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Robert Bowles Wilcox

Military

Bob Wilcox enlisted in the National Guard at Decatur in 1941. Training as a bombardier in the Army Air Corps, he graduated from the bombardier school at Childress, Texas and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. Sent overseas in May 1943, he was a Bombardier in the 351st Bomb Group / 510th Bomb Squadron based in Polebrook, England.
He was on his 6th mission on 31 December 1943, on board # 42-39823 "Iron Ass", with the Bordeaux airfield as primary target. Due to dense cloud cover over the Bordeaux area, their group proceeded to Cognac, the secondary target. After bombs away, on the flight back, 42-39823 was hit by Flak and its crew bailed out. Missing Air Crew Report – MACR 1983.
Wilcox, who had just a scratch over the left eye, landed in marshes near Saint-Martin ±10 km NNW of Saujon (Charentes-Maritimes), France. He hid all day on the 31st and walked to nearby Le Gua, reaching Saujon and stopping to rest at the former “Camp Romain” near Saint-Romain-de-Benet, 10km NNE of Saujon. He was helped there by farmers and the local mayor who managed to find him civilian clothes, food, some French money and a map for directions to Saint-Simon-de-Pellouaille. On 3 January 1944, in Jorignac, he met a young man, Frédéric, who took him to his home 4km away in Bénigousse, a hamlet of the municipality of Saint-Simon-de-Pellouaille. There, despite the risks at being arrested, Frédéric’s father, Edouard Nadeau and his wife Leona, sheltered, fed and clothed him, giving him all comfort possible. Bob Wilcox stayed with the Nadeau family until 11 September 1944. On that day, he was escorted by French FFI members to the American lines and came in contact in Bordeaux with a Captain Austin, an American paratrooper who worked with the French Resistance. He left by car for Avignon with Capt. Austin on 13 September, arriving on the 15th. The next day, Austin took him to Salon-de-Provence where his return to England was arranged. He left Salon-de-Provence by air to Naples, Italy on the 17th, flew from there on the 19th to Oran, Algeria, from where he traveled to Casablanca, Morocco. He left Casablanca by air on 20 September 1944, and landed the same day in England. Escape & Evasion Report E&E 2239.
After his return to the United States, “Perk” was a bombardier instructor at Midland airfield in Texas.
“Peck” Wilcox and his wife June traveled to France in 1967. Bob made an emotional visit to “Papa and Mama” (that’s how he always called Edouard and Leona Nadeau) and their son Frédéric in Saint-Simon-de-Pellouaille. Robert Wilcox was a farmer and a retired rural mail carrier in the Blue Mound area. He passed away in October 1999.
At the initiative of French researcher and friend of the Wilcox family, Bernard Ballanger, and with the help of the municipality of Saint-Simon-de-Pellouaille, a ceremony was organized there in honor of Peck Wilcox and the Nadeau family who sheltered him. It took place on Saturday 19 December 2015 in the presence of Ms Kari Wilcox Foster, grand-daughter of Bombardier Robert Wilcox. After a Mass at the local church and a wreath-laying at the locality’s Monument aux Morts, Ms Foster accompanied the group of local dignitaries and citizens and Mr Thomas Wolf, United States Consul in Bordeaux, to pay their respects at the cemetery where “Papa and Mama” are resting. Wreaths were laid and a plaque was placed at Papa and Mama’s gravesite. A similar plaque was inaugurated on the wall of the Nadeau’s wartime house in Bénigousse / Cravans the same day. The plaques in French read:
Ici
Edouard et Léone NADEAU
et leur fils Frédéric
ont sauvé de l’occupation
de l’Allemagne Nazie,
l’aviateur américain
Robert WILCOX
( 02.01.1944 – 09.09.1944)
Réalisé le 19.12.2015
(Translation : Here, Edouard and Léone NADEAU and their son Frédéric saved from the Nazi German occupier the American airman Robert WILCOX (2 January 1944-9 September 1944) – Inaugurated 19 December 2015.)

Service

People

  • Francis Anderson

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Engineer / Top Turret Gunner | 351st Bomb Group
    Francis Anderson was born in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. He was a 1941 graduate of Live Oak Street High School, New Smyrna Beach. He enlisted in the Air Corps in October 1942 and took basic training at St Petersburg, Florida. He followed courses at the...

  • Lawrence Anderson

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 351st Bomb Group
    Shot down 31 December 1943 in B-17 #42-39823 'Iron Ass'. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • Marvin Bender

    Military | Lieutenant | Pilot | 351st Bomb Group
    Shot down 31 December 1943 in B-17 #42-39823 'Iron Ass'. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • Levi Collins

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 351st Bomb Group
    Shot down 31 December 1943 in B-17 #42-39823 'Iron Ass'. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • Harold Freeman

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 351st Bomb Group
    Shot down 31 December 1943 in B-17 #42-39823 'Iron Ass'. Evaded.

  • William Grupp

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 351st Bomb Group
    Shot down 31 December 1943 in B-17 #42-39823 'Iron Ass'. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • Veikko Koski

    Military | Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner | 351st Bomb Group
    Veikko Koski was Right Waist Gunner in the 351st Bomb Group / 510th Bomb Squadron. Shot down by Flak 31 December 1943 in B-17 #42-39823 'Iron Ass'. Crashed in the sea, off the coast of Royan, France. Missing Air Crew Report - MACR 1983. Veikko Koski...

  • Harold Long

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 351st Bomb Group
    Shot down 31 December 1943 in B-17 #42-39823 'Iron Ass'. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • Francis Rollins

    Military | Sergeant | Radio Operator | 351st Bomb Group
    Shot down 31 December 1943 in B-17 #42-39823 'Iron Ass'. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

Show more

Units served with

  • 351st Bomb Group

    351st Bomb Group

    Group
    The 351st Bomb Group flew strategic bombing missions from their base at Polebrook, Northamptonshire from April 1943 to June 1945. The Group's most famous member was Hollywood actor Clark Gable, who flew four/ five missions with them as an observer...

  • 510th Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

  • 42-39823 Iron Ass

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Long Beach 11/9/43; Gr Island 10/10/43; Scott 30/10/43; Assigned 401BG Deenethorpe 4/11/43; transferred 510BS/351BG [TU-O] Polebrook 18/11/43; Missing in Action 8m Bordeaux 31/12/43 with Pilot Marvin H. Bender; Co-pilot: William J. Grupp;...

Missions

Associated Place

  • Polebrook

    Military site : airfield
    Polebrook was laid down for RAF Bomber Command use in 1940-1941. Built by George Wimpey and Co. Ltd, it had short runways which were lengthened for USAAF heavy bomber use. The RAF used the base for operational trials - including of B-17 Flying...

Events

Event Location Date
Born Blue Mound, Macon County, Illinois, United States 20 April 1917

the son of Albert Ross Wilcox and Mary Susan (Bowles) Wilcox

Lived in Blue Mound, Illinois, United States 1917 – 1 October 1999
Enlisted Decatur, Illinois, United States 17 January 1941
Evaded Bénigousse, Saint-Simon-de-Pellouaille, France 31 December 1943 – 11 September 1944

A few days after landing in parachute near Saujon, Charentes-Maritimes, France, he was sheltered by the Nadeau family in Saint-Simon-de-Pellouaille and hidden there until 11 September 1944 when he met US troops in Bordeaux. He was back in England on 20 September 1944.

Buried Halls Cemetery, Blue Mound, Illinois, United States 1999
Died Decatur, Illinois, United States 1 October 1999

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
08 January 2016 15:49:44 ED-BB Changes to biography
Sources

Added ceremony details to Biography

Date Contributor Update
08 January 2016 15:26:45 ED-BB Changes to media associations
Sources

Added photo

Date Contributor Update
08 January 2016 15:25:54 ED-BB Changes to media associations
Sources

Added photo

Date Contributor Update
07 December 2015 11:54:50 ED-BB Changes to biography and events
Sources

Added details to Biography

Date Contributor Update
04 December 2015 16:03:32 ED-BB Changes to middlename, nickname, service number, biography, events, person associations, place associations and mission associations
Sources

MACR 1983
NARA WWII Enlistment records
Escape & Evasion Report E&E 2239

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:23:01 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 1983 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

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