The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

Trooper Robert Cox

Ancestor Details

Name of Ancestor: Robert Henry Cox

Ancestor's date of birth: 21/09/1879

Ancestor's date of death: 01/03/1958

Cause of Death: natural causes

Service Number: 1010

Colony or State of enlistment: NSW, Place of Enlistment: Mudgee

Unit: 3rd? NSW Imperial Bushmen

Rank attained in Boer War: TPR, Date Effective: On enlistment

Highest Rank attained (if served after war): No evidence of post war service

Murray Page: 150

Contingent: Fifth New South Wales (May have been part of an earlier contingent)

Ship: Custodian or Maplemore, Date of Sailing: 23/04/1900

Memorial details: buried Kyogle cemetary 1958

Decorations: QSA and 4 clasps KSA and 2 clasps

Personal Characteristics: Detail not provided

Reasons to go and fight: Detail not provided

Details of service in war: May 1900 - May 1902 in west then east Transvaal (3 NSWIB); elswhere too.

Service and life after the Boer War: Returned to Australia: mid 1902 on Ansonia or 11 August 1902 on Drayton Grange. After completing family history tree, I found many new members of my ancesters in mudgee. They said they had lost contact with robert in early 1903 after he reportedly came back from south africa. He went to QLD and returned to NSW around 1930 and was rportedly given a soldiers settlement land at Sherwood, near grevilia NSW. After finding this information, an elderly member of my family said the last post was played at his funeral at kyogle in 1958. A search of records show a Robert Harold Cox served in the boer war, No. 1010. There are two service numbers showing in these details (3 NSWIB was a composite unit, and numbers at that time were unit specific [webmaster]). It is possibly an error made during his enlistment. I do have a photo of him dressed in a uniform that was required around that period. [Darrell Cox]


Some mystery has surrounded trooper Robert Henry Cox. He first receives a mention as Robert Cox in the Sydney Morning Herald in the issue of 20 march 1900 as having been passed fit for service with the Bushmen; which Bushmen is not clear as the NSW Citizens Bushmen sailed in April 1900 whilst the NSW Imperial Bushmen in May. He does not figure on either unit's roll in Murray but when he emerges into the light once more it is as no 1010 trooper Robert Cox of the 3rd NSW Imperial Bushmen. A comparison of regimental numbers shows that 1010 is more likely to relate to 1stNSWIB than the Citizens Bushmen (Citizens Bushmen numbers are relatively much lower and there are numbers either side of 1010 in the NSWIB)

The 3rd NSW Imperial Bushmen is a unique unit. It was formed in South Africa at Klerksdorp from two sources. That is drafts (reinforcements) for 1st NSW Imperial Bushmen and NSW Citizens Bushmen. As the tour of duty for those units were coming to an end it was decided that the drafts were not required and they became the corps of the new unit. As well soldiers who were finishing tours with other units including perhaps some non Australians were also invited to sign up for another tour and posted to 3NSWIB. Looking at the 3NSWIB roll it can be seen that a considerable number of its officers came from 1St NSWIB a further pointer perhaps for Robert Cox serving in that unit.

But the mystery deepens as a search of the roll of the 2nd Battalion Imperial Light Horse shows that a trooper Robert Harold Cox was enlisted at Port Elizabeth 11 September 1901 and discharged at Pietermaritzburg on completion of service 1st April 1902. His records in that unit show both 1010 and 38512 were his allotted numbers. Firstly Robert Cox 3NSWIB and Robert Harold Cox 2ILH is one and the same person, as it is inconceivable that two Robert Cox's would appear with the same 1010 serial number. 38512 is his allocated number for the Imperial Light Horse. The 'Harold' issue is simple as for that generation anyone christened Henry was usually called 'Harry'. The ILH roll book compiler on learning that Cox's second name was 'Harry" simply recorded 'Harold' not 'Henry' in the roll book.

The bigger issue is how he could serve in 2ILH at the same time as he was supposed to be in 3NSWIB. Again the answer is simple and equally highlights an issue that Australia would mull over and fix by World War One. That is, Australian units were an Imperial resource to be used or broken up at the discretion of the British Commander in Chief. Both units were brigaded together for a period in 1901. Therefore if ILH were short of experienced soldiers for an operation, troopers would be drafted from 3NSWIB to make up the numbers. Unit members could then be separated from their parent unit for a significant time and thus were taken onto the ILH roll book for administrative reasons. Completing his service with ILH he then returned to his parent unit and so returned in August of 1902, thus Robert Henry (Harold) Cox was discharged from the ILH so that he could return to Australia with his parent unit.

The National Archives of Australia series B5197 notes his eligibility for the KSA and clasps South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902. Assuming that he did serve in 1st Imperial Bushmen he would have received the QSA and four clasps. (Probably Rhodesia, Transvaal, Orange Free State and Cape Colony)

Descendant Details

Name of Descendant: Darrell James Cox, Shoalhaven Heads NSW
Relationship to Ancestor: grandson


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RUSI of NSW Boer War Battlefields