Charles Willcox 1893-1919

Company Sergeant Major 3rd Battalion Somerset Light Infantry

Charles Willcox

Born in 1893, little is known about the life of Charles Willcox before the war. Fortunately there is a wealth of information in the pages of the Bridgwater Mercury.

On 14 October 1914 the paper printed a letter from Cpl Charles Wilcox, A Company Somerset Light Infantry, to his mother at Middlezoy, describing the trenches.

On 21 October 1914 the paper reported SOMERSET SERGEANT'S NARROW ESCAPE: Sgt C Wilcox of A Company Somerset Light Infantry, in a letter to his mother of 109 Bristol Rd described how he had the pack cut off his back by a shell and asked for thick woollen socks and says that Tom Packman's account in the Bridgwater Mercury of the 23rd September was correct as he was with him.

On 18 November 1914 the paper reported that 'well known local corporal' Willcox had been wounded at the front. On 2 December 1914 in a letter to the paper Lieutenant Colonel Prowse mentioned Sgt C Willcox's acts of gallantry and severe wounding. On 9 December 1914 Willcox was mentioned in despatches with Sgt Archer, both of the Somerset Light Infantry.

On 16 December 1914 the paper reported BRIDGWATER MEN MENTIONED IN DESPATCHES, CHEERY LETTER FROM HOSPITAL, printing Sgt Wilcox's letter to R Washer of the Nags Head, West St, Bridgwater, which mentioned how Sgt Wilcox was wounded by a shrapnel bullet, which 'went in at the shoulder, through the lung and was cut out of the centre of the back close to the backbone.' His health was progressing well and was expected to make a full recovery in less than 12 months.

On 27 January 1915 the paper included the THRILLING NARRATIVE BY SGT C WILCOX, HOW HE EARNED THE DCM, which detailed his award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, how he had been wounded at Le Gheer and gave the details of his experiences and other Bridgwater men.

A report of 3 Febuary 1915 mentioned how Pte Wm Richard Temblett, Royal West Surrey Regiment (Queen's) of 9 Quantock Terrace, Bristol Rd, was brother in law of Sgt C Wilcox.

On 24 February 1915 Willcox was again mentioned in despatches with J Anglin, SLI. On 17 March 1915 the Mercury printed Willcox's tributed to the late 19 year old Sergeant Anglin.

On 1 Septmeber 1915 the paper reported that BRIDGWATER SOLDIER HONOURED BY THE TSAR Sgt C Wilcox awarded the Cross and order of St George, (3rd Class).

On 6 October 1915 there was a recruiting effort made in Bridgwater during the fair at which the band of the 3/1 5th SLI played and speeches were made by, among others, Sgt C. Wilcox DCM and Russian Grand Cross

On the same day the paper printed a letter from the Mayor, Councillor F. G. Haggett suggesting that Sgt Willcox be presented with a gold watch and chain on behalf of the town, which was presented in the Town Hall. On the 19 January 1916 the paper ran a photo of Sergt C Willcox, the 'first Bridgwater man awarded dual honours of Distinguished Service Medal and St George's Cross'.

On 6 June 1917 the paper reproted that 'Bridgwater NCO mentioned in dispatches C.S.M.C. Wilcox was awarded the D.C.M. for his gallant services on the front.

Charles Willcox was accidentally killed on 4 December 1919 whilst boxing at the National Sporting Club in London, aged just 26. His memorial bears the inscription 'he lived for Sport, died for sport and always played the game'. At the time his mother lived on 298th Street, La Rochelle, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Several items relating to Charles Willcox were recently sold at auction, including his photograph and medals:

Pictures from Spink Auctions of Charles' picture and medals. His cap badge is for the British Army physical training instructors.

Each of the war stories on our website have been updated in our book, Bridgwater and the First World War. These include transcriptions of Charles' letters.