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FOX John Raven (Twin)
17 Battalion
12 November 1892
Rayleigh, Essex, England.
11 August 1914
SS Berrima
18 August 1914

John Raven FOX

After leaving school, John worked for a period in his father’s business, Alston Oyster Fisheries, which owned a small fleet of fishing smacks and oyster beds in Stangate Creek, a tributary of the Medway River. Immediately before the First World War the English oyster industry was struggling overseas due to competition and the effects of oil pollution: the British Navy had just changed from coal to oil and there was an increase in the discharge of waster oil in the area. Thomas worked as a clerk in the London Stock Exchange.

1914 Jun - The brothers left England with 2,000 other migrants on the P & O liner SS Berrima. Aug 3 – Arrived in Australia with his twin brother Thomas “Tom”. Aug 4 – War was declared and the Australian Government decided to send an expeditionary force to occupy Rabaul, the capital of German New Guinea.

1914 Aug 18-Mar 1915 - 1st Inf. Batt. ANME Force. Sep 21 - ‘The landing of the 1st Expeditionary Forces ANME.

Aug 11 - Enlisted for active service in the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN & MEF) at Victoria Barracks, Sydney. Aug 18 – Sailed out of Sydney Harbour on the P & O Liner SS Berrima the same ship that had bought them to Australia only eight years before. The SS Berrima had been commandeered as a troopship and commissioned into the RAN as cruiser HMAS Berrima. Aug 19 – The Sydney contingent of the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force sailed out of Sydney escorted by Royal Australian Navy cruiser HMAS Sydney, going first to Palm Island where they landed to break in their landings. Here John reported plenty of shin lost on the Karanas limestone rocks. At Palm Island they were joined by another cruiser and two destroyers Paramatta & Yarra and submarines A1 & A2. Sep 2 – The Expedition left Palm Island for Port Moresby. John reported: the troops were not allowed to land as the Governor Sir Murray was afraid the troops would run foul of his Papuan Natives. I was in “A” company No.1 Section. There were 8 companies of 120 men making a Battalion.

Sept 13 – John reported: The sailors landed first at Herbertshoe and started to march up to Pinta Paka singing “Australia will be there”. The wireless station was then run by the Germans who had not surrendered. They were opened fire on by the German Reservists and Commander Beresford was shot through the head.

1915 Mar 4 - Certificate of Discharge of No. 102 (Rank) Private, 1st Infantry Battalion AN & MEF. Conduct & Character, according to the Records:- Good. Place: Sydney. Age: 27 ¼; Complexion: Fair; Hair: Fair; Height: 6’ 0”; Eyes: Grey; Trade: Mariner. Intended place of Residence: C/o GPO Sydney. 1915 Mar 9 - Attested at Sydney NSW for the Australian Imperial Expeditionary Force, age 22 years. Termination of his period of Enlistment: 5 years 69 days of which 4 years 133 days abroad.

1916 Mar-Nov 11 1918 - Battles of France.

I was in 17th Battalion & my brother in 13th Battalion. I arrived in France on March 1916. Our Brigade was the first in France 5th from Egypt. We travelled through the Luzies* Canal to Marsalles [=Marseilles] overland by train to Armentiers where we were broen to the trench warfare of ten days in & ten days out with Hoperess* to tell the Fritzs the Aussies were in France just picking up stray Fritz I the front line & back before it got to* hot. The Germans retailated* & the 20th Batt lost sixty killed when the* attacked in force at Daylight in a thick mist. Next day the* put up a sheet which said they chased you off Gellopi* Advance Australia if you can. We puy a big German Sausage & said come & get it. Our Brigade moved down to the Somme in July 1916. I was transferred without option to 5th Bridgae* L T Mortars [=Light Trench?] when arrived in Amiens. Our Division the 2nd had 10,000 Calasuties* in ten days fighting around Posizare [=Poziers?] Ridge strongly held by the Germans the first Division also 10,000 in ten days also the 4th Division the 5th & 3rd got heavy casualties down Fluer* Bag the 5th[?] had over 60000 casualtes* in July 1916. In Posizare the dead were stacked up six high with dead bodys* and ourselves but slaver* & wack* for session* of Posizes Ridge flattened* by shell fire & taken back to fro by counter attack through surmerged* trenches with Bombs Rifle fire.

1920 May 14 - Returned Soldiers’ Badge Issued 256283. Jun 28 - Certificate of Discharge from the Australian Imperial Expeditionary Force ’. Handwritten beneath: ‘Fredericksruh’] Register No. 7.179. Certificate of Discharge of No. 2644 (Rank) Sergeant (Regiment or Corps) 5th ALTMB.

1922 - Australian Electoral Roll shows John Raven FOX and Thomas Alston FOX as banana growers of Cooroy, Queensland.

1914 Jun. - The brothers left England with 2,000 other migrants on the P & O liner SS Berrima.

1922-1939 - Followed by 'German New Guinea, Plantations German.

1926-1929 – Edie Creek Goldfields. Edie Creek - The Founders - The Big Six.

1934-1935 – Hagen.

WW II – 1942 Feb 14 - Australian Military Forces Certificate of Discharge ANGAU served on continuous full time war service in the Citizen Military Forces

1942 Aug 25 – Dec 16 1942 - J R Fox Diary of trip from Wewak to Orokola held at Mitchell Library (ML Doc 1481). 1942 Aug 26 - Starts diary. Leaves Boguar with brother Tom and servant Napier by sea for Nagoda, then Urigina. Sep 5 - Crosses Ramu River at ‘Boom Boom’, Dumpu. Sep 13 - Reaches Unantu in Upper Ramu. Sep 16 - Reaches Kainantu drome, sees DO Costello, DO Ron Hicks, Tom Roper, Geo. Gray, Med. Assist. Fowler. Sep 28 - 5800’. Left Ramu Drome for ‘Morsby’ Tartor. Sep 29 – Karinka. Oct 1 - Pitching flys. Oct 3 - 3600’ at Big River Goray River. Oct 15 - Subu R. Oct 17 - Carriers leave for Ramu. Oct 20 - Napier shoots two pigs. No ‘natives’ for days. Oct 27 - Napier shoots boar. River almost constantly in flood. Nov 13 - Lanced Tom’s foot. Tom laid up with infected foot. Nov 14 - Napier crosses river with axe to find natives. Nov 16 - Napier back with natives. Nov 17 - Build a bridge. Nov 18 - Natives back. Nov 19 - River rises 10’ – ‘a boomer’. Nov 20 - Cross river with boxes. Nov 24 - Natives come from another place, well armed. Nov 27 - ‘Left Natives place’, climbed to 2500’. Nov 28 - River bank at 500’. Nov 29 - Natives go downriver on logs to get canoes. Nov 30 - Canoe turns up [from downriver]. Dec 1 - Sent canoe with box and 3 suitcases to get more canoes. Dec 2 - Boys turn up with canoes. Dec 3 - Left by canoe. Dec 5 - Stop at mission place. Dec 7 - Left Hepere, arrived Orokolo ‘LBS’ mission, stayed with Rev. Dendry, LMS. Dec 11 - Arrived at Rescue Camp by beach, met Air Force chaps. Dec 12 - Stayed at airforce site met Jerry Penland, also Gil. Dec 13 - Tom left by plane for Port Moresby. Dec 14 - WO Hardy came from Kerema. Dec 15 - Moth left for Port, 2 moths, 1 fox 1 tiger arrived Sid left 2pm by Stinson’. Dec 16 - Port Moresby saw Tom.

1946 Apr 19 – Discharged in New Guinea. Effective period 1526 days which included active service in Australia 180 days outside Australia 1346 days. May 17 - War Badge RAS No. A339704. Description of the Soldier on Discharge: Height: 6ft 0 inches; Eyes: Hazel; Complexion: Fresh; Hair Grey; Marks or scars: Mole right lip.

The Fox Brothers.’ By Hank Nelson.

The brothers found they were headed for Rabaul, and not France as they had expected. The brothers took part in the landing at Herbertshoe. After seven months in German New Guinea those members of the A.N.M.E.F. who had taken part in the initial landing were returned to Sydney. The brothers re-enlisted immediately in March 1915. John served in Egypt, France and Belgium in the 17 Battalion and the 5th Brigade Trench Mortars, and eventually held the rank of Warrant Officer. Thomas served in France in the 13 Battalion as a Sergeant.

On being discharged from the A.I.F. in Sydney in 1920 the brothers applied for positions in Late German New Guinea with the Expropriation Board. Back in New Guinea the brothers worked as plantation managers on New Ireland. But for the gold discoveries at Edie Creek which led them to the mainland in 1926, they would have /p.2/ taken up expropriated plantations. Having worked claims for three years at Edie, the brothers prospected and worked claims around the Upper Watut, Wau, Bulawat, Zenag and Kainantu.

By 1934 they had made their way to Mount Hagen where the Leahys, some Administration officials and Catholic missionaries were already living. An expedition from Mount Hagen to the Dutch border and returning through Papua was planned with the Leahy brothers, but when one of the Leahys became sick, the Fox brothers and sixteen carriers set out alone on the 16 August. Soon after their return to Mount Hagen they learnt that Brother Eugene of the Catholic mission had been attacked in the Chimbu Valley. John Fox and Dan Leahy walked the sixty miles to Chimbu in three and a half days, but the Administration prevented them from reaching the dying missionary: the are was said to be “restricted”.

In January 1935 the Fox Brothers left Mount Hagen for Wewak, the journey by foot and canoe taking two months. During the years before the outbreak of the war the brothers prospected and worked claims in various parts of the Sepik District: Wewak, Maprik, Aitape and Vanimo. Like many other New Guinea miners they were hopeful of finding another ‘Edie’, where they had done well, but they were able to get wages only and ‘plenty of walking’.

1942 - The brothers were in Vanimo when they learnt of the imminence of Japanese invasion. They walked to Madang, and from there they crossed to Papua, travelling via Kainantu and the Purari. From the Weaver plantation they were able to send a radio message, and Gerry Pentland, a famous First World War flier, put a Dragon Moth down on the sand to pick them up and take them to Port Moresby. By then all men over forty-five and not in the armed forces had been evacuated, but the brothers’ exploits and a favourable report from an Army doctor enabled them to join ANGAU. For much of the war the brothers /p.3/ were at Bena Bena and in the Markham Valley, watching aircraft movement, conducting reconnaissance patrols, and supplying the 2/4 and 2/7 commandos.

1946 - On their discharge from ANGAU in 1946 the brothers joined the Department of Agriculture. Thomas died in 1952 following a fall from a horse; John is now overseer at the Administration property, Korn Farm, Mount Hagen.

Information supplied by John Fox and Tom Fox (son of John Fox).

H.N. Nelson.

AL-101/10 Biographical Details – Fox Brothers.

[Undated and anonymous. Less detailed, more colloquial than AL-101/9[C]]

Thomas and John Fox were identical twins born, November, 12th, 1892, in Rayleigh, Essex, England. They arrived together in Australia, August 3rd, 1914 and enlisted in the A.I.F. on August 11th, 1914. They were in the first Australian Navy and Military Expeditionary Force, 1st Battalion. They departed Australia, August 8th, 1914 for New Guinea. They returned to Australia on March, 15, 1915, and re-enlisted in the A.I.F.

Tom was reinforcement of the 13th Battalion and John was in the 17th Battalion. They landed in Egypt in March 1916. They went to France.

In 1920 John and Tom returned to Australia.

On 22nd December, 1922, they both joined the Expropriation Board as Supervisors and went to Kavieng. John went to work at Kati and Tom went to Kapsu Plantation and they stayed there for four years. In 1926 they both went gold mining at Edie Creek. In 1929 Tom went to Dutch New Guinea, Hollandia, to see if it was worth while [sic] prospecting for gold. John stayed in Lae clearing an airstrip to enable gold dredges to be flown into Bulolo. They went prospecting in the Upper Wantuat [Wantoat].

In 1933 they went back to England. In February 1934, they returned to New Guinea to Lae. They went up to Kainantu, stayed there for a few months, on to the Benabena. They left Benabena and came to Mt. Hagen and met the Leahy Brothers. They set off to prospect towards Dutch Border traveling along a compass bearing 200-270°. They passed through Wabag but do not know the names of any of the other places they passed through. They eventually arrive din the foothills of the Star Mountains and crossed the headwaters of the Bigul [Digul] and Eidenburg [Idenburg] Rivers. Whilst in this area natives offered them Bird of Paradise Plumes. John’s cook boi said that these natives were speaking a Pidgin Malay (Karani). They made their way back to Hagen through Papua and over some ranges probably at the Doma Peaks, they could see Mt. Giluwe. Mt. Giluwe was the first land mark they recognised on the trip. They eventually arrived back in Mt. Hagen on 24th December, 1934.

When they got back they found the Leahy Brothers had gone to Wabag to pick up their bones as rumours had it that their skulls were on sticks outside of some houses there!

A Doctor Hayden [Heydon] was doing some pathology work in Mt. Hagen and he looked them over and stated they were both physically quite well.

Not long after they were in Mt. Hagen rumours arrived from Kundiawa that a Brother Eugene was missing in the Chimbu District. Tom Fox and Mick Leahy flew in junkers [sic] to Kundiawa to join in the search. John Fox and Danny Leahy walked to Kundiawa in 2 days. Apparently District Officers Murrows [sic] and Taylor were also there and told the Foxes and the Leahys to discontinue their search as Brother Eugene had been killed, so they came back to Mt. Hagen. All areas were closed to prospectors. As they had been stopped from prospecting, around the Highland area, the Fox brothers walked to Angoram via the Yuat River.

When they got to Angoram they met D.O. Blaxham who helped them to go to Wewak. They then went mining at a place called “Schilling”, which is at the back of Wewak. After mining there for some time they went for a holiday in Japan in 1936 and arrived back in Rabaul at the beginning of 1937 in the M.V. Nellor. The ship had just left Rabaul when the earth quake [sic] occurred.

They went to the Sepik District and went prospecting at Aitape then went to Vanimo where they took out an agricultural lease.

The war broke out in Japan so they walked back to Madang up the Ramu to Kainantu down to Purari to Weaver Plantation. They then flew over this plantation to Port Moresby and reported at the A.N.G.U.A. [sic] Headquarters. They were told they were too old to join the A.I.F., but were later accepted because they were both physically fit. Both John and Tom were were [sic] sent out to the Benabena. Tom went out with the Commandoes in the Materhause [sic] area and John went to an O.P. Post at Unga, where he watched the Japanese at Dumpu.

Later in the war, after the Americans had taken Hollandia, they sent for John and Tom and wanted them to accompany a group who had been dropped by parachute in the Star Mountains. Neither were keen about being dropped by plane and would not go.

After the war both were offered jobs with the Department of Agriculture and took them. Tom was at Eiyura [Aiyura] and John was at Corn [Korn] Farm. Whilst at Eiyura [Aiyura], Tom got sick with a sore neck. He was sent to Lae then Port Moresby. It was diagnosed that his neck was fractured. He caught pneumonia and died in Port Moresby, August 15th, 1952.

AL-101/11 Notes relating to a Donation of Artefacts [sic] by Mr John Raven Fox.

[Undated and anonymous]

Mr Fox was born in 1892 in England. He and his twin brother, Thomas Alston Fox, migrated to Australia in 1914. They enlisted in the 1st Australian Expeditionary Force and were involved in the capture of Rabaul from the Germans. After service in France, the brothers returned to Australia and in 1922 returned to New Guinea to manage expropriated plantations on New Ireland. In 1926 the Fox brothers were among the first arrivals at the famous Edie Creek goldfield. In 1930 they were employed on the construction of the Bulolo airfield. They visited England in 1933. On their return they heard of the discovery of gold by the Leahy brothers in the Central Highlands and walked from Lae to Mount Hagen to meet the Leahys. From Mount Hagen they claimed to have prospected through to the Dutch Border returning to Mount Hagen after 105 days. From Mount Hagen they walked through to Wewak and spent the remaining years until the outbreak of the Pacific War prospecting in the Sepik goldfields with the exception of a visit to Japan and the Philippines in 1937. After hearing the news of the Japanese attack on Rabaul while at Vanimo the Fox brothers walked via Madang and Ramu (Kainantu) to Port Moresby and enlisted in A.N.G.A.U. John Fox spent the first part of the war as the manager of the plantation at Robinson River in Papua and was later posted to a forward observation post over-looking the Japanese base at Kaiapit in the Markham valley. At the end of the war Mr Fox joined the Department of Agriculture and has been so employed from 1946 to date. Currently he lives in semi-retirement at the Korn Farm agricultural station near Mount Hagen.

Mr Fox has donated a number of artefacts to the University which are lodged in the New Guinea collection of the University library. These are:

  1. The TELESCOPE the Fox brothers used from their days at Edie Creek, through their Highlands explorations and prospecting in the Sepik districts to their service with A.N.G.A.U.
  2. The prismatic COMPASS used over the same period. The compass and telescope were ordered from London in about 1927 and delivered to Edie Creek.
  3. Their PASSPORTS which record their visits to England and the Far East during the 1930’s.

In addition Mr Fox has donated a MANUSCRIPT of his reminiscences and a series of TAPED CONVERSATIONS made with Mr R. Southern, then Tutor in Geography at the University of Papua New Guinea. A Photostat copy of Mr Fox’s DIARY kept during the prospecting trip to the Dutch Border is also to be found in the New Guinea Collection.

Other Archival Materials Relating to the Fox Brothers


  1. ‘Heydon expedition // Mogei – Mission of Divine Word 1934-35 // Talking to Fox [sic] just after return from Dutch border // R3/21/25.’ [In pencil on rear.] [Also “40” in blue ink – presumably from Heydon collection; and “III 21” in black biro]

  2. ‘Fox Bros with boy line after returning from Dutch Border 1935.’ [In pencil on rear.] [Also “41” in blue ink – presumably from Heydon collection]

  3. Bearup / Heydon photo {Hagen.bmp}: ‘Mount Hagen Aerodrome, Christmas 1934. Junkers aircraft. In line from left: Dan Leahy, pilot, Lord Sempill, Father Ross, Fox, Fox, Heydon.’

  4. Bearup / Heydon photo {Mthagen2.jpg}: Christmas cricket team, Mogei Mission, Mount Hagen, 1934/35. Back row: Father Ross, Fox, Brother Eugene, Dan Leahy, Fox. Front row: Alexishafen natives.’ Reproduced in Gash and Whittaker p.253 as Plate 568: ‘A break in a cricket match at Mount Hagen about 1934. Left to right, Father William Ross, Tom Fox, Brother Eugene Frank, Dan Leahy and Jack Fox.’ [with more on individuals] [This photo could have been taken either between July and August of 1934, during the period that the Fox brothers were in Mt Hagen before leaving on their Dutch border patrol, or shortly after the brothers' return, as William Ross, Eugene Frank, Jack and Tom were all present there at both times. My hunch – before seeing the “Christmas” caption of Bearup and Heydon – is that it was taken between the brothers' return on 14 December 1934 and Brother Eugene's departure for Chimbu on 2 January 1935 - partly because Ross (1969: 61) mentions that Eugene was working tirelessly on the construction of a series of outstations from June till September 1934 and is unlikely to have had a day off at Mogei for cricket at this early stage. The people in the front row can be identified from photos of the lineup for the Fox brothers' Dutch Border trip as their carriers and cookbois - one of them, and probably one of the younger men, is likely to be Passengin, Jack Fox's cook boi.]

FOX John Raven (Twin)
FOX John Raven (Twin)
FOX John Raven (Twin)
Returned to Australia

Photo: Christmas cricket team, Mogei Mission, Mount Hagen, New Guinea. 1934-1935, back row, Father Ross, Fox, Brother Eugene, Dan Leahy, Fox, and front row, Alexishafen natives [picture] / [A.J. Bearup].


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