1. His military record of service held at the National Archives of Australia. As a gift to Australia, the National Archives of Australia has scanned and made available online all existing World War One service records. Joe Cox's service record runs to 48 pages.
His full name: Joseph Christopher Cox
Date of enlistment: 27 September 1916
Place of birth: Orange N.S.W.
Age on enlistment: 26 years, 9 months.
Height: 5 feet 10 inches tall [ which is tall by the standards of the era ]
Weight: 176 pounds
Chest measurement: 38 - 40 & 1/2 inches
Religious denomination: Methodist
Distinctive Marks: scar over right big toe
Trade or calling: labourer
Next of Kin: father - Francis Cox of Dubbo, NSW; mother -
Unit: Initially the Dubbo Depot Battaion and then the 17/22 Battalion ( which means the 17th Reinforcements of the 22nd Battalion, First Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F.)
His "Casualty Form - Active Service"
Shows that he embarked on the troopship Argyllshire at Sydney on 30 October 1916 and disembarked at Plymouth (U.K.) on 10 January 1917.
31.3.17 - Taken on Strength in France
5.5.17 - Wounded in Action in the field
5.5.17 - Gun Shot Wound to Right Lower Extremities
17.5.17 - Embarked for England on ship Warilda.
18.5.17 - Admitted 4th Southern General Hospital, Plymouth
20.6.17 - Discharged from 4th Southern General Hospital
4.7.17 - Reported to depot at Perham(?) Downs
26.7.17 - Departed Southampton, England
31.7.17 - Arrived Havre, France
14.8.17 - Rejoined unit
18.9.17 - Missing believed Killed - Belgium
18.9.17 - Killed In Action - Belgium
"Field Service" report states
Died 18 September 1917, Killed In Action, Belgium, particulars not yet to hand.
2. Red Cross records from the First World War held at the Australian War Memorial.
Using that search function and entering Joe Cox's service number 6063, 4 results are returned. Two of them relating to Joe Cox.
Clicking on the 2 relevant results, they yield the same digitised record. A five page file from the Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau.
Sergeant Cooper gave this information (WARNING graphic):
"He was tall, dark, and came from N.S.W.. He came over with the 17th to 22nd as reinforcement. He was killed with 6 others by a shell in a Dugout at Ypres, near Westhoek Ridge on 18th September, 1917. We left that night and did not find them till three days afterwards when we went back to the same place. I saw the remains that had been dug out; Cox's head was blown right off; we could only recognise him by his disc. They buried them near the Dugout. Lt. Tyles of the 22nd was in charge of the burial party. Nothing was put on the grave at the time as far as I know. We left the next night day."
3. Collections Search at the Australian War Memorial sometimes yields photographs or relics relating to a serviceperson. Let's search for his service number "6063" and select from the conflict drop down menu as "First World War 1914-1918. There are no results.
Next I tried searching for "Joseph Cox" during the First World War - again there was no result.
We learn too that 22nd Battalion was part of the 6th Brigade of the 2nd Division. Useful facts to keep in mind if ever reading some of the larger histories of the war.
Reading the war diaries gives a very good idea of the day to day activities of Joe Cox and his fellow infantrymen. It mentions their movements, actions and in particular detail their training.
Let's look at the one for September and see what it has to say about 18 September 1917, the day of his death.
Citation [ AWM4, 24/38/25 - September 1917 ]
PLACE: In Line WESTHOEK RIDGE - In Camps and Bivouacs as Div. Reserve.
Summary of Events & Information: In the line during the day. Relieved on night 18/19th by 18th Bn. A.I.F.on left portion of Bn. sector and 25th Bn. A.I.F. on right portion of Bn. sector. Bn. moved back to HALIFAX AREA H.14.b. (Sheet 2.[?] N.W. 1/2000) Bn. occupied huts in VANCOUVER CAMP. Casualties 1 Off. (Lieut. G. O. GREIG) 20 O.R. killed and 49 O.R.'s wounded by shell fire.
So that's it. Joe Cox was one of 21 men of the 22nd Battalion killed by shell fire that night.
5. Collections search at the State Library of New South Wales.
The SLNSW holds an enormous amount of information about people who were born in or lived in New South Wales. This includes a large collection of photographs of Firs World War service personnel. It's often useful to search their collection to see if there is anything relevant there. I searched for "Joseph Cox A.I.F." and "Private Joseph Cox" but there was no result in either case.
6. The AIF project.
The Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) hosts The AIF Project: "Its major activity is the construction of a database that draws on a wide range of sources to provide details on the 330,000 men and women who served overseas in the (First) Australian Imperial Force, 1914-1918."
and searching the database we find that there is a page for Joe Cox.
It repeats much of the information we now already know, but adds the detail of his burial gravesite in Belgium and also that he is
"Commemorated in Dubbo (Old) Cemetery, New South Wales. Headstone states place of death as 'Westhoek Ridge, France [sic]'. Parents: Francis (d. 14 April 1918, aged 64; bu. Dubbo [Old] Cemetery) and Martha COX (d. 13 November 1948, aged 93; bu. Dubbo [Old] Cemetery), Dubbo, New South Wales"
7. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Back to where we began our search for "Joe Cox - died in first war"
The Commonwealth War Grave Commission commemorates the war dead of British Commonwealth Nations. (Defining this is a bit tricky, but Australian service people from 1914 onwards are certainly included.)
And here is an aerial view of the cemetery:
View Larger Mapp>
Lest we forget.