Frederick William Cox
Lance Serjeant 14th Battalion, (1st Birmingham Pals) Royal Warwickshire Regiment
William and Sarah Jane Cox, originally from Brierly Hill, had two sons: Frederick, born 17th April 1890, and Herbert, born 25th February 1896. William was a clerk for a flour miller, and rose to become a manager.
The two boys in turn became clerks for a brewing company. The family moved around, living in Alum Rock Road and Nechells Park Road and ending up at 28, Warwick Road, in an eight-room house.
When the Great War broke out in August 1918, the two young men were among thousands who flocked to the army recruiting office. Very large numbers of mainly white-collar workers were formed into the three Birmingham Pals Battalions, which became the 14th, 15th and 16th Battalions of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Frederick (Fred) and Herbert (Bert) were among the first to join up, receiving the service numbers 14/58 and 14/52 respectively. Bert lied about his age in order to enlist.
On 21st November 1915, all three of the Birmingham Pals battalions were deployed to the Western Front, the 14th Battalion landing at Boulogne.
The Battle of the Somme is notorious for the extremely high casualty rate on both sides. Between July and November 1916 more than three million men fought, and there were a million casualties. On the first day of the battle, 1st July 1916, there were 60 000 British casualties, including 20 000 dead. The names of the villages and woods associated with the battle – for instance High Wood, Longueval, Delville Wood – hide the fact that the area was completely devastated.
On 23rd July at Delville Wood Private Bert Cox was shot in the left leg. He was evacuated to Britain three days later.
One week later Lance Serjeant Fred Cox was killed in action.
Fred has no known grave, and is commemorated on the memorial at Thiepval..
The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave.
Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.