Cox, Frederick William. Died 20th Apr 1917

Frederick William COX, was born in late 1893 in Long Lawford, his birth being registered in Rugby.   He was the son of Joseph Edgar Cox J.P., C.C., a farmer, of Long Lawford, who was born in Newbold in about 1864, and his wife, Mary Elizabeth née Parriss Cox, who was born in Lamington, Warwickshire, also in about 1864. Joseph and Elizabeth’s marriage was registered in Rugby in mid-1891.

In 1901, the family were living in the ‘Farm House’ in Long Lawford – this was presumably Lodge Farm, where his father, Joseph, had lived with his family in 1891 and where Joseph Edgar Cox and his family would continue to live in 1911, when his own children included Joseph Parris Cox, 19; Frederick William Cox, 17 died; George Herbert Cox, 16; Ernest Edgar Cox, 14; Alfred Leslie Cox, 12; and Roland Lee Cox, 7.

Frederick William Cox attended Lawrence Sherriff School and joined up at the beginning of the war, as did his brother, George; they were both in the Warwickshire Yeomanry.

Frederick was No: 2280 in the 1st/1st Warwickshire Yeomanry, and was later in the Corps of Hussars, as No: 310088. His Medal Card shows that he went to No.3 Theatre of War, Egypt on 20 April 1915. A report in the Rugby Advertiser[1] in December 1915 noted that Frederick and George ‘… have been at the Dardenelles for some time’.   ‘Trooper F W Cox has been suffering from dysentery, but is now better, and is at Cyprus, …’ at that same date it recounted that ‘… his brother, Trooper G H Cox, is ill with jaundice, at Lemnos.’

George Herbert Cox was No. 2281 in the Warwickshire Yeomanry, thus joining up his brother, and he also went into the Egypt theatre of war on 20 April 1915, presumably having been with his brother since enlisting with him. He later transferred to the Machine Gun Corps as No. 164511.

The eldest son, Joseph Parris Cox, and his younger brother, Ernest Edgar Cox,[2] both joined up in December 1915, under Lord Derby’s scheme.[3] Together with George Herbert Cox, these three of Frederick’s brothers would survive the war.[4]

To return to Frederick Cox’s service in the 1/1st Warwickshire Yeomanry, they …

… mobilised in August 1914, and moved to Bury St Edmunds and then on 31 August 1914, moved to Newbury and in November 1914 to Sheringham in Norfolk, and on 17 December to Norwich.

On 11 April 1915 they sailed from Avonmouth for Egypt on ‘Wayfarer’, but were torpedoed when 60 miles NW of Scilly Isles. Although the ship did not sink, the horses had to be rescued and volunteers of the regiment saved 763 horses, receiving a Military Cross and twelve Meritorious Service Medals. They were towed to Queenstown (Ireland) and finally sailed for Egypt and arrived at Alexandria on 24 April.

They were moved to Gallipoli for service as dismounted infantry and on 18 August 1915, landed at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli. They took part in the attack on Chocolate Hill and Hill 112 [the Battle of Scimitar Hill] on 21 August. By early September 1915, severe sickness together with battle casualties resulted in temporary reorganisation, merging with 1/1st Gloucestershire and 1/1st Worcestershire Yeomanry to form 1st South Midland Regiment, 1st Composite Mounted Brigade. However, they continued in trench warfare activities in the line in the Green Hill and Chocolate Hill sectors until evacuated to Mudros on 31 October 1915.

By December 1915 they had withdrawn from Gallipoli and returned to Egypt, where in January 1916, the brigade became an independent command and was renamed as the 5th Mounted Brigade, and in February 1917, was assigned to the Imperial/Australian Mounted Division, and saw action at the First and Second Battles of Gaza, the Charge at Huj as well as the Battle of Mughar Ridge and the Battle of Jerusalem.[5]

At some date, Frederick was promoted to Lance Corporal in the Warwickshire Yeomanry.

On 28 February 1917, the cavalry of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force [EEF] – including the 1/1st Warwickshire Yeomanry entered Khan Yunus, which was between the Egyptian border and Deir el Belah, causing the Turks to withdraw to Gaza and Beersheba. The railway was pushed forward to Deir el Belah, which became the railhead on 4 April 1917, and an aerodrome and camps were established there.

In April, the 5th Mounted Brigade (under Brigadier General E. A. Wiggin) comprising the Warwickshire Yeomanry together with the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars and the Worcestershire Yeomanry, were part of the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division (under Major General Sir H.G. Chauvel).

The First Battle of Gaza had been fought by the mounted divisions during an ‘encounter battle’ when speed and surprise were emphasised. Then Gaza had been an outpost garrisoned by a strong detachment on the flank of a line stretching eastwards from the Mediterranean Sea.

During the three weeks between the First and Second Battles of Gaza, the town was quickly developed into the strongest point in a series of strongly entrenched positions … The Ottoman defenders not only increased the width and depth of their front lines, they developed mutually supporting strong redoubts on ideal defensive ground.

The construction of these defences changed the nature of the Second Battle of Gaza, fought from 17 to 19 April 1917, to an infantry frontal attack across open ground against well prepared entrenchments, with mounted troops in a supporting role. …

The strength of the Ottoman fortifications and the determination of their soldiers defeated the EEF. The EEF’s strength, which before the two battles for Gaza could have supported an advance into Palestine, was now decimated. Murray commanding the EEF and Dobell commanding Eastern Force were relieved of their commands and sent back to England.[6]

It was probably during the Second Battle of Gaza that Frederick William Cox sustained the wounds from which he died, aged 23, on 20 April 1917. He was buried at Deir el Belah Cemetery, Palestine in grave ref: A.128.

Deir El Belah is in Palestine about 16 kilometres east of the Egyptian border, and 20 kilometres south-west of Gaza. The cemetery was begun towards the end of March 1917 and remained in use until March 1919. Most of the burials were made either from field ambulances from March to June 1917, or from April 1917 from Casualty Clearing Stations, and the 69th General Hospital.

Frederick’s death was reported in the Rugby Advertiser, where a memorial notice was also later posted.[7] He was awarded the Victory and British medals and the 1915 Star. He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate, and also on the Old Laurentians Memorial and the Newbold Memorial.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Frederick William COX was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, April 2017.

[1]       Rugby Advertiser, 11 December 1915.

[2]       Ernest Edgar Cox initially joined up in Rugby on 8 December 1915, and one record suggests a short time in the 3rd Bn., Gloucestershire Regiment on 16 January 1917, and soon after, on 5 April 1917, transferred to the 3rd Bn., Machine Gun Corps, No:97564 [?also No.32817]; he survived the war and his Service Records exist.   He went to France, Basrah, Suez and Port Said during his war service.

[3]       Rugby Advertiser, 11 December 1915.

[4]       Joseph Parris Cox and Ernest Edgar Cox were Executors of their father, Joseph’s Will in 1932.

[5]       Edited from http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-yeomanry-regiments-of-1914-1918/warwickshire-yeomanry/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warwickshire_Yeomanry.

[6]         https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinai_and_Palestine_Campaign#First_Battle_of_Gaza.2C_26_March

[7]       Rugby Advertiser, 28 April 1917 and 5 May 1917 respectively.

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