Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (The 2/4th Battalion)

Research and Resources around the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry during WWI

Corporal Alfred Wilcox, V.C.

From G. K. Rose, The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

“At a few hours’ notice and in weather calculated to make any operation a fiasco, the Battalion on September 12 attacked Junction Post, a grass-bound breastwork where the enemy was offering a stubborn resistance. Though finally unsuccessful in result, the fighting, which was accompanied by driving storms of rain, produced two noteworthy incidents. Rowlerson, one of C Company’s platoon commanders, after reaching the German trenches, somehow lost touch and was captured with several of his men. In A Company an exploit was performed, which gained for the Battalion its second Victoria Cross. Lance-Corporal Wilcox came to close quarters with some enemy defending a piece
of trench with four machine-guns. Each of these guns Lance-Corporal Wilcox, followed by his section, successively captured or put out of action. Wilcox was shortly afterwards wounded and was in hospital in England when news of the award arrived. His deed lent lustre to a profitless attack.”

Dave Wilcox, a relation of Alfred Wilcox has a Web page dedicated to him with some interesting articles and photographs. Please check out: http://www.dave-wilcox.com/Genealogy/Alfred%20Wilcox%20VC.aspx

Below is a photograph of Alfred Wilcox (rear row second from right) with pals at a training camp preparing to go to the Western Front in the First World War.

The following article is from www.victoriacross.org.uk:

A HEADSTONE HAS BEEN ERECTED OVER THE PREVIOUSLY UNMARKED GRAVE OF CORPORAL ALFRED WILCOX VC, IN ST PETER & ST PAUL PARISH CHURCHYARD, ASTON, BIRMINGHAM
12 September 2006

First World War hero Alfred Wilcox has finally won recognition in his home city of Birmingham, 88 years after he won the Victoria Cross. For reasons that still remain unclear his grave was never given a headstone and his final resting place in Aston Parish Churchyard has been lost from memory.

Yesterday, thanks to an investigation to track down the “lost VC”, a service of dedication was held at St Peter & St Paul Church where Corporal Wilcox, of the 2nd/4th Bn, Ox & Bucks Light Infantry, was buried in 1954. The new memorial stone unveilled on Tuesday, 12th September 2006, simply reads “For Valour. Near this site lies Alfred Wilcox 1884-1954, awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery in France, 12 Sept 1918.”

Those relatives attending the ceremony included Alfred Wilcox’s son Vincent Nicholls, granddaughter Elaine Read and nephew John Wilcox. Elaine Read and General Sir Edward Jones, chairman of the Regimental Committee of the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry both laid a wreath on the base of the new headstone. The standard bearers in attendance were the National Service Veterans Association, the Birmingham and District Royal Artillery Association, South Staffordshire County Royal British Legion, and the Federation of Ex-Servicemen.

Alfred Wilcox enlisted in the 1st Royal Warwicks, a Volunteer Battalion, in 1902, where after serving for four years his job took him to Liverpool where he continued serving as a Territorial for a further three years. He retired with the rank of Corporal in 1909. On 25 March 1915 he joined the Royal Bucks Hussars, but was dismounted shortly afterwards, and was attached to the 2/4th Ox & Bucks Light Infantry, going to France in December 1917

Lance Corporal Alfred Wilcox was a member of the 2/4th Bn, Ox & Bucks Light Infantry which arrived at Laventie, south-west of Armentieres on 11th September 1918. The enemy was holding the line called the Picantin – Junction Post and the Battalion was ordered forward to attempt to hold an outpost line that was to the north-east of the town. Headquarters was established in a former dressing station in Laventie, a house of pretentious size, which had not been destroyed by enemy artillery.

The Battalion was ordered to attack Junction Post the following day, the 12th September. The post was a grass-bound breastwork, where the enemy offered strong resistance, the attack being carried out in driving rain. It was here that Alfred Wilcox gained the Victoria Cross and the citation sums up perfectly the heroic action that took place.

[ London Gazette, 15 November 1918 ], Near Laventie, France, 12 September 1918, 285242 Private ( Lance Corporal ) 2nd/4th The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

For most conspicuous bravery and initiative in attack (near Laventie, France) when his company was held up by heavy and persistent machine-gun fire at close range. On his own initiative, with four men he rushed ahead to the nearest enemy gun, bombed it, killed the gunner, and put the gun out of action. Being then attacked by an enemy bombing party, Cpl. Wilcox picked up enemy bombs and led his party against the next gun, finally capturing and destroying it. Although left with only one man, he continued bombing and captured a third gun. He again bombed up the trench, captured a fourth gun, and then rejoined his platoon. Cpl. Wilcox displayed in this series of successful individual enterprises exceptional valour, judgment, and initiative.”

Alfred Wilcox was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 26th November 1919.

After discharge from the Army, Alfred Wilcox attended many reunions of Victoria Cross holders, including the 1920 Afternoon Garden Party and the 1929 VC Reunion Dinner in the House of Lords. Wilcox was very interested in sport and in particular was a keen cyclist. He was also a good swimmer and long-distance walker, being a member of Birchfield Harriers. Alfred Wilcox died at his home, 31 Arthur Street, Small Heath, Birmingham, on the 30th March 1954 and was buried in an unmarked grave in St Peter & St Paul Churchyard, Aston.

Medal entitlement of Corporal Alfred Wilcox – 2 / 4th Bn, Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

* Victoria Cross
* British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
* Victory Medal ( 1914-19 )
* King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )
* Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 ) e

From Wikipedia

Alfred Wilcox VC (16 December 1884-30 March 1954), was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Until 2006, he was the only recipient of the Victoria Cross whose exact resting place was unknown.

He was 33 years old, and a lance-corporal in the 2/4th Battalion, The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, British Army during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 12 September 1918 near Laventie, France, when his company was held up by enemy machine-gun fire at short range, Lance-Corporal Wilcox rushed to the nearest enemy gun, bombing it and killing the gunner. Being then attacked by an enemy bombing party, the corporal picked up enemy stick bombs and led his company against the next gun, finally capturing and destroying it. Then, left with only one man he continued bombing and captured a third gun. Going up the trench, bombing as he went, he captured a fourth gun and then returned to his platoon.

His nephew was Charles Wilcox GC. In 2006 his nephew John Wilcox, who had attended his Uncle’s funeral in 1954, helped historian Chris Sutton in locating his grave in Aston Church. A service was held, and a memorial unveiled on 12 September 2006, 88 years to the day after he captured the guns.

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4 thoughts on “Corporal Alfred Wilcox, V.C.

  1. Pingback: Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (The 2/4th Battalion)

  2. Vincent Garth Nicholls on said:

    This brave man was the father I unfortunately never knew. It was only when I volunteered to join the Royal Navy and had to produce a full birth certificate that I was told that my Dad, Jack Nicholls, had married my birth mother and had adopted me. Over the following years, I found out more about my birth father and in about 1996, my youngest of two sons, Carl, obtained my permission to delve into Alf’s (his grandfather’s) background. Since then I’ve met up with a part of my family I didn’t know existed. In 2014 Great Britain will be commemorating the beginning of the “War to end all wars” and I would dearly like to take part in any way in any remembrance services which are to take place. I live with my wife in Maidstone, Kent and am a “young” 71 year old “old timer”. If any one reading this message would like to assist me in this matter, I would be grateful.

  3. Michael Morley on said:

    Fleet and Free. What a great man and fellow Birchfield Harrier

    • Vince Nicholls on said:

      Hi Michael. My father was a “Harrier” I know. As a young lad,I enjoyed sports very much, must have got that from him.(my step dad was not “sporty” though did enjoy watching.Many thanks for your note. Keep well. Regards. Vince

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