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

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Heroism - Man or Opportunity

While writing The Great Promise the thought came to me, "Does heroism come from the person, or is it the result of the opportunity presented?" Deliberating I've concluded that it is both opportunity and the person. It is the person's response in the critical moment that defines heroism.

However, recognition for a heroic deed is dependent upon a multitude of factors; such as witnesses that substantiate the act and the magnitude of it.

I pondered this while reading some of grandfather's journal entries, such as:

     The shells were falling like rain with such horrific force that
they caused all the Gordons to run for it. The shelling was so
murderous that I also felt like running. However, I realized
that if I left my instrument that our guns would not be able to
return fire. I stuck while the Gordons ran, all except Bruce. He
asked me if I was going to stay and I said yes. He replied, “If
it’s good enough for you, it’s good enough for me.”

To remain in position under those circumstances was a heroic act that required risking his life while performing his duty. I suppose that his act wasn't considered beyond the call of duty, even though its elements were of heroic proportions.

Recognition of heroism is different from the action itself since it requires criteria that is judgement based. Appreciation of one's actions is rewarding it doesn't alter the act itself, it is more for the benefit of others than  the perpetrator.

I salute all the everyday heroes. Those who's response places their lives in question for the prospect of saving another.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Royal Field Artillery Documents

My grandfather's assistant signally certificate
Letter from Liverpool AA Defenses stating my grandfather's appointment to Adjutant. Part of a dispute between he and the army on pay grade between 2nd Lt and that of Adjutant. He eventually won his case. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

One of the Great WW One Books

Order  The Great Promise

Clarion Review gave it four stars
Readers on Amazon have given it five star
A rating of 4.33 stars on GoodReads

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Question

From a letter written in 1945 Capt Frederick G Coxen RFA

I survived World War One and in only twenty years later our boys are fighting World War II and experiencing the horrors I know so well. So each night I ask myself, "What did I do today for those that gave their life for me?"

Monday, November 5, 2012

Review by Kevin Quirk

In 2014 we will likely begin to see a run of new books tied to the 100-year anniversary of the start of World War I in 1914. That will bring long overdue attention to what has long been called "The Great War" but more often is treated as The Forgotten War. "The Great Promise" is an early arrival among such books and it has so much going for it, I have no doubt that it will solidly hold its ground among any other reflection or exploration of the conflict that was so bloody it was expected to be the war that ends all wars.

The memoir is built around the journal entries of Frederick G. Coxen, then a British soldier with the Royal Field Artillery. Somehow he survived several of the war's earliest battles, with astoundingly high casualty rates: the First Battle of Mons, the First Battle of Marne, the First Battle of Ypres. Most of us have read some war journals, but few deliver what this one conveys with its vivid details and honest reporting of one soldier's perspective. Countless times Frederick Coxen somehow survives while others around him are dying every minute. He endures and maintains his focus and commitment, but we can feel his sense of loss and sadness as he witnesses his comrades going down. His voice captures the spirit of the British outlook toward what they expected to be a short war, rather than the prolonged conflict that led to the U.S. entry in 1917. Anyone seeking to understand not only the history but the impact of World War I from the beginning will have much to sink their teeth into through the journals alone.

Wrapped around these stark personal accounts from the battlefield, the author offers historical background and reference points that help us more easily follow along the trail. These added pieces are all the more poignant because the author is the soldier's grandson. Rick Coxen obviously took a thorough and meticulous approach to tying history into his own grandfather's experience.

Yet there's something else that will elevate this memoir above others sure to follow. Rick Coxen shares with readers how he came upon his grandfather's promise made to three chums at the start of the war. If any one of them made it out alive, he would visit the families of the others to share personal stories of how their loved one died and who they were among the ranks of soldiers. Frederick Coxen is the only one of the four who survived. Unfortunately, he did not fulfill the promise, something he laments over during an updated journal entry duing World War II, long after he had settled in the U.S.

Rick Coxen was so touched by this promise that he decided he would pick up the baton. He soon launched a relentless campaign to find some living relatives of his grandfather's three chums. Like World War I itself, his mission has turned out to be a long struggle, and it's still not complete. To achieve victory, Rick recognizes that he needs help "over there" (in Britian) or anywhere the clues may be lying. He's hoping that someone who reads this book can yet steer him toward those relatives to fulfill his grandfather's great promise.

- Kevin Quirk, author of "Your Life Is a Book And It's Time to Write It" http://www.amazon.com/Kevin-Quirk/e/B001H9XYQ0
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Thursday, November 1, 2012

I Promise To Tell Them


As the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) marched towards Soignies Belgium, four friends serving in the Royal Field Artillery, Fred Coxen, Pudgie Taylor, George Bramwell, and Bobby Glue were discussing their concerns. Their fear was how their possible deaths would be conveyed to their loved ones back home.
By August 20th the BEF was only two days away from Soignies when their plan took form. They promised each other that those that survive the war would find the loved ones of those that had fallen, and tell them how and where they died.
Little did they know that by October 9th George Bramwell, whose real first name was Percy, would be the first to fall. The following entry in Fred Coxen’s journal describes George’s death:
October 9th
This day was going to be well-remembered. During the morning things were a little more quiet than usual. We were sitting around the guns (6 inch Howitzers). I had left my telephone beneath one of the gun limbers.
We were having a feast of Bully Beef and potatoes (potatoes did not come our way often), when a battery of German artillery found us with shrapnel shells.
The first round burst directly over our number three gun, which was just a short distance from us. Needless to say we all scattered. Bramwell and I ran towards the gun limber where I left the field phone. George was on my right when I heard the shell burst and saw him go down.
I dove under the limber to phone my chum Collins, while two gunners dragged Bramwell to the shelter of the limber. It was just seconds after they delivered him when three more shells exploded and the two gunners went down.
Collins came running, and he and I did what we could for poor Bramwell but it was useless. Bullets from bursting shells hailed down on the limber as I held him in my arms. Collins and I expected to be hit any second but the limber saved us.
After the shelling stopped we removed poor Bramwell; it was an unpleasant sight to see a chum’s brains by one’s side. Once Bramwell’s body was removed, I noticed that a shell case was stuck in the ground just two yards from where I laid. Luckily it didn’t splinter, for Collins and I would have been killed. Everything seemed to bear marks of that lively hour excepting for us two.
Less than two months had passed since the four chums set foot in France and now only three remain to carry on. Who would be the next to fall?
Exerpt from the novel, “The Great Promise” written by Frederick L Coxen.