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A Canadian in the Spanish-American War


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While researching a man who served in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), and with South African forces during World War I, I have discovered that he was a Canadian who had previously served in the 1898 Spanish-American War. The record of his life in South Africa, where he had settled in 1899 and where he died in 1954, is interesting enough to warrant a post on this forum, but it would be even better if I could add something about his Canadian origins and his service with the US forces in the Spanish-American War. I hope that anyone reading this post who can offer advice or provide information will respond.

The man was:

William Joseph Cox, born in New Brunswick, Canada, in about 1877. He claimed 5 months service during the Spanish-American War.

I suspect that he was a horseman with the US Army, because when he arrived in South Africa he enlisted in an irregular regiment of mounted infantry, the South African Light Horse, which was to achieve fame during the war. Cox was soon promoted to Corporal and then Sergeant, which suggests that he was a skilled mounted soldier. There is evidence that he was also courageous, since he was twice "Mentioned in Despatches". On the first occasion, he was one of a party of SALHorsemen who swam across the Tugela River to retrieve a ferry on the opposite bank, while under fire from the Boers. He was awarded the Queen's South Africa medal with six clasps (Cape Colony, Tugela Heights, Orange Free State, Relief of Ladysmith, Laing's Nek & Belfast).

During World War I, he served successively in four units and ended up as a Lieutenant in the Intelligence Department in 1919, after the war had ended, in Nyasaland (now Malawi). There are some intriguing entries in his WWI file that must still be resolved. One of the mysteries is that while he was awarded the 1914/15 Star, he did not receive the War and Victory Medals to which he should also have been entitled.


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