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,
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
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 27. 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 2 and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
On Wednesday, November 5, 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 9, the soldiers went to bed and when
they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11. During the night, while they slept, the
ships had crossed the International Date Line. On Saturday, November 15, 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
When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16, 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 20, 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 1, 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
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
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 10 and 13.
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 23 and 24, 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 25, 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 27 and withdrew, following
the Philippine Army, to the Tarlec-Cabanatuan Line and was near Santo Tomas and Cabanatuan on the 28 and
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 31sat the Calumpit
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 2 to 4, the 192nd
held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
At 2:30 A.M., on January 6, 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 7, 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.
"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 25. 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 25, 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 26/27, 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 28, 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
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
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 3. On April 7, 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
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 6,000 troops who sick or wounded and 40,000 civilians who he feared
would be massacred. At 10:30 that night, he sent his staff officers to negotiate surrender
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
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
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
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 known 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 the dead fell to the floors
of the cars.
The POWs walked the last eight kilometers to Camp O'Donnell which was an unfinished
Filipino Army Training Base that the Japanese pressed into use as a POW camp on April 1, 1942. When they
arrived at the camp, the Japanese confiscated any extra clothing that the POWs had and refused to return it to
them. They searched the POWs and if a man was found to have Japanese money on them, they were taken to the
guardhouse. Over the next several days, gunshots were heard to the southeast of the camp. These POWs
had been executed for looting.
There was only one water faucet in the camp, and the prisoners stood in line from two to
eight hours waiting for a drink. The Japanese guards at the faucet would turn it off for no reason and the
next man in line would stand as long as four hours waiting for it to be turned on again. This situation
improved when a second faucet was added.
There was no water for washing clothes, so the POWs would throw out their clothing when it
had been soiled. In addition, water for cooking had to be carried three miles from a river to the camp and
mess kits could not be washed. The slit trenches in the camp were inadequate and were soon overflowing since
most of the POWs had dysentery. The result was that flies were everywhere in the camp including the POW
kitchens and in the food.
The camp hospital had no soap, water, or disinfectant. When the ranking American
doctor at the camp wrote a letter to the camp commandant, Capt. Yohio Tsuneyoshi, asking for medical supplies, he
was told never to write another letter.
The Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medical supplies to the camp, the Japanese
commandant refused to allow the truck into the camp. When the Japanese Red Cross sent medical supplies the
camp the Japanese took 95% of the supplies for their own use.
The POWs in the camp hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow and only one of the six
medic assigned to care for 50 sick POWs was healthy enough to care for them. When a representative of the
Philippine Red Cross stated they could supply a 150 bed hospital for the camp, he was slapped in the face by a
Each morning, the bodies of the dead were found all over the camp and were carried to the
hospital and placed underneath it. The bodies lay there for two or three days before they were buried in the
camp cemetery by other POWs who were suffering from dysentery and/or malaria. To clean the ground under the
hospital, the ground was scraped and lime was spread over it. The bodies of the dead were placed in the area,
and the area they had been laying was scrapped and lime was spread over it.
Work details were sent out on a daily basis. Each day, the American doctors gave a
list of names to the Japanese of the POWs who were healthier enough to work. If the quota of POWs needed to
work could not be met, the Japanese put those POWs who were sick, but could walk, to work. The death rate
among the POWs reached 50 men dying a day.
On June 1, 1942, the POWs formed detachments of 100 men each and were marched to
Capas. There, the were put in steel boxcars with two Japanese guards. At Calumpit, the train was
switched onto another line which took it to Cabanatuan. The POWs disembarked and were taken to a schoolyard
where they were fed cooked rice and onion soup. From there, they were marched to Cabanatuan which had been
the headquarters of the 91st Philippine Army Division and was formerly known at Camp Panagaian.
To prevent escapes, the POWs set up a detail that patrolled the fence of the camp.
The reason this was done was that those who did escape and were caught, were tortured before being executed, while
the other POWs were made to watch. It is believed that no POW successfully escaped from the camp.
The POWs were sent out on work details to cut wood for the POW kitchens. Other POWs
worked in rice paddies. Each morning, after arriving at the farm, the POWs went into a tool shed to get their
tools. As they left the shed, the guards hit them on their heads. While working in the fields, the
favorite punishment given to the men in the rice paddies was to have their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on
by a guard. Returning from a detail the POWs bought, or were given, medicine, food, and tobacco, which they
somehow managed to get into the camp even though they were searched when they returned.
Each barracks was built to house 50 POWs, but most had 60 to 120 POWs in them. The
men slept on bamboo slats without mattresses, covers, of mosquito netting which caused many to become ill.
Meals on a daily basis consisted of 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil,
and sweet potato or corn. Because of the diet, the POWs suffered from malnutrition which made them more
susceptible to illness.
The camp hospital was composed of 30 wards. The ward for the sickest POWs was known
as "Zero Ward," which got its name because it had been missed when the wards were counted. Each
ward had two tiers of bunks and could hold 45 men but often had as many as 100 men in each. The sickest men
slept on the bottom tier. Woody remained in the camp until he was selected to be sent to Manchuria in
800 POWs gathered at 2:00 A.M. on October 6, 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.
Before boarding the ship on October 7, the prisoners were divided into two
groups. One group was placed in the holds while the other group remained on deck. The conditions on the ship,
for those in the holds, were indescribable, and those POWs those on deck were better off. This situation was
made worse by the fact that for the first two weeks of the voyage the prisoners were not fed, which resulted in many
of the POWs dying during the trip.
The ship did not sail until the next day at 10:00 A.M. and passed the ruins of Corregidor at
noon. 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. The first day, the POWs were given three small loaves of bread for
meals - which equaled one American loaf of bread - the loaves were suppose to last two days, but most men ate them in
one meal. The men did ration their water. The ship was at sea, when two torpedoes fired at by an American
submarine 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 11. Since most were sick with
something, the line to use the latrines went around the ship. The American doctors had no medicine to help the
sick, and some were seen as benefiting off the sick. It was at this time that the POWs on the ship, from Mindanao,
were moved to a second hold putting 500 POWs in each hold.
On October 14, food stuffs were loaded onto the ship, and each POW got two candy bags of
hard tack and one meal of rice and soup each day. The ship sailed on October 16 at 7:30 A.M. but turned around
at 3:30 P.M. arriving back at Takao at 10:30 P.M. It was believed the ship had turned around because American
submarines were in the area.
The ship sailed again on October 18 and arrived at the Pescadores Islands at 5:00
P.M.. There it dropped anchor off the Island of Makou, Pescadores Islands, where it remained anchored
until October 27 when it returned to Takao. During this time the quality of food deteriorated and was barely
edible. Two POWs also died and their bodies were thrown into the sea at 4:00 P.M. The ship sailed
again on October 27 and returned to Takao the same day. While it was docked food stuffs were again loaded onto
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 and remained there until the ship sailed on
October 29. At 5:00 P.M. it again arrived at Makou, Pescadores Islands. During this time the POWs were
fed two meals of day of rice and soup. The ship sailed on October 31, 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 3,
three more POWs died. On November 5, one of the ships was sunk by an American submarine and the other ships
Tottori Maru arrived at Fusan on November 7, but the 1300 POWs leaving the ship did not disembark until
November 8 and were issued new clothing and fur lined overcoats. Those POWs who were too ill to continue the
Mukden, Manchuria, remained behind at Fusan. Those who died were
cremated and had their ashes placed in small white boxes which were sent to Mukden to be buried.
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 11. As they marched, the civilians in the town
spit on them, hit them, and made fun of the POWs. The POWs reached a train station where they boarded a train
and were given a little box which contained rice, pickled grasshoppers, and a little fish. They were sent on a
three day train trip north to Mukden, Manchria,
In the first camp, the POWs slept in dugouts. On August 3, 1943, they were transferred
to the new camp when it was opened, and they were housed in a two story barracks. Each enlisted POW received
two thin blankets to cover themselves with at night. The officers got one blanket and a mattress. 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.
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
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
On August 17, 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
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