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Cox, Edgar, 1882-1918 (Brigadier-General)



  • Existence: 1882 - 1918


Edgar Cox was educated at Christ's Hospital in Newgate and was commissioned as a junior officer in the Royal Engineers in 1900 after graduating head of his class at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, surveying in Sierra Leone, Angola and East Africa (later Kenya) where he conducted a three-year survey (1906-1909). Cox then served at Aldershot Barracks, was promoted to Captain, and became a governor of his former school. In 1912 he married a South African, Nora Davis. They had two sons. Cox was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a delegate at the international map conference in Paris in 1913. In that year he produced a revised edition of Charles Frederick Arden-Close's standard Textbook of Topographical and Geographical Surveying. Between 1913 and 1914 he was assigned to the War Office as a staff officer (3rd class) and gained experience in military intelligence learning French and German. He was on the staff of Sir John French with the British Expeditionary Force to France following the German invasion, working under the French throughout 1914-1915. In spring 1915, Cox compiled an updated and comprehensive order of battle of the German army (known as the 'yellow book', later 'brown book' by the colour of its cover), which ran to many editions as the handbook for British intelligence officers on the western front. He was promoted to Major in 1916, awarded the Distinguished Service Order and admitted to the Legion of Honour with the Croix de Chevallier and later the Belgian Order of the Crown and the Italian Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus for his war service. He served as staff officer (2nd class) to the Director of Military Intelligence in the War Office in 1916-1917, Brigadier-General George Macdonogh and became the head of MI2c, the sub-section responsible for analysing Germany. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1917 heading a new section MI3 analysing all the Central Powers and returned to France under Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig as the head of military intelligence in 1918, promoted to Brigadier-General and providing generally reliable advice that he felt was sidelined by Haig during the German Spring Offensive, with Haig generally taking a more optimistic perspective. By summer, Cox's health had declined. He was hospitalised with influenza in June and returned to active service until August, but did not recover full health. He died in unexplained circumstances when he went for a swim at Berck Plage near General Headquarters at √Čtaples where he drowned and was recovered from the sea some time later.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:


Letters to Edgar W. Cox, 16 Jun 1912 - 30 Apr 1915

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add. 9750/312-317
Scope and Contents Five letters and one testimonial addressed to Edgar William Cox and 'Mon General'. Includes: (MS Add. 9570/312) Letter from George Frederick Charles Searle to Cox, 16 June 1912 on how to address optical questions in a book probably a revised edition of a Textbook of Topographical and Geographical Surveying. ; (MS Add. 9750/313) letter from Walter Coote Hedley, Geographical Section, General Staff, War Office, Whitehall, SW to Cox, 30 April 1915 thanking him for 'your book on the Bosches'...
Dates: 16 Jun 1912 - 30 Apr 1915
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