18 October 2018
William George Hansen of 24 Regents Court, Park Road, London NW entered Harper Adams Agricultural College on 18 Jan 1915, age 21 to train for a career in farming. We know very little about him but the Didsbury, Manchester baptism registers record the baptism of William George Hansen, the son of Carl Lauritz Hansen from Denmark and Elizabeth Mary Hansen on 13 October 1894. His father, Carl, is listed in the 1891 census (Clyde Road, Didsbury) as a provisions merchant but by 1901 the family had moved to West Ham, London and he is listed as an agent (bacon) so it seems possible that he was involved in importing Danish bacon.
There is no sign of 7 year old William in the 1901 census for Carl Lauritz Hansen’s household but his brother Carl Frederick Vilhelm (age 7) is listed as a visitor at 41, Poppleton Road, Low Leyton, West Ham along with a Wilhelm Hansen age 6. In the 1911 census a William Hansen of a corresponding age was sharing lodgings with Henry Hansen, a widower, some 30 years older (maybe a family member?) and was working as a van porter. His father’s family were living nearby at 24 Regents Court, the address given when he joined Harper Adams.
It appears that William George Hansen only stayed at Harper Adams for a short time. Eight months after entering the college, he died on 25 September 1916, a second Lieutenant in The King's (Liverpool Regiment), and is remembered with honour at the Thiepval memorial.
The family lost another son in the conflict. William/Wilhelm’s brother Carl Frederick Vilhelm also served in The King's (Liverpool Regiment) and died on 31 July 1917, age 24. Their parents were then living at Hansen's Farm, Cholsey, Berkshire so it seems possible that William's enrolment at Harper Adams had been part of a plan for the family to leave London and set up their own farming enterprise.
The Thiepval Memorial commemorates more than 72,000 men of British and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave, the majority of whom died during the Somme offensive of 1916.