A Memorial paving stone has been laid at junction of Norfolk Street and Yorke Street in Somerstown today for Company Sergeant Major James Ockendon, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery in the First World War
On 4th October 1917, east of Langemark, Belgium, Sergeant Ockendon was acting as company sergeant-major, and seeing the platoon on the right held up by an enemy machine-gun, he immediately rushed the gun, regardless of his own safety and captured it, killing the crew.
He then led a section to the attack on a farm, where under very heavy fire he rushed forward and called on the garrison to surrender. As the enemy continued to fire on him he opened fire, killing four, whereupon the remaining 16 surrendered.
Sergeant Ockendon was born at 56 Albert Street, Landport, one of nine children, and went to St.Agatha’s School. On 28th August 1917 he married Caroline Anne Green at St.Luke’s Church, Southsea.
He and his wife had four children and he worked as a crane driver in Portsmouth Dockyard. After his retirement he worked at No.3 Training Battalion, Royal Army Ordnance Corps, Hilsea.
He died at his home at 5 Yorke Street, Somerstown aged 75. Portsmouth City Council named Ockendon Close in his honour. He was cremated on 1st September 1966 and his ashes scattered in the Garden of Remembrance.
There is a memorial to James Ockendon at the British Legion in Fratton and a memorial bench in Burgoyne Gardens, Southsea.