b. 25/12/1889 Kings Stanley, Hertfordshire. d. 28/03/1959 Kings Stanley, Hertfordshire.
Christopher Augustus Cox (1889-1959) was born at King’s Langley, Hertfordshire on Christmas Day 1889. His father, William, a labourer, married Elizabeth “Betsy” Carter in 1869. She died in 1882, and William re-married to Susannah Frazer nee Chilvers, who was a widow, later that same year. Christopher had ten siblings from his parents’ marriages. One of his brothers, James, died of wounds in 1916 and is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.
Christopher was educated at Kings Langley Church of England School. He was employed as a farm hand at Balls Pond Farm and injured the tips of his fingers in a turnip mincing machine. He later became a coal carman. He married Maud May nee Swan on 5th October 1912 at Queen’s Road Wesleyan Chapel in Watford. She was a nursery maid for the Stirling family in Watford. They went on to have nine children.
Christopher enlisted on 7th September 1914 and went to France on 26th July 1915. He was wounded in the thigh on 1st July 1916 on the Somme and spent two months in hospital. On 13th March 1917 at Achiet-le-Grand, France, during an attack by the battalion, the front wave was checked by very heavy artillery and machine gun fire and the whole line had to take shelter in shell holes. Cox, a stretcher-bearer, went out over fire-swept ground and single-handedly rescued four men. Having collected the wounded of his own battalion he then helped to bring in the wounded of the adjoining battalion. On two subsequent days he carried out similar work with complete disregard for his own safety.
A number of officers and senior NCOs submitted reports recommending Christopher for recognition for his actions, and was formally submitted on 29th March 1917. The VC was presented by King George V outside Buckingham Palace on 21st July 1917. On 28th July, Lord Clarendon presented him with a £50 War Loan and a gold watch at Church House, Kings Langley on behalf of the inhabitants. At some time Christopher rescued a relative of Major General Lee, GOC 18th Division. He later sustained serious wounds to his left foot during an attack and was evacuated to England for treatment at Queen Mary Military Hospital, Whalley, Blackburn, Lancashire. He was demobilised on 24th February 1919.
He worked for a builder until October 1922, when he was employed as a maintenance worker by A Wander Ltd at the Ovaltine factory. During the Second World War, he served in the Home Guard as a Corporal in the Kings Langley unit. The Griffin public house was bombed and the publican, Ted Carter, was missing. Christopher assisted others in searching the ruins and Carter’s body was found in the rubble. He was forced to give up work in 1956 after a fall at the factory resulted in serious head and other injuries. He spent the next few years in and out of hospital and died at Hill End Hospital, St Albans, Hertfordshire on 28th April 1959. He was buried in Kings Langley Cemetery. In addition to his VC, he was also awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, George VI Coronation Medal 1937 and Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953. The VC is owned privately, but is on loan to the Imperial War Museum, London where it is displayed in the Ashcroft Gallery.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM.
BURIAL PLACE: KING'S LANGLEY CEMETERY, HERTFORDSHIRE.
Christopher Cox's medal group including his VC and his three WWI campaign medals ("Pip, Squeak and Wilfred") on display at the Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London (August 2014).
Achiet le Grand Memorial to Christopher Cox VC
War Illustrated, 9th June 1917