The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2567) Private Graham Rodgers Cox, 15th Australian Machine Gun Company, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.94
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 4 April 2018
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use
Description

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on (2567) Private Graham Rodgers Cox, 15th Australian Machine Gun Company, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

2567 Private Graham Rodgers Cox, 15th Australian Machine Gun Company, AIF
Story delivered 4 April 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Graham Rodgers Cox.

Graham Cox was born in 1895 in Wedderburn, Victoria, to William and Elizabeth Cox. His father was a minister, and in 1906 the family moved to Kyabram so that he could take up a position in the Presbyterian church there. Graham completed his basic schooling at the local state school in Kyabram before studying at Scotch College in Melbourne. He was well known around Kyabram as “a fine, manly young fellow,” and was “one of Kyabram’s best footballers”. Graham Cox was enthusiastically engaged in a number of different societies around Kyabram, including the local fire brigade, the brass band, the Presbyterian church choir, and cycling competitions. He went on to work as an engineer.

Graham Cox tried to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force shortly after the outbreak of war, but at 5 foot 3 or 160 centimetres tall, was turned down for being below the minimum height. When enlistment restrictions were relaxed, Cox was quick to enlist in June 1916. Before he left Kyabram a big social gathering was held to wish him the best. He was presented with a number of small gifts, and in speeches he was praised as a man who was “fearless, honest and eminently truthful, and a mass of nerve and muscle”.

The captain of the local fire brigade said that “if Graham turned out as good a soldier as a fireman, then he would be an excellent one and [would] have a lively time.”
He underwent a period of training in Australia before leaving for active service overseas with reinforcements to the 14th Battalion in September 1915. He was first sent to Egypt, and from there to the Gallipoli Peninsula, where he served for only a few weeks before the evacuation.

On his return to Egypt, Private Cox continued training with the 14th Battalion, but in March transferred to the 4th Machine Gun Company. He was described by his fellow machine-gunners as “a real sport and an excellent chap … he excelled in running, winning the company event prior to leaving Egypt for France [and he] was a fine footballer.” Shortly after his arrival in France, Cox was transferred for the last time, to the 15th Machine Gun Company.

On 19 July 1916 one section of four Vickers guns from the 15th Machine Gun Company prepared positions to support an operation near the French village of Fromelles. They were in position by 5 pm, and within an hour and a half had suffered 17 casualties and lost two of their guns.

Private Cox was a member of the number two gun team and went up to the front line with five others, all singing. They were sitting in the front line together, waiting for the attack to start when a high explosive shell landed in their midst, killing all six instantly. Their bodies were later retrieved and buried in Bois Grenier Cemetery near Fleurbaix. Today Private Graham Cox is buried in the Rue-du-Bois Military Cemetery in Fleurbaix. He was 21 years old.

Graham Cox was one of four brothers to serve during the war. Two returned to Australia, but another, Lyle Cox, died of wounds five days after the Armistice in 1918.
Their names are listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among almost 62,000 Australians who died while serving in the First World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Graham Rodgers Cox, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2567) Private Graham Rodgers Cox, 15th Australian Machine Gun Company, AIF, First World War. (video)