by Grandsons, Steve and Frank Schmidt
Bert came to Canada in 1913 via Ellis Island, New York on the ship Giuana. The ship left Barbados on May 10 and landed at New York on May 20th. It says he was headed to his cousin Ada (or Ida) King at 37 Classic Ave Toronto, Ontario. He was travelling with a friend Arthur E. Clarke, who was headed to the same place. (This info is from the site http://www.ellisisland.org/.)
Bert worked as a teller for The Canadian Bank of Commerce, first in Sherbrooke, Quebec and then in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Several of his fellow employees joined the war effort and Bert soon enlisted in the Canadian Army as a Gunner in Artillery 59th Battery C.F.A. on March 26, 1916. He was 19 1\2 years old and unmarried.
Perhaps the government established a requirement for new immigrants to Canada (able bodied men of a certain age) had to serve in the local "home guard" or militia for a time period. It could be that when Bert's service time was fulfilled he was allowed to move on to another job (bank) in Winnipeg.
His 53rd unform looks a lot like the enlistment group of 8 uniforms (see photo below) except the later ones have more brass on collars. A lot of young men enlisted in the militia when WW1 broke out and later when it did not end in a few months they decided to enlist when the call went out for re-enforcements. We cannot confirm this, it is just a scenario.
Bert Cox served until June 28, 1919 and at that time was Honorably Discharged at Toronto. He then emigrated to the United States, finding work in Detroit, Michigan. He became a United States citizen in approximately 1935.
Bert married Carrie Davenport in 1921 in Birmingham, MI. They had one daughter, Molly (Cox) Schmidt.
Bert worked for the Buick Motor Company and later for a steel supplier to General Motors Corp. as a buyer for the Hall Steel Company of Flint, MI. He resided at 1502 Welch Blvd.
After retirement in 1965, Bert enjoyed his family, traveling back to Europe and Barbados, his garden and visiting a nursing home each week.
B.H. Cox died in Flint, MI in May of 1981. He and his wife are buried in Pine Tree Cemetery, Corunna, MI.
After Bert's death, his family found up in the attic of his home a box of war momentos including a few buttons, assorted medals, a German belt buckle, his canteen mess kit, one silver watch, several letters, a history book of his Division and some large photos of his unit. Many items were moth eaten after 60 plus years in storage.
Bert rarely talked of his war experiences and suffered his whole life from back pain, whether imagined or real. Several times during his life, the 'back problem' kept him bed ridden for months. This could have been as a result of his days in the cold damp trenches, but it is not known. Bert did not belong to any veteran organizations or attend re-unions during his lifetime. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was not recognised in those days.
The following excerpts are from the book World War I in Northeastern France as an Environmental Event by M. R. Mulford. This insight is helpful in reading and understanding the letters of B.H. Cox at the bottom of this webpage.
In much of the region, the Front lines altered very little during the prosecution of the war and this led to a continuous upheaval (of the turf) throughout that area. (pg 1)
The curious fact remains that once the troops got beyond the jumping off point (end of the railroad) for an assualt...... the speed of the advance was constrained to that at which a human or horse moves and was the determining element in the non-forward momentum of the offensive.(pg 1)
Therefore, a major factor in the development of the stalemate on the Western Front stemmed from the inability to move armies over long distances swiftly.(3)(pg 2)
The total length of the trenches was enough to reach twice around the earth, a length in excess of fifty thousand miles. (pg3)
From 1914 to 1918, the Western Front can be thought of as the largest city on earth, with a population of 6 million 100 thousand. The front line housed the lower class in typically offensive slums. Here the men had to endure incessant shelling, deplorable conditions, such as water and mud, stagnant in the trenches, little or no sanitary facilities, the psychological trauma of seeing friends killed and being required to kill other human beings. (pg4)
There was a perpetual brown haze caused by shell fire and mist and dust that reached several thousand feet high over the front, so that it was not only the land that was polluted but the air as well. Air pollution was exaccerbated by the use of chemical warfare. Gas in particular was used as an area denial tool. (pg4)
With the disruption of the land by shelling and quantities of rain, the conditions of the soil mirrored this process(water absorption) and this created a danger to which men and animals succumbed. What appeared to be solid ground could swallow a man in moments. Moreover, the conditions slowed men crossing the field and exposed them to enemy fire for longer periods (if there was no trench?) For the entire front casualties averaged eight thousand a day.(pg5) In the regions where the fighting concentrated, up to eighty percent of the buildings were either heavily damaged or reduced to ruins. (pg6)
France; it's unenviable geographic position on the Northern European Plain, in the border lands of the low countries and Germany has made it an invasion target at least once every one hundred years for the past eight hundred years.(pg7) The war adversely affected three million three hundred thousand hectares in ten departments of France. And not only crops bore the brunt of the devastation, farmers also lost over a million and a half head of livestock. The war damaged over half a million houses and completely destroyed more than 50 percent of those. In the realm of transportation, the fighting destroyed thirty-five hundred miles of railroad track and eight hundred bridges. (pg9)
Bloch in Strange Defeat said that he did not so much fear the shells, but the noise was the worst most unnerving aspect of a bombardment and could be heard as far away as London. (31)(pg10)
The Spanish Influenza first appeared in a less malevolent form in the winter of 1917-18. It appears that the high incidence of the flu in the winter and spring in the ranks of the British Expeditionary Force conferred upon them almost total immunity to the later more deadly form of the flu. In it's most virulent form the Spanish flu killed more people in one hundred twenty days than the war did in all of it's four and a quarter years. It infected half of the world population. (one billion ) (pg10)
3 Buffton, Deborah Darlene The Rituals of Surrender: Northern France Under Two Occupations 1914-1918 / 1940-1944 PHD Thesis 1987 University of Wisconsin, Madison v. Laffin, Jhohn A Western Front Companion 1914-1918 a-z source to the battles, weapons, people, places, air combat Phoenix Will for Thrupp, Stroud, Gloustershire : Alan Sutton Pub Ltd. 1994 ; 1
31 - Eksteines, Modris The Rights of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age NY Doubleday, 1989, pp 139, 141
39 Webster, Donovan The War Moved On, The Bombs Stayed Smithsonian, Feb 94, v24 #11 pp 28-30,31,34 Aftermath: 26,28-29, 35-36,52
By 1918 the British Army had five armies on the Western Front. This force was under the direction of the commander-in-chief, who was a field marshal. Each army was commanded by a general, and would normally consist of three or four corps. Each corp was commanded by a lieutenant-general and contained from two to six divisions. Divisions were commanded by major-generals and were self-contained fighting units. See www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~cjmorton/service/ww1/brit_army/army.htm
Divisions were made up of consecutively numbered battalions of eight companies each, in four brigades of four battalions each. 260 Canadian battalions were formed during the war. The 5th Canadian Division was formed in 1917 and was broken up in 1918 to reinforce the 1st - 4th Divisions. (ww1sb)(pg159)(pg161)
The 60th Battery of Canadian Field Artillery formed part of the 14th Artillery Brigade, 5th Canadian Division under the British 2nd Army. (60cbb) (pg 5)
Initially the Canadian forces were armed with the Ross rifle, a Canadian produced weapon derived from the 1890 Mannlicher (German) which was prone to jam during cartridge extraction and with problems of ammunition supply on active service. (ww1sb)(pg162)
The Ross in caliber .303 Mark VII (British) was the Canadian service rifle at the outbreak of WW1. However, after a comparatively short service under actual battle conditions, it was found that the extracting power of the straight-pull bolt design was inadequate for the type of trench warfare then being waged.(BOF)(pg136)
UXB's (unexploded bombs) are still a significant problem in France. It is estimated that there are 12 million UXB's near Verdun alone. This has led the French government to simply cordon off six million acres above Verdun in a cordon rouge(red ribbon area) which has been closed ever since the war. On May 27, 1918 the Germans fired seven hundred thousand shells in three hours in support of their spring offensive.(pg12)
It is estimated that an average of one thousand shells fell on every acre of the Western Front. Again, using the 15% failure rate, we find that, on average every acre had one hundred fifty UXB's. Approximately thirty tons out of the 9 hundred tons of UXB's recovered annually contain chemical agents.(39)(pg13) One of the still pristine battlefields that received protection is the Canadian memorial at Vimy Ridge.(ww1)(pg15) Note Map
by Daniel Schmidt......Grandson
After doing a little research, I hope to shed some light on the life experiences of Bert Cox, gunner in the 60th Battery of the Canadian Field Artillery during World War 1 serving on the Western Front. He kept his military service experiences to himself and other than the letters he wrote during the war, we have very little to help us explain his personal reasons for what he did. His family does have the benefit of the life that Bert Cox lived after the war, even though he did not talk about WW1, he was able to take that experience and draw from the horror of it and I believe turn that negative into a persona of living life to it's fullest.
Bert Cox was a positive force always looking for the beautiful things in life and the best side of people he met. He loved children and held his friends and family as the most important in his life. Not only was it a miracle that Bert survived the war without being wounded, much less killed, it is also incredible that he was able to virtually remove the years he spent in the mud ducking and dodging enemy fire from his life and never looked back! I can only attribute that kind of ability to a super-human determination to focus on the future and an iron strength will to make something of a life that so easily could have been cut short on the battlefield.
Even though he never sought out recognition for his service while he was alive, we would be misguided if we did not honor his choice to join the Canadian Army and his vision of a free world, that could only be achieved through that unselfish and brave effort. We will always cherish his memory and thank him for his contributions, not only to our family but to the world in which we live today.
The following is an effort to try to clarify the letters from the front written by Bert Cox and published by Molly J. Schmidt, his daughter. In his letters, Bert uses place names, names of people and slang common at the time of the war.
The following is a list to assist in the identification of relatives living at the time that these letters were written:
Bertram H. Cox was the youngest of eight children, born to Chas. H. S. Cox and Isabel Howard Cox, both living in Barbadoes.
1. Carl---wife, Mabel-----no children--living in Brooklyn. Carl worked in NY City
2. Duncan-----died in Brooklyn in 1901 ----long before WWI.
3. Herbert---wife, Hellen----son, Horace (Hank) Cox. Herbert worked in NYC.
4. Ina-----never married---was visiting in Brooklyn, then returned to Barbadoes
5. Norman---working as a British Customs Official in Lagos, Nigeria, Africa Later married Annie----one daughter---Isobel Cox (Parris).
6. Murrill---wife, Ella----two sons: Roderick and Winston.
One daughter--Doris Cox (Fowler) Murril worked in Detroit, Michigan.
7. Leila----married Jack Badley. He worked in the family business "T. Herbert Ltd." in Barbados.
They had two sons---Geoffrey and David.
8. Bertram H. Cox
There was a spread of 23 years between the oldest (Carl) and Bert, therefore, Bert was considered the young Kid Brother..
LFTF Letters From The Front Volume 1 and 2 The Canadian Bank of Commerce
BHC Letters written by Bertrum H. Cox from the Western Front during WW1
Private Published by Molly J. Schmidt 2002
60CBB - 60th Canadian Field Artillery Battery Book Private Published April 1919
BOR Book Of Rifles by Smith and Smith, Stackpole Books Harrisburg Penn. 1965
WW1sb The World War One Source Book by Philip J. Haythornthwaite Published by Brockhampton Press London 1994
The names that appear in Bert's letters are of relatives, friends of the family which are familiar to family and probably not of interest to others, or his Canadian friends in the artillery, famous people in the news or events in the news which are explored.
GCB Baillie: Mr. Baillie was of Scottish descent and enlisted on March 15, 1916 by Mr. Riley. He was a bank clerk with CBC and lived at 50 Smith St. Winnipeg. He signed up as a gunner with the 59th Battery(same as Bert) DOC 1 &2.
Note: Most men signed up as gunners or drivers because the Army reasoned that this would allow for a high level of competency and thus success for the battery.
Mr. Baillie was mentioned several times in different letters, one of which is published in the LFTF Vol 1 pg 225. He may have been influential in Bert's enlistment. From the frequent use of his name one would think he was a lively character and well liked. BHC pg 26 Mr Baillie was wounded shell shock and eventually came back to Saskatoon after the war to work for the CBC Nutana Branch Manager. BHC pg 44, 33 DOC 2 LFTF Vol 2 pg 19
Gerald Edward Latimer - Mr. Latimer worked for CBC and enlisted March 1916 from the Winnipeg branch but to the Canadian Army Service Corp. He was killed at Vimy Ridge April 9, 1917 Bert may have known Latimer but never mentioned him. LFTF Vol 2 pg 248, Vol 1 pg 225
Alexander McDonald MacLennan - Mr. MacLennan enlisted March 17, 1916 from the Winnipeg branch as Gunner in the 59th Battery. He was a bank clerk at the CBC and lived at 213 Furby St. Winnipeg. LFTF Vol 1 pg 235, Vol 2 pg 275 BHC pg 6,33
A. E. McLennan - Bert makes reference to Mr. McLennan as one of the old 59th men and his death from a direct hit while he was repairing phone lines in the trench. 60CBB pg 181 BHC pg 14, 47 LFTF Vol 1 pg 235
Donald James Moorman - Enlisted March 1916 from the Winnipeg branch as a driver and promoted to Lieutenant possibly with the Air Corp. LFTF Vol 1 pg 235, Vol 2 pg 302 BHC pg 44
Andrew Rutherford Hewat - Mr. Hewat enlisted March 15, 1916 as a Gunner in the 59th Battery from the Winnipeg branch. He lived at 226 Donald St. Winnipeg. He had a letter published in LFTF Vol 1 pg 235 in which he writes of a G.O. Lloyd.(attestation paper with the word missing ) LFTF Vol 2 pg 200 DOC 4 & 5 BHC pg 33
Lorne Corneil MacCallum - Mr. MacCallum enlisted March 1916 from the Fort Rouge Winnipeg branch in the 59th Battery as a Gunner and he lived with Andrew Hewat at 226 Donald St. A handwritten note in the margin of pg 267 LFTF Best man at mom and dad's wedding by Molly Schmidt LFTF Vol 1 pg 235, Vol 2 pg 267 BHC pg 33
Names from the diary of B.H.Cox during WWI
J. MacEachern - LFTF Vol 1 pg 225, Vol 2 pg 322, Photo Vol 1 pg ciii
Bob Hunter - Hill - 60 CBB pg 182 Tribe
Jim Pottenger - 60CBB pg 183
Major Armour Lieut. Thompson - 60 CBB pg 183
Jones Stairs - 60 CBB pg 181
Murry Gamble Bros - 60 CBB pg 185
Grey - CBB pg 185
Stone - possible LFTF Vol 2 pg 429
Other Misc Notes from B.H. Cox diary:
Bert mentioned shooting rifles at the range only once in his letters home and that happened before he arrived in France. BHC pg 11
Napoo Corner refers to being dun in or to be killed.
Crown and Anchor refers to a gambling game played by the troops.
Lewis guns are light machine guns.
Nissen huts were the forerunner of Quanset huts.
Whiz-bangs were bombs or shells that made a whizzing sound.
The Drake was a cruiser class, not a dreadnaught, built in 1902-1903 at 9000 tons or more and it was sunk at Rathlin Sound 1917.(by Germany?)
Dixies was a cooking device .
BELOW --- Members of the staff of the Canadian Bank of Commerce in the 59th overseas battery, Winnipeg - May 1916
L to R Back Row:
J. McEachern(died), Alexander McDonald McLennan, Tanner, Lorne Corneil McCallum(Best Man B.H. Cox Wedding)
L to R Front Row:
Donald James Moorman, B. H. Cox, Andrew Rutherford Hewat, Bill Baillie
Petawawa , Ontario
Envelope addressed to:
Mr. H. Howard Cox
New York City U S A
July 10th 1916
My Dear Herbert,
Very many thanks for your letter and watch received safely about 2 days later, It's a dandy but the only points against her are, she's rather a high flyer for " $1.15 a day " guy like me to be using ; and the face is put in wrong, have to twist my head to see the time. Am enclosing a money order for $19.00. Will you give the other $5.00 to Ina for me? For some soap.
Had long letters from home last week, and thank Ina for hers of a few days ago. So you're going to be a Dad in September. "Fine, hay", as they would tell you here, like to be so doing myself. Have never worn my glasses since I joined the army.
Thanks also for the clipping of newspaper about " Kitchener". All Canadian officers wore a black band around their sleeve for a week. (note: Lord Kitchener was British Cabinet Sec. Of State for War. In 1916 he died at sea when the ship that he was traveling on to Russia was sunk by a German mine.)
Am enclosing some good photos. Show them to Mabel and around.
Spend most of the day out on mounted parades. Maneuvering in the field etc. Everything is down under cover of woods, to avoid being seen by aeroplanes. We go right thru a wood when there is no trace, and crush down trees as big as your two legs and 10 to 20 ft. high. Of course, often get stuck and have to build bridges or man handle the guns out etc. The best fun is to be on the head quarters party. They ride out with him on his reconnaissance and then are detailed for different jobs, such as to gallop back, like a fire engine to bring the Battery up into position etc. Was on the headquarters party 3 times last week.
Give my love to Hellen and tell her I am glad to hear the news and write soon to your affectionate
September 23, 1916
September 24, 1916
November 29, 1916
January 7, 1917
January 21, 1917
April 17, 1917
August 15, 1917
August 15, 1917 #2
September 10, 1917
September 18, 1917
October 21st 1917
November 1, 1917
November 14, 1917
November 24, 1917
December 18, 1917
January 10, 1918
January 11, 1918
February 12, 1918
March 25, 1918
April 12, 1918
May 1, 1918
May 1, 1918 Letter #2
May 23, 1918
June 17, 1918
July 1, 1918
July 9, 1918
August 13, 1918
August 29, 1918
October 3, 1918
October 5, 1918
October 15, 1918
October 24, 1918
December 13, 1918
February 13, 1919
March 19, 1919
April 7, 1919
April 12, 1919
May 3, 1919
May 15, 1919
May 20, 1919
June 1, 1919
The following letters were received by Bert, from members of his family, in response to the news of his enlistment in the Canadian Army. Bert must have carried these letters all through the war.
Letter addressed to:
Gunner B.H. Cox
59th Overseas Battery
Winnipeg, Man., Canada
458 3rd St.
Tuesday April 4th 1916
My Dear Old Snoops,
Your letter came yesterday. I can't tell you what a surprise it was to me and to us all. The end of the day found me with a headache worth a Pound and a Crown because I was foolish enough to mind the news of your being a soldier and weeping over it. But if you feel that you are doing the right thing---as I know that you must---we can say nothing, and I know that the drilling and exercise are the things to make you even a bigger man than you are---so I can only pray that before you are ready to go, this terrible war will be over.
I dread the news for Mother, but God will help her bear it. I have always thought that one of her sons, at least, should go to help the Old Country but now it has come to the decision, I do not wish it so much.
How was it that you chose the Artillery? And how is it that they passed you with the bad eye? You must write and let me know everything.
Carl is away for a few days for his firm?I know how surprised they will all be to hear. I sent your letter to Herbert and Hellen to read last night.
Today is dismal weather but the last few days have been like Spring. I'm glad the winter is over on your account. I hate to think of the sack of straw---do be careful with the horses and don't let them throw or kick you. Your uniform must be fine.
Mabel cried too when she heard you had joined the Colours, so you see, B., you must take as much care of yourself as you can. Doris (about 4 years old) , is still with me and sends you this kiss XXX. She is a dear little soul and I shall miss her dreadfully when she leaves next week.
Ella and Murrill have been to B/does for four weeks. I wrote you a long letter on Thursday. I suppose you got it yesterday. Nothing new, my way but lots of love for you, dear Bertie.
From your loving sister,
c/o The Estate of Henry Weil
New York, NY
To: Gunner B. H. Cox
59th Overseas Battery
My Dear Bertie,
Your letter to Ina was brought by Mabel last evening. You can imagine my surprise. I have been to write you for quite some time and particularly to know more of the eye trouble, but Norman's being here, the extra work I have had to do at the office and at the same time, my venturing into the molasses business etc. ( I have sent to Arrindell for 10 puncheons, and if the price is satisfactory, I will have a large order), however that was why I have not written to you, and not because I forgot you in ANY WAY, on the contrary, I often have wondered in the evenings, where you were, and so now you write to tell us that since February 29th you notified the Bank of your intention to resign and join the Army.
Well, what must I say? As you are now in the King's Army, see to it that you are a good soldier and not to be found wanting in the discharge of your duty. I must however, bring to your notice, something which you should have considered before deciding your new career and that is: Mother's health and happiness and if , as you say that you were uncomfortable on account of not belonging to a Regiment, you could have sought another field, for this world is large.
Please don't misunderstand me, a coward and what I mean, are two different things. Your first duty is to your family and no amount of coaxing, or the whole office joining, could not change me, all the more, it is easy to go along with the crowd.
The exercise, you are now receiving, is excellent for you, and if your Regiment does not go out until September, I hate to think that the war will still be on. I don't know how the Germans can keep it up another winter, but never underestimate their strength or ability.
Maybe I would have joined when I was 19 years of age had a war been on. I shall want to hear from you as often as I can. Don't mind my writing you as I have; it is only what I think. I don't blame you for joining the Army, my thought is only of Mother.
What about that paper, Mother signed for you, did you get it back? And can you return to the Bank at the close of the war? Always feel that you can rely on me for sympathy and protection of whatever kind, I have to offer.
Norman left us on March 25th. His steamer arrived at Liverpool yesterday and he leaves for Lagos on Wednesday April 12th by the S/S " Barbutee".
Write soon to your same loving brother,
Thursday 19th April 1916
My dear old Bert:
Your letter to Mother was a great shock, for although Beryl told us that Arnold had written to say you had joined, I did not believe it. Even now, it does not seem possible to be true. I need not tell you how cut up Mother is, over it, as she had no idea you would be going. I do hope you realize the step you have taken and will live accordingly. Make a good honest soldier boy and trust in God for all things.
I'm very glad that you won't be going to England just yet, and please God the horrid war will be over before you have to go to France. I know you don't want that and I can understand your feelings but for us here at home, to have to stay and wait for news would be too awful, not knowing what it would be.
Winnipeg will soon have no men in it and I don't think it right for them to press the young fellows so.
Your letter to Papa came on Tuesday. Tell us all about the life, we like to know what you have to do and how you live. How is it that you write at the Bank Office? Do you still go there?
Of course, when you get this letter, you will have left for Ottawa or be leaving soon. I wonder if you will see Ernie Hoad, as he has gone too. Bertie Thomas left here last week to go, and Leonard Inniss and Bertie Seal, sometime before. They are in Yorkshire, I believe. This letter is very disjointed, I'm afraid, as I am talking to Beryl all the time. She and Marguerite come over almost every day.
When we last heard from Brooklyn, they said Norman was expected to leave England on April 11th for Africa. You know that he would like to join the war too, and I'm just longing to get his next letter, for I believe, if he was pressed much, he would go. I trust, he has not.
Have you learnt to stick on your horse, yet? I hope he has not thrown you, again. Your gun must be a quick firing one. I'm glad you are a gunner and not an ordinary soldier.
Dear, I had a bad time when your letter came, but I feel better about it now, and will trust in God that some day we will all meet again. Take care of yourself and don't go doing rash things.
Write us every week, as it will be a long anxious time now, to know how you are.
Lots of Love and Kisses from your ever affectionate sister,
Jack sends his love.
Letter from Mamma Cox with this enclosure:
And keep thee,
How shall He keep thee?
With the all covering shadow of His wings
With the mighty love that guards from evil things,
With the sure power that safe to glory brings,
Thus may He keep thee.
Easter Day April 23rd 1916
My dear Bertie,
I have just copied the above, from a book I am reading, lent me by Charlotte Leacock.
I wonder if you have been to church? I hope so---to pray for the strength to do your duty as in the sight of God. Are you with those who pray? I trust indeed for your sake and for their own, that you are.
We have had letters of the 14th of April. Jack just brought them, from Ina and Herbert They were put into Jack's box. I still hope that we shall have a letter from you. It is a big mail, he says. (By ship)
Ina does not seem to have been well, although she wishes she could walk and do so much without being tired. I wish she were here. I earnestly hope that her stay in that climate will benefit her, but she really has no home, from Carl's to Herbert's all the time, and nothing to depend on. And so much has been pressed into these last few weeks, I do not wonder that she is thinner.
No letter. I hoped it would be our Easter gift, and the "Trinidad" (ship from NY) came yesterday and no letter.
I hope you are keeping well and the outdoor exertion in such cold is not troubling you. I hope there have been no more night marches. The winter lasts so long in those regions. I have not heard from Mrs. Yarwood. She must know of you through Cambell. Is he with you? You must have plenty to do and if you can stand the climate, I have no doubt, your general health will benefit and I pray you will. I try to think of you at those duties, now.
Carl sent me the batteries for the Acoustican he gave me and I am hearing much clearer than when I was in Brooklyn. ( an early type of hearing aid )
Last Sunday night was very still and I could hear the organ at church. ( she was in her home, a short distance from the church)
I hear that Stanley Patterson is to take over Mr.Baque's school. I hope so. It is dreadful for him with his wife and child to be dependent on his father and she is not even there with him. Mr. Baque is to be an oculist, I believe. Douglas Carber's son is doing a fine business as one.
My dear, I am glad to write you that Mr. Patterson now says that there is NO judgment against Notton (the Family home in Passage Road where all of the Cox children were born). The judgment was not renewed at the proper time or has lapsed. The law is , that they should be renewed every 5 years and this was not done. ( I think that Mr. Thorne died about then) so no paper will need to be signed. But of course, Coleridge must pay that balance of money to me as part of his purchase of Notton. It will be the same to all of you at my death, or if I sell the cottage, that amount will be as Grandpapa's (old Anthony Howard's) legacy to my children. Unfortunately it is very little.
I haven't heard from Norman since he left Brooklyn. Hope to hear by the Liverpool boat that is expected. He ought, with God's blessing, to be nearing Africa by today, if he left England on the 12th.
Leila is to spend Sunday at the Crane (hotel) with the Emtages and is busy with a dress. Can't write, sends her love.
I begged your papa to write to you last Monday. I don't think he did. He never writes the others. He has some canes (sugar) planted and is preparing for the rains, but wants manure and proper turning up.
Dear Bertie try and don't miss the regular writing, dear son, even a few lines to comfort me. Jack will take this to post tomorrow. I pray may God bless and keep you my dear child.
Your loving Mother.
PS from Leila:
Sorry I can't put in some of my scrawl too. Have been very busy and there is not any fresh news. Will hear from me soon though. Hope you are keeping well. Take care of yourself and don't forget to write us. Jack is waiting to be kissed and so must go!! Love, Leila
Hello, Bertie there is a certain little girl here waiting to be kissed, too. Good Luck Jack.
Charles H. Cox
Corporate Registered Accountant
31 Pine St.
To: Gunner B. Howard
59th Overseas Battery
Winnipeg, Man. Canada
May 3rd, 1916
My dear Bertie,
Have not had a chance to write you since your joining the Colors. I can't blame you and yet I am sorry that you may have to give your life for a country which is not your native land.
Ina was very much ashamed that she did not have a brother in the army, now she is very sorry she has ( just like a woman).
Was talking to a chap who has returned from service, having been buried by a 'Jack Johnson', and was dug out 4 hours later, that got his discharge. He told me to advise you not to join, as the care of the horses is most irksome.
Also, that if you ever have to place a gun in a new position, to be sure that the position is well screened, before you even start to dig the foundations, as one 15" gun, he knew of, only fired one shot and was blown to pieces because they had not screened their foundation, and which had been noted by an enemy aeroplane and six shells burst right on top of them as soon as the gun was fired.
I do not suppose you are so crazy about fighting now, as you were before you joined. Maybe one of these days, I will be doing the same thing, but in that case I will belong to the aero division; who knows, we may be fighting together before we die.
Was talking with a chap yesterday and he saw how you noticed that the Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders and other Colonial troops are doing the brunt of the fighting. The English are not in the front ranks and everything that they have had a hand in, has turned out rotten.
I have them ( the English) all around me in the office and from those I've met, no wonder they muddle everything. By the time you finish showing them, foot by foot, what to do, you could have done it yourself.
I have no doubt that the US will be in the war before long. We have to wait for our present Pussy footing President to complete his term of office.
Mabel sends her love and all good wishes and if your Battery should ever be charged by the enemy, I trust
you will have the chance to account for a score of them, at least?personally.
Your Affectionate brother,
May 28, 1916
Bertie, dear son,
Your letter of 6th of May to hand, by return of the boy who took ours down to post. So glad to get it, dear child.
I have had such depression. I am sure that I feel in my body, the aches of my children. I am so glad that you thought of going to the hospital,. It was certainly best for you. I trust that the 3rd inoculation did not make you any more ill. Well, by this letter you have written me of the dance and I hope you enjoyed it and Miss Dorothy's company.
June 1st, 1916
Jack says that a boat is expected to leave tomorrow, so I'll finish this for him to take down tonight.
He is not well at present. His digestion is always troubling him, seems to me. He says his liver has been always his trouble. He misses an evening, sometimes, when he has much pain---and we miss him. (note: Jack and Leila's courting days).
There was a nice service at the church one evening last week. Leila didn't know it in time, or we'd have gone. It was for all the Barbadians in the war. 15 clergymen Mr. Dalton read out the names, yours among them. Prayers and hymns sung. Ina writes me that when you are at Petawawa, she thinks Murrill will be able to go see you. I am so very glad if that is so. You will be soon going, now, I suppose. Hope this letter will reach you
I can't think why you should be inoculated a 3rd time if you have been through the fever. It couldn't have been fully developed. I am longing now for the coming letter. Very glad, my darling that you are enjoying the change of season and trust you are going through with the exams all right. This illness must have lost you some time at them.
Beryl is writing you, she tells me. Marguerite is full of the idea of going away either to the college or to learn to be a nurse. Mrs. Agard don't like it.
Fancy, the kitten (cat) had 2 kittens last night! We had no idea that they were so near. Lovely rains, we had, last night. Just in time to save the corn planted. Your Papa sent up a small skillet of Sling from Mrs. Yarwood, very nice, but she hasn't answered my last two letters. I can't think why. She has been talking and writing of Cambell's joining. It may be that. I saw Dr. Colin Bowen yesterday about my throat and the hoarseness.
Leila has to paint it with some stuff he ordered. It is most uncomfortable but I trust it will benefit me. Dr Parris never has done me any good. I think I wrote you of his going to NY. Some operation on the last child required.
Miss Padmore asked me yesterday to send her kind wishes for you. I think I have mentioned her mother's death. And Rebecca the cook is also dead.
The school ( Daily Meal School, which Isabel Cox took great interest in), has a good piece in the bank now $526.00.
Dear sonny, I pray you are well and in God's loving care. Don't fail in the letters to home and your Loving Mother.
Below is Bert's Discharge papers.
U.S. Imigration Papers
after the war
Webmasters note: This diary is a great example of the photographic memory of Bert Cox, who paid great attention to detail and was a whiz with figures. Remember, this was written after the war in 1919 about his experiences from 1916 to 1918.
by Bertram Cox.......
A rough diary of my experiences as a soldier. Written in Jauche, Belgium on March 3, 1919.
March 25, 1916 Saturday. Enlisted with 59th Battery C.F.A. Winnipeg.
March 27, 1916. Thrown from horse first and only time.
May 26, 1916. Battery dance.
June 1, 1916. Arrived in Petawawa, at our Bank of Commerce tent. Bill Baillie (since shellshocked). J. McEachern (died). A.R. Hewarlt (ill in England). Don Moorman (now an officer R.F.A.) Jardian (T. M's now wounded). L.C. McCallum, Alex McZennan, self
August 26 - 30. On leave in Toronto with Murrill. Met my little C.P.R. friend onboard train returning to P'wa.
Sept. 8. Left P'wa camp and trained for Halifax.
Sept. 11 - 13. On board S.S. Camaroma in Halifax Harbor.
Sept. 13. Sailed for Liverpool.
Sept. 22. Arrived Liverpool and entrained for Witley Camp.
September 30 - October 6, 1916. On leave in London.
December 3 - 22. In Bramshott Hospital.
January 8 - 15, 1917 at Larkhill, Salisbury Plains for test shooting. Visit Stone Henge
January 22, 59th Battery broken up. Left section goes to 60th Battery. Now 6 guns in Battery instead of 4.
March 24th. McEachern dies.
June 28 - July 6. Camping atPetworth
July 1st Dominion Day. Cycle with F.J. and R.W. Seejes to Arendel Little Hampton and Worthing.
August 4 - 9, 1917. Four day moving scheme to Midhurst.
August 19th 11pm. Left Witley for Southampton.
August 21st, 8am. Arrived at Le Havre.
August 25 - September 4. At Ames.
September 4. Marched 15 miles from Ames to Carency. In range of enemy guns for first time.
September 7. In action for first time in Lievin. Detailed with others to pack ammunition. Lost until found be Lunt Bawden. (Killed August 10, 1918)
September 13, 1917. Saved Jimmy Allison's life, by forgetting to give him whistle.
September 14. McLennan killed by enemy shell.
September 17. Harry Price and I caught in enemy barrage comiing back from YMCA and had to remain in trench for an hour with Wolf and McEachern.
October 1. Witnessed one of the most exciting aerial scraps of the war.
October 15, 1917. Moved wagon lines to Fosse 10.
October 17 - November 2. Runner at 13th Brigade Headquarters. Took two German prisoners. Awful trip to Alviston Castle.
November 2 - 10. Gunner on Green's Group
November 2. Battery goes into action in St. Pierre corkscrew trench.
November 12. Detailed for working party for Hill 70. Great experience.
December 1. Wagon lines at Bethume. Guns in action at Anniquin. Terribly rainy cold night.
December 22. Wagon lines bombed at Bethume.
December 23. Move back to Fosse 10.
December 24. On guard. Great bombardment all along the front at Midnight.
December 25. Guns in action at Liebin. Fro 3. Battery runner. Temper out of control after roaming around all day in field in full of enemy trying to find Battery. Swell dinner at Wagon lines.
January 10, 1918
Nearly shot 2 men passing a few yards in front of No. 1 gun.
January 16-17-18. No. 2 gun takes up 3 different positions. Bert, Grey and I on guard at Foss 3.
January 20. Action at Loos Happy Valley. First experience as lead driver on a very dark night. Build two gun pits.
February 10. Only occasion on which enemy gassed severly in day time.
March 17-23. Hallicourt on rest.
March 26. Action at Loos. (Same position) Wagon lines at Fosse 19.
March 28. March to field near Ritz Corner. Le Targette.
April 1. Easter Sunday. Guns in action at Vimy. (A. Eluis) Very cold night . Tried to sleep in shell hole at 5 am, but rained swamped Allison and I out.
April 2. Right section moves forward to Farbus Wood. Rebuilt gun pit.
April 7. Direct hit on No.2 gun pit by enemy shell. Which distroys my tunic, gas mask, boots, putties. Steel helmet and gloves.
April 14. Action at Thulus Woods. Vimy. Wagon lines at Le Targette. Sam Allen joins the gang.
April 21. Attached to Anti Tank gun crew, forward of Vimy Ridge in Vimy, City Crew; Carslake Corp. Metharson. McKengie, Stone, Self (Bert).
May 2 - 23. At Divion on rest.
May 24. Action at Roclincourt Wagon lines at Anjin. Play lots of tennis and cricket.
June...Shell lands in wagon lines a few minutes after I left for guns, killed G.B. Williams wounded Murray. Gamble brothers Bill Browney.
June...Wagon lines at Lewis Raid pulled off in field in railroad cutting. No. 2 gun sniping in cutting. Most terrific enemy bombardment of war experienced.
June 30. Entrained at Obiguy for Amiens. Detrained Salieux, marched to Cagney. Horse lines bombed.
August 3. Detailed as loader for 1st trip to new position near Villiers Bretonneaux. 10 teams with ammunition cut off from main body and lost. Got badly shelled. Finally found position at 2 am.
August 5. Packing more ammunition working on gun pit, and digging fox holes, shells all night. Return wagon lines at 7 am.
Auguat 7. Front very quiet. Work all night preparing for the big show.
August 8. Greatest bombardment of the war opens up at 4:20 am. Very misty. Finest picture ever before my
eyes. Enemy out of range at 8 am. Went up at noon to front line. (of morning) Terrible site. Rest of day
spent in checking over prisoners.
6 pm. Move to Stanguard Wood.
August 9. On piquit at night. Bright moonlight. Enemy bombs all around. Beckman accidently wounds himself.
August 10. March to field of Assembly. Great aerial activity. Major Ringword killed in village of Rouvroy while making reconnaissance. Action in field to right Thoray.
Aust 11. Am one of 8 to go out to find and bring in the Major's body. Great difficulty. Enemy shells heavily. Very hot weather.
August 17. Action in field with trench, forward of Rouvroy 18 guns in line. Wagon lines at Beaufort.
August 21. March back to Hanguard Wood.
August 22. Entrain at Salieux for Aubigny. (London)
August 25. Rains heavily all evening. Leave field at 10 pm. March through Arres.
August 26. And stay in position of readiness as "Opportunity Battery." Very cold. Battle opens up at 3 am while on line of march. Action at Orange Hill at 8 am. Fired 2,500 rounds of ammunition. Biggest days shoot of war.
August 29. Action in cutting. No. 3 gun knocked out.
September 2. Action near Jigsaw wood to left of Boux Notre Dame. Attack for Drvcourt - Quaint line opens up at 5 am. Move forward at 8 am over battlefield of many dead and wounded to position at Dury. Witness many aerial fights. German airmen jumps from burning plane at height of 5,000 feet. Enemy shells us all day Sam and I sleep in cubby hole together. An unpleasant night of gas. Enemy fighting. rear guard action many dead lying in field all around.
September 7. No. 2 gun knocked out. Crew return to wagon lines at Vis-en-Artois. Left section in action in Sandemount.
September 17. Enemy shell lands in wagon lines at Vis-en-Artois causing greatest one-day's casualties on Battery. Killed: Bob Hunter, Hill and Tribe die of wounds, 12 others wounded, 17 horses killed. Wagon lines move to Wancourt. I remain as guard all night. Dismal sight.
September 21. Move to Reincourt.
September 22. Move to Cagnicourt. Detailed as loader with pack horses to position at Inchy. Return to wagon lines with salvaged horse after 1st trip. Enemy shells heavily.
September 26. Work on gun pit all night.
Interesting map of area:
September 27. Battle of Cambrai opens up at 5:20 am. Enemy promply retaliates heavily on our positions. Cross canal du Nord at noon and take up position in field. Move to position in field to left Bourlon Village at midnight.
September 29. Take up position in field in front of Bourlon wood at 4 am. 5 pm. Move to position at Raillencourt. Dig in at side of wall. Enemy shell kills Luuts, Jones and Steer. And wounds Major Armour and Luut Thompson while sleeping. We live in burned out cellars in perfect luxury with a stove.
October 7. Take up position in Epigny in field left of Raillen court.
October 9. Return to wagon lines in Bourlon. Cambrai taken.
October 11. Position in Blecourt.
October 12. Position in Eswars.
October 13. Guns horse lines at Tilloy.
October 14. Wagon lines at Ramilles. Bud Edwards and I go back near Arras for canteen supply.
October 19. Enemy evacuating so rapidly, he is lost and we stay for our night in field Marquette.
October 20. Spend rainy dad at Rouelx and move in evening to Escoudain.
October 21. Take up gun positions and also wagon lines at Haveluy.
October 29. Move wagon lines in rear of slag heap, but are shelled and return immediately to Haveluy.
November 1. Position in Herrin. Jim Pottenger killed, and 16 wounded at 11 pm am awakened to go to gun position, to move guns to Le Sentinel about 500 yards to left.
Novemeber 3. Move to Ansin, guns take up position in Valeniennes City is forward and dangerous temperary bridge spans canal which we cross.
Novemeber 4. Guns move to Saulve.
Novemeber 6. Guns move to Onnaing whenever we fire our last shots.
Novemeber 9. March along Mon Valencummes road and spend night in field at Quivechain.
Novemeber 10. Move to Thulin, Belgium. I go ahead of Battery to get my pass and start at 7 pm on my 14 day leave to Paris.
Novemeber 11 - 18 11am. Bloody war is over.
December 7. Find Battery on line of March on my return at 10:30 am. Cross German frontier at 11:30 am. Billeted at Recht.
December 8. Krinkelt
December 9. Wildenburg
December 10. Kommern
December 11. Wielerwist
December 12. Barracks just outside Cologne and battery prepare for big inspection.
December 13. Crossed the Rhine River to Ostheim across from Cologne.
Distance from Thulin, Belgium to Cologne is 409 kilometers = 254 miles.
Webmasters note: In battle scene... the artillery gun lines are behind the infantry lines. The wagon and horse lines, which move the guns, are positioned a mile behind the artillery gun lines so they won't be damaged or taken over should the guns be lost to the enemy.
Below is the 60th Battery Book.
Click here to read from the THE 6oth C.F.A. BATTERY
BOOK of Canadian Field Artillery
1916 -- 1919
And Bert's little Diary book which he wrote after the war.
Letters from the Front Volumes 1 & 2 are great reading.
If you recognise the building or any of the men or uniforms, please email information to:
steveschmidt at hotmail.com
CLICK HERE FOR LARGER PHOTO
Not much left of all the tools you need to live on the battlefield
Photo above: Item on the far right is a tool to slip over your brass buttons,
allowing the soldier to polish the button without getting his jacket dirty.
Below: Bert was a member of the 59th until it merged with the 60th.
"Quo fas et Gloria Ducunt"
that is the phrase: "Everywhere Right and Glory Lead"
motto of the Canadian Artillery.
Pillow that Bert had painted by fellow soldier
and medals that he received after the war.
Below is the german belt that Bert brought home as a souvenir
GOD WITH US
The British merchant ship, SS Volnay, sailing out of Montreal in 1917 and carrying war material to England (Plymouth) for the fight on the Continent. It was sunk, probably by a mine on December 14th of 1917 off the southern coast of England near Cornwall
(Porthhallow: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porthallow) not all that far from Land's End, but west of there.
This ship was carrying, included among other cargo, 18 pounder cannon shell, some of them probably intended for the gun groups of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces and for which, Gunner Bert Cox in the 6oth CFA (field artillery) was waiting on the battlefield.
In his diary on Sept 7th of that year he says he "packed ammunition" to the front; may have been these types of shells?
The official war diaries of the 14th Brigade CFA (link below) of which Gunner Cox was a part records that the weather that day was very poor at the location of the 60th Battery on the battlefield so that one observation aeroplane seen was flying very close to the ground overhead.
Other than that: quiet. The next day, Dec. 15th, 1917, the official diary reads: "Fine, clear and cool. Enemy shelled NOEUX-LEX-MINES and back country. Some shelling of 60th Battery O.P. Otherwise fairly quiet. Aerial activity above normal.
Note: It is assumed that "shelling of 60th" means they (observation post) were hit by German cannon fire; not "shelling by 60th Battery" outgoing.
The Volnay has been a popular dive site and in the early 1970’s Warrant Officer Keith Oxby, now retired from the Royal Navy (but before his naval service) dove on the shipwreck and recovered two 18pounder shell, both crushed by the weight of sea water: about 55ft deep. The one pictured shows a polished aluminum tube above the copper ring and below the detonator which Officer Oxby fashioned in the machine shop.
This is one of the 18 pounder canon shell recovered from that ship’s grave the likes of which Gunner Cox was firing in the field.
Manual of 18 pounder guns: A rare British Army Handbook telling how to use and handle the gun.
One day a german shell landed next to Bert and it did not explode. He brought home this fuze, below, and kept is as a reminder of how WAR really does change history on a world level and a personal one too.
Burt Cox retired in 1961 and at his retirement party he received the following letter below.
Mr. & Mrs. Arch Hall
Bert & Carrie Cox Headstone
The 6oth Battery unit ensignia was engraved onto the back of the headstone
We hope that you have enjoyed a glimpse into the daily life of a WW1 soldier.
We have had fun putting this page together.......Bert's family