Sir William Hugh Stobart Chance, C.B.E.

This is the story of Sir William Hugh Stobart Chance (in his own words), educated at Eton College and commissioned in to the Worcestershire Regiment in 1915. Joining the 2/8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment as a Platoon Commander of 'D' Company. In April 1916 he was attached to the Royal Flying Corps and trained as a pilot. After his initial pilot training at Reading he was posted to No. 5 Reserve Squadron at Castle Bromwich. However, three weeks later he was ordered to No. 47 Squadron at Beverley. Early in August 1916 he was posted again, this time to to No. 49 Squadron at Dover. Later the same month he was ordered to France to join No. 27 Squadron which was stationed at Fienvillers. He then spent the next month flying Martinsyde G100 "Elephant" aircraft on bombing raids. On the 17th September 1916 whilst on a bombing raid over Valenciennes, his plane was hit and had to make a crash landing in occupied France. He was captured and taken prisoner and spent the rest of the war in Prisoner of War camps at Osnabruck and Clausthal.

Special thanks to his grandson Henry Chance for supplying the photos of his grandfather and for allowing us to tell his story.

William Hugh Stobart Chance was born on the 31st December 1896. Son of George Ferguson Chance and Mary Kathleen Stobart. He was educated at Eton College, Eton, Berkshire.

Sir William Hugh Stobart Chance usually went by his middle name of Hugh.

In the First World War he served with the Worcestershire Regiment and the Royal Flying Corps. He graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge University, in 1920 with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and in 1924 with a Master of Arts (M.A.).

William Hugh Stobart Chance (1919)
(Flying Officer

He married, firstly, Cynthia May Baker-Cresswell, daughter of Major Addison Francis Baker-Cresswell, on 20th April 1926. He and Cynthia May Baker-Cresswell were divorced in 1961. He married, secondly, Rachel Cameron, daughter of Lieutenant Cyril Henry Cameron, on 3rd February 1961.

They had 5 children; Kathleen Idonea Cresswell Chance (b. 27th Mar. 1927), Cecilia Mary Elizabeth Chance (b. 17th Nov. 1928), William John Ferguson Chance (b. 19th Dec. 1929), Bridget Nicola Chance (b. 14th Apr. 1931) and Hugh Nicholas Chance (b. 6th Mar. 1940).

He was a director of Chance Brothers between 1924 and 1964. He held the office of High Sheriff of Worcestershire in 1942. He was invested as a Knight in 1945. He held the office of Deputy Lieutenant (D.L.) of Worcestershire in 1952. He was invested as a Commander, Order of the British Empire (C.B.E.) in 1958. He gained the rank of Honorary Colonel in the service of the The Parachute Regiment (Territorial Army). He lived at The Grange, Birlingham, Pershore, Worcestershire, England.

Sir William Hugh Stobart Chance died in 1981.

His experiences are produced here in 6 parts and you can read his full story by clicking on the links below:

Part 1 - Eton College O.T.C. (1914) and joining the Worcestershire Regiment (1915)

Part 2 - Royal Flying Corps training and gaining his "Wings".

Part 3 - Posted to No. 27 Squadron at Fienvillers in France.

Part 4 - Raids on Gouzeacourt and Valenciennes (September 1916)

Part 5 - Prisoner of War at Osnabruck (1916).

Part 6 - Prisoner of War at Clausthal (1917-18).

Sir William Hugh Stobart Chance originally wrote this story in two parts, of which he finished the second part in September 1970 at the time he made the following statement:

"Since I wrote an account of my experience in World War 1 which ended when I fell into the hands of the Germans, owing to engine failure, in September 1916, my family have pressed me to give some account of the time I spent as a prisoner-of-war in Germany. After sixty years, memory begins to fail, but fortunately I had kept a diary and had access to letters I had written to my family and to various relations. So the opportunity provided by a holiday in South Africa supplied the incentive to write part two of 'Subaltern's Saga' ".