Loveden area of Lincolnshire – Local History & Information


James Fox was a farmer from Wispington (near Horncastle).  Between 1911 and 1915 he took over the tenancy of the 164 acre farm at Gelston Manor with his wife Betsy and 8 children. A few years later (probably when the farm was sold in 1919) they moved to Fulbeck Old Hall and were replaced at Manor Farm by the Squires family.

The eldest son Ernest Fox (born 1893) joined B Sqn Lincolnshire Yeomanry at Horncastle in 1911.  When WW1 broke out he was a L/Cpl.  Shortly afterwards he volunteered for overseas service and joined the Yeomanry’s 1st line regiment (1/1st).

In 27 Oct 1915 the unit sailed from Southampton to the Mediterranean. Famously, on 3 Nov their unarmed troopship, the SS Mercian, was attacked on the surface by a U-boat and there was a running fight with troops firing their rifles at the submarine until it reached the port of Oran in North Africa.  About 30 men and some horses were killed in the fight, including Lord Kesteven. The many wounded were treated by the Yeomanry’s medical officer until they could be transferred to the French Foreign Legion hospital in Oran.  As soon as the worst holes in the Mercian plating had been patched up and the “walking wounded” were fit to travel they set sail for Malta.  Here there were more repairs and a 12 pounder Naval gun was fixed on the stern-house.  They reached Alexandria on 21st November.

However, on 1st Dec 1915 Fox (now a Cpl) was admitted to hospital with dysentery and on 28th Jan 1916 he was invalided back to England on the Hospital Ship Marama and sent home on leave.  Whilst there he was one of the guests at a charity matinee held at the Grantham Picture House on St Peters Hill (now the site of JJB Sports) on behalf of the Lincolnshire Yeomanry Comforts fund.  In April 1916 he was transferred to 3/1st Lincs Yeomanry (a training unit) and quickly promoted to Sergeant.  In December 1916 he reverted to Cpl and embarked at Southampton again to rejoin 1st Lincs Yeomanry in Palestine.  In Jun 1917 he was hospitalised with diarrhoea and sent back to the base depot in Palestine.  He rejoined his unit in October but was back in hospital/depot again for a few weeks in Jan 1918 at Kantana, near the Suez Canal. 

In Jun 1918 he was compulsorily transferred to the Machine Gun Corps where he became a Hotchkiss gunner.  He seems to have served in France, but we have no more details until he was sent to Harrowby camp for demobilisation in Feb 1919.  In 1921 Ernest married Lillian Vickers (daughter of the late John Copley Vickers of Temple Hill Farm) at Hough on the Hill church.

In December 1916 the second son, Joseph Francis Fox was 22 and working as a waggoner at Manor Farm.  At a meeting at the Guildhall, the Grantham Rural Tribunal removed his exemption from military service, subject to passing a Class A medical and a suitable replacement being found. However, as far as we can tell, he wasn’t called up. He married Doris Rawding from Marston and lived to 80.

The third son Herbert Fox was born 1895. He was a trooper in A (Grantham) Sqn, Lincolnshire Yeomanry.  When war broke out he was he was called up with the Yeomanry’s 1st line regiment.  As well as his own horse, he looked after that of his troop commander (Lt Torr).  During the spring of 1915 the Yeomanry were stationed in Norfok.  On Friday 9th April 1915 he was at Diss Fair.  The following day he was taken ill with ‘spotted fever’ (meningitis); he died at Cambridge Military Hospital on Wednesday 14th April.  He is buried at Hough

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