'Dab hand at everything' Dunkirk veteran dies aged 100

Frank Cox in Army apparel

Frank Cox served in tours of Italy, France and North Africa, and was also involved in the Dunkirk evacuation. - Credit: The Cox Family

Loving tributes have been paid to a Dunkirk veteran who lived in Gorleston-on-Sea and has died at the age of 100.

Frank Cox with his medals.

Frank Cox received seven medals for his service over the years. - Credit: The Cox Family

Frank Cox, who lived on The Mews in Gorleston, died on Friday, May 14 from illnesses linked with old age.

Mr Cox celebrated his 100th birthday last October.

Originally from Woodbridge, Felixstowe, Mr Cox grew up and worked in the Luton area with his widow, Mary, 93.

Mr and Mrs Cox relocated to the Great Yarmouth area in 1987 to enjoy their retirement together.

Frank and Mary Cox

Frank and Mary Cox were married in February 1947. - Credit: The Cox Family

The centenarian was a private in the Territorial Army before 1939.

In the Second World War, Mr Cox was a member of the Royal Army Service Corps and served in tours of Northern Africa, Italy and France.

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The Royal Army Service Corp was mainly involved in transporting provisions and ammunition and also played a role in the Dunkirk evacuation.

Mr Cox was a decorated veteran, but rarely shared stories with his family about his time in the war.

For his service, Mr Cox received the following medals:-

  • 1939-45 Star
  • 1939-45 War medal
  • Defence medal
  • Italy star
  • Africa star
  • Territorial efficiency medal
  • Dunkirk medal

Following World War Two, Mr Cox resumed his position in the TA until the 1960s, while also working stints as an engineer, a milkman, and a window cleaner.

Frank Cox in his garden.

Frank Cox enjoyed working on his garden, even when he was nearing the age of 100. - Credit: The Cox Family

"All of his life, he was a grafter," his daughters - Janet Mackenzie, 73, and Tracey Field, 62 - said.

"He was a dab hand at everything involving cars, DIY, gardening and landscaping," Mrs Mackenzie said.

"He could strip down a car and put it all back together again... which he often did," added Mrs Field.

In 1957, Mr Cox joined the Vauxhall Fire Brigade and stayed there for eighteen years.

Mr Cox and his wife began ballroom dancing in the 1970s.

Frank Cox with his pride and joy: a brand new Vauxhall VX490.

Frank Cox with his pride and joy: a brand new Vauxhall VX490. - Credit: The Cox Family

In 1987, the couple decided to move to the Great Yarmouth after having many happy earlier holidays in Caister.

Mr and Mrs Cox made it to Great Yarmouth on October 15, 1987 - the day of the great storm.

"They spent their first night in a wind-swept caravan in Caister," Mrs Mackenzie continued.

"Still, it didn't put them off."

The couple enjoyed their retirement by walking their dogs on the beach every day, and keeping active with projects in the garden and the house.

Frank and Mary Cox on holiday.

Frank and Mary Cox on holiday. - Credit: The Cox Family

"They had a good, long life here," Mrs Field said.

For the last few years, Mr Cox had been caring for his wife before she moved into a care home in 2020.

"Dad was fiercely independent. He didn't have a carer, and he wanted to look after our mother."

"He's had a pretty healthy life."

He received a letter from the Queen on his 100th birthday last October.

"He loved his cards. He was especially proud of that one," Mrs Mackenzie said.

Mr Cox leaves his wife Mary, son Michael, 72, daughters Janet and Tracey, brother Jack, 95, grandchildren Sharon, Mark, James, Laura, Daniel and Ben, 12 great-grandchildren and one great-great-granddaughter who is 13-months-old.

Frank Cox with his sister, Kath, sometime in the late 1920s.

Frank Cox with his sister, Kath, sometime in the late 1920s. - Credit: The Cox Family