1914
1918

Victor Brabazon Cox

1874–1938

Black and white photo of young man in uniform.
Victor Brabazon Cox [1874–1938]. Photograph by Swiss Studios, Sydney, 1916. Meroogal Collection, Sydney Living Museums
Victor Brabazon Cox was 42 years old in August 1916 when he enlisted as a gunner in the AIF. He was Clerk of Petty Sessions at Nowra, in the Shoalhaven district of NSW.

Cox had joined the NSW public service in 1894 as a general clerk, working in the Master in Lunacy office based in Chancery Square, the rather grand name given at that time to the area surrounding Hyde Park Barracks. His first appointment as Clerk of Petty Sessions was to Kurri Kurri and Cessnock in 1907, and it was from Cessnock that he was transferred to Nowra in June 1914. In Nowra he became friendly with the Thorburn family living at Meroogal and also with the related Macgregor and Barnet families in Cambewarra and Wollongong.

Cox saw action in France in 1917 before being invalided to England at the end of that year. He spent most of 1918 at the headquarters of the Reserve Brigade, Australian Artillery, in Heytesbury, Wiltshire. In August 1918 he wrote to Minnie Macgregor (1874–1918), the second daughter of Roderick Macgregor and his wife Mary Susan, nee Thorburn. Mary Susan and Roderick were living next door to Meroogal in a house called Kintore while Minnie was living with her elder sister Jessie Barnet at the Presbyterian Manse in Wollongong.

In his letter, Cox thanked Minnie for her latest parcel, a package of ‘very nice honeycomb and sugar’. He also warned her against writing to a ‘lonely soldier’ in Bulford Hospital, a specialist venereal disease hospital on Salisbury Plain, explaining only that it was not a very creditable place to be and that there were ‘some very objectionable fellows amongst our men’. Minnie had responded to the appeal of the Lonely Soldiers’ League, established in 1915 to find pen pals – particularly pen pals who might send parcels of newspapers, socks, bootlaces or chocolate – for thousands of Australian soldiers listed as having no near kin. Cox himself was a bachelor but he had family, including a sister living on the island of Jersey. His August 1918 letter to Minnie may have been the last that she received from him. She died of pneumonia on 23 October 1918 at The Manse, Wollongong, aged 44. Victor Cox returned to Australia in 1919 and married in 1924.