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  • An Australian Group to Crpl Cook who Participated in the Battle of Damour & the Kokoda Track Campaign
  • An Australian Group to Crpl Cook who Participated in the Battle of Damour & the Kokoda Track Campaign
  • An Australian Group to Crpl Cook who Participated in the Battle of Damour & the Kokoda Track Campaign
  • An Australian Group to Crpl Cook who Participated in the Battle of Damour & the Kokoda Track Campaign

Item: W3983

An Australian Group to Crpl Cook who Participated in the Battle of Damour & the Kokoda Track Campaign

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An Australian Group to Crpl Cook who Participated in the Battle of Damour & the Kokoda Track Campaign

1939-1945 Star (WX8316 R.A. COOK); Pacific Star (WX8316 R.A. COOK); Defence Medal (WX8316 R.A. COOK); War Medal 1939-1945 (WX8316 R.A. COOK); and Australia Service Medal 1939-1945 (WX8316 R.A. COOK). Naming is officially impressed. Un-mounted, original ribbons, cleaned, contact marks, very fine. Accompanied by copies his Attestation Paper and Service and Casualty Form, along with assorted research papers.

Footnote: Roy Alexander Cook was born on May 22, 1911 at Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. He enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force as a Private (WX8316) at the Recruit Reception Depot in Claremont, Western Australia on August 20, 1940, at the age of 29, later naming his next-of-kin as wife, Mrs. Helen Valmai Cook of 'Carminya', Margate, Queensland stating that he was Single (which was later changed to Married, as of August 1, 1942), that his religion as Church of England and that his occupation was that of Labourer. He had initially been declared "Unfit" on August 7th, as he was diagnosed with Gonorrhea but was treated and approved for active service on the 20th. He was then posted to camp at Northam, Perth, Western Australia. He is on record as having been Absent Without Leave (AWOL) on November 24, 1940 and transferred to Infantry Reinforcements on January 14, 1941. Private Cook embarked Freemantle, Western Australia for the Middle East aboard US10 on April 16, 1941, disembarking in Suez, Egypt on May 14th, then posted to camp in Palestine. He was hospitalized "sick" from May 15 to June 15, 1941. One week after being discharged from medical care, Private Cook was attached to 2/16th Battalion on June 21, 1941 for operations in Syria against the Vichy French. He participated at the Battle of Damour, fought between July 5 and 9, 1941, the final major operation of the Australian forces during the Syria-Lebanon Campaign. In 1941, Damour was the French administrative capital. Damour is a large town on the coast of Lebanon and is approximately thirty kilometres south of Beirut. The Wadi Damour, with the Damour River in its bed, was a further three kilometres to the south of the town. These features were the last major natural obstacles that had to be crossed prior to reaching Beirut. Having already captured the heights overlooking Damour on the south bank of the wadi, the plan developed by Major General Arthur "Tubby" Allen, commanding the 7th Australian Division, involved encircling the Vichy French positions at Damour. On the night of July 5, 1941, the operation began with troops of the 21st Brigade moving into position to cross the Damour River in two places. Early onJuly 6th, the Australians attacked Vichy French positions on the northern side. The 2/16th Battalion attacked at El Atiqa. The 2/27th Battalion attacked at El Boum. By nightfall, both positions were in Australian hands. In the early hours of July 7th, the 2/3rd Battalion and the 2/5th Battalion, along with two companies of the 2/14th Battalion, moved northwards through El Boum. They outflanked Damour to the east. At Daraya, the 2/14th companies swung west to advance on Damour from the east, while the 2/3rd Battalion and the 2/5th Battalion continued north to cut the road to Beirut north of the town. On July 8th, the Australians accomplished cutting the road. In the south, the 2/2nd Pioneer Battalion and elements of the 6th Divisional Cavalry Regiment were advancing along the axis of the coastal road. By 0200 hours on July 9th, the Pioneers were advancing into the southern outskirts of the town. At 0400 hours, a patrol from the cavalry were able to drive right through Damour. The remaining Vichy French forces had managed to slip out of the Australian encirclement and had withdrawn from Damour. The Australians immediately began pushing along the coastal road towards Beirut. After the Battle of Damour, the fate of Beirut was sealed. On July 8th, even before the fall of Damour, the Vichy French commander, General Henri Dentz, had sought an armistice. At one minute pastmidnight on July 12th, a ceasefire came into effect. For all intents and purposes, this ended the campaign. Private Cook remained in the Middle Eastern theatre for eight months. He is on record as having been Absent Without Leave (AWOL) on November 10, 1941 and performing Intelligence Duties II as of December 21, 1941. He returned to Australia, embarking Suez on January 29, 1942 aboard the ocean liner, now troop ship, SS Île de France, disembarking in Adelaide, South Australia. Upon arrival, he was posted to camp at Springbank, South Australia, followed by additional postings to Glen Innes, New South Wales and Maroochydore, Queensland. Six months later, Private Cook departed Brisbane, Queensland for Port Moresby on August 6, 1942, for operations in New Guinea, including the Kokoda Track campaign and Gona. The Kokoda Track campaign or Kokoda Trail campaign consisted of a series of battles fought between July and November 1942 between Japanese and Allied, primarily Australian, forces in what was then the Australian territory of Papua. Following a landing near Gona, on the north coast of New Guinea, on the night of July 21-22, Japanese forces attempted to advance south overland through the mountains of the Owen Stanley Range to seize Port Moresby, as part of a strategy of isolating Australia from the United States. Initially only limited Australian forces were available to oppose them. After making rapid progress, the Japanese South Seas Detachment under Major General Tomitarō Horii clashed with under-strength Australian forces from the Papuan Infantry Battalion and the Australian 39th Battalion on July 23rd at Awala, forcing them back to Kokoda. Following a confused night battle on July 28-29, the Australians were again forced to withdraw. The Australians attempted to recapture Kokoda on August 8th without success, which resulted in heavy casualties on both sides; and the 39th Battalion was subsequently forced back to Deniki. A number of Japanese attacks were subsequently fought off by the Australian Militia over the following week but by August 14th, they began to withdraw over the Owen Stanley Range, down the Kokoda Track towards Isurava. Operations in Papua and New Guinea were severely impacted by terrain, vegetation, climate, disease and the lack of infrastructure. In turn, these imposed significant logistical limitations. During the Kokoda Track campaign, these factors applied more-or-less equally to both belligerents but favoured the defender in attacks against well-fortified positions. The battlefield and logistical constraints limited the applicability of conventional Allied doctrine of manoeuvre and firepower. During the opening stages of the offensive, the Allies faced a severe shortage of food and ammunition. This problem was never entirely resolved. The battle also exposed critical problems with the suitability and performance of Allied equipment. Troops were hastily committed to battle on repeated occasions, increasing Allied losses and ultimately lengthening the duration of the battle. Allied air power interrupted the Japanese capacity to reinforce and resupply the beachheads from Rabaul. This ultimately made the Japanese position untenable. There was widespread evidence of Japanese cannibalism. In the closing stages of the battle, significant numbers of the defenders were withdrawn by sea or escaped overland toward the west and the Japanese base around Salamaua and Lae. The remaining garrison fought to the death, almost to the man. The battle is noteworthy for a number of reasons. The resolve and tenacity of the Japanese in defence was unprecedented and had not previously been encountered. It was to mark the desperate nature of fighting that characterized battles for the remainder of the Pacific war. For the Allies, there were a number of valuable but costly lessons in the conduct of jungle warfare. Allied losses in the battle were at a rate higher than that experienced at Guadalcanal. While in New Guinea during the Kokoda Track campaign, Private Cook injured his leg on September 6, 1942 and was hospitalized for nine days, before being discharged on the 15th. He again became "sick" the following month and was hospitalized from October 8 to 27, 1942. His health continued to deteriorate, forcing his return to Australia, embarking Port Moresby for Cairns, Queensland aboard the Liberty (Cargo) Ship SS Cleveland Abbe, on January 12, 1943. Cook was stricken with an attack of Appendicitis on April 9th and had an appendectomy shortly thereafter, forcing him to remain in hospital for four weeks, until May 4th. Two months later, he once again became "sick", this time with Malaria on July 5th, his hospital stay lasting five weeks, until his discharge from hospital on August 10th. After recovering from the bout of Malaria and having his appendix removed, he returned to New Guinea, embarking Townsville, Queensville for Port Moresby aboard HMAS Canberra on August 17, 1943. He was posted to the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU) on September 10th, followed by a promotion to Corporal on the 15th. Six months after being promoted to Corporal, he was again declared "sick" on March 27 until April 12, 1944, continuing to suffer from Malaria, along with leg issues. He officially returned to Australia "sick" with Malaria, embarking Port Moresby for Brisbane, Queensland on June 24, 1944, then posted to Sydney Depot on July 9th. Corporal Roy Alexander Cook was subsequently discharged as "Medically Unfit" on September 6, 1944. For his Second World War service, O'Donnell was awarded the 1939-1945 Star, the Pacific Star, the Defence Medal, the War Medal 1939-1945 and the Australia Service Medal 1939-1945, the medals being issued in 1951.

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