'My grandad was more proud of his bullet wound than his medals'

By Antony Clay | 24/02/2017

'My grandad was more proud of his bullet wound than his medals'
Garry Cox with his grandad Percy Beech's replacement medals. 170165

DEVOTED grandson Garry Cox has called for help in tracking the wartime exploits of his grandad after he lost some of his medals.

Mr Cox (76) of First Lane, Wickersley, believes he was playing with his grandad Percy Beech’s medals as a child when they went astray.

But it has not stopped him researching his beloved relative’s World War One exploits on the battlefields of France.

Mr Cox has found a newspaper report, official records and old photographs.

Percy was apparently shot in the chest by a sniper in 1917 but, after he recovered, chose to go back to the front. Mr Cox now wants to find out more.

He said: “I just think about what they must have gone through with people being killed and the conditions they used to live in, and wonder why he wanted to go back.

“He was a very brave man, I know that.”

Percy lived in Conisbrough after the war but then moved to Orchard Street, Rotherham, where he worked at Treeton Colliery.

When the First World War broke out, Percy was keen to enlist at the age of 19. 

He was in the Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment, forming part of the 8th Army in Europe. He was immediately promoted to sergeant.

Mr Cox said: “I think he was just mad keen to go and get it over with. 

“He must have been to be injured and then go back.

“He was really a king’s man. He believed we should be fighting for the country. He would say we would all be talking German if it wasn’t for us.

“When I was little and I walked down the street with him people showed him a lot of respect.

”When I was little, they had me in the Army cadets as soon as they could.”

Mr Cox found an old wartime report from a Doncaster newspaper which said that Percy and colleagues went into No Man’s Land “somewhere in France” and came across a German patrol.

They fought back and Percy was recommended for a Distinguished Conduct Medal, although he didn’t get one.

He did however win a Military Medal, along with three other service medals.

Mr Cox said: “As a child I lost his medals while playing with them.”

He has since bought replacements and remembers his grandad with great affection, 

Mr Cox said Percy did not talk much about the war, but was oddly proud of the bullet wound close to his heart, and would often show it off.

Mr Cox said: “I think he was more proud of that than the medals.”

Percy married Elizabeth Skelton - to whom he was wed for more than 50 years - after the war and died in 1974. He is buried in Kimberworth.

Mr Cox said he would like to find out more about his grandad and regretted not asking questions years ago.

He said: “By the time I decided to research them they had all died.”

Percy was a keen fisherman, enjoyed horse racing, liked a drink and kept chickens in an old air raid shelter.

Mr Cox said: “He used to be a bookie. There was a dish on the table and people used to come and place their bets in it. He got summonsed for it and the bloke next door took over.”

  •  Do you have any stories to share about Percy Cox? Email antony.clay@rother hamadver tiser.co.uk.

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