Thursday, November 10, 2016

Warrant Officer Joseph Hennebicq (1916) - Part 1

Today, November 11, is Armistice Day in Belgium, marking the ending of the Great War. That's why I decided to write one more blog post relating to yet another relative who fought in the Great War, my great-great grand uncle Joseph Hennebicq.
Joseph was born in the city of Antwerp on October 6, 1883 to Maria Jansegers. No father was mentioned on the birth certificate and Joseph carried the Jansegers last name. In 1888, when Joseph was five years old, Maria married a Warchin native named Antoine Hennebicq. On the marriage certificate is mentioned that Antoine officially recognized the child as his own. At that time, Joseph's last name was changed to Hennebicq.

Shortly before Joseph turned seven, in September 1890, Maria and Antoine had a second child. Another son they called Fernand and who is my great-great grandfather. During those days father Antoine was working as a white collar at the national railroad company in Antwerp.

In 1905, when Joseph was twenty two years old, his father died being just 43 years old. Other than that Joseph got married to a woman named Anna De Keersmaker, I don't have a lot of information about his personal life.

While being in the Army, Joseph climbed up to the rank of Warrant Officer (Adjudant).

In January 1916, Joseph was in charge of works being performed by his plattoon at the cemetery of Poelkappelle in Belgium. As they were busy burrying fallen fellow soldiers, a German grenade exploded and Joseph got wounded. Despite his condition, immediately after having been under fire, Joseph had the works continued and only returned back to the base after he had made sure that al works had been conducted as scheduled.

For this show of "courage and persistance" being in charge of a team performing works while under enemy attack Joseph was awarded the title of Knight in the Order of Leopold II and a War Cross.

He was taken to the military hospital Sint Rijckers on January 31, 1916. Because of the pieces of shred metal that had wounded him, Joseph got Tetanus (or "Lock jaw"). It was this complication that eventually resulted in Joseph's death a little over two weeks later, on February 10, 1916.

Joseph was burried at a plot for fallen Belgian soldiers at the municipal cemetery of Bourbourg in France, where his grave marker can still be found today, a hundred years after the facts.

Grave of Adj. Joseph Hennebicq in Bourbourg, France

Belgian military plot at municipal cemetery of Bourbourg, France

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