Fox, John Francis Russell

The Fox family had been Brewers in Ewloe at the Castle Hill Brewery for generations, if not hundreds of years, the Brewery, on one census, was next to the Boar’s Head Inn, Ewloe.

Because the name John Fox was handed down to the next generation in the FOX family it was quite a task to untangle all the John FOX’s!   I have numerous transcriptions and Parish Registers of births, marriage,burials and censuses, please contact the website if you would like to find out what I have.

The parents of John Francis Russell Fox were John Holmes FOX and Gladys Marion SMITH, who married in The Church of St. Leonard, Streatham, London on the 4th November 1914.   John Holmes Fox was 26, a bachelor and Brewer, his abode was Castle Hill, Ewloe, Nr. Chester, his father,  John FOX was also a  Brewer.    His bride, Gladys Marion SMITH was 22 a Spinster, and her abode was 45, High Road, Streatham, her father Henry  John SMITH, was a Tutor.   Witnesses were  H.G. SMITH & M.E.SMITH.

I believe their first born child was John Francis Russell Fox and I believe that he was born in the 3rd quarter of 1915 (Hawarden, Flintshire Volume 11B, Page 399).  His Baptism was at St. Deniol’s Cjurch, Hawarden, on the 16th October 1915 the son of John Holmes & Gladys Marian Fox, Hawarden, and Brewer, and tells us he was born on the 23rd July 1915. (written in the registers as 23/vii/15).

John Holmes Fox in the UK, Royal Air Force Airmen Records, 1918-1940, tells us that he was in the services in WW1 with the No. 58805 and confirms his wife was Gladys Marian Fox.  The R.A.F. Muster Roll also tell us that he was a Motor Cyclist, A. Mechanic 2, Private 1, Joined 9th February 1917 and was earning 1/8d  and was enlisted for the Duration of the war (D.W.).   This document – Record Transcription: British Royal Air Force, Airmen’s Service Records 1912-1939 tells us the date of his son John Francis Russell’s date of birth – 23rd August 1915, not 23rd July stated on his baptism.

I do not know where John Francis Russell Fox was educated, nor do I know anything about his early and teen years, so any information would be great appreciated as we want to make sure that he is remembered for his sacrifice.

I have no records either of when he entered the Army and the 2nd Bn. The Queen’s Royal Regiment, (West Surrey), but he was a Lieutenant when he died, which makes me think he had entered earlier on and before the war broke out.   Again, any help would be appreciated.

Taken from the CWGC Website

In December 1941, Japanese forces invaded Burma, catapulting the nation into the Second World War. By March 1942, the Japanese had captured the capital city of Rangoon and their occupation of the country began.

These websites may help tell his story a little, I have extracted some for your perusal:-

Regiments and Corps – The Queen’s Royal Regiment (West Surrey)

This infantry unit was raised in 1661, making it the oldest English line regiment in the British Army. It existed until 1959 when it was merged into The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment.

Second World War

During the Second World War (1939-45), 2nd Battalion served with distinction in North Africa (1940-41), Syria (1941), Ceylon (1942), India (1943) and Burma (1942-45), where it fought with the Chindits.

1st Battalion spent the war in India (1940-42) and Burma (1942-45), where it fought in the Arakan (1943), Kohima (1944) and the subsequent advance on Rangoon.

Six of the regiment’s territorial battalions served in France before being evacuated in 1940. After home defence duties, these units were variously deployed to North Africa and Iraq (1942-43), Italy (1943-45) and North-West Europe (1944-45).

In 1948, the two regular battalions were merged in Germany. The regiment later saw action in the Malayan Emergency (1948-60) from 1954 until 1956.

Queen’s Royal Regiment (West Surrey)

Connected to: Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment Guildford East Surrey Regiment

Second World War

Regular Army

The 1st Battalion was serving in British India on the outbreak of the Second World War but did not see action until 1942 against the Imperial Japanese Army. The 1st Queens fought in the Burma Campaign throughout the war as part of the 33rd Indian Infantry Brigade,[67] 7th Indian Infantry Division, of the British Fourteenth Army under Lieutenant General William “Bill” Slim.[68]

The 2nd Battalion, initially commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Robert Ross until April 1940, spent the early years of the war in the Middle East and Syria before also going out to the Far East. They were part of the 16th Brigade, 6th Infantry Division which was later redesignated as the 70th Infantry Division and were involved in Operation Thursday, the second Chindits campaign.[68] The Chindits were the creation of Brigadier Orde Wingate. After suffering heavy casualties in the Chindits campaign, 2nd Queen’s reverted to being an ordinary infantry battalion, nicknamed PBI (Poor Bloody Infantry), and served with 29th Infantry Brigade,[69] part of 36th Infantry Division from May 1945 onwards.[70]

In February 2015 the UK Ministry of Defence announced that 77 Brigade is to be reformed. This new unit will specialise in cyber warfare, social media and other unconventional tools in conflict situations. It also announced that the new unit will take its inspiration from the Chindits – specially trained troops who fought behind Japanese lines in Burma during World War Two. The new 77 Brigade’s shoulder flash is a design based on the Chindits’ famous Chinthé badge, using the motif of the ‘fabulous lions’ which guard the entrances to Burmese pagodas.

The 3,000 men of the original 77 Brigade were the first of the Chindits. Led by General Orde Wingate, they marched into occupied Burma in 1943 and destroyed Japanese supply depots and attacked rail and other communication targets. They paid heavily: around one-third were lost and wounded and sick who could no longer march had to be left behind. The health of 600 of the survivors was so poor that they were unable to regain combat fitness and rejoin the fight.

This first Chindit campaign caused little material damage overall, but the ease with which these troops infiltrated North Burma had a profound effect on Japanese thinking. After Operation Longcloth, the 1943 Chindit expedition, the Japanese decided that their defensive posture in Burma was no longer viable. Accordingly, they decided to mount an offensive against Assam, aimed primarily at Imphal and Kohima. This led to their eventual defeat and undoing in Burma, during 1944 and 1945.

Despite the heavy casualties suffered by 77 Brigade’s Operation Longcloth columns, Wingate considered his visionary concept of ‘Long Range Penetration’ (the infiltration of jungle fighters behind Japanese lines, supplied entirely by air) had been fully vindicated.

Wingate’s plans for a second Chindit campaign – Operation Thursday – caught the imagination of Churchill, who ensured that he got more than he wanted for this much larger expedition. Six Brigades (including a refitted 77 Brigade) were trained as Chindits and became ‘Special Force’. The 23 Brigade was deployed to disrupt communications behind the Japanese attacking Imphal and Kohima. Another Brigade, the 16 Brigade, marched in but the other four Brigades became an air landing force. The Chindits now had a private air force – the American No. 1 Air Commando – with gliders for assault landings, C-47 transports to airlift in the main force, light planes for casualty evacuation and a force of Mustang fighter bombers and B.25 bombers trained in ultra-close air support.

Excerpt from:- Chindits – The Forgotten Army (1944) 

The men of 16 Brigade opened Operation Thursday in the early weeks of 1944, when they began a long penetration march into Burma. This involved some of the worst country on earth. A Chindit carried his home on his back. The typical weight of a Chindit heavy pack, small pack and weapons was around 72lb (80lb for a Bren Gunner).The men were carrying half their body weight. The weight increased when their equipment was wet – which it was for most of the time, as North Burma is the wettest region on earth (with the exception of dry teak jungle, which has no water at all). They operated, for the most part, in the dim green light under the jungle canopy, with visibility often 30 ft or less. They lived with the constant fear of ambush. Most ambushes were, in effect, accidents – with a Chindit column and a Japanese force ‘bumping into’ each other. The men also lived with the fear of disease, such as the deadly cerebral malaria and scrub typhus.

Typical temperatures were 110-112 deg. F., with extreme humidity. Clothes and webbing rotted in the rain and sweat. A Chindit required 12 pints of water daily, but often had to go without. They subsisted almost entirely on air-dropped K rations. Each man was supposed to receive three meal packs per day for five days (i.e. 15 packs). Airdrops were often cancelled or were unsuccessful, with stores missing the drop zone, and five days’ rations had to last eight days or longer. The author’s father, Rifleman and Bren Gunner Jack Redding (of 41 Column, King’s Own Royal Regiment, 111 Brigade), lost three stone in 18 weeks while behind the lines.

Jack Redding was among several hundred troops who set out from Lalaghat airfield, Assam, in assault gliders on Sunday, March 5, 1944. Dual-towed behind C-47 transports, they flew on in bright moonlight over occupied Burma. Their destination was ‘Broadway’, a rough jungle clearing 150 miles behind Japanese lines. Many gliders were lost but the landing was unopposed. The advance party worked round the clock to improve the clearing, allowing C-47s to land late the following day.

The second Chindit campaign unfolded, marred by the tragic loss of Wingate in an air crash, only three weeks into the operation. Nevertheless, the men of 77 Brigade put a highly effective block on the main railway supplying the Japanese armies in the north. This ‘stronghold’ was held for seven weeks, despite daily attacks by Japanese forces determined to penetrate the wire and kill everyone inside.

The Japanese never captured White City, which was abandoned only at a time of the Chindits’ choosing. Special Force columns headed north and put a new block on the railway. This was known as Blackpool. It was sited too close to the Japanese front line; within three weeks the enemy broke in, having made the re-supply of the block impossible by bringing up AA guns. The garrison of around 2,000 men escaped with their lives by a miracle, although some of the most seriously wounded were shot, to prevent them falling into Japanese hands.

With Wingate gone, the Chindits came under the command of the American anglophobe General Stillwell. They were misused as assault troops and kept in during the monsoon. Eventually, most of them could hardly stand, let alone march. It is generally accepted that the Chindits experienced probably the worst sustained infantry fighting experience of the Second World War. Many men lost one-third of their body weight whilst in Burma. Everyone went to hospital on coming out; the majority could no longer take solid food. Most were suffering from ‘Chindit Syndrome’, a condition in which the individual soldier had two or three conditions – typically malaria, dysentery and septic jungle sores – any one of which required hospitalisation.

Today, the new 77 Brigade inherits a proud legacy. That Chindit flash, the ‘fabulous lion’, means more today, to the handful of surviving veterans, than words can possibly express. – By Tony Redding

Casualty List (Officers 1423) 1944 –Wounded 4th April 1944.

The Casualty List (Pages 8 & 9) FOX, J.F.R. (Corrections) – Wounded -should read Missing – believed P.O.W.

Casualty List (Officers 1956) Previously  Reported  POW, now Presumed. K.I.A. on or shortly after  4th April 1944.

Sadly his body was never found as he is remembered on the Rangoon Memorial, but his family made sure he was remembered as they put his name forward to be included in the WW2 War Memorial at Hawarden.

Learn more about the other soldiers on the Hawarden Memorial

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