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Cecil was born in King’s Norton in 1890, the son of George and Eleanor Ann Besant, but had moved to Wolverhampton by the 1891 census. They were living at 58 Compton Road, Wolverhampton in 1901. In 1911, he was living at 11 Princess Street, Wolverhampton, along with his siblings Harold Joe, Arthur Augustus, Norman Leslie and Josephine Hancher. By this date, Cecil was an assistant to a cloth merchant. He married Lydia Clark in Wolverhampton in 1916, and they moved to 79 Gatis Street, Wolverhampton.

On 12 October 1914 Cecil joined the 3rd North Midland Field Ambulance within the Royal Army Medical Corps (number 421242). By this date his trade was given as tailor. He rose to become a Sergeant in July 1915, but died of influenza on 3 November 1918 at the 2nd Australian general hospital in Wimereux, France. Among the articles of private property forwarded to his wife were some photographs, two notebooks, a watch and strap and a mirror in a case. However, they were only received by his widow on 16 May 1919, following a letter from Cecil’s father chasing up the whereabouts of his personal effects. He left effects to the value of £274 2s. 5d. He is buried at the Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille, France, and is remembered on the Royal Army Medical Corps memorial in St Peter’s Church.