b. 19/03/1878 Worcester. d. 30/11/1917 Masnieres, France.
Frederick George Dancox (1878-1917) was born at Crown Lane, Claines, Worcester on 19th March 1878 as Frederick John Dancocks. The family name was changed to Dancox when he enlisted. His father, William, was a general labourer, and married Louisa Chance, a glove maker, on 12th July 1875 at St Martin’s, Worcester. They lived at St Stephen’s Terrace, Claines and then Perdiswell Terrace, Droitwich Road, Claines. William died in 1880, and Louisa raised their three children (including Frederick) for three years before she married William Whittle, a widower, at Holy Trinity Church, Worcester on 19th August 1883. William had three children of his own from his previous marriage – two of whom were killed in action in the Great War. In all Frederick had eight siblings from his mother’s two marriages. His oldest brother, William was also killed in the Great War.
Frederick was educated at St Stephen’s School, Worcester and was then employed as a hay trusser. Frederick married Ellen Pritchard at Pershore in 1915. Ellen was previously employed as a shop assistant, and she and Frederick lived as a couple for a long time before they married. In 1911 they were boarding with James and Charlotte Harris. They then lived at 12 Court, Dolday, Worcester. They had five children, mostly born before they were married. Their children was Frederick (born 1902), Florence May (born 1906), Harry (born 1909), Ellen (born 1913) and George (born 1915, died 1916).
Frederick enlisted in March 1915 and served at Gallipoli from 19th September. He was evacuated to Egypt on 14th January 1916 and disembarked in France on 20th March. On 9th October 1917 at Namur Crossing, near Poelcapelle, Belgium, after the first objective had been captured and consolidation had been started, work was considerably hampered, and numerous casualties were caused, by an enemy machine gun firing from a concrete emplacement situated on the edge of our protective barrage. Pte. Dancox was one of a party of about ten men detailed as moppers-up. Owing to the position of the machine gun emplacement, it was extremely difficult to work round a flank. However, this man with great gallantry worked his way round through the barrage and entered the “Pillbox” from the rear, threatening the garrison with a Mills bomb.
Shortly afterwards he reappeared with a machine gun under his arm, followed by about 40 enemy. The machine gun was brought back to our position by Pte. Dancox, and he kept it in action all day.
He was granted fourteen days leave to return to England for the investiture, but was delayed by a German counterattack during the Battle of Cambrai. He was killed instantly by a piece of shrapnel in the head near Masnieres, France on 30th November 1917 and is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial. Preparations were well advanced for a civic reception and welcoming party at home when the news of his death arrived. The VC was presented to his widow by King George V outside Buckingham Palace on 31st July 1918. Ellen moved to a small house in Bull Entry, Worcester and struggled financially. The house was demolished in a slum clearance in the 1930s. The City of Worcester established a public fund for her and made an initial donation of £50. Eventually £451 was raised, and she later laid the wreath of poppies at the city’s War Memorial in 1932 in the presence of the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII).
In addition to the VC, Frederick was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal 1914-19. Ellen was forced to sell the VC in the early 1920s due to her financial difficulties. It was originally displayed with the King’s letter to her in the foyer of Worcester Guildhall. It is now held by the Worcestershire Regimental Museum, Foregate Street, Worcester, with a replica group on display.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: WORCESTERSHIRE REGIMENT MUSEUM, WORCESTER.
BURIAL PLACE: NO KNOWN GRAVE – ON CAMBRAI MEMORIAL. PANEL 6
Sam Eede – Image of Namur Crossing, Belgium