Private Arthur Cox of the Machine Gun Corps died during the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) just seven days from his 24th birthday. He was born in Langham on 23 August 1893 to Philip and Annie Cox. He worked on a farm before enlisting in September 1914 and served in the 9th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment. He transferred to the Machine Gun Corps and went out to the Western Front in June 1915. Arthur fought in the Messines, Ypres and other sectors with 107th Company, attached to 36th Division. On 16 August 1917 he was mortally wounded near Ypres after being hit by shrapnel in his left side and leg. He died in the ambulance on the way from the Advanced Dressing Station to an Australian Casualty Clearing Station. The Company war diary records how eight machine guns were in position near Wieltje ready to support an infantry attack on Hill 35. The plan was for the guns to open fire 30 minutes after Zero and help protect the attacking troops. The diary records: "Zero. Our artillery barrage opened. The infantry immediately went forward following close behind the barrage and were followed by successive waves." Thirty minutes later, as planned: "Our guns opened fire & kept up a rate of one belt per gun every five minutes. All guns working and firing splendidly." But things began to go wrong and after a time the infantry was seen coming back over the ridge of Hill 35 as the Germans launched a series of counter attacks. The machine gunners' diary records how the Germans began a concentrated bombardment: "I had three guns knocked out and several casualties." Arthur was listed in the diary as one of those wounded but the details of his injuries and of him dying in an ambulance come from George Phillips in Rutland and the Great War. In a letter to Arthur's mother, his Sergeant wrote: "Arthur was a very good lad and very popular with his chums." He is buried at Brandhoek New Military Cemetery No 3, grave I.A.8, and is remembered on Langham's war memorial.
Photograph courtesy Langham Village History Group
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