COX, Sergeant Peter Ingham (VX25746)

Enlistment photograph of VX25746 Peter Ingham COX taken from his service file. We are seeking a better quality photograph of Peter.

Peter Ingham COX was born in Adelaide on 5 October 1913, the youngest of three sons of Frederick Ingham COX and Daisy Mary Priscilla COX (nee STEVENSON). Peter was most likely educated at St Peters College as the records of the University of Adelaide reveal his eldest brother Carlton (born 1908) distinguished himself at the Leaving Honours Examination 1925, attaining the 17th ranking in the State.

         Second brother Lancelot Ingham COX (born 1909) was a surveyor when he died as a result of an accident whilst inspecting a sewer with another Sewers Department employee (later the Engineering & Water Supply Department) at Thebarton on 12 May 1932.

Peter was single and a commercial artist living in Hawthorn, Victoria when he enlisted in the 2nd AIF on 12 June 1940. Peter had earlier studied art at the South Australian School of Arts, and later the Melbourne Technical College, followed by study at the Bell-Shore School of Painting, the only Melbourne school purporting to teach modernist principles. He attended this school sometime between 1932-1936 when the school was in operation.

Peter underwent basic training at No 6 A.I.F. Depot at Dandenong and on 2 July 1940, was posted to the 2/1st Australian Topographical Survey Company as a cartographer; this unit was formerly known as the 2/1st Corps Field Survey Company RAE.

On 6 February 1941, Peter embarked aboard the ship VX3 from Port Melbourne, bound for the Middle East. The ship docked on 17 March 1941. The task of the survey unit was to provide survey and mapping to the Australian Corps in the Middle East theatre including Greece, Egypt, Cyrenaica and the border zones of Palestine, Syria, Trans-Jordan and Turkey.

Not much is known about the 2/1st Topo Survey Company, its war diary is not yet available for viewing online at the Australian War Memorial. However, it would have been attached to the HQ of the Australian 6th Division and when the headquarters of the Division sailed for Greece in April 1941, the 2/1st remained behind as they were not listed on the order of battle in that campaign.

Peter was admitted to the 23rd Scottish General Hospital on 23 August 1941, the nature of his illness is unknown. He was discharged to the 1st Australian Convalescence Depot on 10 October, returning to his unit on 14 November.

Following the entry of Japan into the war, the Australian Government recalled troops form the Middle east and Peter’s unit embarked from Suez aboard the RMS Andeson 18 February 1942. The ship sailed independently – her top speed was 24 knots (45 km/h), on 27 February she reached Colombo; on 2 March, AndesOrcadesand Strathallan, all carrying troops, left Colombo as the unescorted Convoy SU-3. The convoy dispersed at sea and Andes, with 3,200 troops continued independently to Australia. She docked at Fremantle on 10-12 March, Adelaide on 15-16 March and reached Melbourne on 17 March. Peter had disembarked at Port Adelaide.

Peter was attached to the 4th Military District Personnel Depot until 7 April when he was granted leave until 14 April. On completion of his leave, he entrained to Brisbane and re-joined the 2/1st Topo Survey Company.

On 14 October 1942, Peter was promoted acting corporal following his grading as a Group 1 Draughtsman. His rank of corporal was later confirmed as being substantive on 14 January 1943.

         The 2/1st Topo Survey Coy must have been located on the Atherton Tablelands as Peter was evacuated to the 2/2nd Australian General Hospital on 2 December 1944 which is where the hospital had been based since January 1943. No specific illness is recorded in his service file, merely “for investigation”. He returned to his unit on 20 December. On 22 December 1944, Peter was promoted to lance sergeant. This was an appointment given to a corporal so the soldier could fill the post of a sergeant.

         On 8 April 1945, the Company boarded the ship USS General H.W. Butner(AP-113) at Townsville and disembarked on Moratai on 15 April. The campaign against the Japanese to retake the Islands was in full swing. On 4 June 1945, Peter was promoted to sergeant.

         With the surrender of the Japanese on 15 August 1945, the Australian forces began a staggered repatriation home as ships became available; on 22 October, Peter embarked aboard the Kanimblaand disembarked at Brisbane on 30 October.

Post-war, Peter worked for the Postmaster General’s Department and later as a teacher at Swinburne Technical College. His art is represented in the National Gallery of Victoria.

He possibly retired in 1973, having reached the age of 60 he would have been eligible for service pension. He chose to retire to Victor Harbor, no doubt he was familiar with the town from his childhood days. Peter was a member of the Victor Harbor RSL and became a life-member in 1988. His war service medals were donated to the Sub-branch, whether this was prior to his death or after, is not known. Peter died on 5 October 1993 and was buried in the Victor Harbor Cemetery.


Service file of VX25746 Peter Ingram COX purchased from the National Archives of Australia.

Peter’s artwork we have sourced from the internet:

Instrument Study – Violin

No image available

Oil on canvas, 60 x 75.5 cm

Adelaide Festival of Arts Art Auction, Theodore Bruce Auctions, Adelaide.

Kananook Creek, Frankston

Oil on board, 44.5 x 60.5 cm

Rowing Boats and Boat Sheds

Oil on board, 55 x 79 cm

Special Sale (Art lots only), E. J. Ainger Pty Ltd, Melbourne.

Rowing Boats and Boat Sheds

Oil on board, 55 x 79 cm

Special Sale (Art lots only), E. J. Ainger Pty Ltd, Melbourne.

Spinnakers Before the Wind

No image available, Oil on canvas, 71 x 91 cm, Christies Melbourne.

Works on Paper

The Glaserium 1936

No image available

Gouache on paper, 28 x 35.5 cm

Fine Australian Painting, Sotheby’s, Melbourne

Held by the National Gallery of Victoria

River wharves(c. 1947) 

Medium: Oil on canvas

Measurements: 50.9 × 61.1 cm

Inscription: inscribed in red paint l.r.: PETER. I. COX

Accession Number: 1828-4

Department: Australian Painting

Credit Line: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1948 
© Paul Cox

Photograph of the plaque on Peter COX’s grave in the Victor Harbor Cemetery; our Research Team genealogy member (Bruce BLAIN, RAN rtd) advises “Tony” was an alternate name used for Carlton – Peter’s older brother. This photograph was taken by RSL History Research Team member Ian MILNES on 14 July 2017.

Report published in The Advertiser, edition of Thursday, 12 May 1932.