|Homer Cocklin after liberation 1945|
|Last Name: `
|Street:||City & State: DILLSBORO, PA||E-Mail:|
|Zip:||Phone: 717 243-8244||Spouse: MIRIAM B. COCKLIN|
|Conflict: WW II||Service Branch: Army Air Corp||Unit: 384 BG 545 SQD.|
|Theater: ETO||Where Captured: HAMBURG, GERMANY||Date Captured: 07/25/43|
|Camps Held In: STALAG 17B||How Long Interned: 660 days|
|liberated / repatriated: liberated||Date Liberated: 05/15/45||Age at Capture: 19|
|Medals Received: PURPLE HEART, AIR MEDAL, EAME WITH 1 SILVER STAR, POW MEDAL CAMPAIN|
|Occupation after War: CLERK|
Homer J. Cocklin
After a bad parachute landing in the City of Hamburg, Germany, I was captured immediately by the German soldiers. I could not move off the spot where I landed due to the immobility of my legs and the severe back pain. After a small scuffle between the soldiers and civilians, which came to capture me, and after the soldiers shot over their heads, I was carried to a staff car, put into the rear seat and blindfolded immediately. Due to my head wound, which I rubbed, I worked the blindfold upward enough to see when I tilted my head back. I could see what the civilians were unhappy about, they were hanging an American airman that day.
I was taken to a prison and placed in solitary confinement. I was immediately interrogated. After about four hours, I was sent to a medic. He examined my legs and at the same time pounded and pulled on my legs. Then he put a metal cast on my right leg. That night I had a plank bed with a plank nailed on a 45o angle for a pillow. After repeated questioning all night I was informed by the medic that I was moving to a better place. He then took his metal cast from my leg. After about a two-hour trip I ended up at a hospital for forced labor. This time I was x-rayed but the two doctors got into an argument over what to do. I was placed in a building, which contained all forced labor patients. I was the first American they had ever seen. Soon all their friends heard about me and I was the star attraction for them. They came with cigarettes, flowers and even candy, just to smile and look at me. But about two days later it all ended for a German nurse saw the candy under my pillow. She called the guards who entered with fixed bayonets drawn. I was carried to a waiting car and taken blindfolded to an air base and put in solitary confinement.
By this time my legs were swelling and getting blacker and blacker. After many days in this cell my legs hurt so bad that I was sitting on my usual plank bed rubbing them. They swelled about twice the normal size even up to the hips and became as back as coal. Finally, a guard asked if they hurt, I said they did. Later that evening I was told I would be taken to the base hospital the next morning. That night the British bombed the base with some real heavy bombs, some of which hit the building next door to my cell. As the next morning approached two guards were carrying me to the hospital. As we rounded the bombed building an S.S. officer saw them carrying me. That is when my misery really began. The S.S. officer showed me he belonged to the “Super Race”. He directed me to get down on my hands and knees and crawl about one and one-half miles over a crushed stone road to the hospital. When I arrived at the hospital, he made me stand on one leg for about two hours. When I finally got to see three doctors they kept trying to get military information out of me for medical help which they provided. When I refused, they in turn refused to help me.
I was then taken out and made to crawl back the one and one-half miles to solitary confinement. I was there about eight weeks at which time I was able to walk on my left leg with the aid of a stick. I was again transferred to Dulog Luft for questioning and again put in solitary confinement. I was here for ten days being interrogated and with no medical help. Later I was sent to a German General for my final interrogation.
I was sent to 7-A where I never received medical care until about a month later when I saw an American doctor who told me he could not help me. He gave me aspirin tablets for the pain. As time went on I would take as high as twenty to twenty-five aspirin a day for the pain.
Later I was transferred to Stalag 17-B. I would still take plenty of aspirin to kill the pain. I even took them for a strep throat. In fact, I took aspirin for any ailment. They seemed to help in those days. While I was in Camps 7-A and 17-B I had severe cases of dysentery and sores from lice, ticks, bed bugs and all other kinds of bugs found in those places. Whenever one went to see our American doctor he would prescribe soap and water, which was very good if one had it. We had very little.
I still get pain to this day in my right ankle. Also, I get severe backaches. I was a carpenter before I entered the service but I had to give up this trade because of my back. Then decided to be a mortician but I was advised by my doctors to give this up also because every time I did any lifting I would get very severe pain in my back. I then became a Clerk in the Headquarters of Pennsylvania Selective Service. I worked there until a reduction in force made it necessary for me to go on retirement. I received a monthly retirement of approximately $314.00 a month from Federal Civil Service and about $32.00 a month for a ten-percent disability based on my service-connected injuries. At my present age, 56, it is most difficult to get work when one has a disability.
Our diet at prison camp was a starvation diet for the twenty-two months I was there. We would get a cup of hot water for breakfast, half a cup of meatless soup for lunch and then a cup of hot water for supper. This was supplemented with Red Cross parcels whenever the Germans felt like giving them to us.
Homer's service record was confirmed with a copy of WD AGO form 53-55 1 Nov. 1944.
|My Message to Future Generations:
|Homer (bottom left ) with B17 Crew 1943|
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