LIEUTENANT VICTOR JOSEPH WOODCOCK
ROYAL FLYING CORPS
30TH SEPTEMBER 1917 AGE 21
BURIED: ROCQUIGNY-EQUANCOURT ROAD BRITISH CEMETERY, MANANCOURT, FRANCE
Victor Woodcock's father chose a lovely image of death for his son's inscription. It makes it sound as though Woodcock just flew into the rising sun as it appeared above the grassland hills; an beautiful image for a Royal Flying Corps pilot. As it was, Woodcock and his observer crashed to the ground during a formation-flying training session, Woodcock having only joined the Squadron eight days earlier.
The inscription is based on a line from Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard; there's just one word different, Gray wrote to meet the sun, not greet the sun. Not that that makes any difference to the sense of the inscription. However, whatever sense Mr Woodcock intended was not what Gray meant by the words. To Gray they were just part of a description of an old countryman:
"Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn."
Victor Woodcock was the son of a Master Grocer from Leeds. Ultimately destined for the Methodist Ministry, he spent two years at Leeds University studying Engineering. In January 1916 he took a commission in the Northumberland Fusiliers and served with them throughout 1916. In January 1917 he got his aviator's certificate and a commission in the Royal Flying Corps. In September 1917 he joined 3 Squadron eight days before he was killed.