b. 13/01/1886 Dorchester, Dorset. d. 15/02/1942 St George’s Barracks, Malta.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 09/1941 St George’s Bay, Malta.
William Ewart Hiscock (1886-1942) was born on 13th January 1886 in Dorchester, Dorset, the son of Benjamin and Martha Mary Hiscock (nee Hyde) who had married in 1880 in Shapwick, Dorset. William had a sister Edith and a brother Benjamin. His father worked as a pattern maker to an engineer. After some basic schooling, William became a house furnishers’ shop assistant.
William enlisted with the Royal Navy on 13th January 1904 at the age of 18. He was a small man being just 5ft 4in tall, but gained his Petty Officer Certificate on 3rd December 1907 and was promoted to Acting Gunner on 1st August 1914, on the cusp of the outbreak of World War I. He became an Officer, and served throughout the Great War, being mentioned in despatches in 1918 for his actions in contact with enemy submarines.
He remained in the Navy until 1934, when after 30 years’ service he retired. It proved to be a short retirement as he was recalled in 1939 on the outbreak of World War II. He was sent to serve on the HMS St Angelo in Malta to take charge of sea mines disposal. It was during his time on this ship that he was awarded the Distinguished Service Corps in January 1941. In September 1941, in St George’s Bay, Malta, a “torpedo machine” (a device in which the Italians specialised) was dropped in 15ft of water. Hiscock was given the task of disarming it. The salvage operation was dangerous as, quite apart from the possibility of booby traps, no information was available about the firing mechanism of the explosive head, and its behaviour when parted from the body was a matter of uncertainty. While working on the bomb the clock mechanism started and it was only Hiscock’s cool determination and skill that brought the operation to a successful conclusion.
Sadly, William didn’t live to hear about the award of the George Cross for his actions at St George’s Bay, so his award become a posthumous one. On 15th February 1942, he and his wife Annie Beatrice (nee Symonds, married 1911) were killed when a bomb fell on St George’s Barracks where they were living. He was not killed as some reported whilst defusing a device. He and his wife were buried together in the Officer’s Protestant Section of the Malta Naval Cemetery, Kalkara, Malta. Sadly, his wife is not named on the headstone.
William’s medals including the GC, DSC, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oakleaf, 1939-45 Star, Africa Star, War Medal 1939-45 and George V Silver Jubilee Medal 1935 are privately held.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: MALTA NAVAL CEMETERY, KALKARA, MALTA.
PROTESTANT SECTION, PLOT E, COLLECTIVE GRAVE 16.
Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Map.