Cox_W

 




Pvt. Woodrow Tyndale Cox
    Pvt. Woodrow Tyndle Cox was the son of Stephen and Annie Cox and born on December 25, 1918.  He was one of the couple's four children.  Woody, as he was known to his family, grew up Tishomingo, Oklahoma, a town of 3,500 people, and attended schools there.  Although he attended high school, he left during his senior year and worked as a farmer until he was inducted into the army on March 19, 1941. 

   
    Woody was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for his basic training.  At Ft. Knox, he trained as a tank mechanic.  After his basic training, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana to join the 753rd Tank Battalion.  During its time there, maneuvers were taking place in Louisiana, but the battalion did not take part in them.

    It was after the maneuvers that the army recruited members of the 753rd to join the 192nd Tank Battalion which had received orders to go overseas.  Woody and the other soldiers replaced National Guardsmen who had been released from federal service due to their age.  Being a tank mechanic, Woody was assigned to Headquarters Company's maintenance section.

    Woody and his new battalion were sent by train west to San Francisco and were taken by ferry to Angel Island.  On the island, the soldiers received inoculations and physicals.  Those men found with major health issues were replaced.  Other men were held back but scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd.  The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island.  On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam.  When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  They sailed the same day for Manila.  The ships entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th.  They docked at Pier 7 and the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.
    At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King.  The general apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons.  The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea.  They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance.
   
The morning of December 8th, the officers of the 192nd were called to an office and informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  The letter companies were ordered to the south end of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  HQ Company remained behind in their bivouac. 
    All morning the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45 in the afternoon, Japanese bombers appeared over Clark Field destroying the American Army Air Corps.  Albert, and the other members of HQ, took cover since they had no weapons to use against the planes.  After the attack, they witnessed the devastation caused by the bombing and strafing.
    For the next four months Albert worked to keep the tanks running and supplied.  On April 9, 1942, Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese at 7:00 A.M.  The members of the company remained in their bivouac.  Capt. Fred Bruni, HQ's commanding officer, gave his men the news of the surrender.  He told the soldiers to destroy their weapons and any supplies that could be used by the Japanese.  The only thing they were told not to destroy were the company's trucks.  The men waited in their bivouac until ordered to move.   Woody was now a Prisoner of War.

    The morning of April 9, 1942, Woody with his company received word of Bataan's surrendered to the Japanese.  He and his company remained in their bivouac for two days before receiving orders to move.

    The soldiers found a mule which they slaughtered and cooked for its meat.  As they started to eat, a Japanese officer and soldiers showed up and took charge of the area.  The Japanese order the Prisoners of War to move, Woody with his company made their way to the road that ran past their bivouac and ordered to kneel along both sides of the road with their possessions in front of them.  As they knelt, Japanese soldiers passing them went through the POWs possessions and took what they wanted. 

    After they had been searched, Woody and his company drove to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  Once there, they were herded onto an airfield and left in the sun.  As they sat in the sun, without water, the POWs noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming in front of them.  The POWs realized that the Japanese were forming a firing squad, and that they were the intended victims. 

    Just when it looked like the Japanese were ready to take action, a car pulled up in front of the line and a Japanese officer got out.  He spoke to the Japanese sergeant in charge of the detail and then got back in the car and drove off.  The Japanese soldiers received orders from the sergeant and lowered their guns.

    Not too long after this, Woody and the other POWs were marched to a school yard and ordered to sit once again in the sun without food or water.  Behind them on the field, were four Japanese artillery pieces firing at Corregidor.  Corregidor was also firing on the Japanese.  Shells from the American fortress began landing among the POWs.  The prisoners sought shelter, but since there was none some of the POWs were killed.  During this incident, the American artillery managed to knock out three of the four Japanese guns.

    Once again, the POWs received orders to move.  It was upon receiving this order that Woody started what became known as the death march.

    For Woody and the other Prisoners of War, the two hardest things about the march were the hunger cramps and the useless killings of men who could not keep up with the column.  Those who could no longer walk were left behind.  He witnessed many men flattened into the ground by Japanese tanks as they headed south toward Mariveles.

    On the march, Woody made his way to San Fernando where they were put in a bull pen.  In one corner of the pen was a slit trench that was used as a toilet.  The surface of the trench moved since it was covered in maggots.  After sitting in the sun for hours, the Japanese ordered the POWs to form detachments of 100 men.  They were marched to the train station and packed into small wooden boxcars knwon as "forty and eights."  Each car could hold forty men or eight horses.   The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car and closed the doors.  Those who died remained standing since there was no place for them to fall down.  They  rode the train to Capas where the living climbed out of the cars and walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.

    In the camp, meals for Woody and the other men consisted of two watery cups of rice a day.  Death was something that the POWs lived 24 hours a day.  The POWs in the camp were dying from sickness, starvation, and the stress of making the march.  He estimated that 40 to 50 Americans and 200 to 300 Filipinos were buried each day.  The dead were buried 30 per grave.  For Woody, burying the dead was one of the worst jobs he had as a POW.

    At this time, it is not known if Woody went out on a work detail.  It is known that he was transferred to Cabanatuan when the new camp opened.  He remained in the camp until he was selected to be sent to Manchuria in October 1942.
    800 POWs gathered at 2:00 A.M. on October 6th, and were given rice coffee, lugow rice, and a big rice ball.  After eating and packing their kits, the POWs marched out of the camp at 2:30 A.M. and received two buns as they marched through the gate to the barrio of Cabanatuan which they reached at 6:00 A.M.  There, 50 men were boarded onto each of the small wooden boxcars waiting for them at about 9:00 A.M.  The trip to Manila lasted until 4:00 P.M. and because of the heat in the cars, many POWs passed out.
    From the train station, the men were marched to pier 7 in the Port Area of Manila.  Some of the Filipinos flashed the "V" for victory sign as they made their war to the pier.  The detachment arrived at 5:00 P.M and were tired and hungry.  The Japanese fed them rice and salted fish and let them eat as much as they wanted.  They also were allowed to wash.
    Nearly 1800 POWs were boarded onto the Tottori Maru on October 7th, but the ship did not sail until 10:00 A.M. the next day and passed the ruins of Corregidor the next day.  In addition, there were sick Japanese and soldiers on the ship.  That night some POWs slept in the holds, but a large number slept on the deck.  Each day, the POWs were given bread for meals which most ate in one meal, but the men rationed their water.  The ship was at sea, when torpedoes fired at by an American submarine but the torpedoes missed the ship.  The ship fired a couple of shots where it thought the sub was, but these also missed.  A while later, the ship passed a mine that had been laid by the submarine.  The POWs were fed bags of buns biscuits, with some candy, and received water daily.
    The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on October 11th. and were bathed on the dock.   They sailed again on October 16th at 7:30 A.M. but returned to Takao at 10:30 P.M. the same day because of a storm.  At this time, the POWs were receiving two bags of hardtack and a meal of rice and soup each day.  The ship sailed again on October 18th and arrived at the Pescadores Islands at 5:00 P.M., where it remained anchored off the islands for several days.  During this time two POWs died, and their bodies were thrown into the sea. 
    The ship sailed again on October 27th and returned to Takao the same day.  The next day, the POWs were taken ashore and bathed with seawater at the same time the ship was cleaned.  They were again put into the holds and the ship sailed again on October 30th and arrived at Makou, Pescadores Islands.  The ship sailed on October 31st, as part of a seven ship convoy.  During this part of the voyage, it rode out a typhoon for five days on its way to Fusan, Korea.  On November 5th, one of the ships was sunk by an American submarine and the other ships scattered.  The Tottori Maru arrived at Fusan on November 7th, but the POWs did not disembark until November 8th.  Those POWs who were too ill to continue the trip to Mukden, Manchuria, remained behind at Fusan.  Those who died were cremated and had their ashed placed in small white boxes which were sent to Mukden.
    The POWs were given new clothes and a fur-lined overcoat before boarding a train for a two day trip to Mukden, arriving there on November 11th.  After arriving, the POWs first held at the first Mukden camp.

    Woody was imprisoned first at Hoten Camp and sent to Mukden Prison Camp on November 11, 1942.  With him was John Rowland of HQ Company.  The two men became lifelong friends.  During Woody's time at Mukden, he also became friends with Clyde Fifer.
    Woody like most of the POWs at Mukden worked away from the main camp in the smaller satellite camps.  At these camps, the prisoners produced leather, steel, textiles and lumber.  About 100 prisoners worked in each of these camps.  Woody was sent to Shenyang Sub-camp which supplied labor for a steel mill.
    The daily meal for the POWs was a soy bean soup.  To supplement their meals, the POWs made snares to catch the wild dogs that roamed into the camp.  They did this until a detachment of POWs, on their way to work, saw a dog eating the body of a dead Chinese civilian.
    On August 3, 1943, they were transferred to the new camp when it was opened.  The POWs worked in a machine shop or at a lumber mill and committed acts of sabotage so nothing they made would help the Japanese war effort.  POWs who died, during the winter, bodies were stored in a warehouse until spring.  They were than buried in the camp cemetery.

    One of the hardest things that the prisoners at the camp had to deal with was the weather.  It was so cold that the POWs grew beards to protect their faces.  If a prisoner died, he could not be buried until the ground had thawed in the spring so his body was placed in a warehouse.
    As the war went on, the POWs saw American B-29s in the sky above the camp.  In December 1944, while on a bombing run to destroy Japanese ammunition dumps near the camp, a plane dropped a bomb on the camp killing POWs.  The air raids became more frequent in 1945.

    On August 16, 1945, a team from the Office of Strategic Services was dropped by parachute in the vicinity of the camp.  Late in the day, they were trucked into the camp and met with the Japanese commander.

    On August 17th, the ranking American Officer in the O. S. S. team, General Parker, told the POWs that there was a truce.  It was not until August 20th that the prisoners learned that the war was over.  This happened when a Russian officer and Russian troops came into the camp and disarmed the Japanese guards.  The guards were turned over to the POWs in a very formal ceremony.

    At 7:23 p.m., after watching a formal surrender ceremony, the POWs were declared free men.  Immediately after being liberated, the former POW's held a party at a brewery.  Woody and the other men remained at Mukden into late September 1945, when they were sent by train to Darien, China.  Woody was also promoted to Staff Sergeant after being liberated and returned to the Philippines.  It is not known when he returned to the United States.

    Woody returned home to Tishomingo, married, and became the father of three daughters.  He remained in the military and served in Korea.  At the start of the Vietnam War, Woody decided that he had seen enough of Asia and retired from the military.

    Woodrow T. Cox spent the rest of his life in Tishomingo, Oklahoma.  He passed away on December 7, 1995, and was buried at Tishomingo City Cemetery, Tishomingo, Oklahoma





Return to HQ Company




Next