Wartime Heritage ASSOCIATION
Private Harold E. Cox (Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, 1939 -1945) During the summer of 1939 it seemed like war was unavoidable. The storm clouds brewing over the continent of Europe looked more and more threatening. Britain and France had issued an ultimatum for Germany to get out of Poland by noon on September 3rd. Germany ignored the deadline. Now a state of war existed. The next day, on September 4th, Harold Cox joined the Sixth Anti-aircraft Battery which was based in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Approximately three hundred other young people from Yarmouth County volunteered to serve Canada on that same day. The Yarmouth volunteers joined up at the Yarmouth Exhibition Building which was located to the south east of the intersection of Parade Street and Pleasant Street. More and more Yarmouth County volunteers signed up in the days that followed. Harold trained in Yarmouth for the first two months and was then sent to train with the First Anti-aircraft Battery at York Redoubt overlooking the entrance to Halifax Harbour. From Halifax he was sent to St. John’s, Newfoundland in November 1940 as part of the 16th Anti-aircraft. In Newfoundland, the Canadians took over American guns and positions because at that time the United States has not entered the war. For the next several years, Harold trained and manned anti-aircraft gun positions both in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Then in June 1944, after years of preparation, the D-Day landings occurred on the coasts of Europe. British, American, and Canadian forces began the difficult task of driving the Germans from the countries they had occupied. Harold asked to be transferred to “something going overseas” and was told his best chance was with the Canadian Infantry. So, Harold switched to the Infantry and after six weeks of intensive training at Debert, left Nova Scotia for Britain on the troop ship “Aquitania” in July 1944. Harold went overseas as part of the Royal Canadian Infantry Corps and went through more intensive training at Aldershot near London. September 1944 found him in Belgium where he was soon assigned to the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. This famous Canadian regiment had just fought a successful but costly battle at Woensdrecht in the south western Netherlands. As part of “the Rileys”, (Royal Hamilton Light Infantry was and is widely known as “the Rileys”) Harold took part in the Battle of the Scheldt which lasted from October 2nd to November 8th, 1944. The Canadian success in the Scheldt was important to the war effort because it opened up the large port of Antwerp and made Allied shipping and supply lines more secure and effective. After helping liberate parts of Holland near the end of 1944 and January 1945, the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry took part in the large Allied advance known as Operation Veritable. In February 1945, Harold saw some of the heaviest fighting of the war as the retreating Germans were pushed back across their own western border. For Harold Cox, the war ended on February 19 when he was wounded in the heavy fighting along the Goch-Calcar Road in the Rhineland. Perhaps the best description of the Goch and Rhineland battles was given by Field Marshal Montgomery. In his personal report he said that “Enemy parachute troops fought with a fanaticism unexcelled at any time in the war; and … the volume of fire from enemy weapons was the heaviest that had been met so far…” Sixty years later, in May 2005, Harold returned to take part in the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands. Like all Canadian visitors, he was warmly received. To this day, the Dutch people feel a special bond with people from Canada, Britain, United States and Poland because it was these people who helped free them from five brutal years of Nazi oppression.
Return to Story Archive
copyright © Wartime Heritage Association 2012-2022 Website hosting courtesy of Register.com - a web.com company
Private Harold E. Cox (Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, 1939 -1945)
Private Harold E. Cox