Private Wallace Frederick Hancock

Date of Birth 25 August 1896
Age at Death 18
Date of Death 9 May 1915
Service Number 11602
Military Service 2nd Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment
Merton Address 8 Shelton Road, Merton Park
Local Memorial Rutlish School, Merton

Additional Information

Wallace Frederick Hancock, the only son of Frederick and Sarah Hancock, was born 26 August 1896 and baptised 4th November 1896 at Holy Trinity and St. Peter on Wimbledon Broadway. He lived at 179 Florence Road, Wimbledon and his father worked as a clerk in the varnish industry. By 1911 the family had moved to 31, Bournemouth Road, Wimbledon and Wallace was a pupil at Rutlish School in Merton Park.

Wallace enlisted with the Gloucestershire Regiment in September 1914 but he was not with the 2nd battalion when it left for France on 18th December 1914. The Battalion marched from Hursley Park and entrained for Southampton where they boarded the City of Chester bound for Le Harve. They arrived in France in December 1914 as part of 81st Brigade, 27th Division, and on the eve of the second battle of Ypres, its first significant taste of combat, the battalion's strength was 22 officers and 789 men.

According to his star record Private Hancock disembarked two months after the rest of the battalion on 18th February 1915. On 9 May 1915, during the Battle of Frezenberg Ridge – the only engagement of the four that comprised the Second Battle of Ypres to involve the regiment – the enemy succeeded in occupying part of the forward trench line held by 2nd Battalion. Some 30 men of B Company were cut off, and two failed attempts to retake the trenches could not rescue them. The battalion lost 5 officers (including the battalion commander) and 140 men, including Private Hancock, on that day.

Official records of Wallace Hancock’s death note only that he was killed in action in the Western European theatre of War and that he is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) memorial. The Menin Gate is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. The Salient was formed during the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914, when a small British Expeditionary Force succeeded in securing the town before the onset of winter, pushing the German forces back to the Passchendaele Ridge. The Second Battle of Ypres began in April 1915 when the Germans released poison gas into the Allied lines north of Ypres. This was the first time gas had been used by either side and the violence of the attack forced an Allied withdrawal and a shortening of the line of defence.

In addition to the Ypres memorial, Private Hancock is also remembered on the war memorial at Rutlish school.


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