Albert Fox Codling

Ryburgh Remembers

 

Pte. 37567 Albert Fox Codling

 

C” Coy. 2nd. Bedfordshire Regiment

 

 

 

June 2nd 1881 - March 22nd. 1918

 

 

The Fox/Codling family has not been one of the easier names to research. They are to be found in Foulsham, Hindolveston and Stibbard and in Albert’s case through to Great Ryburgh, where his widow Louisa continued to live until her death in August 1969.

 

Albert was one of 14 children born to William Edward Fox Codling and Jane Smith who were married in Guist Parish Church on September 5th 1868 aged 22 and 20 respectively. They seem to have spent much of their married life in Stibbard and it is in those Parish Registers that we can trace much of his immediate family. So far of the entire family, we have only been able to locate one image, that of his older sister Martha Ann{a} Codland baptised March 14th 1875:

 

 

However on the marriage certificate, William’s father is just named as William Fox a “carter” by profession and it seems that a William Fox from Foulsham married Jane Codling, spinster of the same Parish in 1827 and for these purposes starts the Codling connection. This Jane died in March 1845 leaving 3 children, Elizabeth, Henry and James. The 1851 Census shows William a Widower aged 40 with London born Matilda Fox aged 27 as housekeeper, his three children as above but with another child William aged 5 and born in Barney indicating a birthdate of 1846 and who we take to be Albert’s father, William Edward Fox Codling.

In a perfect world the information provided at the Census would be undisputed fact but the Census for this family shows discrepancies of age at every turn!

 

1861 shows Widower William Fox 34! living in Foulsham with London born Maria Codlin 34 as his Housekeeper, William Codlin son aged 15 and Maria Codlin daughter aged 7.

 

The same household has moved to the Wood Norton Road in Stibbard by 1871 William Fox 50, Maria Fox, 43 wife. Maria Fox, 17 daughter and Thomas Fox, son aged 5.

 

William Edward had by this time, as we saw above, married but was also living in Stibbard at Guist Bottom with his eventually to be large family already well underway!

 

The Parish Baptism Register recorded the family name as Codland from the first entries in 1872, as had the earlier Banns entry from November 1st, 8th and 15th. 1868. Yet with this, another discrepancy appears, as the marriage according to the Certificate appears to have taken place on Sept 5th 1868 before the Banns were recorded as having been read! December 4th 1868 was also the year that William Edward Fox illeg. born Jan 8th 1846 was baptised. His mother’s name is given as Maria Codland

The Rector responsible for the Stibbard entries at this time was Revd.Walter Marsham Hoare. Codland is is perhaps the way dialect came over to the educated ear of the man who was also Rector of Colkirk and seen below pictured from a glass plate negative taken outside the church at Colkirk:


 

Revd William Mesney from Ryburgh continued with Codland when Priest in Charge but with the new Rector, Revd. J. Allnutt, the family name became Fox in the registers. It seems he was as confused as we what to name the family members, for we find the baptism entry for Gertrude born Sept. 13th 1889 records parents William and Jane …… Fox or Codling!

To return briefly to William Fox who married Jane Codling in 1827, it is most likely that the William Fox who was buried at Fulmodeston with Croxton on Feb 23rd 1876 was Albert’s grandfather the Carter/Drover. However, his grandmother, Maria Codling (spinster, 53) was married for the first time on January 26th 1879 at Hindolveston Parish Church to widower John Codling, 60! William Codling, [one would hope her son, William Edward Fox] was one of the witnesses.

In the 1881 Census John 63, and Maria 54, Codling lived in Hindolveston together with unmarried daughter Maria 28, son Thomas, 15 and 2 year old grandson John, born in Hull.


 

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To summarise Albert’s lineage:

When he was born he was a Fox. When he was with his Uncle and Aunt in Co. Durham in 1901 he was a Codling. When he was back home in Stibbard in 1911 he was a Fox-Codling and when he joined the army, enlisting in Norwich very soon after war was declared, he was once again a Codling.

Albert’s Army Number indicates that he joined the Bedfordshire Regiment’s 3rd. Special Reserve Battalion in August 1914 although his medal index card suggests that he saw no active service until after 1915. Only two others on the Roll of Honour are listed as having joined the Bedfordshire Regiment {at different times}. Albert Tash who worked as an assistant in George Stark’s shop next to the Boar who enlisted on 12th December 1915 with the 8th Btn., and Raymond Hunt whose family lived in Mill Road and whose brother Beverley is listed as a ringer at St. Andrew’s in 1904.


 

He attended Stibbard School and is noted in the registers on a couple of occasions:

18 October 1889,


Charles, Walter and Albert Fox-Codling, after being absent for over a week, were sent home to get their school fees, which their mother said she was unable to pay.
 

2 December 1890, 

Walter and Albert Fox-Codling were punished for repeatedly playing truant.

 

Apart from the Census when he was working “above ground “as a “coal screener” in 1901 whilst boarding with his Uncle and Aunt, Samuel and Mary Smith in Cornforth, County Durham and a general labourer. In 1911, this is all we know about his life prior to his marriage.

Albert married Ryburgh widow Louisa Ellen Nelson (neé Vertigan) probably quite close to the birth of their only child together, Rhoda Gertrude (on November 5th.) in the last quarter of 1917. Albert immediately gained a new family as Louisa already had 4 children (Gladys, Ernest, Victor and Reginald) when her husband, farm labourer George Nelson, died in 1912. Their time together after the wedding must have been all too brief as by March 1918 Albert was dead, killed on the Somme Battlefield during an encounter known as The Battle of St Quentin. News of his death took quite a time to reach Ryburgh as these extracts from the Parish Magazine tell:
 

June 1918:


 

July 1918


 

August 1918

The last of these clips was printed some 5 months after the events described below that claimed Albert’s life. They are taken from the Bedfordshire Regiments’s War Diary:

 

21 Mar 1918 [Enemy bombardment started at 4.45 a.m. The Battalion "Stood to" in Battle Zone between SAVY and ETREILLERS at 6 a.m. "A" and "C" Companies in Front. "B" Company in Counter Attack position, "D" Company and Battalion Hd. Qrs in STEVENS REDOUBT. Enemy broke through the Forward Zone and came in touch with "A" Company during the morning. A few Germans got into the right of "A" Coys position. "B" Company went up to reinforce "A" Company at Dusk but could not turn out the enemy, who had established themselves firmly on either side of the SAVY Road. Captain W.Hobbs wounded.

22 Mar 1918 - Verlaines Early in the morning a few Germans worked into "C" Coys position, from a Sunken Road just in front of our wire. "A" and "C" Coys were heavily shelled all day and at about 2 p.m. the enemy attacked in large numbers. "C" Coys position was taken and some of our men taken prisoner. The remnants of "A" and "B" Coy hung on till surrounded by large numbers of enemy. They fought very well and only a few got back. By 4 p.m. the enemy could be seen advancing on either side of STEVENS REDOUBT. At 5 p.m. Orders were received to withdraw. The withdrawal was carried out at once, but there were a number of casualties as the withdrawal had to be made across open country and the enemy machine gun and shrapnel fire was very heavy. The Battalion withdrew to VERLAINES via GERMAINE - FORESTE - VILLERS ST CHRISTOPHE and HAM. Billetted in VERLAINES for the night. Casualties: Lieut. A.P. Methuen Wounded Lieut. D.D. Warren wounded, Captain F.A.Sloan wounded, Capt. H.B.Jones, R.A.M.C., missing, 2nd Lieut. F.E. Thompson missing [was taken prisoner and was repatriated 11th December 1918].

Total Casualties from March 21st – 31st:

Officers 15,

Other Ranks 554.

 

Louisa was sent £11-17/-6d which included the £6 War Gratuity which was authorised on September 2nd 1919.

Albert's body was originally and probably hastily buried at one location and was  exhumed and re-interred in August 1919 and remembered with honour at the: 

Chapelle British Cemetery at Holnon.

Plot III, Row A, Grave 2, Headstone No. 402.

 

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Ours thanks to Kristin Stott and John Dugdale for their help in compiling this page.


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Page last updated: Tuesday March 20th 2018 10:48 PM