William Hancock

Date of birth: 7th April 1892
Place of birth: Eastleigh, Hampshire
Service No.: 153410
Rank: Private
Regiment: Canadian Infantry
Battalion: 43rd
Died: 21st September 1916 aged 24 years
Death location: Courcellete, France


Before the War
William was the third of seven children born to William Henry (1864 – 05/10/1923) and Caroline (nee Moth 03/06/1865 – 20/03/1924).  His parents were married on 18th July 1888 at the Parish Church, Farnborough, and at that time William Henry was serving as a Private in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, stationed at North Camp, Farnborough.

William was christened on 5th June 1892 in Farnborough.

William’s siblings were:

Anna (12/02/1889).  Baptised on 3rd April 1889.
Anna emigrated to Canada with the family in 1913, but no records can be found for her after this.

Nelly (1st December 1890 – 28/05/1919).  Baptised on 4th January 1891.
Married Frank Turner (04/12/1892 – 07/04/1972) in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada on 29th November 1916.   The 1921 Canadian census shows that Frank was living with at his brother, Sidney,  in Winnipeg.  He was a widower and also at his address was his daughter Irene and his mother, Bessie.  Irene is the informant on his death certificate.

Arthur James (29th May 1894 – 1896).  Baptised on 15th July 1894.

Eveline Elson (19/10/1897 – 13/07/1987).  Eveline was known as Elson.
Married Harry Good in Winnipeg on 30th December 1916.  Her burial took place on 17th July 1987 at Glen Eden Memorial Gardens, Winnipeg.  She was a widow when she died, but no date can be found for the death of Harry.

Eliza Linna Maggie (28/03/1899 – 29/04/1988).
Married Joseph Ernest Ingham (18/04/1900 – 16/08/1971) in Winnipeg on 6th August 1921.
Joseph was born in Asterby, England and emigrated to Canada in 1906.  They were living in Vancouver when they died.

Ethel (1904 – 1969).
Married Albert Lewis Sanders in Winnipeg on 2nd May 1925.  There is a record for a marriage on 18th October 1930 for Ethel Sanders to John Holliday and also a record for a marriage for Albert Lewis Sanders to Catherine Nicolson on 16th May 1931.  There is no death record for Ethel Sanders who was born in 1904, but one can be found for Ethel Holliday who died in 1969 and is buried with John in Chapel Lawn Memorial Gardens, Winnipeg.

The 1891 census shows that William’s parents and his sisters, Anna and Nelly, were living at Clapham Terrace, Market Street, Eastleigh.  His father was working for South West Railways as a labourer in the Carriage Department.  Anna and Nelly were born in Farnborough.

When the 1901 census was taken William was living with his family at 3 Park View Terrace, Oldham.  They must have moved here before 1897 as his sisters, Eveline and Eliza, were born in Oldham.

The census taken in 1911 shows that William was living at 17 Sickle Street, Oldham.  William’s father and sister Anna are not on this census.  Nelly was working as a beamer at a cotton mill and William was an iron turner.  Eveline was 13 years old at the time of this census but she was already working as a weaver of velvet at a weaving shed.

William’s father was not recorded on the 1911 England census.  The 1921 Canadian census shows that he was living at 289 Blake Street, Winnipeg with his wife and daughters Eveline (recorded as Elson), Eliza (recorded as Maggie), and Ethel.  Ethel’s husband Harry, and their daughter Ethel, were also living here.  This census records that William’s father emigrated to Canada in 1910, but although there are travel records for a William Henry Hancock, a correct one cannot be found for this date.

William emigrated to Canada and sailed from Liverpool on 25th April 1912 aboard S S Lake Champlain.  He arrived in Quebec on 7th May 1912.  The Canadian passenger list states that he was to going to join his father.

In 1913 William’s mother travelled to Canada to join her husband and, with her daughters, sailed to Canada on 13th June aboard S S Empress of Ireland, arriving in Quebec on 20th June.


Military History
William was working as a steam fitter when he enlisted in the 79th Cameron Highlanders of Canada, in Winnipeg, Manitoba on 29th June 1915.  He sailed to England, aboard HMTS Scandinavian, on 27th August 1915,  with 2nd draft, 79th Overseas drafting Detachment.  This was one of 4 drafts which was organised and sent overseas in 1915.  William was taken on strength to the 43rd Battalion, Cameron Highlanders on 5th September 1915 and served in ‘D’ Company.

The Battalion were stationed at Shorncliffe and Bramshott Camps in England before being sent to France on 19th February 1916, arriving at Le Havre on 22nd February.  It was a very cold winter and the men then had to endure a long train journey toward the front.

William was killed in action on 21st September 1916 and his Casualty Form stated that his Battalion was in the vicinity of trenches near to Courcelette, and taking part in the Battle of the Somme.  He may have taken part in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette which began on 15th September 1916.  This was the third and final general offensive by the British Army and its objective was to break through the German line by artillery and infantry attacks, which would then be followed by the use of cavalry.

The battle ended on 22nd September, but the breakthrough had not been achieved.  This battle was also the first time that Canadian and New Zealand divisions had fought on the Somme battlefield.

The entry for the National Roll of the Great War read:
‘HANCOCK W., Private Canadian Overseas Forces.  Volunteering in August 1914 he was drafted to the Western Front on completion of his training.  In this theatre of war he saw much severe fighting on various sectors, and was killed in action in September 1916, during the Battle of the Somme.  He was entitled to the 1914-1915 Star, and the General Service and Victory Medals.
273, Northumberland Road, Southampton.’

There is a record of a relative (on William’s father’s side of the family), who lived at 247 Northumberland Road until 1936, but not at 273.

Left front view of the Vimy Memorial, Vimy Ridge.

Left front view of the Vimy Memorial, Vimy Ridge.

There is no record of a burial for William and he is remembered with honour on the Vimy Memorial.  He is one of over 11000 Canadians, who were posted as ‘missing presumed dead’, who are inscribed on the ramparts of the memorial.

With grateful thanks to J Stuart McLean for his help with the Military information.





Researcher: Jackie Chandler
Published: 25th October 2015
Updated: Insert dates here

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