Serial Number: NZ412658
RNZAF Trade: Pilot
Date of Enlistment: 3rd of May 1941
Rank Achieved: Flying Officer
Flying Hours: 627 hours 30 minutes
Date of Birth: 21st of December 1921 at Cambridge
Personal Details: John Grant Cox, known as Grant, was the son of John Barker Cox and Janet Edith Cox (nee Joynt). He was born in Cambridge, living on a 360-acre farm at French Pass with his family.
Grant was educated at Cambridge Primary School, and then in 1935 the family moved to Te Rapa in Hamilton, where he attended Hamilton Technical High School. He gained his Second Free Place there. He furthered his education with evening classes at the same school. Grant had enjoyed playing tennis, cricket and hockey at school.
Before joining the RNZAF he was employed by Larsen's Radio Service of Hamilton, and had been employed there when he made his application for service on the 10th of July 1940..
He came from a very air-minded family. Grant's younger brother Bryan later became an RNZAF fighter pilot, serving in the Pacific theatre of war; and his mother Janet Cox joined the WAAF, working in the No 1 Stores Depot at RNZAF Te Rapa.
Grant had two non-Cambridge cousins flying in the Air Force, Kevin Cox of Hamilton and Tony Cox of Christchurch . Tony was killed at Singapore in 488 (NZ) Buffalo squadron, and Kevin was killed in England in 485 (NZ) Spitfire Squadron. Kevin's brother Bernard was in the Navy and was later killed in the Mediterranean on mine disposal duties. Another cousin, Bob Peake of Cambridge, also served in the RNZAF as a mechanic, and cousin Tony's sisters Noeline and Daphne Cox of Christchurch were in the first intake of WAAFs into the RNZAF at Wigram.
Furthermore, his close Cambridge friends included Jim Ross and Ian "Fatty" Ross, and Ian's cousin Tom Ross, who all joined the RNZAF too. When Grant was training in Canada, he met Canadian girl Winnifred Moore (Wynne). They married on the 24th of April 1942. Later, following Grant's sad death, Wynne came to New Zealand and married Grant's brother Bryan on the 13th of August 1949.
Service Details: Grant Cox joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force from Hamilton, and reported to RNZAF Station Levin for initial training on the 4th of May 1941. Following ground training, Grant proceeded to No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School at RNZAF Station Bell Block, New Plymouth. He learned how to fly there on De Havilland Moths and Tiger Moths.
He then embarked on the 20th of October 1941 for Canada, and upon arrival he went to No 4 Service Flying Training School at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where he continued his training as a service pilot. He gained his Wings on the 24th of April 1942. The date was special for Grant in many ways.
The following is from Bryan Cox's excellent book Too Young To Die , and features a photo of Grant and Wynne on their wedding day on the 24th of April 1942 at Saskatoon, Canada. Beside this is a cutting from the Saskatoon newspaper the Star Phoenix about the event.
The piece reads :
New Zealand P.O. Has Eventful Day
Pilot Officer John G. Cox, Royal New Zealand Air Force, completed his training at No 4 S.F.T.S. recently. He started the day as leading aircraftsman. At 3 o'clock that day he received his wings and became a sergeant. At 6 o'clock he was handed a commission and became a pilot officer. At 8 o'clock he was married.
The bride, formerly Miss Winnifred Francis Moore, is the daughter of Mr and Mrs W.H. Moore, 1312 Avenue E, north, Saskatoon. She was lovely in a street length dress of blue printed silk with beige accessories . Her corsage was of pink carnations.
She was attended by Mrs J.H. Booth, who chose a powder blue printed dress with white carnation corsage. Flight Sergeant R.M. Riach, RCAF, was best man. The ceremony was performed by Flight Lieutenant Crawford Scott, padre at No 4 SFTS, at his home.
Whilst in Canada, Grant contracted spinal meningitis, which at that time in New Zealand was fatal, but in Canada a new American-developed serum was available, and this saved his life.
Following his illness, Grant was posted to No 122 Composite Squadron, RCAF, at Patricia Bay on Vancouver Island. He joined the squadron in June 1942, and here he became experienced in flying Westland Lysanders, Norseman on floats, Grumman Goose flying boats, Lockheed Electras and Blackburn Sharks.
In March 1943 he received orders to proceed to England. On the 14th of April Grant embarked from Halifax, Nova Scotia, aboard a troopship, and arrived at No. 11 Personnel Despatch and Reception Centre, Bournemouth, on the 29th of April 1943.
In late May 1943 he was posted No. 15 Advanced Flying Unit at Ramsbury, Wiltshire, and then in August 1943 he arrived at No. 14 Operational Training Unit at Market Harborough, Leicestershire. he trained there, and also at Husband's Bosworth, Rugby, on Vickers Wellington bombers.
Then at the end of December 1943, Grant and his crew learned to handle heavy bombers at No 1661 Conversion Unit at Winthorpe, Northamptonshire on the large four-engined Short Stirlings. His final flight with the unit was on the 8th of February 1944, and two days later he and his crew were then posted to No. 5 Lancaster Finishing School at Syerston, Nottinghamshire, where they learned to fly the Avro Lancaster.
Following this course, on the 6th of March 1944, Grant and his crew were posted to No. 61 Squadron flying Lancasters on operations, who based at Coningsby in Lincolnshire. From this base he completed three ops, the targets of which were Stuttgart and twice to bomb Frankfurt.
Details of Death: On the night of Friday the 24th of March 1944 Grant took off as captain in Lancaster III (coded LM490/J) for a raid on Berlin. 811 aircraft took part in the raid, and 74 were lost, including Grant's when a night fighter shot down his aircraft over Germany.
The Lancaster crashed into a field on a hillside 1km from Rimbeck, 8km NW or Warburg, sometime between midnight and 02:00hrs on the 25th of March 1944. All seven crew members were killed, including Grant, who was aged 22. They were originally buried at the Warburg Catholic Cemetery at Rimbeck, but after the war the crew were re-interred.
Buried at: Grant's body is now buried in plot X1, Row H, Grave 14 at British Military Cemetery, Hanover, Niedersachsen, Germany
Above: Grant's crew on their final day of bomber conversion at Winthorpe.
Left to right:
Sergeant Keith Finch, RAAF (Rear Gunner); Flying Officer John Grant Cox, RNZAF (Pilot);
Flying Officer T. Mellander (Bomb Aimer); Sergeant George Lowe, RAF (Flight Engineer);
Sgt B. Grundy (Navigator); Sgt T. Peacock (Gunner); and Sgt E. Broderick (Gunner).
Sadly all were killed only weeks later when shot down on the night of the 24/25th of March 1944.
Bryan Cox, Grant's brother, presented evidence in his book Pacific Scrapbook to show that on the night that Grant was killed, a 100mph wind had blown up which blew the bombers around 50 miles off their course.
Connection with Cambridge: Grant was formerly a resident of Cambridge, New Zealand prewar, having been born in Cambridge and moving away to Te Rapa in 1935.
NOTE: Thanks must go to Grant's brother Bryan Cox for assisting greatly in the compiling of this page, and for allowing the use of photographs from his private collection
Discussions with Grant's brother Bryan Cox, and resources from Bryan's books Too Young To Die and Pacific Scrapbook 1943-1947
For Your Tomorrow by Errol Martyn
AIR 118/62 /b RNZAF biographies of deceased personnel 1939-45 Vol 3 Co-Dy
The Waikato Independent newspaper dated:
14th of April 1944
29th of April 1944
22nd of September 1944