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Soldiers of the Regiment

Sergeant Charles Fox, number 8753, 1st Battalion, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment

Sergeant Charles Fox, number 8753, of the 1st Battalion, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment arrived in France with the rest of the battalion on 23rd August 1914.  In the following weeks and months he took part in many of the major campaigns of the First World War.  He wrote home with some of his letters being published in the local newspapers.

From the Kendal Mercury 30th October 1914

Pushing Back the Germans

Charlie Fox, the soldier referred to, sends communications to his family on the 20th and 21st Oct. He says: “I am in the pink and hope you are all the same. We are fairly amongst the Germans and are pushing them back slowly but surely. We have had about five days rest out of the firing line, but on the 13th we were in the thick and practically have been under fire ever since. I got the newspaper you sent me, also the pipe and tobacco for which I thank you. We seem to be behind with an issue of the weed but I suppose we will get it as soon as possible. The Germans have made a mess of a lot of villages and towns here, but they will have to pay for it before we have done with them.”

From the Kendal Mercury, 18th December 1914

From the front, Private C Fox, of the King’s Own, in a laconic message intimates that he has been allowed a few days rest and having got out of the sound of the guns is giving some attention to his toilet.

From the Kendal Mercury 22nd October 1915

Fourteen Months in France
An Endmoor Man’s Experiences

After nearly fourteen months spent in France, Lance corporal Charles Fox, one of the soldier sons of Mrs Fox, of Endmoor, has been granted a short leave of absence and he arrived home on Friday evening. The furlough extends for one week and the Lance corporal, who is a member of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Lancasters, is due to leave London on Friday evening and be back in France by midnight. He is one of five brothers on active service. Fred being a member of the 4th Battalion, King’s Own, and at present in France. Len is in the same regiment though now a prisoner of war in Germany, and two others are in the 4th Borders. Robert, the eldest of the family is at the Barrow Depot, and Harry, the youngest in India.
In a short chat our representative had with Charlie the latter said that his regiment arrived in France on 23 Aug 1914. They entrained from Boulogne on a Sunday night and went up the country. On the Tuesday evening they came under German shell fire but this did not deter the battalion from making an all-night march, in order to take up position.
The Battle of Cambrai was fought the succeeding day, and it was in this fight that his regiment suffered so heavily. They went into it 1030 strong and three days later when the roll could be called they numbered 411. “It was in this engagement,” said he, “that I lost my comrade, Sergeant John Bamford” (also an Endmoor man). “He was wounded so I heard at the commencement of the fight and was taken prisoner by the Germans.” With regard to the Battle of Cambrai, it was the intention to hold a hill not far from the place and the leading companies had reached the crest and thrown off their accoutrements in preparation of breakfast. Hardly had the rear Companies scaled the summit when the Germans opened out a heavy attack of artillery, machine gun and rifle fire. This surprise was so great that it was no wonder confusion prevailed at the time. Colonel Dykes, who was at the head of the regiment, was almost instantly killed and amongst other officers that suffered was Captain Clutterbuck. They had to wait for orders and eventually the Major, who had taken command, ordered a retirement. On the way they were met by a number of staff officers and the ranks were then re-formed. “We were on the retreat” said Lance corporal Fox, “from 26 Aug to 6 Sep”. On one of those days they were suddenly wheeled about and a violent attack was made on the Germans. “This was the day,” he said in a reminiscent mood, “when the L Battery was so badly cut up, and the 18th Hussars, I think, got roughly handled.” When within about three days’ march of Paris they turned off, and this movement corresponds with Von Kluck’s famous swerve when within sight of the gates of the French capital. The regiment lost little during the retreat, nor were they ever badly under fire, this being due to the excellent screening of the cavalry. At Laigny they had a half day’s rest and opportunity was taken to bring in some of the guns which had been captured from the Germans.

Twelve months ago on Tuesday they took position of La Cateau and then settled down to real trench warfare. The nearest they were to the German trenches was thirty-nine yards, and the longest spell the regiment had in them was nineteen days, during the first fight for Ypres. This rather lengthy sojourn in the trenches was not taken part in by Fox, he having been detailed for some duty on the Quartermaster’s Staff. At the last Battle for Ypres, which took place on 30 Apr 1915 the heaviest part of the fighting was over where his regiment was ordered in. They took the trenches vacated by the Canadians when the latter had suffered so much owing to the gas attack by the Germans. When they advanced across the Marne, Major Parker, who was in charge of the battalion, was badly wounded. At Soissons they drove out the Germans and took possession and it was here that Colour Sergeant Heaneys gained the DCM for a valorous deed and for which subsequently he was granted a commission. From the Aisne they went to Amiens then to Hazebruck where they went into billets. At Mettram they were in action one morning by eight o’clock and a Milnthorpe comrade named Shaw was wounded there. It was in this engagement that Lieutenant Waterhouse was killed. For some months now they have been stationed at Arras which is a billeting area. Asked as to the state of the trenches, Lance corporal Fox said that in the dry weather they were alright but in wet just the reverse. The roads had been much knocked up by the heavy motor traffic. Lance corporal Fox has been in the Army nearly ten years and when hostilities commenced he had only about two months of his time to serve.

From the Kendal Mercury 3rd November 1916

On Tuesday morning Mrs Fox of Endmoor was informed by her son, Charles, that he had been wounded in France on 23 Oct 1916. “I was hit” he says “in the shoulder by a piece of shell during the advance, we had got about 300 yards, over the top when I received my injury.” This was on the Somme. Since writing this the wounded soldier has been taken to hospital at Newcastle upon Tyne.
He is one of four sons Mrs Fox has with the Colours and is Acting Sergeant with the King’s own. He was drafted to France with one of the first detachments sent out and was in the retreat from Mons and subsequently saw a good deal of fighting. One brother in France, another in Burma, whilst the third has been a prisoner for some time.

From the Westmorland Gazette of 4th November 1916:

Sergeant Charles Fox

Wounded at Les Boeufs on the Somme on 23rd October 1916 and is now in hospital in Newcastle. “I was hit” he says “in the shoulder by a piece of shell during the advance. We had got 300 yards over the top of the hill when this occurred.” The wounded soldier is one of four sons of Mrs Fox who are serving. One brother is in Burma, another in France, and the third is a prisoner of war in Germany.




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