Private Henry Fox

Soldier Factfile

Name:   Private Henry Fox

Date of Birth:  1899

Address:  105, Gibson Yard, Church Lane, Anstey

Parents Names: 

Joseph Henry Fox

Clara Fox d 1909

Stepmother: Ellen Smalley m 1917

Occupation before the war:  

Siblings Names:

Elizabeth b 1883  |  Sidney b 1896

Step Siblings

Ruth b 1914  |  Joseph Fox W b 1918  |  Walter Henry  b 1921  |  Edith Fox N b 1923

Date Died:   17.2.1919

Age:  20

Place of Death:   Winchester Military Hospital

Place of Burial/Memorial:  Anstey Cemetery

Cause of death:   Pneumonia


649th Agricultural Company

Labour Corps



Any other information (e.g. Service Record/ appearance etc)

The Labour Corps 1917 – 1921

At the beginning of the Great War tasks such as moving stores, repairing roads, building defences were carried out by the fighting soldier when he was withdrawn from the Front Line for rest. As the war progressed and the army enlarged it was realised that far more men were needed and that this method meant the fighting man often returned to the Front tired and not rested.

So in 1917 the British Army’s Labour Corps was formed. Manned by men who were either ex-front line soldiers who had been wounded or taken ill or men who on enlistment were found to be unfit for front line service because of ill health or because they were too old.

By the end of the war in November 1918 the Labour Corps was some 400,000 strong (11% of the strength of the army). 9,000 men in the Labour Corps were to die serving their King and Country. In addition over 300,000 foreign labourers served alongside the British supporting the fighting soldier.

Despite this, until now, virtually nothing has been written about this forgotten Corps. For this reason Major John Starling, of the Royal Logistics Corps, and I are researching the Labour Corps and writing their history.

The men of the Labour Corps overseas undertook any labouring task required of them. They built and repaired roads and railways, built defences, laid electricity and telephones cables, moved ammunition and stores and buried the dead. Some Companies were used in Forestry or Quarrying Work or to guard Prisoners of War.

Other Companies looked after services in the towns and camps where the front line soldiers went for rest when not at the Front. These Companies were employed in the Divisional Baths, Laundry, de-lousing facility and at the Salvage Dump. They also provided men for guard duties, traffic control and catering duties as well as the Divisional Cinema and Theatre.

In France & Belgium the men of the Labour Corps worked unarmed within the range of German guns. A Company would often work for weeks or even months at a time in the most dangerous conditions with only one days rest in every seven.

Light Railways and Canals were vital for moving supplies

An important requirement of the military labour force was to lay and maintain the light and broad gauge railways as well as the road system. By the end of the War there were 2,340 miles of broad gauge and 1,348 miles of narrow gauge rail-line to maintain.

Men worked unarmed for weeks within the range of German guns

Death from enemy shelling was a common occurrence, the worst incident occurring on the night of 11 May 1918. 101 Company was laying cable in the FONQUEVILLERS area when attacked by German gas shells. As a result of this attack 3 Officers and 136 men were killed and a further 130 men gassed. Within a few days replacements had been sent to 101 Company and they were again working in the area.

Almost 175,000 men of the Corps served in the United Kingdom at military bases, in hospitals and in factories supporting the war effort. Almost 75,000 of these men were in the Labour Corp’s Agricultural Companies and worked on farms throughout the UK.