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HANKS, William (1883-1917) – Private, Worcestershire Regiment

William Hanks moved from Bishampton to Badsey in about 1912-1913.  Private William Hanks (or Corporal Hanks as he appears on the Commonwealth War Graves website) is recorded on the war memorial in St James’ Church, Badsey.

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William Hanks was born at Peopleton, the youngest of seven children of Stephen John (known as John) and Eliza Hanks.  His father was a shepherd and then latterly a farm bailiff, so the family tended to move from place to place.  The four eldest children in the family were all born at Badsey, William’s mother’s home village (Eliza’s family, the Hartwells, had lived in Badsey since the 18th century).

In 1908, William married Mary Emma Haines who was from Bishampton.  William’s parents had moved from Strensham to Bishampton some time between the 1901 and 1911 census, so it is likely that he met his wife-to-be when he moved with his family to Bishampton.  At the time of the 1911 census, William and Mary were living alone at Bishampton where William was a cowman on a farm.  The census indicates that Mary had given birth to two children who had died in infancy.

In August 1912, William’s mother, Eliza, died at Bishampton, but was buried in her home village of Badsey.  By early 1913, some of the Hanks family had moved to Badsey and Aldington.  In the first quarter of 1913, William and Mary had a daughter, Eliza H M, who was born in the Evesham district.  This was probably at Aldington, as this was where the Haines family were living in 1914 and 1915 when William was listed in Smith’s Household Almanack as a market gardener.  In May 1913, William’s sister, Ada, who was closest to him in age, married Thomas Haines in St James’ Church; he was the brother of William’s wife, Mary.

During the First World War, William enlisted at Evesham with the 2nd Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment in September 1915; his regimental number was 19452.  He was killed in action on 5th July 1917 in Belgium.  The following report appeared in the Parish Magazine of September 1917:

“News has been received of the death of Pte W Hanks, Worcestershire Regt, late of Aldington and formerly of Badsey, who was killed in action in France on July 5.  Pte Hanks was one of those who volunteered for service before the introduction of ‘Groups’ and ‘Classes’, having enlisted in September 1915, and had been in France about a year.  Much sympathy is felt for his wife and child and aged father.”

Grave of Corporal William Hanks
Corporal William Hanks’ grave at Menin Road South Military Cemetery, © The War Graves Photographic Project.

A Memorial Service was held at Badsey on 12th September 1917.  William was buried at Menin Road South Military Cemetery (plot I D 13).  Details of headstone schedules on the Commonwealth War Graves website reveal that William’s widow, Mary, requested that the words “Peace perfect peace” should be added to the headstone.  Mary was by this time Mrs Ernest Butterworth of 6 Eden Street, Oldham, having married in 1920.  William’s only child, Eliza, died at Oldham in 1933, aged 20.  Mary Butterworth, died at Oldham in 1955.

William’s father died at Evesham in 1921 and was buried in Badsey churchyard.  Other members of William’s family returned to live in Badsey in the 1930s.  Mary Anne, Helen and Job Hanks, none of whom married, lived in an old cottage by the school until their deaths in 1946, 1961 and 1960 respectively.