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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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War Memorials

continued from the previous page:


To see, however, that Henry - the fourth child of Will and Theresa,  was born in Shwebo is quite another matter. It means that Theresa, with three young children in tow, gave birth in a dangerous and fever-ridden war zone.


In October 1890, a large advance party of Devons, consisting of 3 officers and 130 men, left India bound for three locations in  Burma - Schwebo, Bhamo and Bernardmyo - where they were to stay for two years. Their mission was to bring a number of rebellious tribes under control so that the main trade routes could be used safely. The soldiers had plenty to occupy them. 


Meanwhile, the women faced all kinds of dangers - the hot season  (February to May), when temperatures soared to over 100 degrees F; the rainy season, when the Monsoon lasts from November to the end of January and the uncertainty of not knowing if their men were safe. Europeans had little defence against  malaria and other local fevers and women giving birth would have had to rely on the other women travelling with them - no help would have come from the few male army doctors accompanying the regiment. Platoons of men would march off into the jungle with their rations to deal with breakaway groups and would be gone for days at a time, adding permanent anxiety to the women's problems - this was the life lived by Theresa and her growing family as she shared the Third Burma War with her husband.


By December 1892, the complete contingent of Devons had regrouped at Shwebo  to be relieved by the 2nd Yorkshire Regiment. From there, they travelled to Rangoon for the sea journey back to Bombay


There was little difference between the plight of  Lady Wilson, wife of General Sir George White, and that of the wives of non-commissioned men. She wrote from Rawalpindi in 1898:

"It is one thing to read about battles in the newspapers translated into sporting phraseology of the war correspondent, quite another to be at the base of operations. It seems more like eight years than eight months since we used to watch, on our evening drives, the long trains filled with soldiers, such young things some of them were, singing with their legs dangling out of the window and their coats thrown off in the sultry heat.


Then goodbye to old friends and an empty cantonment save for the presence of brave wives left to search in the newspaper every morning to follow the fate of the war and visit the Club every evening to read the latest telegrams."


On 10 January 1893, the soldiers'  families joined 10 officers and 443 rank and file for the first part of the long journey back to England. Most of the men left at Alexandria to travel to the barracks in Cairo, the remainder of the party arriving at Barracks in Plymouth in the middle of April. And that is where, in 1894,  Theresa had her next child  before the men - and the women and children -  were off once again, by sea,  to the garrison at Pembroke Dock.


By 1897, the family - and the Battalion - had arrived back in India and found themselves stationed at Jullunder where, as usual, Theresa celebrated by giving birth. The 1st Battalion had been greatly enlarged by a large number of new recruits and was considered to be a  fighting force to be reckoned with. And fight they did, in territory which would be very familiar to British soldiers today. Between 1897 and 1898 The Devonshire Regiment, which already had AFGHANISTAN among its battle honours,  took part in one of the most arduous campaigns the British and Indian Armies ever fought.  When it was over, the Devons  had the satisfaction of adding TIRAH to their Colours. And, as his medals show, Will Cox was there.


There was a brief respite shared with the family back in Jullundur but by September 1899, it was obvious to everyone that trouble was brewing in South Africa - trouble which would have to be dealt with by a British show of strength. The War Office decided to send  the 1st Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment across the world from India to South Africa.

But  this time, Theresa did not accompany her husband. She was pregnant again and was to remain in Jullundur for the duration of the Boer War until the safe return of Will Cox and the other survivors of the 1st Devonshire Regiment in the Spring of 1902. There was to  be one more child born at Jullundur in 1903 but it was a significant year for the family; Will had enlisted late in 1882 - by 1903 his time with the Army had almost run out. As soon as a suitable boat arrived, the family embarked on the long, tedious journey back to England, to make their home in the barracks in Plymouth where, in 1906, Theresa gave birth yet again.



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