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 either volunteered, or had his name drawn, to join the battalion to replace a National Guardsmen who had been released from federal service due to his age.  Being a tank mechanic, Woody was assigned to Headquarters Company's maintenance section.
    The decision for this move -  which had been made in August 1941 - was the result of an event that took place in the summer of 1941.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines, when one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower altitude, noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another in the distance.  He came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island which was hundred of miles away.  The island had a large radio transmitter.  The squadron continued its flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.
    When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.  The next day, when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat - with a tarp on its deck - which was seen making its way to shore.   Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was difficult, the boat escaped.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.

    Woody and his new battalion were sent by train west to San Francisco and were taken by the ferry, the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, 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 boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27th.  During this part of the trip, many tankers had seasickness, but once they recovered they spent much of the time training in breaking down machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP.   The ship arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
    On Wednesday, November 5th, the ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  It was at this time it was joined by, the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and, another transport, the S.S. President Calvin Coolidge.  Sunday night, November 9th, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th.  During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line.  On Saturday, November 15th, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The Louisville revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it shot off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out the smoke was from a ship that belonged to a friendly country.
    When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila the next day.  At one point, the ships passed an island at night and did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  The ships entered Manila Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20th, and docked at Pier 7 later that morning.  At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.
    At the fort, the tankers were met by Gen. Edward P. King, who welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed.  He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents, but the fact was he learned of their arrival just days before they arrived.  He stayed with the battalion until they had received their Thanksgiving Dinner.  Afterwards, he went for his own dinner.
    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 1st, the tank battalions were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  The 194th was assigned the northern half of the battalion while the 192nd was assigned the southern half.  At all times, two members of every tank and half-track crew were to remain with their vehicles.  HQ Company remained in the battalion's bivouac.
   
The morning of December 8th, the officers of the 192nd were called to an office and informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  All morning the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed, to be refueled, 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.

    When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield.  The soldiers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and anything that could carry the wounded was in use.  When the hospital filled, they watched the medics place the wounded under the building.  Many of these men had their arms and legs missing.
    That night, most men slept under their tanks since it was safer than sleeping in their tents.  They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed.  They lived through two more attacks on December 10th and 13th.
    The battalion remained at Clark Field for two weeks until it received orders to the Lingayen Gulf area were the Japanese had landed.  The battalion repeatedly dropped back as it fought the Japanese.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta and found the bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed.  The tankers made an end run to get south of river and ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening, but they successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.  Later on the 24th, the battalions formed a defensive line along the southern bank of the Agno River with the 192nd on the right and 194th on the left.
    On December 25th, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road.  The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th and withdrew, following the Philippine Army, to the Tarlec-Cabanatuan Line and was near Santo Tomas and Cabanatuan on the 28th and 29th.
    The tank battalions next covered the withdrawal of the Philippine Army at the Pampanga River.  The battalion's tanks were on both sides of the on December 31st at the Calumpit Bridge.
    On January 1st, conflicting orders, about who was in command, were received by the defenders who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5 and allowing the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan.  General Wainwright was unaware of the orders, since they came from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff.
    Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridge over the Pampanga River about withdrawing from the bridge with half of the defenders withdrawing.  Due to the efforts of the Self Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were halted.  From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
    At 2:30 A.M., on January 6th, the Japanese attacked at Remlus in force using smoke which was an attempt by the Japanese to destroy the tank battalions. That night the tanks withdrew into the peninsula with the 192nd holding its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross the bridge, and then cover the 192nd's withdraw over the bridge.  The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
    The night of January 7th, the tank battalions were covering the withdrawal of all troops around Hermosa.  Around 6:00 A.M., before the bridge had been destroyed by the engineers, the 192nd crossed the bridge.
    The next day, the battalion was between Culo and Hermosa and assigned a road to enter Bataan on which was worse than having no road.  The half-tracks kept throwing their rubber tracks and members of 17th Ordnance assigned to each battalion had to re-track them in dangerous situations.  After daylight, Japanese artillery fire was landing all around the tanks.
    The next day, a composite tank company was formed under the command of Capt. Donald Haines, B Co., 192nd.  Its job was to protect the East Coast Road north of Hermosa open and to stop Japanese tanks attempting to use it to overrun the next defensive line that was forming. While in this position, the tanks were under constant enemy artillery fire.  The rest of the tanks were ordered to bivouac south of the Abucay-Hacienda Road.
    When word came that a bridge was going to be blow, all the tanks were ordered out of the area, which included the composite company.  This could have resulted in a catastrophe, but the Japanese did not take advantage of the situation.
    The tanks bivouacked south of the Pilar-Bagac Road and about two kilometers from the East Coast Road.  It had almost been one month since the tank crews had a rest and the tanks had maintenance work done on them by 17th Ordnance.  It was also on this day that the tank platoons were reduced to three tanks per tank platoon.  The men rested and the tanks received the required maintenance.  Most of the tank tracks had worn down to bare metal and the radial engines long past their 400 hour overhauls.
    It was at this time the tank battalions received these orders which came from Gen. Weaver, "Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying in position and firing at visible enemy until further delay will jeopardize withdrawal.  If a tank is immobilized, it will be fought until the close approach of the enemy, then destroyed; the crew previously taking positions outside and continuing to fight with the salvaged and personal weapons. Considerations of personal safety and expediency will not interfere with accomplishing the greatest possible delay."
    The battalions were sent to cover the junctions of the Back Road and East Road with the Abucay-Heicienda Road on January 25th.  While holding the position, the 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, fought its way to the position at 3:00 A.M.  One platoon was sent to the front of the the column of trucks which were loading the troops.  The tanks provided heavy fire so that the infantry could withdraw and inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese.
    Later on January 25th, both the 192nd and 194th held a defensive line on the Bakanga-Cardre-BaniBani Roads until the withdraw was completed at midnight.  They held the position until the night of January 26th/27th, when they dropped back to a new defensive line roughly along the Pilar-Bagac Roads.  When ordered to withdraw to the new line, the 192nd found that the bridge at Balanga, that they were suppose to use had been destroyed by enemy fire.  To withdraw, they had to use secondary roads to get around the barrio and tanks were still straggling in at noon.
    The tank battalions, on January 28th, were given the job of protecting the beaches.  The 192nd was assigned the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast, while the battalion's half-tracks were used to patrol the roads.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.     
    Companies A & C were ordered to the west coast of Bataan while B Company - which was held in reserve - and 17th Ordnance held the southern shore of Bataan.  The tankers were awake all night and attempted to sleep under the jungle canopy, during the day, which protected them from being spotted by Japanese reconnaissance planes.  During the night, they were kept busy with repeated threats both on and off shore.
    On one occasion, a member of the company, who had gotten frustrated by being awakened by the planes, had his half-track pulled out onto the beach and took pot shots at the plane.  He missed the plane, but twenty minutes later, Japanese planes appeared over the location and dropped bombs that exploded in the tree tops.  Three members of the company were killed.
    The tank battalions, on their own, took up the job of protecting the airfields at Cabcaban, Bataan, and Mariveles, since Japanese paratroopers were known to be available.  The tanks and half-tracks were well hidden in the jungle around the airfields and different plans were in place to be used against Japanese forces.  There was only one major alert in March when 73 Japanese planes came over.
    The battalion also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line.  The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time to replace a tank in the pocket.  Another tank did not enter the pocket until a tank exited the pocket.  Doing this was so stressful that the tank companies were pulled out and replaced by one that was being held in reserve.
    To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used.  The first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank.  As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually exploded.
    The other method to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole.  The driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around and grinding its way down into the foxhole.  The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.
    In March, the amount of gasoline was reduced to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles except the tanks.  This would later be dropped to ten gallons a day.  At the same time, food rations were cut in half again.  Also at this time, Gen. Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that a platoon of tanks be sent to Corregidor.
    The Japanese lunched an all out attack on April 3rd.  On April 7th, the 57th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, supported by tanks, attempted to restore the line, but Japanese infiltrators prevented this from happening.  During this action, one tank was knocked out but the remaining tanks successfully withdrew.  C Company, 194th, which was attached to the 192nd, had only seven tanks left.
    The tanks became a favorite target of the Japanese receiving fire on trails and while hidden in the jungle. and could not fight back.  The situation was so bad that other troops avoided being near the tanks, and the 26th Cavalry turned down a tank company's offer of assistance in a counter-attack.    
   It was at this time that Gen. Edward P. King decided that further resistance was futile, since approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to fight, and he estimated they would last one more day.  In addition, he had over 6000 troops who sick or wounded and 40000 civilians who he feared would be massacred.  At 10:30 that night, he sent his staff officers to negotiate surrender terms.  
    Tank battalion commanders received this order, "You will make plans, to be communicated to company commanders only, and be prepared to destroy within one hour after receipt by radio, or other means, of the word 'CRASH', all tanks and combat vehicles, arms, ammunition, gas, and radios: reserving sufficient trucks to close to rear echelons as soon as accomplished." 
   
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.   Somehow Bruni came up with enough bread and pineapple juice to hold what he called, "Their last supper."

    The morning of April 9, 1942, the company received word of Bataan's surrendered to the Japanese and remained in their bivouac for two days before receiving orders to move.  The Prisoners of War 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 POWs to move, and they made their way to the road that ran past their bivouac.  Once there, they were 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, the members of the company drove their trucks 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 the Prisoners of War, the three hardest things about the march were the hunger cramps, the thirst, 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, the POWs made their 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.

    When they first got there, they lived in dugouts and were later moved to a two story barracks.  Meals were the same everyday.  For breakfast they had cornmeal mush and a bun.  Lunch was maize and beans, and dinner was beans and a bun.  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.
    Woody like most of the POWs at Mukden worked away from the main camp in the smaller satellite camps.  At these camps, the prisoners worked from 7:30 A.M. until 5:50 or 6:00 P.M.  They 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 POWs worked either at a machine shop or a saw mill from 7:30 A.M. until 5:30 or 6:00 P.M. each day.  The machine shop never produced anything that was useful to the Japanese.

    The POWs were forced out into the cold and snow and made to strip when the Japanese searched for contraband cigarettes that the prisoners had bought from the Chinese while working in the factories.   They were made to stand in the snow barefooted while the Japanese searched all 700 POWs.
    Punishment was given for any infraction.  Two POWs were knocked out and kicked in the ribs for violating a camp rule.  At other times, the camp's food ration was cut in half because the Japanese believed a POW was not working as hard as he should have been, or someone had been caught smoking in an unauthorized area.  They would also withhold Red Cross packages.
    In the spring of 1943, four Americans escaped and made their way to the Russian border.  Chinese villagers turned them over to the Japanese.  The men were returned to the camp and placed in cells for several months before they were taken to a cemetery and shot.
    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





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