Captain George Pottinger Cox was killed in action on Christmas Eve 1915, aged 22, serving with the 1st Battalion, Essex Regiment. His surname, Cox, was actually the name of his step-father, by which he seems to have been known after the remarriage of his widowed mother when he was aged one. His birth surname was Innocent.
He was born on 15th January 1893 in Tientsin [Tianjin], China where his father and grandfather had both been Methodist missionaries. His parents, Rev. George Morrison Hallam Innocent and Florence Elizabeth Pottinger had married in England in February 1892 whilst Rev. Innocent was on furlough from his missionary post, having attended the Methodist Conference 1891 in Leeds. In April 1892, the newlyweds set sail from London aboard the S.S. Glengyle. However, midway on the journey, Rev. Innocent was taken ill with haemorrhagic purpura and died on 30th May 1892, about 138 miles from Hong Kong. The ship put into port there next day and Rev. Innocent was buried in Happy Valley Cemetery, aged 32.
His widow continued her journey to join her in-laws in China, and her son George Pottinger Innocent, was born there seven and a half months after the death of his father. Florence Innocent remarried on 16th January 1894 in Tientsin, her husband, Alexander George Cox, bringing up her son as his own.
In 1903, George became a boarder at Packwood Haugh School, which was in the then Solihull Rural District. He left the school in 1907 and entered Clifton College in April that year, before going on to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was gazetted Second Lieutenant with the 1st Essex Regiment on 14th February 1912, and went with his regiment to India in September 1912, and then to Pretoria, South Africa in October 1913. He returned to England when war broke out and was promoted to Lieutenant in August 1914.
In November 1915, his company joined the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. He took part in the landing on 25th April 1915 at Gallipoli but was wounded on 28th April and was admitted to hospital in Alexandria. A further promotion to Captain was made in August 1915. He returned to the firing line and was killed in action on 24th December 1915 by a bomb dropped from an aeroplane. He was 22 years old.
Captain George Pottinger Cox was posthumously Mentioned in Despatches in the London Gazette on 11th July 1916 for gallant and distinguished service in the field. His commanding officer wrote that shortly before the death of this “extremely good and popular officer” he had written a special report of his action in carrying a wounded man, and was expecting him “to be awarded the MC or something better”. Captain Cox is buried at the Memorial Cemetery, Lancashire Landing Cemetery, Gallipoli, Canakkale, Turkey.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian