Private B/21025 Elisha Cox

 Cox Elisha 96 367x600

Killed in Action on Monday, 31st July 1916, age 25.
Commemorated on Pier and Face 15 C of Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

2nd Bn., Highland Light Infantry. 5th Brigade of 2nd Division.
Formerly 85474 Royal Field Artillery.

Born: West Bromwich, Enlisted: Darlaston, Resident: Darlaston.

First landed France & Flanders, 2nd October 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library, and St. Mark's memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/757036/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Elisha Cox registered March quarter 1891 in West Bromwich.

1891 Census
25A Vernon Street, West Bromwich, Staffs.
Frank Cox (20, Iron Warehouseman, born West Bromwich), his wife Ann (22, born West Bromwich), and their son Elisha (1 month, born West Bromwich).

1901 Census
39 Cophall Street, West Bromwich, Staffs.
Frank Cox (31, Warehouseman at Tube Works), born West Bromwich), his wife Ann (32, born Oldbury), and their 6 children: Elisha (10, born West Bromwich), Roshannah (8, born West Bromwich), Amelia (6, born West Bromwich), Eliza A. (4, born West Bromwich), Frank (2, born West Bromwich), and Thomas (1 month, born West Bromwich).

1911 Census
56 Toll End Road, Tipton, Staffs.
Frank Cox (40, Tube Warehouseman), born West Bromwich), his wife Ann (41, born Oldbury), and their 9 surviving children of 10: Elisha (20, Furnaceman, born West Bromwich), Rosa (18, General Household Servant, born West Bromwich), Amelia (16, born West Bromwich), Eliza (14, born West Bromwich), Frank (12, School, born West Bromwich), Thomas (10, School, born West Bromwich), Jack (7, born Tipton), Benjamin (3, born Tipton), and William (1, born Tipton).

Personal Data

According to a family source, at the time of his enlistment Elisha was living with his niece Eliza Richards (nee Cox) and her husband Charles Richards at 1 Church Lane, Tipton.

Elisha Cox enlisted in Royal Field Artillery with number 85474 and went to France with them. At one stage, the casualties with the 2nd Highland Light Infantry were particularly heavy and a group of soldiers from the RFA, all with similar numbers to Elisha, were transferred to the 2nd Battalion Highland Light Infantry, 5th Brigade, 2nd Division. There were 8 men of the 2nd HLI killed on 31st July, 3 of them had transferred from the RFA and one from the RGA.

After Elisha's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £9/4/5d (9 pounds, 4 shillings and 5 pence); this was paid to his father, Frank, in December 1916. His War Gratuity was £8/10/0d (8 pounds and 10 shillings), this was also paid to his father in March 1920. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Elisha had enlisted in August 1914.

Action resulting in his death

The 2nd Division arrived on the Somme for the first time in late July 1916 and took over 'trenches' in Delville Wood on 24th July. Fighting was almost continuous, but the 27th July saw significant gains with most of Delville Wood (except the northern edge) being in Allied hands.

There was a major attack by 5th Division on the left of 2nd Division on 30th/31st July. This was held up by Germans occupying Orchard Trench at the North West corner of Delville Wood, which had been dug and occupied without being detected by the British.

Terry Norman in 'The Hell they called High Wood' says "Monday 31st July... was remarkable for a violent bombardment of the country that was practically continuous throughout the day. The Germans were angry. Longueval was completely in British hands, and nearly all of Delville Wood." Although the wood was 'officially' within the British lines by 5th August, it did not seem so on the ground. It was not until 24th August that Delville Wood was secured.

It is likely that the 'continuous bombardment' of 31st July 1916 was to claim the life of Elisha Cox, his body was never identified and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

Newspaper Cuttings

County Express.
Mr and Mrs Frank Cox, of 54 Toll End Road, Ocker Hill, Tipton, have received news that their eldest son, Elsiha Cox, of the Highland Light Infantry, was killed in action on 30 July. He worked at Ratcliffe and Ratcliffe Ltd., Great Bridge Tube Works for about nine years. He was 25 years of age. His sergeant writes: "It is with the deepest regret that I write to let you know that your son died on 30 July. We were in the trenches when it happened, and he died a soldier and a man. He suffered no pain; I saw him after and he wore a smile just the same we were used to in life. He was a good soldier - one of those who go to make the British Army the army that is second to none."

Tipton Herald 16th September 1916
In the Casualty List, the names of those "killed" include Private S.W. Langston, Private G.H. Powell and Private W. Smith; all of Tipton and belonging to the South Staffs Regiment. Also amongst those killed is Private E. Cox of the Highland Light Infantry.