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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Cox, Ronald Hubert (1914–1992)

by Les Hetherington

This article was published online in 2018

Ronald Hubert Cox (1914–1992), air force officer and city inspector, was born on 23 January 1914, at Knightsbridge, South Australia, only child of South Australian-born parents, Hubert Richard Cox, contractor, and his wife Eugene (Jean) Agnes Mary, née MacManus. Ronald attended (1921–32) Prince Alfred College, Adelaide, where he represented the school in rowing and obtained his leaving certificate. He commenced studying law at the University of Adelaide but withdrew and worked as a contract carrier at road-making operations in various South Australian country towns.

Of dark complexion, standing 5 feet 5 inches (165 cm) tall and weighing 154 pounds (70 kg), on 15 January 1935 Cox joined the Royal Australian Air Force as an air cadet and trained at Point Cook, Victoria. Graduating in December, he was commissioned as a pilot officer on 1 January 1936, and posted to the RAAF base, Richmond, New South Wales. On 8 August, he married Louisa Eleanor Smith at St. Thomas’ Church, Enfield, Sydney, in a Church of England ceremony. He returned to Point Cook in January 1937 before becoming chief instructor (September 1940-November 1941) at No. 8 Elementary Flying Training School, Narrandera, New South Wales. Training pilots under the Empire Air Training Scheme, he was promoted to temporary squadron leader. For his ‘keenness, enthusiasm’ and ‘high standard of efficiency’ (NAA A9300), he was awarded the Air Force Cross on 1 January 1942. News of the award ‘was received with much satisfaction in Narrandera’ and at the Air School, where he had been ‘an extremely popular and efficient officer,’ and among his ‘civilian friends’ (Narrandera Argus and Riverina Advertiser 1942, 3).

Cox had transferred to Britain in December 1941 where he joined No. 23 Squadron, Royal Air Force. Flying the Douglas A-20 Havoc, a light bomber that was employed as an intruder, attack and reconnaissance aircraft, he participated in sorties between 13 January and 30 June 1942. These included the first 1,000-bomber raid on Cologne, Germany. He was promoted to temporary wing commander in April, and in July was transferred to RAAF Overseas Headquarters, London. Repatriated to Australia on medical grounds in February 1943, he commanded (June 1943–May 1945) units responsible for co-ordinating air defences at Townsville, Queensland, and Darwin. In May 1945 he was transferred to Adelaide, and on 2 August his appointment was terminated at his request.

After a period as a poultry farmer at Moonta, South Australia, Cox resumed work as a road-making contractor for the Highways Department after fire had destroyed his incubators. Employed (1950–55) by Trans Australia Airlines in Adelaide as a bus driver and booking clerk, he then worked (1955–54) for the Adelaide City Council. He rose from clerk of the markets to city inspector responsible, at different times, for enforcing a range of council regulations and by-laws, particularly those relating to traffic management, and overseeing a large staff. He retired in January 1974. Cox was a member of the Air Force Association, North Adelaide, and the Enfield and Seaton Park sub-branches of the Returned Services League of Australia. Predeceased by his wife (d. 1973) and survived by three sons and two daughters, he died on 24 March 1992 at the Repatriation General Hospital, Daw Park and was cremated.

Research edited by Brian Wimborne

Select Bibliography

  • Advertiser (Adelaide). ‘P.A.C. Head of River.’ 4 May 1932, 16
  • Chronicle (Adelaide). 30 May 1946, 31
  • Cox, Ron. Interview by Jill Cavanough, 9 November 1978. City of Adelaide Oral History Project OH9. City of Adelaide
  • Narrandera Argus and Riverina Advertiser. ‘New Year Honours For Service Men.’ 6 January 1942, 3
  • National Archives of Australia. A9300, Cox, R.H
  • News (Adelaide). ‘Two Noted S.A. Airmen Return to Adelaide.’ 18 May 1943, 2

Additional Resources

Citation details

Les Hetherington, 'Cox, Ronald Hubert (1914–1992)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published online 2018, accessed online 22 September 2020.

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