RFA West Lancs Bdes
680735 CPL/WHL. P. HANKINSON. MM. R.F.A.
Philip Hankinson was born in Grimsargh, near Preston, on 6 December 1891 and baptised at Grimsargh St Michael on 7 February the following year. His father was John Helm Hankinson (b. 1865 in Woodplumpton), a joiner working at Whittingham Asylum. His mother was Clara Adelaide Fenton (b. 1865 in Rawtenstall). John and Clara married in 1890 and they had five children, though their first John Allan (b. 1890), died before he was a year old. Philip was next, followed by Mary Adelaide (b. 1893), Clara Alice (b. 1895), and John (b. 1897). In 1911, the family was living in Preston, at 102 Castleton Road. Philip was an apprentice joiner, following in his father’s footsteps.
Philip joined up in May 1915. He was posted to “A” Battery of 286 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. He was assigned service number 680735. He was a wheeler and at some stage he was appointed Corporal.
After training, the Brigades left for France in early 1917 and were involved in the heavy fighting to defend the town of Armentières, on the French-Belgian border. In July 1917 they suffered their first attack by the new mustard gas. In late September the Brigade was relieved from the front line and withdrew for a period of training, and returned to the line at Langemark about 35km north of Armentières, not far from the small village of Passchendaele, which would be the scene of some of the bloodiest battles of the War. On 9 October 286 Brigade returned to action engaging in harassing and destructive fire on enemy strongpoints, but also suffering their heaviest losses of the war so far, with many soldiers being gassed. On 27 October, 285 and 286 Brigades were placed under temporary command of the Canadians as they began the final attack on the village of Passchendaele. From 1-7 November, 286 Brigade were at Langemark engaged in the defence of the village and were under heavy shelling from the enemy, including gas attacks every day.
Philip was in the same Battery as my great-uncle, Francis Schultz, and both men were awarded the Military Medal for gallantry during the same operation, during the Second Battle of Passchendaele in October-November 1917. There are no commendations for these awards so we don’t know the precise circumstances.
Francis Schultz was wounded during the Battle of the Lys in April 1918 and died of his wounds but Philip survived the rest of the War and was demobilised probably in February 1919. Philip was home for not much more than a few days before he died of influenza and pneumonia on 2 March 1919. He was 27 years old.
Service No: 680735
Date of Death: 2 Mar 1919
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, "A" Bty. 286th Bde.
Awards: Military Medal
Grave Reference: South of the Church tower
Cemetery: GRIMSARGH (ST. MICHAEL) CHURCHYARD