James Robert Cox - Tennesee's finest
Donna Cox Hill has just contacted yours truly and told me about her dear Daddy.
James Robert Cox served at Wethersfield airbase (Now an MOD Police training centre) Essex, as a mechanic on the land vehicles on the base, including the wreckers, fire trucks and ambulances used for the planes and crews and other vehicles outside the bomb group that were directed by for repairs.
He remembers replacing many, many clutches as a lot of the northern boys grew up using subways and buses and had never learned to drive before joining the Air Corps, now known as the Air Force.
His ordnance group (1781st) was attached to the 416th Bomb Group and were kept very busy.
They were also responsible for loading the bombs on the planes and amo for the gunners.
He remembers stepping out the workshop to count the returning planes, hoping they all made it back after the bombing missions.
The 1781st remained with the bomb group for the duration of the war and into the occupation in Germany.
James married Mary Rader and they have three children, Debbie, Donna and Bruce, and they reside at 305 North Waterfork, Greeneville, TN 37743
RECORD OF ENLISTMENT
Name: Cox, James R
Residence: Greene, Tennessee
Place of Enlistment: Cp Forrest Tennessee
Date Of Enlistment: 09-26-1942
Year of Birth: 1922
Race/Citizenship: White, citizen
Education: 4 years of high school
Civilian Occupation: Geographer
Marital Status: Single, without dependents
Film Reel Number: 2.22 Box Number: 0165 Notes
James Robert Cox Memories
James was sworn in at Camp Forrest, Tennessee.
In a long line, he walked between two Army doctors who gave him shots in both arms at the same time.
In another line, behind many boys, he got his Army issue clothes,boots, safety razor, dog tags, duffle bag and orders.
In Columbus, Ohio, the boys walked about one mile to a garage to begin their on-the-job training.
There he also got to see his first USO show starring Bob Hope. He was with a male comedian, who was very funny.
The boys did their share of pranks while in Ohio.
One time, one of them killed a snake, it ended up in the bed of one of the other boys.
Needless to say, the guy sharing his bunk with the reptile did not like his bed fellow.
When the 1781st was sent to California, Master Sergeant Leon Sovich had a 1938 Dodge car he wanted to take with him.
The boys drew straws to go with him in the car as opposed to the train.
James, Edward Varner, and Lawrence Pickett were the three lucky boys who drew short straws and the boys used their gas ration stamps to buy gas.
In California, James, along with a few other boys, got to go to famous Hollywood actress Loretta Young's house.
She gave the boys snacks and drinks and played table tennis with them, authographing their ties, hats, shirts etc . . .
The Liberty ship crossing the ocean had a small crow's nest on deck.
Cox and a couple of boys climbed up and looked down, but only one time.
Before the ship docked, the boys were issued their Army rifle and old 1917 Enfield rifle had been used in WWI.
The boys were only given three bullets, the gun held six.
On the base in England, they had a good day room where the boys could play cards, ping-pong, listen to the radio or play records.
"The Tennessee Waltz" was real big during the war, every juke-box in Europe had the record amoung its list of titles.
James visited night clubs in the Soho District of London near Piccadilly Street with many other boys.
One club was called the Windmill Theatre
It featured dance hall girls and a chorus line as they were called.
Their costumes were skimpy, many were handmade with feathers and rhinestones.
Once in England, the 1781st was warned that 25 German paratroopers with very good English speaking skills had fallen behind their front lines.
They were responsible for blowing up bases and killing as many as they could.
One time they did have a German spy on the base.
He was a sour man who didn't talk much.
The boys didn't know he was a spy until the MP's picked him up.
Apart from that interlude, the guys had lot of fun on base.
Once James and Lawrence Pickett bought a bicycle from an Englishman who drove the steam roller for the construction of the paved runway.
They were planning to convert it onto a bicycle built for two.
The bicycle stayed behind when they were shipped to France.
The French women wore a lot of French perfume to help cover the smells of unbathed people because there was shortage of fresh water in which to bathe.
James saw a nice girl herding sheep in France, named Maria.
He wasnt a bit sheepish and went to her modest home, the little brothers and sisters swarmed him hoping to have a bite of chocolate candy.
Maria's parents asked Cox to eat with them, mother was making Shepherds Pie !!!
In Paris, at the Moulin Rouge club, 35 girls all in a row did the French Can-Can.
They wore only short shorts on the bottom and bare skin from the waist up. Funny skits were also performed.
In Europe, many starving children went through the trash cans searching for food. The men gave them food and candy bars.
One day a truck load of boys heading for the front lines of Belgium stopped at the base for a new clutch.
James repaired the truck for them. It was very cold that day as they drove away into the snow fall.
In Pontoise, France, the boys lived in 24 men field tents on a thick rolled mesh, steel or rubber mats to keep them up out of the mud.
There were bomb and land mines all over the place.
After the war ended with Germany, the boys repaired all the vehicles to move them to a replacement depot where they would be sent to Japan whre the war was still going on.
The boys were each given furloughs to go home, then they were headed to Japan.
But the Atomic bombs ended the war abruptly and the boys were reassigned to occupational work in Germany.
One time in Germany, James was standing guard duty, an old lady came along after the 8:00pm curfew.
She had bundles of twigs on her back that she had spent the afternoon picking up for a fire.
James hated to turn her back, but was told not to let anyone back into the city after 8pm.
At his discharge, James was earning $76.00, overseas monthly pay, always in cash.
James spent Christmas 1946 on a ship home. The good people of Pennsylvania had left up the Christmas tree and other decorations.
They gave the boys a good welcome home dinner with all the trimmings.
Favorite Memory: In Fort Sheridan, they had the best Christmas. The USO put up a Christmas tree and all the decorations, they had a big party with wonderful food and gifts for everyone.
Worst Memory: He was in Paris when some soldiers from the front line came to town for some rest from the battlefield.
They were in very bad shape and looked like they were from a different world.