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D-Day rowing boat saved my Amethwick brother in sea

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: August 06, 2014

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MY late father, Samuel John Hancox, was in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in World War One.

He attained the rank of Sergeant Instructor, but when his platoon was sent to France the Army kept my father back, because he was a very good instructor and, therefore, too good to lose.

Dad was hopping mad, as he was so keen to go and fight. However, in the event it was a good job he was kept back, otherwise I would not be here as every man in his platoon was killed, not one came back.

He loved guns and wanted to fire one in anger against the Germans. But it was not to be, he had to be content with passing his knowledge on to raw recruits.

World War Two saw my brother, Stanley Joseph Hancox, serving in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. Following a stint on a submarine after he passed out from Skegness, he was recommended by two officers to go to King Alfred Naval College to train to be an officer where he passed out as a Sub-Lieutenant.

On D-Day he was one of the five command ships anchored off one of the landing beaches. On D-Day 2 his ship, HMS Lawford, was bombed and sunk. At the time it was thought that an enemy aircraft had seen the Lawford silhouetted against the dawn and bombed her amidships.

However, since then my son Andrew saw a programme on one of the TV channels, where it was thought that instead of a bomb the ship was hit by one of the first guided missiles. The Lawford was the only command ship to be sunk.

My brother did not like talking about this, as the loss of half his ship's company still upset him.

He did not know how long he was in the water clinging to a piece of wreckage, but just as he had reached the end of his tether and was about to let go, a voice came from he knew not where, but has since believed it was his Guardian Angel, who said: "Do not give up. You will survive." Some time after this a rowing boat hove to and he was hauled on board, where he was wrapped in a blanket and given a very welcome mug of hot cocoa. He could still remember the face of the man who gave him the cocoa.

I only know this because my son was visiting Stan in the USA where he went to live and insisted on hearing about it for posterity, even though Stan did not want to talk about it as it still distressed him. It was a shock to my mother and me when he arrived home with a small brown attaché case and the clothes he stood up in.

All he would say at the time was that all his luggage was at the bottom of the sea. Stan died on November 20, 1998.

Mrs N.T. Crosbee,

Flat 34, Milton Court,

Sandon Road, Smethwick.

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