Edward Joseph Alcock was born 10 December 1896 in Rat Portage (later named Kenora), Ontario. His parents were George and Emma (Barker) Alcock who had married 01 January 1883 in Faraday, Hastings, Ontario. After the 1891 Canada census, the family had moved to Saskatchewan but by the 1901 Canada census they were living in Rat Portage; household members included George and Emma and children Ethel, George, Sadie, Frances, Amy, Edward, William, and Clifford. George was working as a teamster. George's parents Joseph and Sarah Alcock as well as his siblings Charles, Wellington, Joseph, Amy, Mary, and their families had also moved to the area. By the 1911 Canada census, the family was farming in nearby Jaffray; household members were George and Emma and children Emma, Amy, Edward, William, Clifford, and new additions to the family of Cecil, Gertrude, and John. Also living with the family was hired hand William Price.
With the 52nd Battalion, Edward Joseph Alcock enlisted in Kenora on 19 May 1915. Only 19 years old, his occupation was given as labourer. With blue eyes and black hair, he stood 5 feet 6 inches tall. Recruiting for the 52nd Battalion had taken place throughout the spring and summer of 1915 across northwestern Ontario, with recruits being billeted privately in Port Arthur and Fort William until moved to Gresley Park in Port Arthur to undergo basic training on 07 June 1915. On 4 November 1915, the Battalion entrained to St John, New Brunswick, arriving 8 November. Aboard the SS California, the 52nd Battalion sailed for Plymouth, England on 23 November. Arriving 3 December, the Battalion moved to Witley Camp for 6 weeks of training under British instructors. In the new year, the Battalion moved to Bramshott for 2 more weeks of training and on 20 February 1916, sailed for France. Once in France, the 52nd travelled by train to Belgium. Like other Privates with the 52nd Battalion, Edward's rate of pay was $1/day, $15 of which was paid/assigned to his mother back in Canada.
Upon arriving in Belgium, Edward attended a Trench Mortar Course at Meteren, a village southwest of Ypres. He was then attached to the 9th Canadian Light Trench Mortar Battery C/9/1 that had just been formed in Meteren in March of 1916. On 27 April 1917 Edward was admitted to the No 3 Canadian General Hospital at Etaples suffering from pleurisy. From there he was sent to the No 10 Convalescent Depot in Ecault, diagnosed with myalgia. On 09 June 1917, Edward rejoined the 52nd Battalion in the field.
Previously reported as dangerously wounded on 24 July 1917, Private Edward Joseph Alcock died of his wounds at the No 6 Casualty Station on 26 July 1917. He is buried in the Barlin Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas de Calais, France. Barlin is a village about 11 kilometres south-west of Bethune. The Communal Cemetery and Extension lie to the north of the village. The extension was begun by French troops in October 1914 and when they moved south in March 1916 to be replaced by Commonwealth forces, it was used for burials by the 6th Casualty Clearing Station. The family received a first cable on 26 July 1917 reporting that Edward was dangerously wounded, followed by a second one on 4 August 1917 that Edward had died.
Edward's father George served on council and as reeve of Jaffray and Melick for a number of years. He died 27 October 1930 and his mother 12 April 1951. Both are buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery. His brother William enlisted 12 November 1915 and went overseas with the 94th Battalion, later transferring to the 52nd Battalion. On 19 December 1917 he was awarded the Military Medal for his actions at Passchendaele; over the course of November 11 to 14 1917 he delivered messages/dispatches through areas of incessant artillery and machine gun barrage. Although he returned home, working on the rigging gang unloading machinery at the paper mill, he was injured and died of a fractured skull on 5 February 1924. He is also buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery.
Private Edward Joseph Alcock is commemorated on page 190 of the First World War Book of Remembrance in Ottawa, on the Kenora Cenotaph, on the Kenora Legion War Memorial, and on the family gravemarker in Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora.
By Kenora Great War Project