b. 16/12/1884 Birmingham. d. 30/03/1954 Birmingham.
Alfred Wilcox (1884-1954) was born on 16th December 1884 in Birmingham. Alfred Wilcox enlisted in the 1st Royal Warwicks, a Volunteer Battalion, in 1902, where after serving for four years his job took him to Liverpool where he continued serving as a Territorial for a further three years. He retired with the rank of Corporal in 1909. On 25 March 1915 he joined the Royal Bucks Hussars, but was dismounted shortly afterwards, and was attached to the 2 / 4th Ox & Bucks Light Infantry, going to France in December 1917.
Lance Corporal Alfred Wilcox was a member of the 2 / 4th Bn, Ox & Bucks Light Infantry which arrived at Laventie, south-west of Armentieres on 11th September 1918. The enemy was holding the line called the Picantin – Junction Post and the Battalion was ordered forward to attempt to hold an outpost line that was to the north-east of the town. Headquarters was established in a former dressing station in Laventie, a house of pretentious size, which had not been destroyed by enemy artillery.
The Battalion was ordered to attack Junction Post the following day, the 12th September. The post was a grass-bound breastwork, where the enemy offered strong resistance, the attack being carried out in driving rain. It was here that Alfred Wilcox gained the Victoria Cross.
On 12th September 1918 near Laventie, France, when his company was held up by enemy machine-gun fire at short range, Lance-Corporal Wilcox rushed to the nearest enemy gun, bombing it and killing the gunner. Being then attacked by an enemy bombing party, the corporal picked up enemy stick bombs and led his company against the next gun, finally capturing and destroying it. Then, left with only one man he continued bombing and captured a third gun. Going up the trench, bombing as he went, he captured a fourth gun and then returned to his platoon.
He was gazetted for the VC on 15th November 1918, but it was over a year later, on 26th November 1919 that he was invested with the medal by King George V at Buckingham Palace.
After discharge from the Army, Alfred Wilcox attended many reunions of Victoria Cross holders, including the 1920 Afternoon Garden Party and the 1929 VC Reunion Dinner in the House of Lords. Wilcox was very interested in sport and in particular was a keen cyclist. He was also a good swimmer and long-distance walker, being a member of Birchfield Harriers. Alfred Wilcox died at his home, 31 Arthur Street, Small Heath, Birmingham, on the 30th March 1954 and was buried in an unmarked grave in St Peter & St Paul Churchyard, Aston.
In September 2006, thanks to an investigation to track down the “lost VC”, a service of dedication was held at St Peter & St Paul Church where Corporal Wilcox, of the 2nd / 4th Bn, Ox & Bucks Light Infantry, was buried in 1954. The new memorial stone unveilled on Tuesday, 12th September 2006, simply reads “For Valour. Near this site lies Alfred Wilcox 1884-1954, awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery in France, 12 Sept 1918.”
Those relatives attending the ceremony included Alfred Wilcox’s son Vincent Nicholls, granddaughter Elaine Read and nephew John Wilcox. Elaine Read and General Sir Edward Jones, chairman of the Regimental Committee of the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry both laid a wreath on the base of the new headstone. The standard bearers in attendance were the National Service Veterans Association, the Birmingham and District Royal Artillery Association, South Staffrodshire County Royal British Legion, and the Federation of Ex-Servicemen.
His medals including the VC, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, King George VI Coronation Medal 1937, and Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953 were held on loan by the Royal Green Jackets Museum, Winchester, before in April 1999, they were sold at Spink’s, London for a hammer price of £48,000. They were purchased by Michael Ashcroft and are now displayed at the Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: ST PETER & ST PAUL CEMETERY, ASTON, BIRMINGHAM. GRAVE 3995.
Brian Drummond – Image of Wilcox VC name on the Freemasons Memorial, London.