1914/15 Star, (Sgt. R. Fus.), B.W.M., Victory, (Lieut.), Memorial Plaque, (Arthur Johnson Cox),
Killed in action 3/5/1917
Arthur Johnson Cox was born in 1882, in Masbrough, Derbyshire. He served during the Great War with the 24th (Sportsman’s) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers as Sergeant on the Western Front from 5 November 1915. Commissioned 8th/East Yorks in January 1917.
He was killed in action in the attack on Monchy, 3/5/1917, and is buried in Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France. The Regimental History gives the following account:
‘The night of 2nd May was spent in final preparations and in moving up to assembly positions. The weather was warm and fine; the morning had been quiet and uneventful though Monchy was treated to its usual dose of shelling. The Divisional artillery responded by subjecting the German batteries to a heavy gas-shell bombardment. At night, whilst reliefs were taking place and the attacking troops were moving up, the enemy retaliated. The air was thick with the pungent smell of gas and smoke from bursting shells. The whole area was an inferno; Indeed, as a diarist said, “It was a horrible night, quite one of the worst at this period.”
The attack began at 3.45 a.m. on 3rd, the enemy quickly replying with his barrage. The 8th East Yorkshires were formed up behind the Royal Scots Fusiliers. The 7th K.S.L.I. were on the right of the East Yorkshiremen. Intense darkness prevailed at Zero hour and no sooner had the British barrage fallen on the German trenches, and the assaulting troops had begun their advance, than the sky was lit up by scores of Very lights. The hostile barrage which fell 10 minutes after the British barrage, was heavy, and before the Battalion left the assembly positions Lieutenant G.C. Knee was killed.
From the storm of the machine-gun and rifle bullets which met the advance it was obvious that the barrage had neither silenced the enemy’s machine guns nor reduced his riflemen to impotence. Tool Trench was found strongly held and from Infantry Hill a murderous machine-gun fire was maintained with the result that the Royal Scots and Royal Scots Fusiliers suffered heavy casualties and the attack was brought to a standstill. Again, and again, gallant efforts were made to get forward. Along the southern front of the line an advance of only a few yards was made; in the centre of the situation was very little better and still further to the north the continuation of Tool Trench was reached and passed.
In the darkness, the troops soon became scattered and disorganised and in parties of twos and threes found shelter in shell holes. Whenever they attempted to leave the holes and advance they were met with a hail of bullets. In one part of the battlefield a number of men found themselves isolated with the enemy to the west of them, they managed to crawl back to their outpost line, the friendly darkness covering their retirement. The net result of the attack was the establishment of a line of posts out in front of the Brigade sector.
The 8th East Yorkshires lost heavily in the attack. The Rev. Captain C.W. Mitchell (“our good padre”) fell mortally wounded during the afternoon. Utterly forgetful of his own self, bent only on carrying out his duty and in responding to the call of His Holy Order, this gallant clergyman was out under heavy shell fire attending to wounded men when he received his fatal wound. Other officers killed were 2nd Lieutenants H.M. Dalton, A.J. Cox, F.T. McIntyre and J.M. Bibby; 2nd Lieutenant W. Price was wounded, and died of his wounds; 2nd Lieutenant Le Breton Edwards was wounded. In other ranks the losses were 35 killed, 161 wounded, 39 missing.’