Family Card - Person Sheet
Family Card - Person Sheet
NameHon Harold Edward COHEN 53,6,6
Birth25 Nov 1881, St. Kilda, Melbourne, Australia.
Death29 Oct 1946, Melbourne, Australia
BurialMelbourne Cemetry
Birth25 Nov 1881, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia717
Burial8 Oct 1946, Melbourne General Cemetery Jewish Section A-424B
Death6 Oct 1946, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia718
Death29 Oct 1946, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
FatherMontague S. COHEN (1855-1931)
MotherAnnie (Anne) COHEN (1861-1939)
Birth1886, St. Kilda, Melbourne, Australia.
Burial2 Nov 1969, Melbourne General Cemetery Jewish Section A-390
Birth1886, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia719
Death31 Oct 1969, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia720
FatherSamuel Gabriel PIRANI (1853-1930)
MotherSarah Susan FRANKEL (1866-1927)
Marriage4 Dec 1907, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia721
ChildrenGeoffrey (1908-)
 Barbara (1910-2008)
 Audrey (1925-1984)
Notes for Hon Harold Edward COHEN
See also:,%20Harold%20Edward.pdf

From “Harold Edward Cohen: a personal tribute” with the inscription”This tribute to the memory of a great Australian comes from a group of his associates who had special reason to know and to admire his outstanding qualities as a man and a citizen.”

Brigadier the Honorable Harold Edward Cohen
Companion of The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George
(Military Division)
Companion of the Most Excellent Order of The British Empire (Military Division)

Companion of The Distinguished Service Order
Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officers' Decoration, 1921
Commissioned Australian Military Forces 15th May, 1901.
Commanding Officer, 6th Australian (Army) Field Artillery Brigade, A.I.F., 1915/1919
Mentioned in Despatches, 1917 and 1918

Honorary Australian Red Cross Commissioner, A.I.F. Middle East, 1940-1942
Mentioned in Despatches, 1942
Deputy Adjutant-General and Director of Amenities, Australian Military Forces 1942-1944
Captain Xavier College 1898
President, Old Xaverians Association, 1919 and 1920
Bowen Prize Winner 1900
Law Prize Winner 1900
Supreme Court Prize Winner 1904
Barrister and Solicitor, Supreme Court of Victoria, 1904
Senior Partner, Messrs, Pavey, Wilson and Cohen
President, Australian Brewers' Association
President Victorian Associated Brewers
Chairman, Carlton & United Breweries Ltd.
Chairman, Swan Brewery Co. Ltd.
Chairman, Shamrock Brewing & Malting Co. Pty. Ltd.
Chairman, Foster Brewing Co. Ltd.
Chairman, Electrolytic Zinc Co. of Australasia Ltd.
Chairman, Zinc Investmentst Limited
Chairman, Standard Mutual Building Society
First President, Melbourne Legacy Club, 1924-25
First President, Victorian Constitutional Club, 1926-27
President and Charter Member, Melbourne Rotary Club, 1926-27
Chief Commissioner, Victorian Boy Scouts Association, 1922-25
President of Victorian Scouts Association, 1926-46
Member of the Legislative Council, 1929-35
Member of the Legislative Assembly, 1935-43
Honorary Minister 1932
Solicitor-General and Minister for Public Instruction, 1935


25th November, 1881 29th October, 1946

FEW MEN at their passing leave so much in heart and mind as Harold Edward Cohen. Few had so many loyal friends. It was characteristic of the man that he not only gave but inspired fidelity,
indeed by example and from his own conception of ethics exacted it. The true friends, many of them humble, many in high places, the people who owed him above all comradeship rather than gratitude most suffer their sense of loss.

To his view, loyalty to exist at all had to be reciprocal. It was the basis of all things, in citizenship and commercial life, in the army, in the home, in religion and national life. He exchanged it with those who served him in his many-sided activities -employees, colleagues, and associates.

His high sense of constancy rose from the experience of a man of simple tastes who in the common run of life met many people and who, because he coupled with simplicity a warm feeling of humanity, impressed his character on every task to which he set his hand and on every man and woman who served him or who served with him. That he did this was in no way due to his vast resources, intellectual as well as material. These helped merely in the matter of degree. In his Army command he knew personally and intimately every gunner and every officer; he was on terms with all workers in the great businesses he controlled. Allegiance to the organisation was allegiance to him and was reciprocal.

In a critical period of the 1914-18 war he once commanded what was probably the greatest individual group of Field Artillery on the Western Front ever entrusted to a Lieutenant-Colonel -seven Brigades including two British Brigades, one of these a Royal Horse Artillery Brigade. Yet he jeopardised his prospects of promotion because at all costs he stood by every good officer or gunner who might have been guilty of some minor offence. It was due not so much to his professional training as a lawyer as to his keen personal sense of justice that, although sometimes it was his duty to carry out the office of prosecutor of some of his troops, he was also their able and enthusiastic defender.

By this same tradition and practice, although at no time did he accept any other office in the R.S.S. & A.I.L.A. than the Chairmanship of its Finance Committee, he was always available for personal or professional advice and assistance to the organisation and to individual members of it, usually making only one condition-his own anonymity. Similarly he was a pioneer of Legacy, one of its most generous friends and patrons, but he undertook office only when he was pressed in the interest of the organisation to become its inaugural President. Here, as in his association with Rotary and with the Boy Scout movement, the inducement held out was the opportunity to hand on to a new generation the ideals of loyalty, service and devotion which he had had the good fortune to inherit and the virtue to practice.

His inheritance also included tremendous business responsibilities, legal, commercial, and financial. In all these he exercised so close a personal control that the only complaint his colleagues and subordinates ever voiced was that he left them with so little to do.

He was yet able to find a further outlet for his talent and energy in the field of public affairs where he attained Ministerial rank as Solicitor-General and Minister for Public Instruction; it was by no mere coincidence that in the closing stages of his Army career in World War II his existing duties were extended to include the supervision of the Army Education Service.

0n the outbreak of War in 1939 he pressed his claims vigorously for appointment to an active command in the A.I.F. These denied solely on the score of his being over the age limits prescribed by Army regulations, he accepted the honorary post of Red Cross Commissioner in the Middle East. As in 1914-18 he carried out his duties as near as possible to the front line and in the interest of the front line soldier. On the return of the A.I.F. from the Middle East he was requested by the Commander-in-Chief to take up appointment as Director of Amenities (including Education) and Deputy Adjutant General. This enabled the Army to take advantage of his unsurpassed intellectual qualities, his lofty principle, and his sympathetic understanding of the needs of the fighting soldier, impressing on all those under his command their duty to assist to their utmost in the job of conditioning the troops to get the best possible deal in "Civvy Street."

Just as in World War 1, the Field Artillery Brigade that he commanded (The Sixth) was universally and invariably known as "Cohen's Brigade," so in the second war, "Amenities" was known to the troops throughout the South West Pacific as "Cohen's Show." Once again the man left his impress on everything he touched. He relinquished his Service appointment only because of his being called to accept chairmanships in the nonferrous metals group, a first-class responsibility in the reconstruction period. In any case his wartime task had been done and well done.

A fourth generation Australian whose ancestor reached Melbourne in the year 1837, he had willingly taken up the tradition of service laid down for him, the heritage of his race and love of the country his fathers had adopted.

The honorable record of his family in Australia afforded him natural and proper pride. Edward Cohen, his grandfather, was one of the early Mayors of Melbourne, having served two terms in 1862 and 1863. He was a Member of Parliament and was Victorian Minister for Customs in the opening years of the Seventies.

His father, Montague Cohen, and his mother, during their long and busy lifetime, performed notable charitable services for all classes and creeds.

Deservedly happy in his marriage to a wife who shared his broad human sympathies, he instilled in his family a profound sense of their responsibilities. His sons were educated to follow his profession of the law, and to fit themselves for the defence of their country. He was rewarded by seeing them serving with the A.I.F. from the earliest periods of the late war and in having them back under his personal guidance to take over the manifold charges which his passing has laid on them.

Of his daughters, it may be claimed that they have been endowed with the Cohen intellect and the Cohen spirit, one distinguished by academic honors, the other a gifted, original, and thought provoking writer.

Principal Chaplain Chief Rabbi Danglow, his lifelong friend, echoed the pride and pain of thousands when he recorded the passing of "this man among men, this gallant soldier, this noble Jew."

Barbara Falk writes - Until his father's death in 1931, Harold gradually acquired the leadership of Montague's industrial empire. Montague remained until his death a director of Amalgamated Zinc, Zinc Producers Association Pty Ltd., Electrolytic Zinc Co of Australia Ltd, Carlton & United Breweries Ltd, Foster Brewery Co Ltd, john Sharpe & Sons Ltd, Adelong Gold Estates, Australian Mines & Metals Association, Mining & Metallurgical Co Ltd, Manufacturers Bottle Co of Victoria Ltd, and Australian Paper & Pulp Manufacturers Ltd.

He was awarded the CMG, CBE, DSO, VD.,OBE.

From 'Parade' (April 2003) the journal of the Vic Assoc of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women I have the dates of his birth and death, also confirmation of his decorations. A photo of him is on the cover and he is shown as a Colonel (later Brigadier) and the 2nd President (1937-1945) of the Vic Jewish Retruned Soldiers Circle.
Misc Note 2 notes for Hon Harold Edward COHEN
VX80699 Brigadier Harold Edward Cohen’s Military History.
Australian Army 23 Nov 1977. 722

Appointed Lieutenant in the Australian Field Artillery on 15th May, 1901
Promoted Captain 20th November, 1905
Transferred to Intelligence Corps - lst January, 1909
Promoted Major 15th March, 1909
Transferred to Australian Field Artillery 31st January,1911
Appointed Commander 7th Australian Field Artillery - 21st March, 1914
Promoted Lieutenant Colonel and appointed Commander of 6th Australian Field Artillery Australian Imperial Forces on 26th August, 1915 Embarked for overseas service -
22nd November, 1915
Served in Middle East,, England and France
Returned to Australia on 8th June, 1919
Appointment to Australian Imperial Forces terminated on 13th August, 1919 Appointment Commander Artillery 4th Division on lst May 1921. Promoted Lieutenant Colonel 1st May 1922 Appointed Commanded 2nd Infantry Brigade lst May 1926 Transferred to Un-allotted List on 24th May 19Z7 Placed on The Reserve of Officers on 24th 'May, 1932 Promoted Colonel General List on 10th July, 1942 Appointed Director of Amenities Land Headquarters on 10th July,, 1942 Appointed Deputy Adjutant General Land Headquarters on 10th February 1943 Promoted Brigadier on 10th February, 1943 Transferred to The Reserve of Officers with rank of Honorary Brigadier on 18th May, 1944.
Notes for Hon Harold Edward COHEN
Brigadier The Hon. Harold Edward Cohen CMG,CBE,DSO*,VD

His early childhood was spent at the family home "Hopetoun" 88 AlbertStreet, East Melbourne, it was here that he started his formaleducation with a tutor same as his father had done which was notunusual at the time, but the later decision to send him to be schooledby the jesuits at XAVIER COLLEGE was a startling choice for his fatherMonty to have made. To be the only Jewish boy of 14 years of age at aschool of over 400 Catholic boys must have been quite daunting. Itseems odd that the Fathers accepted Harold, there was no attempts toconvert him, and the program at the school revolved around the Churchcalendar. A history of the school quotes the legend that Haroldboasted " He had beaten the gentiles at their own game". In his finalyeat at the school he was DUX of the school. In later life he wastwice of the Old Xavierans in 1907 and after the War in 1919.

Going on to study Law at Melbourne University, where he won the BowenEssay prize in 1900 and four years later won the Supreme Court Prize,joining the family firm of solicitors Pavey Wilson & Cohen.

In his own time he had been heavily envolved with the Citizens Militiaand had been Commisioned as an officer in the Australian FieldArtillery, he married in 1907 Freda Pirani, both had ancestors inHenry Cohen the convict. At the outbreak of War, Harold was promted toLt. Colonel and appointed Commander of the 6th Australian FieldArtillery Brigade of the AIF.

He returned to Melbourne in 1919 after five years away serving theNation, Harold had been wounded twice, twice mentioned in despatches,he had been awarded the DSO and Bar, and on the 18th August 1918 madea Companion of the Order of St.Michael & George. CMG for conspicuousservice in the field.

Returning to the Law, he still mainatined his interes in the Military,as well as in 1919-1921 to up the position as Chief Commissioner ofthe Boy Scouts and in 1933-1946 was the State President of The BoyScouts. He presented to the Association a Shield "The Cohen Shield"for camping etc, stillbeing used to-day. In 1936 he was awarded fromthe World Headquarters The Silver Wolf, presented to him at a functionby Lord Huntingfield on behalf of The Founder Lord Robert Baden-Powel.

He was worried about the children and families of those killed andwounded during the great war and was in 1924 the first President of anorganisation known as LEGACY.

In 1925 he became Chairman of Carlton United, and over the years tookon more of his fathers positions in the commercial world, during histime in the military both before,during after the war, Harold refusedany payment and accepted no salary whatsoever for his service. His flair in business and the community made it more obvious that heshould pursue another field that of politics and as such he ran for the seat of Melbourne South, and entered Parliament in 1929 as the representative in the Legislative Council.

In 1939 when Wr was declared Harold had just returned from overseasand went straight to Victoria Barracks and offered his services inwhat ever way needed, handed over the keys to his car for who ever wasto be the Commander in Chief. Because of his age he was frustarted in not being able to fill an active roll, and so taking leave fromParliament he was appointed Honorary Red Cross Commissioner for theMiddle East, returning to Australia he was appointed Deputy AdjutantGeneral, finally retiring from the Army in 1944 with the rank ofHonorary Brigadier.

The war had taken a lot out of Harold and he began to show signs ofi ll health and when he died on the 6th October 1946, it was found that he had an undiagnosed brain tumour. He wife was away at Oxford,presiding at the birth of a second grandson, but his two sons marched behind the coffin as it was borne with full military honours to reintered with the rest of his family at the Jewish Section of MelbourneGeneral Cemetery.
Last Modified 29 Jun 2015Created 21 Mar 2024 by Jim Falk