Joseph Ralph HANDCOCK

HANDCOCK, Joseph Ralph

Service Number: 2021
Enlisted: 1 October 1915, Melbourne, Victoria
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd Pioneer Battalion
Born: Myrrhee, Wangaratta - Victoria, Australia, 28 September 1894
Home Town: Myrrhee, Wangaratta, Victoria
Schooling: Myrrhee State School
Occupation: Baker
Died: Natural causes, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, 5 March 1989, aged 94 years
Cemetery: Darwin General Cemetery, N.T.
Memorials: Myrrhee HB1, Myrrhee State School Pictorial HB, Oxley War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

1 Oct 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2021, Melbourne, Victoria
28 Jan 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2021, 4th Light Horse Regiment, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
28 Jan 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 2021, 4th Light Horse Regiment, HMAT Themistocles, Melbourne
12 May 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 1st ANZAC Cyclist Battalion
12 Nov 1917: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 2nd Pioneer Battalion
30 Jun 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 2021, 2nd Pioneer Battalion

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Biography contributed by Evan Evans

The ‘Aggressive’ Handcocks from Myrrhee

 John Ralph Handcock was one of eight brothers to sign up from the family of Charles and Harriet Handcock, from the Upper Fifteen Mile Creek area of Myrrhee in North East Victoria.  It is said that the Handcock family had the world record for number of sons enlisting for WWI from any one family.  Of the brothers Albert John was the only member to be killed in action (Gallipoli, May 1915) while Charles Handcock was the other brother from the eight who did not make it home to Australia, dying of broncho pneumonia that followed on from influenza in November 1918.  The other six brothers survived WWI, although Reginald had his right leg amputated below the knee due to a gunshot wound during Third Ypres otherwise shortened to just Passchendaele (around Zonnebeke?). He was earlier wounded at Pozieres in August 1916 (to the ankle) but recovered to rejoin his battalion.  In an up-beat letter from England after the amputation he wrote that it was amusing to see the other fellows trying to use their artificial legs and that he was keen to have a go himself.  He also has one of his arms paralysed.

Then as now the Handcock's are a well regarded and respected family of hop farmers whose Upper Fifteen Mile Creek hop gardens have seen continual production since the 1890's.  That the family hop growing enterprise survived the boom – bust (mainly bust) hop growing profitability cycle of the 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s and 2000’s, when most independent growers went out of business, is testament to the family’s resilience and hardiness of the family.

 “The Handcock's must be aggressive, six of them going!” (Capt Gerald Evans MC, 8th Bn, Myrrhee resident, letter to mother, 11/6/1916)

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