Doug Cox of Victor Harbor served in the Australian Infantry Forces during WWII fighting the Japanese

Portrait of SX31702 Private Lancelot Bruce Cox taken in November 1943, prior to his embarkation overseas to New Guinea. Photo from the Cox and Milnes collection.

Portrait of SX31702 Private Lancelot Bruce Cox taken in November 1943, prior to his embarkation overseas to New Guinea. Photo from the Cox and Milnes collection.

Lancelot Bruce (Doug) Cox was born on September 19, 1924 at Walkerville, the youngest of six children of Roy and Myrtle Cox (nee Mitchell), who later moved to Victor Harbor.

Doug was working as a carpenter's apprentice prior to his enlistment in the militia forces on January 5, 1943.

He underwent his initial training at Woodside, South Australia followed by further infantry training at Watsonia, Victoria and on completion Private Cox was posted to the 2/18th Infantry Battalion at Gan Gan, NSW.

In June, 1943, Pte Cox requested a transfer to the Australian Infantry Forces (AIF). At this time soldiers in the Australian Militia Forces could only be used in the defence of the Australian mainland, whereas soldiers in the AIF could be sent overseas.

Sent to the Infantry Training Centre at Canungra, Queensland, he arrived there on October 10 for five weeks of rigorous jungle warfare training. The training was hard, intense and often dangerous as live ammunition was used in training exercises. Injuries were a common day occurrence.

On December 20, 1943 he embarked for Lae, New Guinea, arriving there on December 26, 1943. After arrival the reinforcements laboured unloading ships at the harbour and on January 11, 1944, Pte Cox was transferred to the 2/17th Infantry Battalion, A Company, 7 Platoon.

The Battalion had been engaged in fighting the Japanese and had pushed them across the Masaweng River.

In February, 1944, Pte Cox was granted proficiency pay as a sniper. After clearing the enemy from its area of operations the Battalion returned to Australia arriving in Brisbane on March 10, 1944.

After some leave the Battalion reassembled at Mount Garnet in the Atherton Tablelands and underwent intensive training in readiness for its return overseas.

The Battalion embarked from Townsville on May 6, 1945 and landed unopposed at Morotai, Netherlands East Indies on May 16.

The troops then received further instruction in Japanese mines and the use of flamethrowers as final arrangements were made for Operation OBOE 6, the recapture of Borneo and Labuan, including the huge oilfields, from the Japanese.

On June 10, 1945 at 0915 hours, the first wave landed on the beaches in North Borneo, but met no initial opposition from the enemy. As the Battalion advanced towards their objectives of Brunei Town and Brooketon there were sporadic skirmishes with pockets of Japanese and these were mopped up.

When they entered the town, they found evidence of Japanese atrocities against the natives and Allied POWs. As the Battalion continued to secure their area of operations, they encountered further opposition from the enemy and eliminated it.

Patrols were sent upriver to establish outposts and on June 27, 1945 a group, including Pte Cox, departed by canoe to Kuala Beulai where they established a patrol outpost close to a Dyak native village and commenced sending reports of enemy movements to headquarters.

In early July, Pte Cox was evacuated suffering with a malaria relapse, but returned to his platoon four days later. On July 25, Doug's company commander informed him that his older brother Bill, had been killed in action in New Guinea, two days before.

Extensive patrolling continued to be carried out until the Japanese surrender on August 14 and thereafter the Battalion maintained defensive positions. It was not until September 20, 1945 that the Japanese on the island formally surrendered to the Australian forces.

Pte Cox returned to Australia, arriving in Adelaide on December 10, 1945 and was demobilised from the 2nd AIF on January 2, 1946.

Doug resumed his employment as a carpenter, married Avon Willard and they had two children. He established himself as a successful builder on the south coast.


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