John Acton (Ac) COX

Poppy

COX, John Acton

Service Numbers: Not yet discovered
Enlisted: 14 November 1940, Torrens Hall, SA
Last Rank: Not yet discovered
Last Unit: Not yet discovered
Born: Red Hill, South Australia, 26 July 1907
Home Town: Maylands, Norwood Payneham St Peters, South Australia
Schooling: Koolunga School, South Australia
Occupation: Farm labourer
Died: Killed in action, Egypt, 31 October 1942, aged 35 years
Cemetery: El Alamein War Cemetery
Plot A II Row C Grave 20.
Memorials: Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Koolunga War Memorial, Lameroo Oval Memorial Gates
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World War 2 Service

14 Nov 1940: Enlisted Torrens Hall, SA
26 Nov 1940: Enlisted Adelaide, SA

‘He gave his life for us. Now Resting.’

John was born at ‘Springfield’ Red Hill, near Pirie in South Australia on the 26th July 1907. He was one of three sons of Benjamin and Catherine Elizabeth Cox with his brothers being Benjamin Richard Daniel and Mervyn. The family lived in Koolunga, a cereal growing rural area which had its own small school. The family moved to live closer to Adelaide where John was just 16 when his 68-year-old father, Benjamin died at Maylands, an eastern suburb of Adelaide.
A young woman, Lorna Harwood, who lived at Brighton, was a regular at dances including for the local football, guides and scouts. She and John married in the Chalmers Church on North Terrace on the 6th April ’29 when she was 19 and John 21.
The following year John shared a room with a William Buckland at South Terrace in the city. Unfortunately John left his wristlet watch on the dressing table but it disappeared, to be found later in the shop of a second hand dealer. The ‘friend’ was duly prosecuted and John’s watch returned.
John headed to Lameroo as a farm labourer where his skills in football saw him quicky selected to play in the local competition for Smithville and to later be selected in the representative team as a speedy full forward. In the summer months, he proved to also been a competent all-round cricketer. It was unfortunate for John that he and another roust-about from Kulkami both visited friends staying as boarders at the Commercial Hotel. The five had planned to share a few beers together and headed back to one of the rooms. However, not being paying boarders, complaints were made and the social event became a costly exercise. Both the defendants pleaded guilty by letter and their cases 'were ex-parte. Each was fined £2, reduced to 30/-, with 10/- costs’ according to the Pinnaroo and Border Times of March ’38.
With the outbreak of WWII John enlisted to serve on the 14th November ’40 being given the number SX10362 and allocated to the 2/48th Battalion. He was 33 years old. At that stage he nominated his mother Catherine Cheel, who had remarried, to be his next of kin. John’s initial days were spent in the cold of the Pavilions, now part of the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds before he and other new enlistees headed to Woodside for their preliminary training. He left Australia in March ’41. By the start of April 1941, the 2/48th were in Tobruk where the dust, flies, heat, minimal water supplies and constant bombardment were quite a challenge to new enlistees. They were to become the famed Rats of Tobruk. Conditions were ever-changing and the fighting continuous.
Just over two years after enlisting, John was killed in action on the 31st October, ’42, aged 35. In his book ‘Tobruk to Tarakan’ John Glenn describes that time “which was to be the most bitter and bloody fighting of the war. When next the sun drove away those shadows from the desert, death would have reaped a rich harvest of gallant men. And of the 2/48th Battalion only forty-one weary troops would remain in the field.” He continued: “At zero hour, 1 a.m. 31st October, the artillery opened up with a receding barrage – one that creeps back on itself. The attack was towards the guns themselves, the enemy being between the troops and the guns… Added to this, the troops came under heavy shell fire as they were forming up, and suffered casualties before they commenced their attack… One gun was landing shells right amongst the men. As soon as the main road was reached the two leading companies came under murderous fire, and from then until they reached their objective, 2,250 yards from the start line, the whole advance was fought in fierce hand-to-hand fighting.” His final summing up was ‘Truly it can be said of these men, “They fought themselves and their enemy to a standstill until flesh and blood could stand no more, then they went on fighting.” In added high praise about those who tended the wounded and collected those killed in action “It says much for them that not one man was missing in their search over the four thousand yards from Trig 29 to the Blockhouse, or in the attack of 3,600 yards to Ring Contour 25.” An horrific battle for the proud and very brave 2/48th Battalion.
As with others killed in that encounter, John was initially buried in the field. Other men, predominantly from the 2/48th Battalion, killed in action with him included SX7832 Pte. Max C. Boase, 2/48th Millicent; SX6896 Pte. Lance Chapman, 2/48th North Moonta; SX5226 Pte. Charlie L. K. Cock, 2/43rd Solomontown; SX7260 Sgt. Charles Fraser, 2/48th Norwood; SX10466 Pte. E. L Freeman, 2/43rd, Calca; SX8651 Sgt. Lindsay R. Goode, 2/48th Malvern; SX13580 Pte. Ronald A. Grist. Inf., Port Noarlunga; SX8587 Pte. George W. Haywood, 2/48th Mount Compass: SX7249 Cpl. J. Hinson, 2/43rd, Plympton: SX310 Sgt. Alfred W G. Miller, 2/48th Ponde; SX9488 Pte. Eric L. Montgomerie, 2/48th, Edwardstown; SX7375 Sgt Charles E. Plummer, 2/48th College Park; SX7176 A-Cpl. William C. Quinn, 2/48th Bordertown; SX8113 Pte. Michael N. Riley, 2/48th Burnside; SX7298 Cpl. Harold Sandercock, 2/48th Maitland; SX7732 Ste. Clem H. Schulz, 2/48th Yorketown; SX12924 Pte. Richard Speck, 48th Blanchetown; SX849J Pte. Arthur G. Wilson, 2/48th Glanville. Some of South Australia’s finest young men, all sadly grieved, so many families’ lives changed forever.
It took some time for the formal announcement to be shared via the News on 2nd January ’43 with John one of ‘eight South Australians are reported in an Army casualty list released today, while three others have been wounded in action. All are infantrymen.’ These included Private Thomas Holmes SX9330 from Ethelton also in the 2/48th Battalion and Privates Martin Kavanagh SX15927 and Ernest Wright SX15932, both from the 2/43rd Battalion.
His cousin at Lameroo received the news of his death which was reported in the local paper in January ’43. ‘Mrs. Cliff Young has received word that her cousin, Pte J. A, Cox, had been killed in action in the Middle East on October 31, 1942. The late Pte Cox spent several years in the Lameroo district prior to his enlistment in September 1940. He sailed for overseas in March 1941, and served for eight months in Tobruk and later in Syria and Egypt The late Pte Cox played an excellent game of football, and represented Smithville in the Lameroo Association, and played at full forward in inter-association matches. He was also a keen cricketer.’
So many family, friends, fellow soldiers and relatives immediately mourned the loss of John, (nicknamed ‘Ac’ from his middle name).
Advertiser Saturday 2 January 1943, COX.—Killed in action, abroad, on October 31, 1942. Pte. John Acton Cox. His duty nobly done.—Ever remembered by Uncle Bob. Auntie Dolly, Thelma and Shirley. COX. —Sincere tribute to memory of John Acton Cox (Ac.) killed In action Oct. 31. 1942. Dear friend and pal of Edna and Frank McGill and M. Tremaine COX, Pte. John Acton. —Loving son of the late Mr. B. Cox and Mrs. C. Cheel Mayfair St, Maylands; stepson of Mr Cheel. Killed In action Oct. 31, 1942, M-E. Some day we will understand. -Inserted by mother and stepfather. COX. —In loving memory of our dear pal Ac. killed in action Oct. 31, 1942. He died as he lived Gordon and Ethel Le Cornu, Sydney COX. —Sincere tribute to our dear friend, John Acton (Ac). killed in action Oct. 31, 1942. M.E.—Ever remembered by Mavis and Bruce. COX. —In loving remembrance of our dear friend, Ac., killed in action Oct. 31, 1942. To live In hearts we leave behind is not to die —Stan and Tiny Le-Cornu. COX. —In loving memory of our dear cousin, John Acton, killed in action abroad. Oct. 31, 1942. —Ever remembered by S. Whitehorn and family. Brinkworth. COX. —In loving memory of our dear cousin, John Acton, killed in action abroad. A soldier, true and brave, his duty nobly done. —Remembered by cousins Phyll, Albert, Cyril, Elsa, Ivor, Hazel and Oliver (Snowy). AIF. Palestine.

John was reburied in March ’45 and now rests in the El Alamein War Cemetery in Plot A II Row C Grave 20. His family chose the inscription ‘He gave his life for us. Now Resting.’ He is surrounded by others from his 2/48th Battalion, Privates Ronald Grist SX13580, Andrew Warner WX14061, 27-year-old William Ridley WX9913, 38-year-old Frank Cornelius WX9930, 25-year-old L/Cpl Ronald Templeton WX9832, 24-year-old Cpl Paul Cashen SX7000, Privates 29-year-old Edward Edwards SX12876, 25-year-old SX6896 Lance Chapman and 23-year-old Thomas Holmes SX9330, 33-year-old Vincent McGahan SX6775 all of whom were killed on the 31st October ’42.
Family, friends and fellow soldiers continued to remember John on the anniversary of his death in the ensuing years.
Advertiser Monday 1 November 1943, COX. —In fond remembrance of Ac. who paid the supreme sacrifice at El Alamein, October 31. 1942. Resting in a soldier's grave, honored with Australia's brave.—His friends, Mavis, Bruce, Tiny and Stan. COX. —In loving memory of John Acton, killed in action at El Alamein. October 31. 1342. Deep In our hearts a memory is kept. —inserted by Ethel and Gordon, Sydney. COX. —Loving tribute of honor to John Acton, killed in action at EI Alamein, October 31. 1942. —Always remembered by his pals, Joy and S/Sgt. Jack Tremaine AIF. COX. —In loving memory of John Acton (Ac), who fell in action at El Alamein. October 31, 1942. We treasure the memory of happy days spent together. —Ever remembered by Mrs. M. Tremaine. Edna, Jack, N.G, Ron., N.G. COX. —In proud memory of a dear friend, John Acton Cox, killed at El Alamein, Oct. 31, 1942. Inscribe his name on the roll of fame, for he rests In a soldier's grave. —inserted by Edna and Frank McGill.
Advertiser Tuesday 31 October 1944, COX. —In loving memory of our dear son John Acton, killed in action at El Alamein. Too far away your grave to see, dear, but not too far to think of you. —inserted by mother, stepfather, and Douglas. COX. —In memory of Acton, killed in action El Alamein, October 31. 1942. A thought for today, a memory for ever. — Inserted by Cliff and Glad. Lameroo. COX. —In loving memory of Acton, killed El Alamein. October 31, 1942. — Ever remembered, Whitehorn family, Brinkworth. COX. —Pte. John Acton, killed in action at El Alamein, October 31, 1942. Gently we turn another page in our book of memories. —Ever remembered by Edna and Frank, and Mrs. Tremaine. COX.—A tribute to the memory of my pal, Acton, killed in action at El Alamein, October 31, 1942.—Always remembered by Gruff.
Advertiser Wednesday 31 October 1945, COX, John Acton.—Killed In action El Alamein. 1942. Reunited in a union that has no end. Peace perfect peace. —Inserted by his mother, stepfather and Douglas. COX. —In loving memory of my dear pal Ac. killed in action. El Alamein, October 31 1942. —Ever remembered by Gordon and Ethel (Sydney) COX, John Acton.—Killed In action El Alamein. 31/10/42. Let us be worthy of the faith for which he died. —lnserted by his friends Edna and Frank McGill, and Mrs. Tremaine. COX. —In loving memory of Ac, who made the supreme sacrifice. El Alamein, October 31, 1942. —Always remembered by Whitehorn family, Brinkworth.
Advertiser Wednesday 30 October 1946, COX, John Acton. —Killed In action. October 30. 1942. El Alamein. Memories always remain. —inserted by W Whitehorn family, Brinkworth. COX. J. A.—Killed in action. El Alamein. October 31 1942. In our hearts you are always with us, we who loved you will never forget. —lnserted by his mother, stepfather and Douglas. COX. —A tribute to the memory of my pal John Acton, killed in action. El Alamein. Oct. 31. 1942.—Always remembered by Gruff. COX. John Acton. —Killed In action; at El Alamein October 31. 1942 Memories are treasures. —Remembered always by Edna and Frank McGill. and Mrs. Tremaine. COX A tribute to the memory of my pal John Acton, killed in action, El Alamein October 31st, 1942. Always remembered by Gruff.
Advertiser Friday 31 October 1947, COX. John Acton. —Killed In action October 31 years roll on, memories stay-never forgotten by mother. COX. —In loving memory of John Acton, killed El Alamein. October 31. 1942.—Always remembered by Whitehorn family, Brinkworth.
Advertiser Saturday 30 October 1948, COX.—In loving memory of John Acton Cox, killed in action El Alamein 1942. We love him for ever with tender love and deep sorrow.—Mother.
Advertiser Monday 31 October 1949, In loving memory of Joh Acton Cox. Seven years today he passed away. Still I miss him every day and always will. Ever remembered by his mother, stepfather and Douglas.

Researched and written by Kaye Lee, daughter of Bryan Holmes SX8133, 2/48th Battalion.

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