On 5 October 1912, Christopher married Maud Swan from Watford and the following July their first son, Christopher William was born. They went on to have seven more children – all of whom became central to their lives as a true family. WWI however was to cause a huge disruption to family lives through the country and Chris was to count himself blessed to survive the ordeal and return to working on a local farm once hostilities were over. Farming was not to be his only work, for the Ovaltine Factory was expanding rapidly – using the produce from the land to promote healthy growth to a nation struggling to recover from the Great War. Chris joined the company and was to give 32 years of loyal service to them before an accident at work brought his working life to an end.
Christopher Augustus Cox responded to the “Call to Arms” and found himself assigned to the 7th (Service) Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment as No. 13909 Pte. C A Cox – stretcher-bearer.
By March 1917, the Front had advanced to the Loupart Line and the Bedfords were ordered to Aichet Le Grande. Three days of fighting under heavy German fire saw Chris in almost continuous action. Witness accounts from officers and men from his own and other companies spoke of heroism “Saving many lives that day by risking his own” – testaments which were to see him recommended for the Victoria Cross. In 1917, Private Cox was awarded the Victoria Cross “for the most conspicuous gallantry and continuous devotion to duty when acting as a Stretcher Bearer during the operation against Achiet-le-Grand on 15th March. The citation reads: “Private Cox, with absolute disregard for his own personal safety, went out into the open over absolutely fire-swept ground and single-handed rescued four men. Having collected all the wounded of his own battalion, he assisted in bringing in the wounded of the neighbouring battalion.
“Lt. RJ Clarke wrote: “Heedless of the fire Private Cox went from shell hole to shell hole and bound the wounded up and after he had finished them started back with another man, with the most severe case. For the first 200 yards he was under MG fire, but without hesitating once he completed his journey and I saw him come back for a second load a few hours later.”
Receipt of the honour carried with it many subsequent invitations – to garden parties at Buckingham Palace, dinner at the House of Lords, Coronation celebrations for both King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II, and Victory celebrations at the end of WWII. He was also in demand at local events, planting a tree on Kings Langley Common and attending the annual Remembrance Day parades each November.
After the war, Cox worked in the Ovaltine Factory for many years.Christopher died on 28 April 1959 at the age of 69 and his passing was mourned by many. A man who truly lived an honest God fearing life, putting others before himself at all times, none more so than when rescuing injured comrades in the field of battle.
By The Dacorum Heritage Trust Ltd