VAD Clarice Wilcock

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Clarice Wilcock
Nursing member, Surgical Nursing Duties

Clarice Wilcock was born in Tanshelf, Pontefract on 23rd February 1895 to Thomas Henry and Jane Wilcock. She was baptised at St. Giles’ Church in Pontefract. Thomas was a grocer with his own business – on census documents this was often referred to as having one’s “own account”. Altogether they had 12 children, two of whom died in infancy.

In 1901 the family lived at 1 York Street, Tanshelf. In addition to six year old Clarice, there were Thomas Henry (12), Hilda (8), Linda (4), Marie (2) and Bernard Allison (1). By 1911 they had moved to Stuart Street, still in Tanshelf. Clarice’s brother Thomas Henry was a shop assistant; Clarice, now 16, was a milliner – a maker or seller of hats. She has more younger siblings – Annie Louise (9), Edith Mary R (8), George Frederick (6) and Alice Maureen (3).

Clarice remained at this address when she became a VAD, though was working as a nursing member, undertaking surgical nursing duties at the War Hospital in Keighley. She worked there from 12th July 1916 until 27th January 1917, working full time. Perhaps she was inspired by her brother Bernard, who was serving in the Labour Corps during the war.

On 4th June 1920 Clarice, having travelled on the ship ‘Victoria’ arrived in Quebec, Canada – her occupation on the passenger list was ‘nurse’ – so I assume she continued in a nursing role in the intervening years though I do not know where. Her intended destination was Walkerville, Ontario, “to fiancée H E Roberts” (it was actually H A Roberts). I am unsure why Harold Allen Roberts was there as he was an Englishman – again I assume that it was due to his work as an engineer and draftsman, his address at the time of their marriage which was the same day that Clarice arrived, was Sydney, Nova Scotia, which was rather an industrial hub at the time, with the world’s largest steel plant and plentiful coal mines.

The entry in Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968

It seems that Clarice and Harold remained in Canada for around three years before moving to the USA. Border crossing records show Clarice and their two year old daughter Doreen crossing into Detroit, Michigan on 17th November 1923, again to join Harold. Border crossing records required odd information – Clarice confirmed that she was not a polygamist or anarchist, did not believe in or advocate the ‘overthrow’ and had never been in prison!

By 1929 Clarice and Harold had another daughter, Linda. In October of that year Clarice and the girls took a trip back to England. Her return papers give a description of her appearance – she was 5’ 6” with a fair complexion, brown hair, and blue eyes. A short time later they moved from Detroit, Michigan to Philadelphia in Pennsylvania – the 1930 United States Census shows them living there at Ridge Avenue. Harold’s occupation was air engineer at a steel mill.

On 20th March 1933 the family travelled back to England on the ship ‘Adriatic’, part of the White Star Line – the passenger list says that their proposed address was Dene Rise, Park Lane, Pontefract – again I do not know if this was intended to be a permanent move but sadly it transpired to be the case, as Harold died and was buried at St. Giles’ Churchyard on 25th April, just over a month after arriving, aged 43. Clarice died on 23rd September 1935 aged 40, at the Pontefract address. Probate was granted to her sisters Hilda and Marie. I believe that their daughters stayed in England – Doreen went on to marry Martin Clamp, and Linda married Henry Neilson and both remained in the Pontefract area.

England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975
1901 England Census
1911 England Census
Canada, Ocean Arrivals (Form 30A), 1919-1924
Canada, Incoming Passengers Lists, 1865-1935
Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968
Detroit, Michigan, U.S., Border Crossings and Passenger and Crew Lists, 1905-1963
UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960
UK and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960
1921 Census of Canada
1930 United States Federal Census
England and Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007
England and Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995
England and Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915

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