James Trafford (Traff) COWAN


COWAN, James Trafford

Service Number: SX7833
Enlisted: 5 July 1940, Wayville, South Australia
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 2nd/3rd Machine Gun Battalion
Born: Hawker, South Australia, 19 July 1899
Home Town: Tailem Bend, Murray Bridge, South Australia
Schooling: Prince Alfred College
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Died of Illness (POW of Japan), Thailand, 21 July 1943, aged 44 years
Cemetery: Kanchanaburi War Cemetery
Plot: 1. Q. 21
Memorials: Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Tailem Bend and District Honour Roll
Show Relationships

World War 2 Service

5 Jul 1940: Enlisted 2nd AIF WW 2, Private, SN SX7833, Wayville, South Australia
6 Jul 1940: Involvement 2nd AIF WW 2, Private, SN SX7833, 2nd/3rd Machine Gun Battalion
28 Feb 1942: Imprisoned Malaya/Singapore
21 Jul 1943: Involvement 2nd AIF WW 2, Sergeant, SN SX7833, 2nd/3rd Machine Gun Battalion, Prisoners of War
Date unknown: Involvement

Help us honour James Trafford Cowan's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

James Trafford Cowan (known as Traff) came from Fernleigh, Lucindale, and later after marrage, lived at Poltalloch Station, in South Australia. He married Mary Rosamund Bowman, who was the eldest daughter of Keith Bowman.

Mary was very involved the the breeding and training of raceing horses, which she did under Traff's name, even though he had minimal to do with the physical side of things. Before, and even when he was at war the horses had many sucesses, including Navarino winning the Queens Birthday Cup in Adelaide three years in a row, while Grenican Queen and Grenican Princess also brought in some good wins. In October 1943 Navarion was kicked in the head by anouther horse and killed.

On the 5th July 1940, Traff enlisted in the AIF at Wayville, SA. He was too old to be accepted, so he gave the fake birthday of 19 July 1901, when he really was born in 1899. He was placed into the 2/3 Machine Gun Battilion, which departed for Egypt to undertake training.

In 1941, the battilion joined the 7th Division, at Palestine, in prepreation to invade Syria. On the 8th of June, they became involved in heavy fighting. The Syrian campain was short, so the A Company (this must be the one Traff was in) supported the 2/2 Pioneer battilion attack on Fort Merdjayoun in June. On the 11th July fighting ceased, and the Battilion stayed in Syria as a occupation force fr the rest of the year.

With Japan entering the war, the battilion was summoned back to Australia, and set sail on the 1st of Febuary. However before they got far British forces surrendered in Singapore, and the Battilion was sent to Java to become part of "Blackforce".

On the 28th Febuary the Japanese landed at Java, and on the 4th March Blackforce got into action, however that lasted two days, and then on the 9th Blackforce surrendered. However the Battilions B Company was back in Australia at the time, and they were the foundation of the new 2/3 Battilion.

Traff was sent to the Thai-Burma Railway, where he worked untill his death from an illness on the 21st of July 1943.

It is said that while he was a POW he became friends with Weary Dunlope, who kept pictures of Traff's kids with him after his death.


* Some of this information was sorced straight from - https://www.awm.gov.au/unit/U56172/ (www.awm.gov.au)

Inscription: SX7833 Royal Australian Artillery 2/3 Machine Gun Battalion

Note: Age 44 Dearly loved husband of Mary Cowan of "Poltalloch" Sth. Australia.