Fox, Henry Leslie

Henry Leslie Fox was born on the 11th September 1902 the one and only child of Thomas & Louisa Elizabeth Fox (nee Bebbington).    I have no information re Henry Leslie’s early years and do not know when he enlisted or was conscripted into the Army, so any help would be appreciated.

His parents married in St. Oswald’s Church, Malpas on the 31st March 1902 Thomas FOX,  age 27, a Bachelor  and Miller, abode Dyncoke’s Mill, Tallarn, father Thomas FOX (Deceased), Farmer & Louisa BEBBINGTON, 30, Spinster, abode Oldcastle Mill, Malpas, father Edwin BEBBINGTON, Miller.  (After Banns).   Witnesses:- Ada BEBBINGTON & Henry BEBBINGTON.

The 1911 census sees the little family living at The Dairy, Brynkinallt Hall, Chirk, Denbighshire.  Thomas Fox was 35 years old and a Farm Bailiff born at Sarn Bridge, Malpsa, his wife Louisa , 36 tells us that sadly 2 children had been born to them but one died, leaving Henry Leslie their only child., Louisa had been born in Oldcastle Malpas.    Henry Leslie was age 8 and had been born in Tallern Green, Willington, Malpas.  They tell us that they had been married for 9 years.

The 1911 census shows an Ethel Lily living at 361, Woodbridge Road, Ipswich, Suffolk (6 rooms).   In the household of Jonathon RUSH and his wife Martha and widowed daughter Beatrice Lily ELNAUGH and Niece Elsie May STUDD and an Assistant Catherine Margrett (sic) HUPMPHRIES was Ethel Lily GREEN, Assistant, 20 and Single was ”In the Business” and born in Akenham, Suffolk.

I do not  know when or where Henry Leslie Fox and Ethel Lily Roberts (nee Green) met but they married in St. Mary’s Church, Broughton on the 26th July 1933.

Henry Leslie FOX, 30, Bachelor, Registered Architect, Lyndhurst, Broughton, Thomas FOX, Bailiff & Ethel Lily ROBERTS, 42, Widow, The Cross, Oswestry, father Milson GREEN, Nursery Man.

Witnesses:- Herbert THEALE & Mary A. DAVIES.

This was Ethel Lily’s 3rd marriage:-  She had married first to John T. Brewster, a widower, in the September quarter of 1921 in Ipswich (Vol. 4a            Page 2631).   Sadly he died age 61 years in the March quarter of 1922 (Ipswich Vol. 4a Page 1467).

John Thomas Brewster in the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 – BREWSTER, John Thomas of 359, Norwich-road, Ipswich, Gentleman died 11th February 1922.   Probate Ipswich, 30th arch to Ethel Lily BREWSTER, Widow.

Then she moved to Wales and met Edwin Roberts and married him in a Civil Marriage at Corwen in 1923 (Wrexham County Borough (Wrexham) CRWN/25/6).

They had two children:- Jack Millson Roberts was born on 12 July 1924 in Oswestry, Shropshire, and Edwina M Roberts was born in March 1929 in Oswestry, Shropshire.

Again Fate was not on Ethel Lily’s side as Edwin was  to die in the June quarter of 1930 (Oswestry Vol. 6a, Page 681), he was 48 years old.

Ethel Lily Roberts (Mrs.) is seen in the Kelly’s Trade Directory for Oswestry in 1934, page 194, as a Tobacconist at 1a, The Cross.

The 1939 National Register, taken on the 29th September 1939 shows the family, at first glance, living at Lyndhurst , Hawarden, Flintshire, Wales.        Thomas Fox is a Bailiff on a Dairy Farm and his birth date is the 2nd January 1875, his wife Louisa’s birth date was the 23rd April 1871 and as most married women on this register was doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.”   Also on this register was Henry L. Fox, Architect & Surveyor, whose date of birth was the 11th September 1902, but this was crossed out because Henry is seen on another National Register  with Ethel Lily living in Oswestry.

Henry & Ethel Lily Fox are seen living at 1a The Cross , Oswestry, Shropshire, England.   The first person on the register is a Phyllis O. Williams, born the 5th August 1918 and she is single and a Domestic Help, so I think this is a clerical error and either Ethel Lily or Henry Leslie should have been entered first.     Ethel Lily’s birth date was the 22nd November 1891 and she was a Tobacconist, while Henry Leslie’s date of birth is the same as on his parent’s Register and he was a Chartered Architect.

I thought that Henry Leslie was a little old to be conscripted or even enlisted, but he would have been very handy to have as a surveyor, and he was made a Lieutenant, but this is only speculation really.

I do not know when Henry Leslie was conscripted or even enlisted but he was immediately in the ranks of the Officers.   Any help would be appreciated.

He was with the Royal Engineers in Singapore when it fell in February of 1942:-

Battle of Singapore From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Battle of Singapore, also known as the Fall of Singapore, was fought in the South-East Asian theatre of World War II when the Empire of Japan invaded the British stronghold of Singapore—nicknamed the “Gibraltar of the East”. Singapore was the major British military base in South-East Asia and was the key to British imperial interwar defence planning for South-East Asia and the South-West Pacific. The fighting in Singapore lasted from 8 to 15 February 1942, after the two months during which Japanese forces had advanced down the Malayan Peninsula.

The campaign, including the final battle, was a decisive Japanese victory, resulting in the Japanese capture of Singapore and the largest British surrender in history.[6] About 80,000 British, Indian and Australian troops in Singapore became prisoners of war, joining 50,000 taken by the Japanese in the earlier Malayan Campaign. The British prime minister, Winston Churchill, called it the “worst disaster” in British military history.[7]

History Information from the CWGC website:- 

Before 1939, the Kranji area was a military camp and at the time of the Japanese invasion of Malaya, it was the site of a large ammunition magazine. On 8 February 1942, the Japanese crossed the Johore Straits in strength, landing at the mouth of the Kranji River within two miles of the place where the war cemetery now stands. On the evening of 9 February, they launched an attack between the river and the causeway.  During the next few days fierce fighting ensued, in many cases hand to hand, until their greatly superior numbers and air strength necessitated a withdrawal.

His Casualty List 1 shows all listed as MISSING in Malaya on the 15th February 1942 except Capt. J.G. MIDDLEDITCH who died on the 26th February 1942 in Cyprus.

POW List 1 – Prisoners of war, Far East: Royal Engineers; nominal roll.(He was not a POW, as he was K.I.A. according to the next Casualty List 3).

Casualty List 3 – Killed in Action 13/14.2.42:- Previously shown on Casualty List No. 766 as MISSING, 15.2.42 with rank of Lieut.

So it looks as though he was killed early on certainly before the 15th February 1942 and sadly Ethel Lily had also died perhaps unknown to Henry as according to family lore the message telling of his death didn’t arrive until after the funeral of Ethel.

Please read the story from Gill, who told me that Ethel Green (Effie) was her maternal great aunt. Her mums mum was Grace, and they were sisters.


Ethel Lily GREEN/Henry Leslie FOX

Steve Graham

Aug 20, 2019

Hi,Mavis. I am Steve Graham’s wife. Ethel Green was my maternal great aunt. My mums mum was Grace , and they were sisters. There were 7 children, Fred, Will, Effie (Ethel), Daisy,Harry, Grace and Vi (Violet). Aunty Effie married 3 times, Mr Brewster, Mr Roberts and Mr Fox. Her first husband died very soon after they married and then she went to Wales (possibly because her brother Harry was there..Harry and Effie both had links to Wales). She married Edwin Roberts and had 2 children, Jack and Edwina. I think they had a tobacconist shop at 1a The Cross, Oswestry. After Edwin died she married Mr Fox. Effie then died in 1942. The story my mother has always told me was that the family all went over for Effie’s funeral and when they returned home there was a telegram to say that her husband was dead. He died in Singapore and is buried at Kranli war cemetery. We don’t think she knew he had died because the message didn’t arrive until after her funeral. The children, Jack and Edwina were 13 and 8 (we think) and came to Ipswich to be raised by their Aunt Vi (and her husband Cyril Motum, who had no children themselves). I understand the children were sent to boarding school because someone (Edwin Roberts or Henry Fox) were part of the Royal Order of Buffalo’s. I have checked this out with my mother and Jack Roberts daughter, Phillipa, who are the only family I am in contact with. Jack and Edwina and both their spouses are all dead now. The quick answer to your question, is that Effie didn’t die of a broken heart because she didn’t know Henry had died. Do let me know if I can be of any more help. Kind Regards Gill.

Death of Ethel Lily Fox’s (Formerly ROBERTS, formerly BREWSTER. nee GREEN) father in the March quarter of 1951 age 86 years old, so he outlived Ethel Lily (Effie). (Ipswich, Suffolk Volume: 4b Page: 1210) and would have known about Henry Leslie Fox being Killed in Action and his daughter’s death.

Henry Leslie Fox in the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995

FOX, Henry Leslie of 1a, The Cross, Oswestry, Shropshire died on or since 13th February 1942 on War Service.   Administration Llandudno 16 March to William GREEN*, Engineers Manager and Violet May MOTUM* (Wife of Cyril MOTUM).    *Ethel Lily’s siblings.

Just over a month later after Henry Leslie was Killed in Action Ethel Lily (Effie) died:-

Ethel Lily Fox in the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 – FOX, Ethel Lily of 1a, The Cross, Oswestry,Salop, Widow, died 20th March 1942.   Probate Llandudno 10th October to William GREEN*, Mechanical Engineers Manager and Violet May MOTUM* (Wife of Cyril MOTUM).

Reading Gill’s story of the family, both Henry Leslie and Ethel Lily made sure that the 2 children – Jack and Edwina, were cared for as they left money to their guardians, Ethel Lily’s sister Violet and her husband Cyril.

Henry Leslie Fox’s name was not in alphabetical order and was added to the bottom of the 4th tablet, so was added after the names were first put on, but it may be that his parents didn’t know about it, as there are many names that were added years after.    Henry Leslie would have been very precious to his family and they made sure he was remembered as he is also remembered on the Broughton Roll of Honour, as that is where he and Ethel Lily (Effie) married.



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