The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (PM2920) Ordinary Signalman Colin Charles Cox, HMAS Goorangai, Second World War

Place Oceania: Australia, Victoria, Mornington Peninsula, Portsea
Accession Number PAFU2014/477.01
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 17 December 2014
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
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 Robyn Siers, the story for this day was on (PM2920) Ordinary Signalman Colin Charles Cox, HMAS Goorangai, Second World War.

Speech transcript

PM2920 Ordinary Signalman Colin Charles Cox, HMAS Goorangai
Accidentally killed 20 November 1940
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 17 December 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Ordinary Signalman Colin Charles Cox of the Royal Australian Navy.

Colin Cox was born on 17 January 1913 in Elsternwick, Victoria, to Charles and Grace Cox. Little is known of his early life, except that on the outbreak of the Second World War he was unmarried and living in East Brighton. He had enlisted in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve and was called up for active duty in August 1940. Cox was eventually posted to HMAS Goorangai.

In early November 1940 a British ship and an American freighter were lost in quick succession in Bass Strait to German mine-laying operations. HMAS Goorangai was one of a number of minesweepers sent to locate and destroy the mines. After two weeks on that operation the minesweeper returned to Queenscliff. But a rising storm sent the ship to the safer harbour of Portsea.

As the Goorangai passed in darkness through the dangerous rip at the mouth of Port Philip Bay she was hit by an outbound merchant ship and torn almost in half. A crewman on the ship that hit the Goorangai reported: “In the short time it took me to run along the promenade deck to the rail by the bridge the Goorangai had disappeared. There was not a sound but the crash of water.” In that moment in between, some eyewitnesses heard men calling for help, but could do little for them.

Flotation devices were thrown out into the darkness, and lifeboats deployed immediately, but despite a long search no survivors or bodies were found. The minesweeper had sunk almost immediately with all hands still on board.
Over the following weeks diving operations recovered the bodies of five of the crew. The remaining 19, including Colin Cox, were never recovered, and the wreck of the minesweeper was blown up to clear the channel.

Colin was deeply mourned by his parents, sister, family, and friends. On the fifth anniversary of his death a notice posted in the newspaper remembered him with the words: “Our thoughts are fair today, dear Col, but what a wonderful memory we have left”.

The names of Colin Cox and the crew of HMAS Goorangai are listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with some 40,000 others from the Second World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Ordinary Signalman Colin Charles Cox, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

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