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

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Battle of Ypres

The full story of the promise and the compelling journal entries that recorded the events as they unfolded are in The Great Promise or on Amazon.com, Amazon.UK

October 17th–18th
We traveled by train through Amiens, Boulogne, Calais, and detrained at Hazebrouck, which was 25 miles from the Belgium border. This is where we bivouacked for the night.

October 19th
After marching to Cassel we had a day’s rest. During the
march my charger had a severe choke. He came down with me on him; but I managed to help him up. When we arrived in Cassel we were greatly elated to be in a town and feasted ourselves on cakes and sweets. After the hardships of the previous weeks, this was a grand change indeed.

During the battle of Anise the French and Germany armies tried to outflank each other and in the process they were leapfrogging west towards the French port cities. Churchill pulled the BEF out of the Battle of Anise in order to stop the Germans before they reached their goal. 

Fred road along with his battery to the Belgian city of Poperinghe where he wrote the following journal entry.

October 20th
The battery marched to the city of Poperinghe and once again we were in Belgium. It was an awful sight to see all of the refugees streaming into Poperinghe from the outlying towns and villages; they were trying to keep ahead of the rapidly advancing enemy. I happened to stop to pat a pretty little child on her head and gave her some biscuits that I had in my pocket. The poor little mite was simply starving. Within a minute I was surrounded by starving children. I emptied my pockets and haversack. Then, with a couple of chums, we collected all the biscuits and Bully Beef in the battery and gave them to the women and children.

It was pitiful to see the children struggling to get at us. It was even a harder job to keep away the hungry Belgian men because we didn’t have anything for them. We had given the women and kiddies everything we had in the food line. That night we bivouacked outside the town.

Early the next morning the Division marched to the villiage of Langemarke and as they approached it they could hear that it was being heavly shelled. In order for the battery to engage, they required a forward observation post so Fred and a couple of other field telephone operators set out to locate a spot. 

October 21st
Before dawn we marched towards the village of Langemarke. As we approached the village it was being heavily shelled. I, and a couple of others, reconnoitered the area for some time, and failed to find a good position for an observation post. 

Finally two gun sections took up positions in the rear of the church while I went with the remaining section through the village. As we passed through a square, we saw lots of wounded French soldiers in the open by the churchyard.

My section dropped into action by the railway, and again, we attempted to find an observation station. I stopped by a deserted powerhouse that I thought could be used. 

Later I, along with the remaining battery staff, were ordered to regain the two sections at the rear of the church. 

As we went towards the railway crossing, a shell burst in the center of the road, about 30 or 40 yards ahead of us. This all occurred as we galloped past the church wall. Fortunately the
shrapnel struck the wall, otherwise it would have been right among us.

I galloped past the spot where I had seen the wounded Frenchmen just two hours before. The whole lot was dead and in pieces. It was a horrible sight.

Initially they Germans struck the Belgian defenses on the Yser River near Nieuport. The Belgian forces were unable to hold their positions against the enemy therefore to prevent the Germans from bypassing Ypres, the Belgians opened the sluice gates and flooded the surrounding land. 

The Germans were compelled to reconsider their plans, opting to launch a series of attacks against the city of Ypres.

The British dug trench defensive positions around Ypres in the shape of a small salient and they held a thirty-five-mile-long line in the center of the bulge, while the French Army protected the British flank south of the city.

The stage was set for what would be one of the most horrific battles of the war, The Battle of Ypres. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Train Ride to The Frontier

As indicated by my August 20 entry, we boarded a train that would transport us to an unknown destination. I was gazing out the train’s window as it passed through Amiens and other towns along the way. I noticed that whenever the train stopped at a station, the grateful inhabitants of the town would be waiting to display appreciation for our arrival. Every station seemed to be crowded with people who showered flowers, chocolate, smokes, and drinks of all kinds on the troops and many Tommies got their first kiss from a French lady.

August 21st
Everywhere the French people gave the troops a hearty welcome,
and then it occurred to me that just perhaps the people
may have realized more than us what events were impending.

While halted outside Maubeuge, the French caught a woman
with two pigeons concealed in her basket; one she had already
dispatched without ceremony. The French shot her in a
field just on our left.

While the train rambled on, George Bramwell, Pudgie Taylor, Bobby Glue and I were absorbing the impact of watching the execution, making us aware of the realities of war. Our conversation turned to the possibility of fighting the Germans in the near future. Each of us wondered what it would be like to be in a battle where shells were exploding and the sounds of bullets whistling through the air. During a somber moment, we each voiced our concerns about death. Our concerns were focused on our loved ones back home and how they would take the news.

Pudgie said that the army sent the family a telegram offering their condolences. We all agreed that this method lacked the personal touch a family would require upon hearing of a loved one's death. It was at this moment that George said that the four of us should make a promise. Commit to each other, that should any of us survive the war, the survivor(s) would call on the families of the fallen and tell them of  their death. Bobby, Pudgie and I looked at George and thought of the merit of his idea. In a show of solidarity we shook hands thus sealing our commitment. I didn't know then that this would haunt me the rest of my life.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Your Help Is Needed

I would really appreciate it if those that find my blog interesting would go to their local library and request my book. It is very hard for new authors to find a publisher and if they, like I did, self-publish, book outlets, such as libraries, bookstores and other sources of distribution turn their backs on the diamonds in the rough.

Therefore I must call on my fellow compatriots to help me tell my grandfather's story by asking libraries and bookstores if they carry "The Great Promise" by Frederick L Coxen

ISBN:  1463702930
Published by CreateSpace

Thank you

Monday, February 11, 2013

Limited offer - download The Great Promise for free

In order to promote my book through reader network, I'm offering a free download of my book in PDF format. It is available on my website wwone100yearanniversary.com. From main menu, click on Book Release and on that page find the PDF icon and click on it to download the file.

This offer is for the first 1,000 readers so good luck. I only ask that those that read it pass the word around through your social network. Post a review to goodreads, Amazon US and or AmazonUK.

Thank you

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Western Front Association

Just received an email from the London Branch of the Western Front Association showing their speakers for 2013. I'm on for Sept 5th. Now I have to create a 45 minute presentation and find a way to pay for the trip. This is an exciting opportunity to promote my book, tell my grandfather's story and donate his documents to the Imperial War Museum.

While in London I want to visit the National Archives to perform a search of the 43rd Brigade's diary and to see if there are any documents on the 40th battery.

I'll also be united with my second cousins, which will be marvelous. Perhaps I'll meet a few others I've been in contact with through various website and blogs.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Could It Be?

Days past quickly and for many of them few things happen that are worth remembering. I've been working on another book and decided to return to my favorite website, "Great War Forum". For some reason I decided to post a request to all members to send me any information they might have regarding any relatives that may have served in the 43rd Brigade, 40th Battery in 1914.

Today I checked my post the the following information was added:

I have a few names of men in 40th Bty in 1914
Shoeing Smith George Henry Beardmore  49286    
Gunner Harry Bloor 70835    
Saddler Staff Serjeant Thomas J Boyton  19980    
Serjeant Percy Bramwell 33916
Driver William Brittain  73069    
Lieutenant  D J  Handford    
Driver George  Hillyard  73070    
Corporal George James  Hodge 42275
Gunner  Christopher Johnson 2725         
Gunner  Harry  Walsh 74411 

Then he added:
Having done a little checking 40th Bty was created in 1913 from what had been 148th Bty during the reorganization of Brigades and some of them can be identified in the 1911 census records of 148th Bty - then stationed at Woolwich - I can see that Boyton, Bramwell and Hodge [see above] were all serving in 148th Bty in spring 1911.... as was Driver William John Glew ...and Driver Frank William Taylor

Suddenly a thought struck me! Could William John Glew be Bobby Glue? Since my grandfather referred to Percy Bramwell as George, could he have used Bobby instead of Billy? Then what about the Driver, Frank William Taylor. Might this be Pudgie Taylor?

I replied to his post by giving him the particulars about the death of Bobby Glue and that he and Pudgie Taylor died in one of the battles of Ypres. I added that I believe it might have been the first battle of Ypres since my grandfather's letter stated that he lost his friends within the first few months of the war.

In my grandfather's journal he states the "Hodge" (his lube off-man) was killed. 

Wouldn't this be a find!!!