Family’s ultimate ANZAC sacrifice

CAMIRA'S Laurie Handcock has an unrivalled Anzac legacy that he says has inspired equal parts enormous pride and ­immense grief.

His grandfather was Private William Henry Handcock, one of eight brothers who served and suffered in the World War I.

"As far as we know, our family is the largest individual group of Australian brothers to go to the first World War," Mr Handcock said.

"The records are quite dusty, so it has not been ­officially recognised, but it's an enormous source of pride for our family."

The Handcock brothers. Eight served in WWI, but Peter was too young to enlist.
The Handcock brothers. Eight served in WWI, but Peter was too young to enlist.

It was tragedy that ­inspired most of the Handcock brothers to serve.

The eldest, Private John Albert Handcock of the 7th Battalion, was killed in ­action at the Gallipoli landings on April 25, 1915.

He was en route to the war when the pictured family photo was taken, so the photographer added his portrait (centre back) in afterwards.

Pte Handcock is commemorated at the Lone Pine Memorial dedicated to Australian soldiers who have no known grave.

Portrait of Private Albert John Handcock, 7th Battalion, killed in action, 1915-25-04. IMAGE: Australian War Memorial
Portrait of Private Albert John Handcock, 7th Battalion, killed in action, 1915-25-04. IMAGE: Australian War Memorial

"I think (John's death) led to the rest enlisting," Mr Handcock said.

Lance corporal Charles Handcock was the only other brother who did not return from war, tragically dying from illness just one day before the end of the war on November 10, 1918.

The other six - Corporal Reginald Francis Handcock, Sapper Robert Edwin Handcock, Lance Corporal ­Joseph Ralph Handcock, Richard Murdoch Rowe Handcock, Mr Handcock's grandfather Private William Henry Handcock, and Sapper Frederick Arthur Handcock all returned home to family farm at Myrrhee in north eastern Victoria.

"But they all came back damaged in some way," Mr Handcock said.

"One turned to alcoholism, one killed himself and among them they'd lost limbs and had permanent ­injuries.

 

Sergeant Charles Handcock, 37th Battalion. Died of illness, 10 November 1918, aged 31. IMAGE: Australian War Memorial.
Sergeant Charles Handcock, 37th Battalion. Died of illness, 10 November 1918, aged 31. IMAGE: Australian War Memorial.

"I think that's one of the reasons grandad never ­talked about it much."

But Mr Handcock made sure he did. He has passed the stories of the family's legacy to his own children.

"This generation of kids know the war was something that happened 100 years ago, so the impact is not as fresh anymore," he said.

"But we certainly let them know the details, and I know my kids are very proud of it.

"The men are all are long gone now, but never forgotten."

Mr Handcock will ­attend the Springfield Light Tower Dawn Service on April 25.

SHARE YOUR ANZAC STORY

To share your family's Anzac story email the Springfield Light Tower Association at info@springfieldlighttower. com.au. These will form part of the Springfield Central Anzac Dawn Service.



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