I have very kindly been sent some additional information about George Cox and the sinking of the HMS Lightening (thanks David James!).
From this new information it has been established that George Joseph Cox was born in Kentish Town, North London on 18th April 1871. Prior to the outbreak of war the 42 year old George was lining with his wife Florence Cox, aged 27, in a property also occupied by a baby of 8 months, Douglas James Faragher. Was this child a relative that George and Florence had taken responsibility for? In 1911 George's profession was listed as a 'Stationary Engineman' working for the Urban District Council.
At the time of his death when the 'Lightning' struck a mine George was in his 46th year and the family were then living in Trinity Road in the Southchurch area of Southend-on-Sea.
Of the aditional information that I received the press reports of the sinking and Georges funeral were particularly poignant. George's body would have appeared to have been the first confirmed death from the incident.
(source: The Cornish Telegraph 8th July 1915)
(source: The Chelmsford Chronicle 9th July 1915)
(source: The Newsman 10th July 1915)
The last report makes reference to George's family home (Great Havers Farm) and his father and brother who both served as Councillors.
The Great Havers farmhouse survived until 2006 when it was demolished (at the time of the demolition part of the building was surving as a launderette at the junction of Havers Lane and Norfolk Way (I remember it well). The rebuilt property remains to be a launderette.
Today the weather was beautiful with clear blue skies and a temperature that had me stripped down to my bare minimum of T-shirt, shorts and 10-hole Dr Marten boots! These clement conditions once again prompted me to take a wander in Bishops Stortford Old Cemetery. Within its boundary walls I took a number of photographs of war graves, but it was one in particular that I had my mind set upon, since it belonged to a naval man whose ship was named on the headstone. Clearly such additional information aids and abets the process of filling in the story behind the name appearing on a 103 year old gravestone.
The garve is occupied by one G. J. Cox, Royal Navy 277601. He served as a Stoker 1st Class on HMS Lightning. That particular ship was one of the three Janus-class destroyers (the others being HMS Janus and HMS Porcupine) that were built by Palmers Shipbuilders in Jarrow. Lightning was launched on 10th April 1895.
Come the war HMS Lightning, now reclassified as a Class A destroyer formed part of the Nore Local Defence Flotilla (from January 1915). The Nore is a sandbank located close to the mouth of the Thames Estuary.
30th June 1915 was to be the fateful day for the Lightning and a number of its crew. Responding to reported sightings of floating mines in the area of Kentish Knock Lightvessel (located in an area of shallow water off the Kent coast), the Lightning accompanied by HMS Vulture approached the mines. Three mines were safely detonated before Lightning struck another. The explosion caused the ship to break in two with the loss of 15 hands. The bow of the ship sank whilst the stern, originally thought to be worthy of salvage, was towed back into Sheerness. In the end, considered to be irreparable the stern was also subsequently destroyed.
In the aftermath of the explosion two mariners were commended for gallantry awards by the doomed ship's Captain.
"I submit for your favourable notice the conduct of Mr Edward L Calloway, Chief Artificer Engineer RN and Stoker Petty Officer Thomas A Lawrence ON K1106 - all the executive officers being in the forepart at the time of the explosion - Mr callaway took charge aft and with Lawrence launched the after float and brought away the injured men".
The mines responsible for the demise of HMS Lightening were lain by UC-1, a mine laying U-Boat launched on 26th April 1915. The mines laid by UC-1 were credited with the responsibility of sinking 41 ships and the records indicate the the Lightning was the first casualty. At the time of the sinking UC-1 was under the command of Oblt z. S. Egan von Werner.
The following image indicates where the bow section of HMS Lightning lies off the Kent coast.
Family information about Stoker Cox is sadly lacking. The CWGC website unusually offers no more information about this unfortunate sailor than what appears on the headstone. Even his Christian name is unknown to me. I would welcome further comment on this point. To my mine it is possible that G. J. Cox is related to the Cox family of photographic note (a couple of portraits from their Hadham Road studio adorn our walls).