The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (411867) Flight Lieutenant James Henry Cox, 43 Squadron, Royal Australian Airforce, Second World War

Accession Number PAFU2013/005.01
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 August 2013
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

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial every 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 Charis May, the story for this day was on (411867) Flight Lieutenant James Henry Cox, 43 Squadron, Royal Australian Airforce, Second World War.

Speech transcript

411867 Flight Lieutenant James Henry Cox, 43 Squadron
KIA 14 December 1944
Photograph: P06321.001

Story delivered 17 August 2013

Today, we remember and pay tribute to Flight Lieutenant James Henry Cox.

Jim Cox was born in Sydney on the 18th of January 1919. In May 1940 he married Barbara, and was working as a clerk in the Commonwealth Censor's Office in Canberra at the outbreak of the Second World War.

Cox enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force in June 1941 at the age of 22. He completed his flying training nearly a year later and was promoted to Sergeant Wireless Operator Air Gunner. On the 30th of April 1942 Cox was commissioned as a pilot officer, and six months later was promoted again to flight officer. He was then posted to 3 Communications Unit at Mascot airfield in Sydney. His wife moved to Sydney to be near him, and during this time they had a daughter, Ann.

In 1944 Flight Lieutenant Cox passed the conversion training to fly Catalinas and was posted to No. 43 Squadron. He left his family in Sydney and began active flying duties from No. 43 Squadron's base in Darwin.

In December 1944 he was a member of the crew of Catalina A24-64. On 14 December they departed Leyte Island in the Philippines, bound for Manila Bay on a mission to lay mines from the air. The target was known to be well-defended, but details of that defence were unknown. Twenty-three aircraft left on the mission at the same time, but to avoid problems from unknown defenders, each flew independently to the target, intending to take a "devious route" and regroup after releasing their mines. The target area was cloudless, and visibility was good. Most of the pilots experienced little difficulty on approach to the target. But when the mission was completed, it was found that two of the aircraft had failed to return. One was Catalina A24-64 with Jim Cox and his crew.

Despite comprehensive searches carried out in the area, no information concerning the aircraft was ever found, and eventually it was concluded that "hope can no longer be entertained that he will be found alive", and Flight Lieutenant James Henry Cox was concluded to have been killed in action.

Jim Cox was fondly remembered by his family. His grandson, when he was old enough, was given Jim's medals by his grandmother. He was most interested in what Jim's brother remembered of him, and was "tremendously proud of his part in the war".

James Henry Cox's name is on the Labuan Memorial in Malaysia and his name is also listed on the Roll of Honour here, on my left, along with more than 40,000 others from the Second World War. His photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

This is but one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Flight Lieutenant James Henry Cox, and all those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (411867) Flight Lieutenant James Henry Cox, 43 Squadron, Royal Australian Airforce, Second World War (video)