24 October 2016

World War Two for the day

War Tales has an article by Don Moore about an unusual spoil of war:

Bob Granchi of Port Charlotte, Florida was a Screaming Eagle, a member of the 101st Airborne Division that jumped behind German lines on D-Day. He was also surrounded by the enemy at Bastogne, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge in December of 1944.
When the war ended, his unit, the 326th Airborne Engineering Battalion of the 101st Airborne was at Berchtesgaden, Adolf Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest retreat in southern Germany. Grachi’s sergeant, James C. Cox of Gary, Indiana, liberated Hitler’s sporty Mercedes-Benz roadster. The car made the young sergeant famous and got him a big promotion.
Sergeant Cox became First Lieutenant Cox. He and der Führer’s car went on a War Bond tour around the northeastern United States in November of 1944. The tour raised more than six million in bonds for the Treasury. Cox received a letter of commendation for his support of the war effort, but he didn’t get to keep the famous automobile.
By the time Cox had captured the sports car, Granchi was recovering from his third wound during World War Two in a hospital in England. Later he was sent back to the States to recuperate. It was during this recuperation period he happened to see his former sergeant making the bond tour with Hitler’s Mercedes.
He met Lieutenant Cox standing beside the blue, seventeen-foot-long, two-seat German roadster with its twelve-cylinder, super-charged engine that could do 120 mph. It had armor-plated doors and an armor plated back panel behind the seats. It also had an inch-thick glass windshield for protection.
Granchi didn’t think any more about Hitler’s car until he was invited to attend a week-long annual soirée put on by the 101st Airborne Division at its headquarters in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
When Granchi and his wife arrived at Campbell, it was one of the first things they spotted: Hitler’s Mercedes that the now-dead Lieutenant Cox had confiscated almost a half-century earlier. He couldn’t believe his eyes.
The current owner of the car had put it on display at the 101st’s annual get-together because he knew the history of the car. When Granchi told him he was in the unit that captured the sports car during World War Two, he was invited to take it for a spin. Since it was a million-dollar vintage stick shift, he declined the offer and opted instead to get his picture taken in der Führer’s car.
Granchi contacted Lieutenant Cox’ son in California and asked him to send him more information on the car his father had liberated in Germany. A few weeks later, the Port Charlotte vet received a manila envelope containing old newspaper clippings, official letters, and detailed info on the specially-made German roadster.
It was obvious from the material Granchi got from the son that the Mercedes made a big hit with the general public while it was on tour in 1944. The bond tour took Lieutenant Cox and Hitler’s car to twenty cities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, beginning on 2 November 1944.
Unfortunately for Cox, he didn’t get to keep the car. It became the property of the Treasury Department. Eventually it was sold, after the war, by the Federal government to a private collector.
For Bob Granchi, seeing der Führer’s Mercedes again brought back fond memories.
This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper from Port Charlotte, Florida.
Rico says he wonders where that ended up...

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