Jeffrey Schlupp at Victoria Park

Leicester Fosse & The First World War: William Cox

When Private William (Bill) Cox died of his wounds on 6 November, 1915, he was the second Leicester Fosse player to lose his life fighting in the First World War, following the death of Jack Sheffield at Neuve Chapelle on the Western Front eight months earlier.
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Bill’s football career had been a nomadic one. Born in 1880 in Liverpool he was on the books of nine clubs in the first decade of the new century. A centre-forward, he played for Bury, Plymouth Argyle, Leicester Fosse, Accrington Stanley, Oldham Athletic, Preston North End and Bradford Park Avenue in England. He also played in Scotland. He had a very successful season at Dundee, followed by a spell at Heart of Midlothian.

Bill only played three games for the Fossils. These were the first three games of the 1905/06 season when he turned out for the Second Division games against Clapton Orient, Leeds City and Burton Albion. He then moved to Accrington Stanley, then playing in the Lancashire Combination. 

Of the 12 Fosse players who were killed in the First World War, Bill was one of only two not to die on the Western Front. He was fatally wounded fighting against the Turkish Ottoman Empire in the Gallipoli campaign.

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Anzac Cove
Anzac Cove

Anzac Cove's terrain is described as 'inhospitable' and made high attacking casualties inevitable.

This campaign was an unmitigated disaster. Gallipoli is a peninsular on the Dardanelles, a stretch of water linking the Mediterranean with the Black Sea. On 25 April, 1915, an Allied force predominantly from Australia and New Zealand (The Anzacs) and from Great Britain, landed on the peninsular in an attempt to seize forts guarding the approach to Constantinople (now Istanbul) and thereby open up a route to assist their Russian Allies. The Turks put up a fierce resistance. The inhospitable rocky terrain (pictured) also made high attacking casualties inevitable. There followed several months of bitter fighting but no headway was made. The casualties were so high that the sea was red with blood. 

Bill was a private in the 6th Battalion of the Kings Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. As part of the 13th Western Division, Bill’s battalion landed at Gallipoli’s ANZAC Cove (pictured) in August 1915.  

The entire Division then took part in The Battle of Sari Bair, (6 to 10 August, 1915), the Battle of Russell's Top (7 August) and the battle of Hill 60 at Anzac Cove (27 to 28 August).

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Eventually, towards the end of the year, the Allies withdrew from Gallipoli.

Soon afterwards the Division was transferred to Suvla Bay following the disastrously unsuccessful amphibious landings there which were to be the final British attempt to break the deadlock at Gallipoli. 

Eventually towards the end of the year, the Allies withdrew from Gallipoli. The expedition had suffered from poor coordination, confused leadership and opposition from Allied Commanders who believed that the war could only be won on the Western Front.

Sadly, Bill, whose picture above is held by Jeffrey Schlupp at Leicester's Victoria Park memorial, was fatally wounded in this futile attempt to defeat the Turks. He died in hospital in Birmingham and is buried with full military honours in the Layton Cemetery in Blackpool.

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