Kensington’s House in January 1888, and left in December 1891.   He went into the army through the Militia, obtaining a commission in the 2nd Battalion, Scottish Rifles, in 1896. Two years later he transferred to 1st Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers. On January 21st 1901, he marrried Dora Coningsby Bateman (daughter of Frederick Reginald Bateman, of Balinorig, Kerry). Having retired in 1907, he became a poultry-farmer and market gardener in Dorset.

He rejoined the army for the Great War, was commissioned as a Captain on the General List, serving in the depot of the Dorset Regiment for the rest of the war and was once mentioned in despatches. He lived at Holly Croft, Brompton-by-Sawdon, near Scarborough.

On the outbreak of the Second World War he volunteered for the Royal Observer Corps. He was killed by enemy action at his home at the age of sixty-six; Brompton was bombed on the night of Sunday May 4th-5th, and Holly Croft suffered a hit from a high-explosive bomb or mine. The air-raid was intended for Scarborough itself, but by now the British were jamming the radio beams which German aircraft used to guide them on to their targets. The jamming was subtle, the beams effectively being “bent” so that the Germans thought that they were functioning correctly but off-loaded their bombs away from the target. The raid thus resulted in heavy bombing of the countryside around Burniston, Cloughton, Harwood Dale and Staintondale. Yorke was the only fatality that night.

The local defence centres reported that night’s raids as follows:

ARP Report: Sirens 2325 to 0500 (5th). Big fire on moors at Cloughton Bank – blitzed for hours. Planes making runs over town. Decoy fire? Cow killed – Staintondale. Mine at Brompton killed Captain Yorke. 25 HE bombs in Burniston Parish; 68 in vicinity of Burniston, Cloughton, Harwood Dale and Staintondale. Two delayed action, one a dud – crater in Cumboots Wood. Also bombs at sea. Later delayed-action bombs bursting for days after. Mine had also been dropped. Bomb also at Barracks? One soldier killed, two injured.

Report by Police Inspector Phillips: Air Raid Message Purple 2316 hours. Action Warning Red 2325 hours. Arrived hospital 2344 hours. Incendiary bombs dropped at approx’ Harwood Dale 0025 hours and considerable enemy air activity with further incendiaries and HE bombs continued in the surrounding district. Internal alarm sounded and all patients moved to shelters. Air Raid Message White 0500 hours. Section dismissed.

Yorke’s wife Dora was injured in the blast, but she survived, dying in 1954.    Yorke is buried in the Scarborough district but the location of his grave is unknown. His will was published in the Scarborough Mercury in September 1941.

War: World War 2

  • Surname: Yorke
  • Forenames or initials: Henry Reay
  • House: D
  • Years in School: 1888-1891
  • Rank: NA
  • Regiment: Royal Observer Corps
  • Date of Birth: 26th January 1875
  • Date of Death: 5th May 1941
  • How Died: Killed by enemy action
  • Location in War Cloister: Not commemorated
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Unknown