From The Vaults

14 November 2022
#FromTheVaults - L.A.N. Slocock letter, 1916

Following Remembrance Day, our object of the month is the last known letter sent home from the Western Front by England international, Lancelot Andrew Noel Slocock.

Educated at Marlborough College, Slocock represented the school in rugby, cricket and hockey. After leaving school, he moved to Liverpool and worked in the cotton trade. He played rugby as a forward for Liverpool, Lancashire and the North. He received his first England cap in 1907 and subsequently played in all internationals for two years, including one appearance as England captain.

In 1912, Slocock married Elinor Cook, referred to as 'Lena' in the letter. They later moved to Savannah, Georgia, and their son Anthony was born in 1914. He returned to England in 1915 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 1/10th Battalion of the Kings (Liverpool) Regiment, commonly known as Liverpool Scottish.

The battalion's destination was Guillemont, a farming village held by the Germans for nearly two years - it was now heavily fortified and well-defended. British and French troops had made several attempts to recapture the village at the end of July 1916. Aware of the dangers of the deployment, Slocock's thoughts turn to the future welfare of his wife and young son:

'I of course have not told [Lena] and think it better not to… I know that whatever happens to me, she and Tony will always have a good home with you, and that is a very consoling thought.'

He then ends his letter on a more positive note:

'The weather is good… and altogether things look brighter for our side than at any previous time…'

Slocock was killed at Guillemont on 9th August. His fellow England international, John Abbott King, fighting alongside him in the same battalion, died on the same day. They have no known resting place. Guillemont would not be captured until early September. Slocock's last letter, treasured by his family and now cared for by the World Rugby Museum, gives voice to one of the many rugby players - from all around the world - who lost their lives in the Great War.