Herbert Charles Cox was born on 15 March 1896, the only son of Albert Charles Cox, journeyman wheelwright of 34 Fawcett Road, Croydon. He was baptised at St John’s Church, Croydon (now Croydon Minster) on 7 June 1896.
He had five sisters: Minnie, Hilda, Violet, Eva and Mabel. Herbert was known in the family as Bertie and also known as Bert. In 1901 the family were at Fawcett Road, South Croydon and by 1911 had moved to 7 Parker Road, South Croydon (UK censuses).
The family business was behind the Parker Road house, between Southbridge Road and South End, South Croydon. The earliest trade directory entry for Cox & Son is 1882 and the last 1928; at different times the business is listed as Wheelwright, Blacksmith and Whitesmith.
Herbert married Francis Elizabeth Moyle in Fulham, where Francis had relatives, on 14 August 1913. Herbert was 18 and Francis 34. Herbert’s age was recorded as 22 on the marriage certificate. In the 1911 census Francis is listed as being a cook at a residence not far from St Peter’s Church, South Croydon.
In 1916 Herbert is recorded on his daughter’s birth certificate (Doris Hazel, born 11 June) as being in the Pay Corps, no. 1942. There is no record of the enlistment date. He had been a stockbroker’s clerk before joining the army.
Herbert re-enlisted while in the Pay Corps to ‘see action’ and arrived in France on 18 January 1917 with the Royal Garrison Artillery 232nd Siege Battery. Herbert was a Signaller and would have been at the front signalling to colleagues to let them know where their shells were landing when he was shot in the head in May 1917.
He is recorded on the Roll of Honour as Gunner A. Fox, 97229 Royal Garrison Artillery, from South Croydon. On his medal card the forename is recorded as Alfred and he is listed by the CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commission) as A. Fox, Gunner, 232nd Siege Battery. (He used the name Albert so that he could continue to be called Bert and Bertie.)
Herbert is listed on the war memorial inside St Peter’s Church, South Croydon, and as Bert on the Sunday School memorial. His name also appears on a metal plaque of the names of WWI war dead, letters C to H, found in the grounds and believed to be the remains of a war memorial that used to be in the churchyard, destroyed as a result of a bomb falling close by in WWII.
There is an entry in the Croydon Advertiser dated Saturday 26 May 1917 in a column headed ‘Died in the War’:
COX – May 12th, killed in action, Herbert Charles Cox, Signaller, Royal Garrison Artillery, dearly loved and only son of Albert Charles and Elizabeth Cox of 7 Parker Road, Croydon, aged 21 years.
Herbert was originally buried in Vaulx A.D.S. British Cemetery and in 1929 his remains were exhumed and reburied in plot III.B.9. Vraucort Copse Cemetery, Vaulx-Vraucourt, which is in the Department of the Pas-de-Calais, six kilometres North-East of Bapaume.