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Remembered Today:

390 Royal Garrison Artillery

Rex Cox

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I'm a newbie on this site so please be gentle if this query is not in the correct format or forum.


I have just returned from three weeks in Italy where I tracked down locations shown in photos left by my grandfather, Reginald Harold Cox, who was a Sergeant in the RGA. My curiosity has deepened as I have come to understand and gain a feeling for his period of service in Italy 1917-18 so I've come back with as many questions as answers.


His photos tell that he was in the 390 RGA but written on the back of one of his photos is;


Piave Front. N. Italy. March 1918. My 6" Howitzer, B Sub-section, 490 Siege Battery, R.G.A"

I can find only a few references to 390 RGA and none for 490. From my readings on this site I believe 390 went to Italy in April/May 1917 And, presumably had to retreat after Caporetto. Can anyone help in directing me to the best places to find out more about where the 390 were stationed and the dates? 







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The war diary of 390th Siege Battery RGA has not been found but while in Italy the battery served under 104th Brigade, RGA and that brigade's war diary can be found at The National Archives under WO 95/4206.  Lineage Book of British Land Forces 1660--1978 indicates that 490th Siege Battery RGA was formed at Aldershot 15 August 1917 and was disbanded to supply reinforcements for RGA batteries on 10 November 1917.  It is possible that he was originally posted to 490th Siege Battery and then posted to 390th Siege Battery when 490th was disbanded.

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Could you post the reverse of the photo? Although there was a  490 SB that was split up before gunners being sent out as re-inforcements, I would suggest your relative was an original member of 390 SB, probably when 123 ordinary ranks from the Cornwall RGA TF were posted to the battery on formation on the 3rd Feb 1917.


Although most of the diaries, battery and HAGs/Brigades, have not survived there is an older thread that may be of interest at.


The diary starts at Alexandria which the battery went to, leaving Taranto on the 15th Oct 1917 and arriving on the 20th. It left Port Said for Taranto on the 9th Jan. 1918, although you can read what happens from then on.



Edited by kevinrowlinson
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Rex, that's an excellent photo.  I'd be very interested to see any others showing members of the 390th or where their guns were located.  What locations were you able to establish from the photos?



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  • 8 months later...

Might I ask whether you think this Sgt is your grandfather? I believe this is 390 Siege Bty and I rather think it may be him.. shoulder titles could also be Cornwall RGA T


Edited by battiscombe
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Yes, thank you so much, this is him. I think this photo may have been taken in 1917 at Pendennis Castle (Falmouth).  The photo below is, I think, an earlier picture from a training course; Rex is third row back on the extreme left with his cap at a rakish angle. 





I see I have missed a couple of responses for which please accept my apologies.  The original photo I posted was taken from the negative but there was a brief note with it 'Right Section position (Piave)'. There were some other photos taken from that same position from which we tried to establish the exact location but without success.  I have a few dozen photos which I have scanned from the original negatives and cover locations on the Piave and, earlier, in the Karst. I would be very happy to share all of these to anyone with an interest (just supply email address). 


Earlier this year, and in the autumn of last year, my brother and I travelled to Italy and Slovenia to try to identify exact locations where Rex Cox's battery was stationed. We were very fortunate in obtaining help from local historians who were able to supply copied of Italian military papers that gave excellent information and after days of grubbing around in the now-re-vegetated Karst we found the remains of gun pits and I triumphantly came away with a shell splinter that I like to think was Austrian and aimed at my grandfather. 





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Yes that photo was stated as April 20th [presumably 1917] at Pendennis Castle. You have  copy of this ? [attached] It would be interesting to name the BSM, BQMS [who is in yr other photo of train, i think] and other 3 Sgts.

The photo you post from No 1 (RGA) Officer Cadet School, Trowbridge in 1918 is later; as far as I can see his commission was not listed until Feb 1919 in the London Gazette - so that must be a very late class at Trowbridge. Is he wearing a MM ribbon?



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