Charles Frederick Cox

Major General Charles Frederick Cox, CB, CMG, DSO, VD (2 May 1863 – 20 November 1944) was an Australian Army officer and politician. He retired in 1923 as an honorary major general.

Charles Frederick Cox

Portrait of Brigadier General Charles Cox, 1921
Senator for New South Wales
In office
1 July 1920  30 June 1938
Personal details
Born(1863-05-02)2 May 1863
Pennant Hills, New South Wales
Died20 November 1944(1944-11-20) (aged 81)
Croydon, New South Wales
Political partyNationalist Party of Australia
Military service
Nickname(s)Fighting Charlie
Branch/serviceAustralian Army
Years of service1891–1923
RankMajor General
CommandsNew South Wales Lancers
3rd New South Wales Mounted Rifles
6th Light Horse Regiment
1st Light Horse Brigade
4th Light Horse Brigade
1st Cavalry Division
Battles/warsSecond Boer War

First World War

AwardsCompanion of the Order of the Bath
Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George
Distinguished Service Order
Volunteer Decoration
Mentioned in Despatches (5)

Early life

Charles Frederick Cox was born on 2 May 1863 at Pennant Hills, New South Wales.[1] He was a grandson of William Cox. He was educated in Parramatta and became a clerk with the New South Wales Railways traffic audit branch in 1881.[2]

Cox enlisted in the New South Wales Lancers in 1891 and was commissioned as a lieutenant in 1894. In 1897 he was chosen to head a detachment of the regiment in the ceremonies for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.[1] He married Minnie Elizabeth Gibbons on 7 March 1894. Promoted to captain in 1897, he travelled to England again in 1899 in command of a squadron of the lancers for training with the British cavalry.[2]

Boer War

The squadron was training alongside the 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers) at Aldershot, England, when the Boer War broke out. Cox volunteered himself and his squadron for service in South Africa.[2] Some 70 of his men went to South Africa; another 31, for various reasons, did not, and returned to Australia. Cox and his volunteers arrived in Cape Town in December 1899 and were the first colonial volunteers to arrive in Cape Town.[1][2]

The squadron saw only limited action throughout their first tour, but did take part in the last major battle of the war, the Battle of Paardeberg, on 18 February 1900. In May 1900, Cox was attached to the Inniskilling Dragoons, under the command of Major Edmund Allenby.[2][3]

The lancers returned to Australia in December 1900.[1] Cox was promoted to major and given command of the newly formed 3rd New South Wales Mounted Rifles, with which he returned to South Africa in April 1901.[1] In June he was made an honorary lieutenant colonel.[1] In the latter half of 1901, Cox's regiment joined part of a force led by Colonel Michael Rimington.[2] They covered 1,814 miles in 153 days. There was little action apart from the occasional skirmish, but these cost the regiment 5 killed and 19 wounded.

While the British regulars had doubts about Cox's competence in 1899, by the end of the war in 1902 Cox had earned considerable accolades from Colonel Rimington. From his men he had earned the nickname "Fighting Charlie".[2]

For his service during the war, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the South Africa honours list published on 26 June 1902,[4] and received the decoration from the Prince of Wales during a large coronation parade of colonial troops in London on 1 July 1902.[5]

Cox remained with the lancers, which became the 1st Light Horse in 1903. He became the commander in 1906 and was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 2 April 1908. In 1911 Cox was transferred to the unattached officer list.[1]

First World War

In September 1914, Cox was appointed to command the AIF's 6th Light Horse Regiment.[2] The regiment trained in Sydney and Egypt before arriving at Gallipoli for dismounted service on 19 May 1915. Two days later, Cox was wounded by shrapnel[6] while in his dugout. He was evacuated and did not rejoin his regiment until 1 July.[2] When Brigadier General Chauvel took over the New Zealand and Australian Division on 19 September, Cox became acting commander of the 1st Light Horse Brigade.[1] On 6 December 1915 the appointment became permanent and Cox was promoted to colonel and temporary brigadier general.[1] He held this post for the duration of the war.

The 1st Light Horse Brigade arrived back in Egypt on 28 December 1915. The brigade was sent to Wadi Natrun, south west of Cairo, to protect the Kataba Canal against the Senussi. On 11 February 1916, the brigade, less the 3rd Light Horse Regiment, entrained for Minia. They remained there until May, patrolling the area for signs of the Senussi.

In May Cox went to England on sick leave.[2] He rejoined his brigade on 26 August 1916 on the Suez Canal front, where they now formed part of Chauvel's ANZAC Mounted Division. Cox and his brigade took part in multiple actions during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, including the Battle of Magdhaba, Battle of Beersheba and captured the town of Jericho.


Cox returned to Australia on 13 March 1919.[1] In 1920 he was elected to the Senate as a Nationalist representing New South Wales, a seat he held until 1938. He travelled widely through New South Wales and became well known and popular. As a senator, he took an interest in defence policy, the development of the railway system, and the construction of the new national capital in Canberra.[2]

Cox was appointed to command the 4th Light Horse Brigade in 1920, and then the 1st Cavalry Division in 1921. In 1923 he was transferred to the retired list with the rank of honorary major general.[1]

He died at Croydon on 20 November 1944 and was buried in the Carlingford Cemetery with full military honours.[2]


  1. "Brigadier General Charles Frederick Cox, CB CMG DSO VD". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  2. Hill, A. J. (1981). "Cox, Charles Frederick (1863–1944)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  3. "Cox, Charles Frederick (1863–1944)". Obituaries Australia. Australian National University. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  4. "No. 27448". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 June 1902. pp. 4191–4192.(mistakenly gazetted as C. W. Cox)
  5. "The Prince and the Colonial Contingents". The Times (36809). London. 2 July 1902. p. 12.
  6. "Lieutenant Colonel (Later Major General) Charles Cox CB, CMG, DSO, VD". National Boer War Memorial Association. Archived from the original on 10 March 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
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