The date is August 1914. The British Expeditionary Force is in France and You're in the Royal Field Artillery. You're riding alongside one of the battery's gun limbers on its way to the assigned position on the east side of Mons, Belgium. This begins your journey into the Hell they called World War One. To purchase this historical memoir go to https://createspace.com/3649268
Monday, August 20, 2012
F G Coxen's Military Career
My grandfather may or may not have had an interesting military career but I believe that he did. He entered the service when he was either 17 or 18 by joining the Royal Field Artillery special reserves. I never had a chance to ask him why he choose the RFA but perhaps it was a chance to ride horses and fire canons.
The training in the special reserves sounds much like that of the US National Guard. The reservist go each summer for two to three weeks of training and they can be called up for active duty when needed. Which was the case for my grandfather when he was called to active duty when Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914.
When he was activated he had received training as a signalman for the RAF. This position required him to be in a forwards observation post to identify where the artillery shells were landing and report back to the battery so that they could adjust their effectiveness. In the beginning this was accomplished by using flags but by the time the war erupted they were using field telephones. (see front cover on The Great Promise)
My book, The Great Promise, is based upon my grandfather's memoirs of serving with the RFA during the early battles of the war. In one entry he describes how he and one of his close telephonist were called into their CO's office where he told them he was recommending them for a field promotion. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in August of 1915.
According to his military records, he returned to England in September 1915 and was sent to review the AA (anti-aircraft) defenses around Liverpool; he was in this position from 5/1916 to 11/1916. During this time he held the position of Adjutant and was responsible for the establishing and operating the defenses for Liverpool.
By December of 1916 he returned to the RFA and was responsible for training new recruits until November of 1917. At his time he was sent back to France and placed in charge of an anti-aircraft battery in Paris, France. He remained in this position until November of 1918 when he returned to England.
In July 1918 he was temporarily transferred to the newly formed Royal Air Force to be in charge of their payroll department. He was promoted to the temporary rank of Lieutenant and after partitioning the RFA he was given the permanent rank of Lieutenant. The RFA requested his return but the RAF needed him so he remained with the RAF until his departure from the service later in 1919. After his departure he requested that he receive the rank of Captain since his responsibilities with the RAF were that of someone with a captain's rank. He was given his permanent rank of captain later that year.
So my grandfather served with the RFA, the AA defense battery and the RAF during his military career.