George Norman Hancock, Old Nottinghamian and RAF (1)

George Norman Hancock was born on May 31st 1913. His father was George Augustus Hancock who was a lace manufacturer. His mother was Sarah Grace Hancock, but everyone knew her as Sadie. His sister was called Grace. During the First World War, George Augustus was in the 1st Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters. He was a Captain and his bravery was such that he was eventually awarded a Military Cross. The family lived at 11 Ramsdale Crescent. Ramsdale Crescent is a quiet, pleasant street in Sherwood, the very same suburb of Nottingham where I myself live:

George Norman Hancock entered the High School on April 29th 1921 as Boy No 4376. He spent ten years there and by the time he left he had achieved a fair bit. In the School List, the rather ornate “M” next to his name signified that he had passed a “University Matriculation Examination”, possibly the London University version. That meant he had reached the high standards needed for entry to any university in the land.
In George’s case, I get the impression that even at this early stage he was looking to enter the Forces in some way. He was a member of the Officer Training Corps, and, as well as the “M” next to his name, there was an “A” to signify that he had passed his OTC Certificate A. This was a qualification issued by the Government and was a military equivalent really of the “University Matriculation Examination”. It seems to have covered basic training at the very least and in 1939, totally raw recruits were being taught the absolute basics by young school leavers who held the Certificate A. This included some recent Sixth Formers from the High School. Here is a Certificate ‘A’. If you can’t read the small print, then just tap on it and it should open up:

Indeed, George was so outstanding in the OTC that he had won the Certificate A Prize for the whole School in 1929-1930. And he was now Corporal Hancock. And a few short months later, Sergeant Hancock. In 1930-1931 George passed his Higher School Certificate, the equivalent of today’s ‘A’ level.
He also won his 2nd Colours for Rowing although I have found out very little about his individual triumphs. In those days of the late 1920s, the Nottinghamian always seemed to talk about sport in rather general terms. When it did single people out, they were usually the very top, star performers and I have found no mention of George’s specific contributions in the Second Boat. This is a rowing eight going under Trent Bridge. The High School seems to have had four rowers in the boat during the interwar period. I just don’t know if this happens any more:

George left the High School at the end of the Summer Term in July 1931.

Shortly afterwards, he sat the Army Entrance Examination and was placed second in the Order of Merit for the Royal Air Force College at Cranwell in Lincolnshire:

George won a Prize Cadetship valued at £210, the first ever won by a pupil from the High School. This was announced in the publication, “Flight”, on September 4th 1931…

“The Air Council have awarded Prize Cadetships, each of the value of £105 per annum for two years, to the following successful candidates at the examination held in June, 1931, for entry into the Royal Air Force College.”

There were six successful candidates…

“AFR Bennett (Harrow County School), GN Hancock (Nottingham High School), K Gray (Leeds Grammar School), TL Moseley (Tamworth Grammar School), GAV Knyvett (Malvern College) and JAP Owen (St Bees School, Cumberland).”

We’ll see what happened to those six young men next time

17 Comments

Filed under Aviation, History, Nottingham, The High School

17 responses to “George Norman Hancock, Old Nottinghamian and RAF (1)

  1. Why did he take the Army entrance exam if he was joining the RAF? Was there a link between them at this time?

    • I don’t think that there was a link because the RAF had insisted so strongly on being a separate force from 1918 onwards. Perhaps there was just one entrance exam for all of the various organisations. This is done nowadays by the very many public schools in and around London so that eleven year olds don’t have to take exam after exam after exam.
      Perhaps the candidate could indicate that he was sitting the exam to get into the RAF but if they didn’t want him, the others could talk to him if he was interested.
      I must admit, though, that most of that is best-guessing, except the RAF’s desire not to be part of the army. If they had been, they’d have lost the Battle of Britain.

  2. He’s well on his way. Looking forward to following these men.

  3. What a brilliant young man! Thank you, John, for this article. I too look forward in seeing how this man’s life proceeds.

    • Yes, he certainly was a brilliant young man. Life comes so easily to some people, doesn’t it? They are the swans who sail serenely across the lake, with no hint of the frantic paddling that the rest of us would all be doing!Alas, though, it will not all be plain sailing for George Hancock,

      • Life as I know it to be isn’t a bowl of roses or smooth sailing. Yes it does seem that some people have an easier time of things then others. I really look forward to hear more about George Hancock.

  4. He certainly has a very promising future ahead of him. Hopefully the war won’t bring it to a sad and early ending!

  5. Damian Dixon

    Came across this chap inadvertently whilst researching my grandfather George WILLIAM Hancock, also an RAF veteran . They both had full lives it seems, though my George started life down the pit in Northumberland

    • I’m currently researching the High School’s war dead from WW2 and it makes it very difficult when there are two Walter Kenneth Sansoms with pretty similar lives!

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