Memories of Perkins P. Cochran, and New Questions Raised

Posted: January 29, 2014 in Men of the 111th Ordnance Company
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We just received an email from Perkins P. Cochran, Jr., son of 111th member Perkins P. Cochran, who died in 1983. He sent the following photo and notes to share. His report is interesting because although it contains a few dates we have not known previously, it also raises more questions about two other dates—when the unit arrived in St. Dogmaels, West Wales, and when they landed on Omaha Beach after D-Day. If all reports so far from men and family members are correct, the unit left Wales in two (or more) conveys late on the night of June 6, destined for two different embarkation points—Plymouth, England, and a port near Southampton, England—and arrived on Omaha Beach on three different dates: June 9, June 11, and June 12. Then somehow they found one another and regrouped. Is this possible? We would love to hear any other accounts.

We were also sorry to learn that Perkins Cochran was wounded in late 1944 and was sent back to the States for hospitalization. (This is a first; does anyone else know of injuries sustained among the men? Let us know.) Here is what his son sent us:

“My father, Perkins P. Cochran, was drafted and entered the U.S. Army in July 1942 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. He went from there to Fort Warren, Wyoming, in August 1942, then to Fort Crook, Nebraska, from November 1942 to January 1943 for Auto Mechanic Training Course. He went to Pomona Ordnance Motor Base, California, for further training until April 1943. Then he was sent to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, for four days, and on April 10, 1943, to Fort Dix, New Jersey. It was probably around this time that he became a member of the 111th Ordnance Medium Maintenance Company. In July 1943 he arrived at A.P. Hill, Virginia, and in November 1943 he arrived at Camp Shanks, New York. He was a mechanic and truck driver in the Army.

Cpl Perkins P. Cochran of Senatobia, Mississippi

Cpl Perkins P. Cochran of Senatobia, Mississippi

“I found some notes that my father had written after he left Camp A.P. Hill, Virginia. I have summarized what he wrote in these notes as follows: He tells about leaving Camp Shanks November 5, 1943, crossing the Atlantic on a ship named the S.S. Examiner. The journey began smoothly, but soon they faced rough seas with hard wind and rain. One day they received word that four German submarines had been spotted about fifty miles away, so they changed course. They continued in the North Atlantic and saw a whale and some sharks following the ship even though the seas were still rough. At one point it was so rough that they lost one of the ship’s life boats. As they got closer to England, they saw patrol planes flying over them. On November 19, 1943, they arrived at Liverpool, England.

“They left Liverpool and rode all night by train to Barry, Wales, then traveled by trucks to Brynhill golf course at the edge of Barry to help build the camp up. They stayed there a few days and then on December 3, 1943, went to Sully, Wales G-40, where Dad was a truck driver at the S.O.S. Depot near Cardiff. Later in February 1944 they moved to Albro Castle near St. Dogmaels. He tells about a Captain Goode taking command of the 111th in February 1944. They left there on June 4, 1944 [we believe this date is off by two days], for Southampton, England, arrived the next day, waterproofed their trucks, loaded on the LST’s and left for France June 8, 1944. They landed on Omaha beachhead on June 9, 1944. He didn’t go into detail but wrote that they saw terrible things even three days after D-Day. They took the waterproofing off their trucks and moved up behind the Second Division about 10 miles from the coast and just over a mile from the front lines.

“He wrote about the constant artillery shelling back and forth and the enemy planes strafing almost every day. He also wrote about it raining almost every day for three weeks after they arrived in France. They had to watch out for booby traps, snipers, and land mines, and as they moved forward, most of the towns had been destroyed. They moved from Cherbourg up past St. Lo, Vire and on into the spearhead toward Paris in July and August 1944.

“They moved on to Belgium, then to Holland after this. His notes did not show the months (probably September and October 1944), but he wrote about many of the dykes, canals, and bridges that had been destroyed in Holland. He wrote that they lived in an old factory building that had been used to make pottery and tile for roofing. He mentioned that they had a nice shop and were doing a lot of work. He wrote about dreaming that the war would be over by the end of October 1944 and was waiting to see if his dream would come true. They began to see many German prisoners of war in those days.

“My father’s notes ended after the above information. I don’t know what happened, but sometime around November 1944 he was wounded and was in the hospital. I don’t know how or where he was wounded or where he was in the hospital. He never talked about this. He left Europe on December 30, 1944, and arrived in the U.S. in January 1945 at Brooke General and Convalescent Hospital, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He remained there until April 30, 1945, when he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army.”

  1. Glenn Booker says:

    Hello Friends in the USA…
    I live in Barry south Wales… the 111th was in this area in 1943…
    Glenn Booker

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