A work in progress – the fuller biographies will emerge in due course: please sign up to the Newsletter (bottom of the page) and we’ll let you know when we’ve done appropriate justice to the American heroes among our signatories.
Captain John W COX USAAF Airplane Commander for the B-29 SUPERFORTRESS Bombing RAIDS on TOKYO and Japan from TINIAN and his fellow crew members Chester Marshall, pilot, Jim O’Donnel, navigator, Herbert Feldman, bombardier, and John Huckins, flight engineer, who in turn pay great tribute to the US Marines and their epic struggle to take Saipan and Tinian for their main strategic bases and, beyond and not quite halfway there to Japan, Iwo Jima, so necessary as emergency landing strips for their long distance runs to targets in Japan 700 miles further north from Iwo and the pilots and technicians for those P-51 Mustang fighters and P-61 Black Widow night fighters escorting and protecting the B-29s.
The B-29 was specifically designed to fly the extended range required to reach targets in Japan and the B-29 raids would contribute greatly to the Japanese unconditional surrender. “Friendly Monster” was the code name for the B-29 bomber in the Pacific area during World War II.
John W. Cox as commander of a remarkable flight crew, wrote of their tour of duty during the war, starting with their training. They were part of the FIRST BOMBING ATTACK on TOKYO since the Doolittle raid in 1942, then on to the end of the war. from the Marianas Island of SAIPAN, shortly after arriving in November 1944. The book covers a period from April 1944 to July 1945. John Cox left the service in 1945 as a Captain with over 1000 hours flying the B-29 including 450 hours in 33 combat missions against Japan. Although the crew of the “Mary Ann” experienced some close calls and survived dangerous missions, no man on the crew was lost or wounded, a testament to the crew’s professionalism and dedication. They were credited with shooting down 21 Japanese aircraft with 10 confirmed kills and the tail gunner, Cpl. John Sutherland of San Antonio, Texas, emerged as the Ace of the Marianas with 5 confirmed kills. The crew was awarded the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross and three battle stars. In addition to the adventures of the “Mary Ann” his book chronicles and demonstrates the capability of air power to destroy and defeat a modern empire without the need to set foot on enemy territory. For Chester Marshall, who wrote “Final Assault on the Rising Sun”, there were a multitude of ‘enemies’, mentally listed as: – 1. Weather 2. Japanese fighters and flak over Japan 3 Weather 4 Fuel – would we have enough to complete the round trip? 5. Weather 6. 3,000 miles of water. John Cox, born in 1912, was first flying B-17s and would form what was the 25th crew of the 73rd Wing, the first B-29 Wing to begin missions from SAIPAN and was part of the 499th BOMB GROUP in the 878th SQUADRON.
In January,1945 Major General Curtis E LeMay, at 38 the youngest two-star general in the USAAF, took command of the Twenty-first Bomber Command. On 13th January, as the crew crossed the Japanese coastline heading for their initial point, Jim, their navigator reported that already their trip had taken exactly eight hours and five minutes. They had to concentrate on their bombing run above NAGOYA, so they had to put fuel worries to the back of their mind. “No flak and no fighter attacks occurred but it was only the lull before the storm. Suddenly, the sky was filled with black puffs of flak barrages. Then, as the flak ceased, out of nowhere came a group of fighters. They were aggressive, flying right through our formation and our gunners expended most of their ammunition during a continuous attack by more than twenty-five fighters. Somehow, we managed to survive these attacks without any battle damage. Some of our planes were not so fortunate. Huck continuously monitored our fuel supply and it needed efficient power settings to stretch the supply all the way back to Saipan. We made it home with but a few gallons of gas left in our tanks.” Their aircraft was numbered 27 and John Sutherland, tail gunner, had five kills. John was born in1919 and his American parents moved from farming in Canada to Independence, Kansas and began his service in December 1941, firstly flying the 226 hp, rather narrow undercarriage Boeing Stearman at Baker’s Field for 60 hrs then on to Vultee BT-13A and Curtiss AT-9 – Jimmy Stewart, later Hollywood actor, was one of his instructors. He reported that more pilots were killed in training than in the Eighth Air Force. For his transition to B-17s he went to Hobbes AFB New Mexico and became an instructor. John had about 1,500 flying hours when converting over onto the B-29 program. From Saipan they were only rarely attacked before they dropped their bombs and this depended too on where the flak concentrations were.
On their first mission, a day one with 33 aircraft, they had three turning back with engine problems. On their third, they had an overheating problem and their B-29s were taking off at a rate of one every minute. On night attacks they would have three or four hundred aircraft When Okinawa was being taken in April 1945, several targets had been attacked by their B-29 force. Their bomb-load was normally twenty 500lb and only rarely using 1,000lb bombs and this mostly against aircraft plants. Their pressurized cabin, electronic fire control system and remotely controlled gun turrets were much appreciated.
Though designed for high-altitude day bombing, in practice the B29 flew more low-altitude night incendiary bombing missions for the fire-bombing campaign. Their importance in mining operations of Japanese harbours, mostly at night, also had considerable strategic effect in limiting Japanese food supplies. Hiroshima and Nagasaki.were destroyed by the B-29 Enola Gay dropping the atomic bomb on 6th August 1945 and. Bockscar’s sortie three days later. These attacks, coupled to the Soviet invasion of Manchuria on 9 August 1945, brought about the Japanese surrender and the official end of World War II. Following Japan’s surrender on V-J Day, B-29s were used for other purposes.
John Cox also has written a few years ago his wartime memoirs “Friendly Monster: A Warbird and its Crew”, recalling the B29’s code name in the Pacific, the crew, their aircraft and his 33 combat missions between April 1944 and July 1945.