Phine and Leslie

Meet the Family

Mary Josephine Hazeltine, was my great-grandmother. She was 15 years old in 1914, the oldest of two sisters (Madgie aged 8 and Mona aged 1) and one brother (Freddy, aged 13).

Phine and her family lived in Essex in a village called Warley, just south of Brentwood. She and her family lived in the married quarters of Warley Barracks , where her father was a drummer in the 3rd Battalion Essex Regiment. 

Phine’s mother was a housewife. In between looking after the children, she undertook part-time work washing and ironing clothes for soldiers, and also making alterations to their uniforms.

Phine had two uncles on her mothers’ Irish side, Mick and Pat. Before the outbreak of war Uncle Mick was serving as a drummer in the Queens Regiment and Uncle Pat was serving in the 15th Hussars.

Albert Leslie Cox was my great-grandfather. He was known by his middle name, Leslie.

Leslie left school at the age of 15 and joined the Grenadier Guards in 1908 as a boy soldier. Although he trained as a drummer, he was a talented musician who played several other instruments, including the piano and trumpet.

Leslie was also a keen sportsman and showed prowess in the regimental swimming team.

On 16th June 1913, he achieved adult service, leaving the drums behind, and was appointed as a Lance Corporal of the Grenadier Guards.


Phine and Leslie meet

Phine and Leslie first met each other at Warley Barracks. Leslie was stationed there and was friends with Phine’s father, who was a bandsman himself. 

At the Barracks there were hockey matches and music hall dances put on as entertainment for the soldiers and their families. Leslie and Phine used to play hockey together and also would go to dance lessons held on Tuesdays at the ‘Old Tin Hut’. It  was here where they first set eyes on each other and their love for each began. 

Uncle  Mick and Pat.

About the author

I have always been interested in engineering, especially agricultural and construction machinery. This is also reflected in my enthusiasm for world history and the machinery used in both world wars, from tanks to aircrafts. In recent years I have become more engrossed in the human side of war, reading both soldiers’ and civilians’ memoirs. These books have given me a fascinating insight into how peoples’ will to survive and ability to adapt enabled them to get through the brutality of war. I also enjoy learning about social history through historical artefacts – being able to hold history in your hands is amazing.


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