Battalion search for Private Cox Reg. No 39575

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Battalion search for Private Cox Reg. No 39575

Postby Arbeek1 » Sat May 01, 2010 5:05 am

Hi. I am wondering if anyone here can help with specialised knowledge of regimental numbers and battalion search.

I am trying to find which battalion Private Charles Henry Cox, Reg No. 39573, served with. Family information has it that he served 'at Wipers' and was also invalided out of the army suffering from Mustard Gas exposure.

His Medal Roll Card confirms the discharge information, with a date of discharge of 2-6-18.
It also states that he originally enlisted, 16-2-16, with the South Staffs, Reg No 25604. No battalion reference for this either.

Would I be right that his transfer to The Worcesters took place around 1917? I am endeavouring to try to find out more about the action in which he might have been wounded, but obviously his war service in general.

With thanks, in advance, for any help you might be able to give.
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Postby scully » Sat May 01, 2010 12:12 pm

Hi,

Private Charles Henry Cox a Joiners Apprentice of 33 Contance Road, Leicester enlisted in to the army on the 16th February 1916 (age 18 years 9 months) and joined the Army Reserves (his original army number was 28451) at the 17th Recruiting Office, Town Hall, Leicester. On the 10th May 1916 he was mobilised and on the 11th May 1916 he was posted to the Depot of the Leicestershire Regiment.

On the 13th May 1916 he was transferred to the 3rd Battalion Staffordshire Regiment (army number now 25604) and then on the 30th August 1916 was posted to the 1st Battalion Staffordshire Regiment.

On the 25th September 1916 he was transferred to the 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment (army number now 39573) and then on the 23rd September 1917 he was posted to the 1/8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment.

On the 29th December 1917 he was posted to the Depot Worcestershire Regiment and was then discharged on the 2nd June 1918 as physically unfit for service and was awarded the Silver War Badge (badge number 394368) on the 18th May 1918.

Hope this helps,

Regards,

Louis (webmaster)
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Postby Arbeek1 » Sat May 01, 2010 12:33 pm

Help??
I'll say!
That is what is called a resounding result!
And with such speed too.

You are one steely-eyed missile man, Scully!
I am hugely indebted to you on behalf of the family.
Charles' grandson is planning a trip out to the battlefields in order to walk in his grandfather's footsteps. So, thanks to you, I can now get cracking on the somewhat easier bit of matching places and actions.

Again: hugely grateful to you for sharing your specialist knowledge.
Mary X
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Postby scully » Sat May 01, 2010 12:59 pm

Hi Mary,

Hi,

Below is some information about the activity of the 1/8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment for the period of time he would have suffered his injuries (Gas):

OCTOBER - NOVEMBER 1917

On leaving the Ypres Salient the two "First Line" Territorial Battalions moved down to a part of the front on which they had not previously served, the Vimy Ridge. That famous Ridge, on which the 3rd Battalion of the Regiment had fought so hard in 1916, had been captured at the beginning of the Arras battles, and in the autumn of 1917 our front line was nearly two miles east of the heights, and lay close to the outskirts of Lens.

To that line the Territorial Battalions came at the end of October. After detraining at Ligny-St-Flochel on October 14th the two Battalions marched to billets, the 7th Worcestershire at Aubigny and the 8th Worcestershire further west at Penin.

Next day the 144th Brigade marched westwards through Cappelle-Fermont and Acq to camp at Villers au Bois, and the Territorial soldiers had their first distant view of the Vimy Ridge. The 7th Worcestershire marched forward on the following day (October 17th) and once more came under gun-fire ; for, as the 7th Battalion reached their allotted quarters in ruined Neuville St. Vaast, two great shells came screaming down from the skies and struck close to the leading platoon.

Fortunately neither exploded. The platoons of the 7th Worcestershire dispersed to dugouts in the tangle of craters and trenches which ran in every direction about the demolished village—those very trenches and craters in which the 3rd, Battalion had battled.

In front of them the 8th Worcestershire and 4th Gloucestershire had moved up by train ; and after dark those two battalions filed forward through the communication trenches over the Ridge to the front line on the further side, where the 8th Worcestershire relieved the 27th Battalion of Canadians.

The Canadians had held Vimy Ridge since their victory in April, and they had planned and dug the defences on the eastern side with characteristic excellence. The trenches were as strong as could be, desired, dry and very comfortable, well equipped also with trench-tramways and with all facilities for bringing up supplies and taking back wounded.

To troops brought straight from the sloughs of the Salient such positions were bliss itself, and the memory of those trenches lasted long afterwards, prettily named as they were after famous ladies of the stage. "Gladys Cooper " and "Teddie Gerard" formed the main line of resistance, with "Billie Burke" and "Gaby" further forward. "Gertie Millar," the support position, was still more comfortable, but best of all was "Peggy Kurton," a cleverly arranged trench junction up to which the tramway brought supplies : " the nicest place we ever knew in the trenches." .

The 8th Worcestershire held the trenches during four quiet days, (October 18th-21st), each company having two platoons in the front line and two behind in Teddie Gerard." On their left the 4th Gloucestershire held "Gladys Cooper." Then, after relief by the 6th Gloucestershire, the Battalion filed back over the Ridge and took over the shelters at Neuville St. Vaast, from the 7th Worcestershire. That Battalion then moved forward over the Ridge into "Gertie Millar." The dispositions of the Brigade were then altered, one battalion alone holding the whole front system, its front being extended to cover both " Teddie Gerard " and "Gertie Millar." When the 7th Worcestershire relieved the 6th Gloucestershire on October 25th that extension of the front allowed the companies to be accommodated with comparative luxury. Behind them the 1/8th Worcestershire took over the support position.

At midnight of October 26th and 27th the enemy opposite attempted a small raid against the left of the line, where "D" Company's trenches formed a tempting salient ; the attack was beaten off with slight loss , one of the enemy being left dead. Next 'day a more dramatic incident occurred. A British aeroplane, cut off from its flight and overwhelmed by foes, was driven down and crashed in "No Man's Land," a short distance in front of the trenches of "A" Company. The subaltern nearest in the front line, Lieutenant J. Parkes, gallantly dashed out and, under a hail of bullets, helped the dazed pilot in to safety. Scarcely had they reached the shelter of the trenches when German guns began to shell the wrecked aeroplane; which soon was smashed and burnt. General Fanshawe, the Divisional Commander, came up to the front line later in the day and congratulated Lieutenant Parkes on his brave act .

On October 29th the 8th Worcestershire took over the front line, and the 7th Worcestershire moved back over the Ridge to Neuville St. Vaast. Thence on October 31st the headquarters of the 7th Worcestershire moved to Mont St. Eloy and the companies were dispersed on working parties.

The 8th Worcestershire held the line from October 29th till November 2nd. Several patrol incidents marked that tour, for the brilliance of the moonlight—that same bright moonlight which, further north, was bringing the. German aeroplanes to bomb the 2nd and 14th Battalions at Ypres—led to many enterprises. Two subalterns out in "No Man's Land " were hit during the first night, one of them being mortally wounded.
Two nights later (November 1st and 2nd) "C" Company attempted a raid from the salient on the left flank. The raiding party, twenty strong, crept unobserved across " No Man's Land " and entered the enemy's front line. The front line was found empty ; but strong German patrols advanced from the supporting trenches to cut off the raiders. A wild fight ensued across the open. Eventually the enemy were beaten off and the raiding party regained our lines.

Next night (November 2nd and 3rd) the 144th Brigade were relieved and moved back into Divisional reserve. After relief, the 8th Worcestershire marched back to Neuville St. Vaast.

During the next week the two Battalions remained employed on working parties about the Vimy Ridge. Then on November 10th the 7th Worcestershire again moved to Neuville St. Vaast. The 144th Brigade was taking over the line for the last time, and the 7th Worcestershire moved forward on the night of November 13th over the Ridge into "Gertie Millar" and "Peggy Kurton."

The Battalion lay in those support positions for two days, but already it was known that relief was at hand. A Canadian officer came up that night to " look around," and on the evening of November 15th the Canadian battalions, fresh from the hard-won victory of Passchendaele, came up to take over once more the trenches they had made. The 7th Worcestershire were relieved in " Gertie Millar" by the Canadian 28th Battalion, while behind the Ridge another Canadian battalion took over the shelters at Neuville St. Vaast from the 8th Worcestershire.
After the relief, the two Worcestershire Battalions moved to Mont St. Eloy. There the 144th Brigade concentrated and marched back on the following day to Villers au Bois.

The 48th Division was now moving back from the line, and on November 17th the Territorial Battalions marched westwards, by Mingoval and Bethonsart to the area behind Frevillers, where the 8th and 7th Worcestershire found quarters respectively at Ostreville and Monchy Breton.

Regards,

Louis (webmaster)
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Postby Arbeek1 » Sat May 01, 2010 1:10 pm

Louis, you're a gent!

This is excellent stuff - I was just about to dive into The Salient and am quite surprised it transpires to be the Vimy area.

Any idea where the family got their 'Wipers' connection from, or is it a case of assumption to the fact on their part?

Indebted once again.

Mary X
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Postby scully » Sat May 01, 2010 1:32 pm

Hi Mary,

As he was in the 2nd Battalion from Sepember 1916 to September 1917 he would have been in the Somme Valley. In December 1916 and January 1917 they were halding the line just south of Saillisel next to St. Perre Wood. They then moved to Bouchavesnes. On February 24th the Battalion again moved up to the front line on the Clery Spur.

The 2nd Battalion was the involved in the CLERY RAID.
The evening of February 27th was fine and calm and the moon had already set when at 8.43 p.m. the first raiding force, 3 officers and 57 men under 2/Lieut. E. L. Hopkins, dashed forward against the German line. The raiders were organised in three parties, each working independently. The attack was covered by a hurricane of fire from Stokes-mortars, rifle-grenades and Lewis-guns, while the scene was lighted by a shower of Very lights fired from the British trenches. All went well: the attack penetrated the German defences, and after a short, but successful fight up and down the trenches the raiders withdrew, bringing with them 7 prisoners. When they had safely reassembled in our own trenches their losses were found to have been no more than one
officer and 10 men, all wounded.
The German artillery retaliated fiercely for some time; then the firing died down and a comparative quiet ensued, broken by successive bursts of fire from the British Lewis-guns to prevent the enemy from repairing their broken defences.....................

In April 1917 the 2nd Worcestershire marched northwards. Leaving Corbie on 2nd April 1917. The Battalion marched through Querieu, Allonville, and Coisy, to billets in Bertangles, and then on the next day by Villers-Bocage, Talmas, and Vert-Galand, to Beauval. On April 4th the Battalion marched on through Doullens and Bouquemaison to billets in Neuvilette.

During the first days of the Arras offensive the 2nd Worcestershire had remained at Fonquevillers. Not until April 12th did orders come to move forward ; then the Battalion paraded and marched through Bienvillers, Monchy au Bois and Adinfer, into a reserve position near Mercatel. There the 2nd Worcestershire remained for twenty-four hours, listening to heavy firing in front where a great attack was in progress. Then, on April 14th, the Battalion marched southward to Boisleuxau Mont, and thence by way of Boyelles to Maison Rouge Farm. There guides met the companies
and led them forward through St. Leger and Croisilles into trenches north of the latter village. The line allotted to the 100th Brigade was astride the River Sensee, and the 2nd Worcestershire were on that rivet's eastern bank.

The last great fight of the Regiment in the Arras battles fell to the lot of the 2nd Battalion. On May 1st the Battalion marched forwards from its rest billets at Pommier, first to Ficheux and then on the following day through Boisleux au Mont to Hamelincourt. There the Battalion lay
in bivouac during the ensuing week, training hard; for instructions had been received that a renewed general attack was to be made in the near future. On May 11th the Battalion moved forward to the line, and took over their former outpost position in the Sensee valley, north of Croisilles. The companies held that outpost line for four days in comparative quiet.

Hope this little bit extra helps.

Regards,

Louis (webmaster)
scully
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Postby Arbeek1 » Sat May 01, 2010 2:08 pm

Louis - this is really kind of you.
I must admit that this area and date of fighting is not something too familiar to me so it'll be good for my education!

I've discovered that his date of transfer to the 2nd means he would have just missed the High Wood action with 100th Brigade. Seton-Hutchison of the 100th MGC is one of my favourite reads! I would presume that the action you've just outlined above is also commensurate with 100th Brigade so hopefully I can glean a bit of information from Hutchy, as well as elsewhere in connection with 33rd Div.

Also, re. his time at Ypres: he transferred to the 8th late September '17. So, although he may have missed Broodseinde, there's a fair chance he'd have caught Poelcapelle, before they were sent down to Vimy.
I'm presuming that this may be where the family got their Ypres connection.

Either which way - you've already excelled yourself in my eyes and if I can return any favour please feel free to contact me.
I did have a fair amount of information on Mansel-Pleydell, although it was his brother Harry, killed at Hammerhead Sap, Thiepval with The Dorsets that was my main man.

Indebted and impressed at your generosity.
Very kindest regards to you on behalf of myself and the Cox family.
Mary X
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