COUSENS - An Australian relation to John Samuel Edmonds -NZ :: Genealogy
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COUSENS - An Australian relation to John Samuel Edmonds -NZ

Journal by edmondsallan

What a tangled web we weave in life . A hidden secret of the past

Cousens, Charles Hughes (1903 - 1964)

26 August 1903, Poona, Maharashtra, India
9 May 1964, Greenwich, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Religious Influence:

* Christian Scientist


* army officer
* prisoner of war (Australian)
* radio announcer
* radio journalist
* television presenter

* Life Summary
* Resources
* Abbreviations

COUSENS, CHARLES HUGHES (1903-1964), army officer and radio broadcaster, was born on 26 August 1903 at Poona, India, son of Lieutenant (later Colonel) Robert Baxter Cousens, artillery officer, and his wife Esther, ne Cummins. Educated in England at Wellington College, Berkshire, and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, Charles was commissioned on 31 January 1924 and posted to the 2nd Battalion, Sherwood Foresters, in India. The battalion served on the North-West Frontier. Tall and bespectacled, Cousens was good at languages (he taught himself Urdu), navigation, boxing, cricket and polo. Unable to afford the expensive lifestyle of the Foresters, he resigned his commission on 29 June 1927 and worked his way to Sydney.

With jobs hard to find, he took employment as a wharf labourer and picked up a few pounds as a boxer in preliminary bouts at a suburban stadium. He then moved into newspaper advertising. On 20 May 1929 at St John's Anglican Church, Darlinghurst, he married an advertising representative Dorothy May Allan; they were to have a daughter before being divorced. Cousens found his true niche by reading some of his own copy over radio station 2GB. The quality of his voice and his pleasing personality soon made him a popular announcer. His best-known programme was 'Radio Newspaper of the Air' which encouraged even very young children to take an interest in selected news events. While uncommitted to any political viewpoint, he delivered a number of anti-communist broadcasts. He married a divorcee Winifred Grace James, ne Dettmann, on 23 December 1938 at the registrar-general's office, Sydney; they were to have a son.

Appointed captain in the Australian Imperial Force on 1 July 1940, Cousens was posted to the 2nd/19th Battalion. He had command of a rifle company in Malaya when Japan entered the war in December 1941. Badly burnt when demolishing a village, he rejoined his battalion for the fighting on Singapore Island. His commanding officer and the troops commended his leadership in action, and he was promoted temporary major on 13 February 1942.

Soon after the capitulation on 15 February, A.I.F. headquarters in Malaya inadvertently revealed to the Japanese that Cousens had been a radio announcer. He refused to broadcast on their behalf while in Changi prison. Taken alone from a prison-camp in Burma, he was shipped at the end of July to Japan. There, under threat and fear of torture and death (as he would always claim), he wrote propaganda scripts, 'coached' English-speaking Japanese announcers and made short-wave broadcasts over Radio Tokyo. He maintained that the broadcasts were of minimal use to the Japanese, and that he had frequently sabotaged them by subtle ridicule and by inserting information useful to the Allies. Cousens also worked on a propaganda programme, 'Zero Hour', and chose as its main presenter an American woman of Japanese parentageIva Toguri (later d'Aquino), the misnamed 'Tokyo Rose'who tried to help him undermine the broadcasts.

Following the Japanese surrender, Cousens was interrogated and brought home to Sydney under arrest. Because no Commonwealth legislation covered treasonable acts committed abroad, he was charged in New South Wales under the English statute, 25 Edw.III (1351). The gravest crime of all, treason was a capital offence. A magistrate's inquiry began in Sydney on 20 August 1946. Although Cousens had his critics, support for him firmed with the news that the Crown was depending heavily on the evidence of two Japanese who had worked with him. He was committed for trial, but the State's attorney-general C. E. Martin dropped the charge on 6 November.

Commonwealth legal and military authorities then considered court-martialling Cousens, only to reject the plan lest it 'would have the appearance of persecution and would thus be politically inexpedient'. They decided, nonetheless, to strip Cousens of his commission. Their action, carried out on 22 January 1947, was widely regarded as vindictive. Three months later the men of the 2nd/19th Battalion elected Cousens to lead them on the Anzac Day march through Sydney. He was welcomed back to 2GB, and in 1957-59 worked as a television newscaster with ATN-7. In 1949 at San Francisco, United States of America, he had been a defence witness for Iva d'Aquino who, despite his assistance, was gaoled for treason.

The Cousens case was never properly resolved. Official historians of Australia in the war of 1939-1945 avoided the question of the degree of physical and mental endurance that could have been expected from prisoners of war. The army had shirked the issue in the first place by not ordering an immediate military court of inquiry or a court martial. Many years later Sir Garfield Barwick (who had been a member of the prosecution team at the magistrate's inquiry) thought that a jury trial would have been fairer and would probably have resulted in acquittal. Cousens died of cardiac disease on 9 May 1964 at his Greenwich home and was cremated with Christian Science forms; his wife and the children of both his marriages survived him.
Select Bibliography

2/19 Battalion A.I.F. Assn, The Grim Glory of the 2/19 Battalion A.I.F. (Syd, 1975); I. Chapman, Tokyo Calling: The Charles Cousens Case (Syd, 1990) and for bibliography, including Japanese publications; Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 10 Dec 1945; war diaries, 2nd/19th Battalion and 8th Division, AIF, 1941-42 (Australian War Memorial); Brigadier A. Varley war diary (Australian War Memorial); Lt Col R. Oakes, manuscript on 1941-42 Malayan campaign, 1947, and manuscript autobiography, 1984 (Australian War Memorial); Lt Cdr G. H. Henshaw wartime diary (National Archives of Australia); Commonwealth and New South Wales Attorney-General files, 1942-47 (National Archives of Australia and State Records New South Wales); correspondence and oral history interviews with Australian, Japanese and American participants (held by author). More on the resources

source : Ivan Chapman

-Regards- edmondsallan

Surnames: COUSENS
Viewed: 885 times
by edmondsallan Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2011-03-15 17:36:56

edmondsallan , from auckland .nz , has been a Family Tree Circles member since Aug 2010. is researching the following names: CLAYTON, EDMONDS.

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by 1bobbylee on 2011-03-19 15:23:24

Mr. Cousens torture by the Japanese was so cruel and barbaric. Who can say how much pain a man can take. The prisoner of war experiences in Vietnam is probably a carbon copy of Mr. Cousens beatings. The allied prisoners were able to communicate by using the tap system to communicate. They would tap just about anything available. One prisoner was in captivity for years before he was allowed to have a roommate. When they met, they touched and hugged each other. Both sobbing. Tears were over flowing. Possibly Mr. Cousens was not able to have this support from a fellow prisoner. In one of the several books I have read on torture treatmens by the enemy, a naval officer was tortured to a breaking point. He finally agreed after many horrible beatings to give them the information they were seeking. They wanted to know the name and rank of all the officers on this airmans ship. He gave a list of names. The names were the entire offensive line of the NFL New York Giants. He made the statement that these were his direct commanding officers. Did the vietnamese know the names of these NFL players? No. They just wanted an answer. They thought that they had won. The point is, Mr Cousens gave them, I'm sure, an answer. That's all they wanted, an answer. We can never understand the pain of another person unless we walk in their shoes.... I am thinking that Mr. Cousen's did not give them secret and confidential information. Well written Mr. edmondsallan.

by edmondsallan on 2011-03-20 03:27:48

thanks bob - regards

by 1bobbylee on 2011-03-20 08:01:14

Dear Mr. Edmondsallan, Another subscriber read my response to Mr. Charles Cousens. This person sent me additional articles concerning Mr. Cousens, and photos. Very intriguing. It was interesting to know that his brother, John was also a prisoner of war. Germans were marching appx 1500 prisoners to escape the allies. They mistakenly (Due to Germans not providing Red Cross identification) were attacked by allied planes, John was wounded in leg, and subsquently his leg was amputated. You know all this, i'm sure. One can usually determine the real nature of a leader by how well his brothers in combat received him. They received Mr. Cousens. And to show their belief and loyalty to him, received him after the war to march with them in their parade. This means something!!

by edmondsallan on 2011-03-20 14:32:31

thank you bob . yes I came across the story and his bravery some years ago . Just sometimes we forget of what we learned on the way to this point in life . I do try to bring things back in my own little way for us to remember at times what we have learnt before .Thanks bob for giving the old head a bit of wake up call - Life with all it it has is wonderful . Regards

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