RAYMOND COX

Private, 19019, 6th Middlesex Regiment
Killed in Action in Belgium, 11 August 1917, aged 34
Buried at La Laiterie Military Cemetery, Kemmel, Belgium
Plot 1, Row C, Grave 20
 

La Laiterie Military Cemetery

Raymond Cox was the ninth of eleven children belonging to Stephen Cox and his wife Mary Ann, née Gammon. He was born in Withyham and baptised there on 7 June 1885. Stephen was an agricultural labourer and clearly often moved to find work, as children in the family were born variously at Maresfield, Buxted, Withyham, Hever, Brasted and Hartfield. In 1891, though, the family was at Forstal Cottage, Hartfield, as it was in 1901 when Raymond was enumerated as a 'carter's boy on farm'.

In 1910, he married Florance [sic] May Baker, in the East Grinstead Registration District. He and his new wife were enumerated in 1911 at Prospect Cottages, Ashurstwood, and Raymond was now recorded as an agricultural worker. A short-lived son, also named Raymond, was born in 1911.

At a time unknown, according to Soldiers who died in the Great War, Raymond enlisted at Chichester in the 16th Battalion of the Duke of Cambridge's own (Middlesex) Regiment. This seems slightly unlikely as this was subtitled Public Schools but is corroborated by the Army Register of Soldiers' Effects. The 16th Battalion was formed in London in 1914; in November 1915 it landed at Boulogne, and presumably stayed on the Western Front until it was disbanded at Poperinghe in 1918.

The regiment was in Flanders in August 1917 and the regimental diary records the events at the time of Raymond's death. On 10-11 August, the 16th Battalion found itself on the front line, between the French on the left and the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers on the right, near Steenbeek. On 11-12 August:

...at 4.20 a.m. under a pocket barrage attack[ed] PASSERELLE FARM...Two machine guns and one howitzer captured...Total casualties for tour:...Other ranks - 30 killed, 83 wounded.

Several officers were also killed.

Although the Forest Row Memorial Book (pictured below) suggests that he was killed in France, the Army Register of Soldiers' Effects places the event in Belgium. His widow Florence was authorised to receive his effects of £2 8s 3d on 28 November 1917, and received a further war gratuity payment of £3 on 21 October 1919. By this time she may well have been living at an address recorded in the book as Keeper's Cottage Ashdown Forest Row.

Memorial Book, Forest Row

It seems likely that Florence remarried in 1922 in East Grinstead, and became Mrs John S. Pankhurst, although there were no further children. Her death was registered at Cuckfield in 1968.

Pam Griffiths