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Lancelot Slocock



Born on Christmas day 1886 in Wooton Warren, Warwickshire, Lancelot Andrew Noel Slocock was the third son of the Reverend F H Slocock and his wife Judith. Slocock was educated at Marlborough College in Wiltshire, soon showing talent as an all round athlete playing in the rugby fifteen as well as the cricket and hockey elevens. With his school days behind him Slocock continued to make a name for himself on the rugby pitch, rapidly building a reputation as a lineout jumper for his club Liverpool . After a sound performance in the North v South match, one of the main England trials at the time, Slocock was picked to make his England debut against the touring South Africans in a match that was to be held at Crystal Palace in December 1906. His selection, however failed to pass the hurdle of the bureaucracy at the Rugby Football Union and due to a clerical error Slocock was omitted from the side with his position taken instead by Arnold Alcock, a medical student at Guys Hospital , who although a fair club player was by all accounts hardly an international!

Although this must have been a bitter pill to swallow amends were soon made. Slocock was to face South Africa in the next match of their tour against Lancashire , a county for whom Slocock would eventually win fourteen caps. In this match held at Manchester on December 12th 1906 he scored a try and the tourists were made to work hard for their victory. For England ’s next match, held at Richmond against France on January 5th 1907 the Rugby Football Union’s selection process this time ran true and Slocock was again selected for a debut cap. As if to prove a point Slocock again crossed the line to score in a match where the French played well, but were no match for the size and poise of the English which told in the end with a comfortable forty one points to thirteen victory.

After his try scoring debut Slocock was selected for the rest of England ’s 1907 international season. The next match saw England travelling to Swansea on January 12th to take on a much fancied Welsh side and even with these expectations aside England played a generally poor match with the twenty two points to nil loss being far worse than had been expected. Slocock himself did all that he could in adversity. As the Times recorded “the English forwards had periods of relative success, and the efforts of some of them, notably L.A.N. Slocock…. deserved a better fate.”   England next traveled to Dublin on February 9th. Although they gave a better showing than against the Welsh the match was again lost by seventeen points to nine and despite a gallant display in the second half, where Slocock again scored, the Irish were already too far ahead to alter the result. England ’s final match of the season found them again at home to face Scotland on March 16th, with the match this time held at Blackheath. The Scottish were expected to be victorious in this match, a feat that they duly achieved by three points to eight, also claiming the championship in the process as well as retaining the Calcutta Cup. The England pack played well helping to keep the match at a scoreless draw at half time before Scotland ’s strength began to show and although defeated it was generally considered that overall England played well in the match.

After the disappointments of the 1907 season Slocock’s services were again retained by England for the whole of 1908. The first match of the campaign on January 1st required travelling to Paris to play the French at Colombes . The conditions for the match were poor with snow over the French capitol until one hour before kick off. France fielded a better side than had previously been seen and they played with gusto, but even so the English were expected to win with ease. The Final victory by nineteen points to nil was, if anything, faintly disappointing. England , still without a home to call their own, next moved to Ashton Gate in Bristol to meet with Wales on January 18th. Although the match was spoiled by fog England were congratulated on making such a fight of the fixture in a free flowing game that provided nine tries in total. It was a far better performance than the previous match with Wales . The English forwards took their time to settle into this game despite being regarded as the strongest pack that had been selected for some time. In all the eighteen points to twenty eight loss was no disgrace against a Wales side that would go on to win the grand slam that year.

Richmond was the next step for a match against Ireland on February 8th. During a hard game, “a players’ battle marked by great pace and much severe forward work” England ’s strength ground down Ireland ’s greater flair in a thirteen points to three victory. The last match of the international season was against Scotland at Inverleith on March 21st. As well as the last game of the season it was to be Slocock’s last game for England . After a busy two years where he had been ever present in the English pack, whilst also finding the time to be secretary of his home Liverpool club for the 1907-8 seasons this was to be Slocock’s swansong and he was further given the honor of captaining the England side for the match. Held in good weather the contest proved to be one of the best Calcutta Cup games for some years marked by open play by both sides. England put up a gallant display and were not overcome until near the end, Slocock also scoring a final try for his country. The sixteen point to ten final scoreline in Scotland ’s favor was considered to be a fair one. It may have again been a mediocre season for England but they emerged with credit for the way that they fought in all their matches.

Slocock’s premature and enforced international retirement was due to his blossoming career in the cotton trade which required frequent trips abroad, most commonly to the United States . In these amateur days business generally took priority over sport, and so it was with Slocock, although life carried on. Married in 1912 to Lena , they had one son, Anthony, born in 1914. Slococks profession had taken him and his family to Savanah , Georgia , and it was from here that he returned with war raging in Europe to do his bit.

Slocock was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 1/10th Battalion of the Kings ( Liverpool ) regiment. This was a Territorial Battalion, more commonly known as Liverpool Scottish. Slocock arrived in France in January 1916 to join his battalion. The 1/10th, part of the 55th division was shortly afterwards to take part in the Somme offensive, one of the bloodiest campaigns in history. With the failure of the initial huge pushes of July 1916 by August both sides had settled into a war of attrition. It was considered imperative by the British General Staff to capture land along the front to present a straight line of attack prior to the next big push. This would allow the preferred tactic of a creeping artillery barrage from behind which the infantry could advance. To gain this land some ninety attacks of battalion strength or above were made between July and September 1916. The capture of the village of Guillemont was a central objective. The first attacks in this area on August 8th had failed and was followed by further attacks on the 9th, two of them made by the 1/10th Battalion of the King’s Regiment. Second Lieutenant Lancelot Slocock whilst leading his men in one of these attacks was killed in action. His fate was shared by another former international, Lance Corporal J A King, who was also serving with the 1/10th Battalion, two of the eighty two thousand casualties incurred in this part of the campaign, sacrificed to gain a total advance of one thousand yards.

Sources

"The Complete Who's Who of England Rugby Union Internationals", R Maule,  Breedon 1992

The Times Online Digital Archive

Wikepedia

www.1914-1918.net

© D A Hunter, 2008
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