Geoffrey Haddock

Haddock Geoffrey

Date of birth: 10th January 1895
Place of birth: Birkenhead
Service No.: 65404
Rank: Lieutenant
Regiment / Division: Canadian Infantry
Battalion: 24th Battalion (Victoria Rifles of Canada)
Died: 17th September 1916 aged 21 years
Death location: Courcelette, France


Before the War

Geoffrey was born in Birkenhead on 10th January 1895 to Captain Herbert James (27/01/1861 – 04/10/1946) and Mabel Eliza Haddock (nee Bouchette 09/05/1871 – 11/03/1935).  His parents were married in Rock Ferry, Cheshire on 13th May 1893.

Geoffrey’s mother was born in West Derby, Lancaster.  Her parents, Jessie and Francis Baines Bouchette were married by special licence in Liverpool, England on 15th January 1866.  Francis’ father, John Francis Bouchette was born in Quebec, Canada and he married Mary Frances Baines, who was born in England, in 1830.

Geoffrey was christened on 14th March 1895 in Rock Ferry. Geoffrey’s siblings were:

Ruth 1896 – 25/10/1958
Herbert 21/10/1903 – 13/06/1988 – married Elizabeth Norah Stanley 1937 in India.
Joan 21/10/1903 – 21/11/1920)

On the 1901 Census Geoffrey is living with his mother at 56 Chester Road, Birkenhead.  His name is recorded as Godfrey. His sister Ruth is visiting her grandmother, Jessie Bouchette, at 402 Old Chester Road, Birkenhead.

NOTE:  Geoffrey is on the Southampton Cenotaph Memorial Wall as ‘Godfery’.

By the 1911 Census Geoffrey’s mother is living with her son Herbert and daughters Ruth and Joan at 40 The Avenue, Southampton.  Geoffrey’s father is not on this Census as he is working for the White Star Line and was probably at sea.  Geoffrey is boarding at Birkenhead School, Shrewsbury Road, Oxton, Birkenhead.  Whilst here he was a prefect and played in the cricket and football teams.

Geoffrey emigrated to Canada in May 1912, a passenger on SS Canada which left Liverpool on 18th May 1912, and arrived in Quebec on 26th May 1912.  He was amongst a list of passengers who intended to settle in Canada.  On the departure papers it states that he was a student but on his arrival papers it states ‘Clerk’.  On the 1913-1914 Montreal City Directory Geoffrey lived at 127 Drummond Street and was employed as private secretary to the President of the Great Trunk Railway.

Military History
Geoffrey enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Montreal on 24th October 1914.  The Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) was formed in Canada from August 1914 onwards.  By the end of the war more than 250 battalions had been formed.  Although most battalions made it as far as England only a few served in France and Flanders, the others were usually disbanded at a Training Depot in England and the men sent as reinforcements to the CEF in France. Geoffrey’s Battalion, the 24th Victoria Rifles, embarked for Great Britain on 11th May 1915 and arrived in France on 16th September 1915 fighting as part of the 5th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division, in France and Flanders until the end of the war.  Geoffrey was promoted to Sergeant and then commissioned in the field to Lieutenant.  He was part of ‘D’ Company and he was killed in action on 17th September 1916 in Courcelette in the Battle of the Somme.  At 12.30pm on that day orders were received to attack the German front line near to a sugar refinery, south of the village of Courcelette.  The attack started at 5.00pm.  ‘D’ company suffered many casualties and these heavy losses were blamed on the inadequacy of the artillery action prior to the attack.  His body was never retrieved.

Geoffrey was awarded the Victory medal and the British War medal. The Old Birkonian Society remember Geoffrey and their memorial to him is included below with their kind permission:

“Dedicated to the memory of the old boys of Birkenhead School who gave their lives for others in The Great War trusting that their sacrifice may never be forgotten and that their example may live for ever to inspire succeeding generations of their schoolfellows.” ‘LIEUTENANT G. HADDOCK 24TH BATTALION (VICTORIA RIFLES), CANADIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE’
“GEOFFREY HADDOCK, son of Herbert James Haddock, C.B., Commodore R.N.R., was killed at Courcelette, France, on September 17, 1916.  After a year in the Preparatory, he entered the School in 1905 and left in 1911; he was a School Prefect and a member of the cricket and football teams.  After leaving School he went to Canada, where he was private secretary to the president of the Grand Trunk Railway.  In August 1914 he joined the Canadian Highlanders, but was transferred on receiving his commission.  On crossing to France he was for some months at Ypres and St. Eloi, and then on the Somme.  At Courcelette he went into action on September 14, and fought on until the night of September 17, 1916.”

His Colonel wrote: “From the very day your son joined my battalion in Montreal he has been close to me, and only the other day General Byng, our Corps Commander, at an inspection asked me who your son was – so smart and soldierly he looked.  His place can never be filled. . . . The devotion of your son to duty has been an inspiration to us all.”

A brother officer wrote: “Geoff was a born leader, and his example will help those of us who are left.  The standard he set for us is very high, and I only pray that we can live up to it. … It is such as he that make our country what it is to-day.”

Geoffrey is remembered at the Vimy Memorial which is dedicated to those who served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and lost their lives during the First World War.  This memorial is north of Arras, France and overlooks the Douai Plain.  11285 names are carved on the memorial.  There is a grave at Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont for an unknown Canadian Lieutenant, and on the ‘Find a Grave’ website this has been assigned to Geoffrey.  The headstone inscription reads:

“A Canadian Officer (Lieutenant) of The Great War”.  

Adanac Military Cemetery is located south of the village of Miraumont.  The name Adanac was formed by reversing Canada and was made after the Armistice.  Graves were brought here from Canadian battlefields around Courcelette so it is possible that Geoffrey is buried here. There is also a memorial to Geoffrey in St Mary’s Extra Cemetery, Sholing, Southampton.  The memorial is in the form of a cross and is placed at the grave of his father, mother and sister Joan.

HADDOCK, Geoffrey  Lieut 65404

The inscription reads:

‘Sacred to the Memory of Lieut. Geoffrey Haddock, 24th Victoria Rifles, Canada. Killed at Courcellete 17th September 1916, aged 21.’

HADDOCK,Geoffrey    Lieut 65404

Also buried here is his grandmother, Jessie Bouchette, who died 23rd December 1918 in Southampton.  She was the widow of Francis Baines Bouchette who died 12th August 1893 in Rock Ferry, Cheshire.  He is buried at Anfield Cemetery.

Geoffrey’s father, Captain Herbert James Haddock
Captain Haddock was the first Captain of RMS Titanic.  At the age of 14 Herbert joined the training ship, HMS Conway, where he received his first mariner’s education.  In 1885 he received his extra master certificate and in 1890 was promoted to Lieutenant in the Royal Navy Reserve.  In 1902 he was awarded ‘Companion of the Order of Bath’.  This is mainly awarded to officers of the Armed Services as well as to a small number of civil servants.  Herbert was later appointed Aide de Camp to King George V.

Captain Haddock worked for the White Star Line and was Captain of RMS Titanic on her voyage from Belfast to Southampton.  On 1st April he took command of RMS Olympic and was en route from New York when RMS Titanic sank.  He received a distress call from Titanic and set sail to assist in the rescue.  When Olympic was about 100 miles away she received a message from RMS Carpathia which read: ‘South point pack ice 41.16 north.  Don’t attempt to go north until 49.30 west.  Many bergs. large and small, amongst pack.  Also for many miles to eastward.  Fear absolutely no hope searching Titanic’s position.  Left Leyland S.S. Californian searching around.  All boats accounted for.  About 675 souls saved, crew and passengers, latter nearly all women and children.  Titanic foundered about 2.20 a.m., 5.47. GMT in 41.16 north, 50.14 west; not certain of having got through.  Please forward to White Star—also to Cunard in Liverpool and New York—that I am returning to New York.  Consider this most advisable for many considerations. “ROSTRON”’

There was an inquiry by the United States Senate in respect of the tragedy and Captain Haddock was called to testify.  In 1915 Captain Haddock was Commodore of a fleet of dummy battleships to act as decoy in the North Sea.  He retired in 1918 and lived at Divna, Bitterne Way, Bitterne, Southampton.  When Captain Haddock died on 4th October 1946 he was living at 18 Furzedown Road, Highfield, Southampton.  There is a probate dated 27th January 1947 which names his daughter Ruth as a beneficiary. His death was recorded in the New York Times on 6th October 1946.

Researcher: Jackie Chandler
Published.: 17th July 2013
Updated: 27th March 2014 (photographs added)

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