Theren Charles Cox

September 15, 2017

On June 10, 2017 I got a Facebook request from Lou Cox, asking me to adopt the grave of his father, Theren Cox, who is buried at the Henri-Chapelle American cemetery in Hombourg, Belgium. I immediately contacted the new adoption program to ask if his grave was still available to adopt, but since it is a new program, they are overwhelmed with e-mails and questions so I had to be patient for a reply. Today I was happy to read their answer that his grave is still available to adopt, so I immediately applied to adopt the grave of Theren Cox. I am very honoured his son asked me personally to adopt the grave of his father.





Before the war

Theren Cox was born on 22 January 1916 in Crossville, Tennessee in the United States. He grew up in Hillsborough County in New Hampshire where they moved in the early 20's.

His parents were Floyd Cox and Lucy (Patterson) Cox. He had four brothers; Lawrence, Hershell, Lloyd and Fred and eight sisters; Beatrice, Cora, Sylvia, Phyllis, Winona, Eunice, Doris, Wilma and Edna. Lawrence, Fred and Wilma were stillborn. Theren was the firstborn.


Tennessee, USA


Crossville, Tennessee


New Hampshire, USA

Hillsborough County, New Hampshire

Theren went to grammar school in Merrimack. After grammar school he was a motorman. Before he entered service he worked for a Wood Preserving Company in Nashua.

Theren married Ruby (Smith) Cox on 15 August 1936 in Jackson, Alabama. They had three children together, David, Louis and Ann. The lived in Nashua, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire.



In the army

Theren entered service on 18 March 1944 in Fort Devens, Massachusetts as a Private.


Fort Devens

Fort Devens

In August of 1944 Theren crossed the ocean to take part in the war in Europe. He was promoted from Private to Staff Sergeant.

When Theren arrived in France, the division was engaged in tough fighting in the infamous hedgerow country of Normandy. In the last 10 days of August they moved over 270 miles. On 29 August 1944 the 28th Division had the privilege to parade through the streets of Paris, which was declared an open city.


28th Division parading into Paris, 29 August 1944

The 28th was now in pursuit of the Germans, that were fleeing east. The division moved to near the German border were it halted on 11 September near the northern tip of Luxembourg, with the Our River ahead of them, and beyond that, the German's Siegfried Line. Two days later the 28th became the first American division to cross the German border in force and start the attack on the Siegfried Line. They crossed the Our river east of Binsfeld. There was only little resistance and the enemy defenses were taken easily. Despite this, they moved slowly, unsure of what lay before them. The division was short of ammunition and as a result, artillery support was almost non-existent. They had no material to clear bunkers and every small arm ammunition was in short supply. They dug in within sight of the first line of German pillboxes.

The next day the 109th and 110th Regiment continued the attack in force, with additional support from the division's artillery. The fire of the artillery had little effect on the massive bunkers. The units met with small successes, but fierce German counterattacks quickly erased the gains. One was so big that it destroyed F Company of the 110th Regiment very quickly.

The following days operations were just as tough on the division. Units were pinned down by machine-gun fire from well-sited pillboxes and the German mortar and artillery fire ravaged the ranks of the assault forces. They had a rough time now, and many of the men weren't even trained riflemen. In one battalion, 87 out of 100 replacements were hastily converted personnel from anti-tank and anti-aircraft units.

On 17 September the division achieved a significant penetration when the 1st Battalion of the 110th Regiment captured a dominating hill mass near the town of Uttfeld. They were now through the main line of defenses and into the immediate rear of the defender. Major General Leonard T. Gerow however, took stock of the situation and ordered all offensive operations to cease. Only limited progress was made and much of the corps had withdrawn back across the Our. During less than a weekes fighting, the division incurred more than 1.900 battle casualties, of whom almost 1.800 were infantrymen.


The Siegfried Line

It was now that the 28th began to encounter its first significant numbers of battle fatigue casualties. The early fighting in Normandy occurred with fresh units that still possessed a high degree of unit cohesion. Most personnel of the infantry units had been together for at least a year and some much longer than that. These strong personal bonds in small units were powerful deterrents to combat fatigue. During the fighting along the Siegfried Line, conditions were much different. The strong personal bonds that charachterized the early fighting were rapidly disappearing, as casualties mounted and individual replacements flowed in. And then there was the strong German opposition at the Siegfried Line.

The mission of the 28th now turned to the defensive, having lost much of its offensive punch. Initially they dug in and defended the grounds that were gained at such high cost. Units then conducted operations to eliminate bypassed pockets of enemy troops that remained in the division rear. While operations continued on this reduced scale, the 28th was also integrating large numbers of replacements into its 27 rifle companies. During September, the division received 3.352 replacements, or an average of more than 100 replacements for each rifle company.

September ended with the 28th engaged in efforts to rebuild its battered units. The month had been a bitter one for the division. Its failure to breach the Siegfried Line was a hard one for the division to accept. As the soldiers stared across at the German line of fortifications, they realized that the enemy positions grew stronger each day. They also realized that they would soon have to launch a new assault to penetrate those defenses. It was a sobering thought after the heavy days of August, when enemy resistance melted before the American advance. The 28th faced a new enemy now. This enemy might consist of cooks, youngsters, and grandfathers, but they were fighting on their home soil and enjoyed the advantage of prepared defenses. As the loss of F Co, 110th Infantry demonstrated, there was also a hard core remaining of the fighting force that had conquered much of Europe. As the cold rains of September fell on the soldiers of the 28th, there must surely have been those who realized they were in for a very long and very tough winter.

During the month of October, the 28th enjoyed its first significant period of rest since its arrival on the continent in July. Occupying new defensive positions east of the Belgian town of Elsenborn, the division was able to rotate battalions to quiet rear areas for training, rest, and recreation. In the assembly area the battalion could train, provide frequent hot meals, and allow soldiers to catch up on sleep and letter writing. Whenever possible, the regiment located the assembly area in a town that could provide warm, dry houses for soldiers to sleep in. While certainly limited in what they could provide, these rest facilities did much for the health and morale of soldiers. Infantry divisions that needed to be rebuilt moved to defensive sectors located in supposedly quiet and inactive areas. These quiet sectors were not without hazards. The cost to the 28th Division during its month of rest in October included 59 soldiers killed, 519 wounded, and 433 non-battle casualties.

These quiet sectors did provide opportunities for green soldiers to gain valuable combat experience. Participating in small unit patrols was considered very beneficial for new soldiers. Contact during these patrols was generally very light, although there were exceptions. Normally these exceptions resulted when a patrol was careless and the enemy reacted with artillery and mortar fire. These patrols were also of great value to newly assigned leaders. Under the watchful eyes of an experienced leader, new officers and NCOs were able gain an appreciation for the terrain and also gain confidence in their ability to lead.

On October 25, the 28th Infantry Division boarded trucks and began movement north to a new assembly area in the vicinity of Roetgen, Germany. The division had orders to relieve the 9th Infantry Division and prepare to conduct an attack to seize objectives in the vicinity of Schmidt, Germany. During October, the division received more than 1,400 replacements, only 124 of which were RTD soldiers. At the end of the month the 28th had 13,997 soldiers present for duty, a shortage of approximately 250 personnel.

The 28th Infantry Division completed the relief of the 9th Infantry Division on 27 October 1944. Moving in to the 9-ID sector was an horrifying experience for the soldiers of the 28th, particularly for the large number of soldiers without combat experience. The terrain was thickly forested and artillery had slashed trees into a variety of strange and frightening shapes. Scattered throughout the sector were the bodies of soldiers from the 9-ID. The heavy losses and difficult terrain completely overwhelmed graves registration personnel. Discarded equipment and trash lay everywhere. The ragged and shattered appearance of the soldiers of the 9-ID also had a big impact on the 28th. The rumors of the heavy fighting in this sector of the front were proving true to the soldiers of the 28th. The popular nickname for this portion of the war was the The Green Hell. The official unit history recorded the battle as the Huertgen Forest Campaign.


The Huertgen Forest

The Huertgen Forest, as the entire area became known, embraced a thickly wooded section of Germany approximately 50 square miles in size. The forest consisted primarily of fir trees, planted so closely together that a man often had to crawl to get through them. Sunlight had a tough time penetrating through the trees and observers described the area as dark and forbidding. As units advanced in the forest, the separation and isolation of individual soldiers was significant. In some areas it was possible to see only the man to your immediate front or flank. Navigation was difficult to impossible for many units. Numerous ravines, some quite large, such as the Kall River Gorge, cut the ground and blocked almost all movement. Roads and trails, the few that existed, were deep in mud. Moving supplies forward over these paths proved to be a major challenge. There were few battles in the ETO in which terrain had such an overwhelming physical and psychological effects on soldiers and units as did the Huertgen Forest. The enemy defenses were equally formidable, though soldiers in this sector were certainly not Germany’s finest. For the most part they were the very young, the very old, and the infirm. A cadre of combat veterans provided the backbone for the units. Their defensive fighting power in this terrain was formidable and American soldiers were to learn a tough lesson about the effectiveness of well-led soldiers fighting from prepared defenses. The Germans fought from camouflaged bunkers that had excellent interlocking fields of fire. The fires of automatic weapons extracted a heavy price from anyone that moved on the existing trails and firebreaks. The Germans planted thousands of mines in the area; many designed not to kill, but to maim instead. One mine, the S-Mine or Schrapnellmine, Springmine or Splittermine and nicknamed Bouncing Betty by the US troops was notorious for amputating legs and the male genitals. Artillery and mortars, though much smaller in numbers than those possessed by the Americans, were lethal and effective. The thick evergreens turned many of the rounds into devastating air bursts. Soldiers learned quickly that lying prone on the ground while receiving artillery fire was the worst possible thing to do. Instead, soldiers learned to crouch or stand close against a tree, minimizing the bodily surface area they exposed to the blasts.

The withdrawing of the 9-ID endured almost two months of heavy fighting in this frightful landscape and suffered more than 4,500 casualties. The division had little to show for its efforts. It had captured few of its assigned objectives and penetrated the forest to a depth of only 3,000 yards. This was a best effort from one ofthe most highly regarded infantry divisions in the US Army. Before the fighting ended in the Huertgen Forest, eight American infantry divisions would fight in this area. The average casualty total per division was more than 4,000 men. The 28-ID would fare worse than any of them.


Attack on Schmidt

The 28-ID launched its attack on the early morning hours of November 2. A massive artillery barrage, one hour in duration, preceded the attack. Division and corps artillery units fired almost 12,000 rounds in support of the Division. Fighter aircraft were scheduled to support the troops, but poor weather limited their employment. Given the difficult terrain, the first day of the attack started well for the division. Two regiments, the 109th and the 112th, enjoyed mixed success, seizing portions of their assigned objectives and then digging-in for the night with only light casualties. The 110th Regiment, attacking in the south, met very stiff resistance. Casualties were heavy for the regiment and by nightfall it was fighting to hold onto its original start-line for the attack. Some rifle companies lost almost two-thirds of their strength on that very first day.



Death of Theren Cox

Theren Cox died on 2 November 1944 during the Battle of the Huertgen Forest. In the IDPF the cause of death is stated as a gunshot wound in the chest. Theren was missing in action from 2 November 1944. On 19 February 1945 evidence was concidered sufficient to establish the fact of death. Therens body was found complete. The IDPF also states his body was first buried on 23 December 1944.

He was buried at the Henri-Chapelle American cemetery in Hombourg, Belgium on 25 June 1948.


Henri-Chapelle American cemetery and memorial, Hombourg, Belgium




109th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division


109th Infantry Regiment


28th Infantry Division


Staff Sergeant


The 109th Infantry Regiment is a parent infantry regiment of the United States Army, represented by the Pennsylvania Army National Guard by the 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry, part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division.

The regiment was organized on 14 August 1877 at the Scranton City Guards Battalion, a unit of the Pennsylvania National Guard based at Scranton. On 23 September 1878 it was expanded, reorganized and redesignated to become the 13th Infantry Regiment. By 1898 it included eight companies. The regiment formed part of the Third Brigade of the Pennsylvania National Guard Division.

The regiment was drafted into Federal service on 5 August 1917 after American entry into World War I. It was consolidated with the 1st Infantry Regiment of the Pennsylvania National Guard on 11 October 1917 to become the 109th Infantry of the 28th Division. The Regiment arrived in France in May 1918 and was engaged in combat during the Second Battle of the Marne from 14 until 18 July 1918 in the vicinity of Bois le Rois commune, in the Seine et Marne department, as well as during the Meuse-Argonne offensive, the principal engagement of the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I, from September until the end of the war on 11 November 1918. The regiment was demobilized at Camp Dix, New Jersey between 17 and 20 May 1919.

The former 13th Infantry Regiment was reorganized between 1919 and 1920 as a Pennsylvania National Guard unit in northeastern Penssylvania designated the 13th Infantry. It was redesignated as the 109th Infantry on 1 April 1921, joining the reorganized 28th Division as part of its 55th Infantry Brigade.

The 109th was mobilized with the rest of the National Guard as a result of World War II, and inducted into Federal service at Scranton on 17 February 1941. The 28th Division was redesignated as the 28th Infantry Division on 17 February 1942. During its participation in the ETO, the 109th Regiment served across France and through the Hurtgen Forest of Germany. Elements of the Regiment led the Division into the Rhineland to become the first troops to invade German soil since Napoleon. The 109th Infantry won battle honors at Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes-Alsace, the Rhineland and Central Europe and they were honored with the Luxemburg Croix de Guerre and the French Croix de Guerre for action at the Colmar Pocket. At the end of the war, it was inactivated at Camp Shelby, Mississippi on 22 October 1945.

One soldier, T/S Francis J. Clark of K Company, the Company Theren Cox was in, earned the Medal of Honor while serving with the 109th Infantry on 12 September 1944 during the Siegfried Line Campaign.

In total 1.901 soldiers of the 28th Infantry Division were killed, 9.157 wounded and 2.599 missing. 16 soldiers earned the Distinguished Service Cross, 4 Legions of Merit, 258 Silver Stars, 16 Soldiers Medals, 2.029 Bronze Stars and 92 Air Medals.<



Contact

In June of 2017 I first had contact with Lou, Theren's son, through Facebook. After reading my message about one of my adoption soldiers at Henri-Chapelle American cemetery, Lou kindly asked me if I would like to adopt the grave of his father. I was honored that he asked me this personally so I immediately checked if the grave was already adopted. In September of 2017 I received confirmation that I was the new adopter (or Primary Sentinel of Memory) of the grave of Theren Cox. I was happy I was still able to tell Lou and give him my promise I would honor the grave of his father, before he unfortunately died one month later. And I am still keen on keeping my promise.

Through Lou I met his son Matthew Cox and through him I met Dave Cox, the son of Lou's brother David Cox, with whom I have now had contact too through Facebook.



Personal information

Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army
Service # 31456255
109th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division, K Company
Entered service from New Hampshire

Born: January 22, 1916 in Crosville, Tennessee
Hometown: Hillsborough County, New Hampshire

Died: November 2, 1944 in the Huertgen Forest, Germany
Status: killed in action (KIA)

Buried: Plot A, row 7, grave 17, Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, Hombourg, Belgium
Awards: Purple Heart


Purple Heart


Family
Father: Floyd Cox (1895-1973)
Mother: Lucy (Patterson) Cox (1897-1984)
Wife: Ruby (Smith) Cox (1917-1996)
Sons: David and Louis (1939-2017)
Daughter:Ann
Brothers: Lawrence (1914-stillborn) Hershell (1918-1987), Lloyd (1933-2008) and Fred (1941-stillborn)
Sisters: Beatrice (1915-1915), Cora (1921-2016), Sylvia (1923-1988), Winona (1925-1967),Phyllis (1927-2006), Eunice (1928-2009), Doris (1931-2018), Wilma (1936-stillborn) and Edna (1939-1998)



More pictures











Sources

www.abmc.gov
wwiimemorial.com NARA
www.wwiimemorial.com overseas American cemeteries
www.findagrave.com
www.fieldsofhonor-database.com
Aimee Gagnon Fogg (author of The Granite men of Henri-Chapelle)
Dave Cox
Randy Pew
Wikipedia
28th Infantry Division - Operations September – December 1944 (Major Jeffrey P. Holt)



Any information you can provide me about this soldier, can be mailed to me (nicklieten at hotmail.com). Thank you!