John William “Willie” Wilcock, No- 7806 Private, 2nd Battalion, Kings Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) was killed in action at the Battle of Ypres, Belgium 8th May 1915 and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. William Wilcock was born ‘John William Wilcock’ in Withington Didsbury Manchester in 1886 but was always known as ‘William Wilcock’. He was the son of James William & Mary Ellen Wilcock (nee Brazendale) and the husband of Elizabeth Williams of Buckley whom he married in Manchester.
William spent his adult years living and working in his parent’s bakery & confectionery business as their delivery driver, with a short three year enlistment in the regular army from 1903 to 1906. At the outbreak of the war William was recalled from the Army Reserve back to his old regiment, the K.O.R.L.R. at which time his wife Elizabeth returned from Manchester to live in Buckley while William was away at the Front.
John William Wilcock had married Elizabeth Williams in the Chorley (Manchester) reg distr (which includes Withington and Didsbury) ref: 8C/1856. UKBMDSearch online under Lancashire shows that it took place at Chorlton-on-Medlock Registry Office. Elizabeth was born in Buckley and christened in the Parish of Bistre on 28th January 1891.
Elizabeth Williams was christened on 28 January 1891 in Bistre Parish Church, to parents Thomas and Rachel Williams of Spon Green. In the census of 1891 Elizabeth Williams was recorded as the only child aged 7 months (born Buckley) of parent’s Thomas and Rachel Williams living at Spon Green. Thomas was a coal miner who had been born in Buckley in 1867 and Rachel was born in Mold in the same year (both aged 24). The marriage took place in the Dec qtr 1886 at Holywell reg distr, 11B/415. Her maiden name was Gunning. In the census of 1901 Elizabeth Williams was aged 10 and was listed at her Aunt’s house at 43 Spon Green. Her Aunt was Ruth E Williams (married) who had been born in Fartown, Worcestershire in 1874. The 1911 census records Elizabeth ‘Mary’ Williams aged 23 and born in Buckley as a domestic servant living in the Brocklehurst family home at 8 Linden Street, Didsbury, Manchester. This is the Elizabeth Williams who later married William Wilcock of Didsbury.
On the 2 April 1915 William’s wife Elizabeth received a pre-paid postcard from the War Office requesting William’s official address, which she filled in and mailed back as “100 Brook Street, Spon Green, Buckley, near Chester”. This tells us that Elizabeth Wilcock returned home to her roots in Buckley whilst her husband was overseas during the war
Elizabeth Wilcock later married Paul Walton (a WW1 veteran) in Heaton Mersey, Manchester in 1920, but there seems to be no issue from either of her marriages to William or Paul. Paul Walton’s death was recorded in the Stockport reg distr, June qtr 1926 ref 8A/134, age 35, thus Elizabeth was widowed twice within 11 years.
John William Wilcock is also commemorated on the Didsbury War Memorial.
In 2018 William’s Victory Medal was found in a box by James Williams who by inference is a relative of William’s wife Elizabeth Williams.
James Williams also provided a letter written home by William (“Willie”) to the Williams family shortly before he embarked for France. This confirms that his wife Bessie was living with her family in Buckley while Willie was away.