Looking for info on Francis B Cook 501 PIR

Looking for info on Francis B Cook 501 PIR

Registered User
Joined: 23 Nov 2009, 10:36

23 Nov 2009, 10:36 #1

I found some letters written home by Bruce Cook to his wife Helen in 1944 & 1945. The return address says S/Sgt. Francis B. Cook, 19099105, Regt'l. Hq
Co 501 Prcht Inf. Is there a way to find out what battalion he belonged to and what action he saw in WWII? I am researching his family genealogy and would like
to create a tribute page to him and get his gravesite registered as a U.S. Veteran. I am also looking to pass these letters and memorabilia (pictured below) to
his descendants or relatives. KlondikeFox if you read this, do you think this is the same Bruce Cook in the photo posted at http://triggertimeforum.yuku.com/reply/ ... eply-14593?
Any information on him would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! The second photo is Bruce with his mother-in-law, his wife, and an unspecified Army buddy. Their
uniforms and hats don't have patches but the jacket under Bruce's arm has the 101st Airborne patch barely visible.

Last edited by cportz on 08 Dec 2009, 21:19, edited 3 times in total.

Registered User
Joined: 03 Mar 2008, 14:33

09 Dec 2009, 12:01 #2

Cookie was a member of the regimental Demotions platoon of the 501 PIR.

After WW2 he lived in California. I only met him at one reunion, I think it was

a National 101st Division reunion in Hot Springs AR in 1979.

Cookie made it all the way through WW2 with the 501, from Toccoa to Germany

and was fortunate not to be on the mine-loading detail at Bastogne which claimed the lives

of a dozen of his demolitions buddies on 5 Jan. 1945, in the Seminary courtyard.

There is another photo of him, wearing parachutes, holding a M1-A1 TSMG with general

purpose bags full of explosives slung in front of each of his legs, on the back cover of

my first book.

Registered User
Joined: 03 Mar 2008, 14:33

09 Dec 2009, 12:30 #3

As a S/Sgt, Cookie was the platoon sergeant for the 501st Demo Platoon.

This platoon was a separate entity from the 3 battalions, however, it was divided

into sections and each section was assigned to a rifle company in one of the battalions,

to provide explosives as needed, on actual combat missions.

In Normandy, Cookie stayed with RHQ, but it was learned that not as many demolitionists

were actually required as had been envisioned by writers of early Airborne doctrine. They

expected that many bridge-blowing and related or similar jobs would be required, but the

501 learned in Normandy that they had way more Demo personnel than actually needed.

As a result, each rifle company received 3 former Demo guys as permanent riflemen for the

duration of WW2. As an example, G Co 3/501 received Ed Case, Ralph Manley and

Frank Serwatka from Regimental Demo after Normandy. Those guys served for the rest of

WW2 as riflemen in G Co.

Cookie stayed in RHQ all though the war, but his Demo guys did more landmine laying than

blowing-up of bridges or other structures.

Registered User
Joined: 23 Nov 2009, 10:36

09 Dec 2009, 21:54 #4

Thanks for the reply Mark! Since I first posted this query in late November I've been able to find a relative, Bruce's younger brother and last
surviving sibling, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday. He doesn't do email, but I've sent copies of his letters to his daughter-in-law, and will
wait to see if they are interested in sheperding the other items.

From a letter Cookie wrote to his wife from England on 14 Dec 1944, I knew he wasn't at Bastogne because he was in the hospital being treated for a leg
wound. In that same letter he writes that "Buchanan is going home. They told him this afternoon & we've been razzing him ever since. We took his
wings & patches away from him & got him a blue star patch like the non-combatants wear. He thinks we really mean it & is just laying here on my bed
not even smiling."

I will have to track down a copy of your book(s). I'd like to read more about what these brave guys did and I've learned a lot already from reading
your website and posts on this forum. I know it's no excuse, but being a baby-boomer and growing up in the 50s, we didn't hear much about what just
happened. I've copied The New Sparky's definition of a veteran to a sign on my desk to remind me what a commitment they make/made.

Registered User
Joined: 03 Mar 2008, 14:33

22 Dec 2009, 16:46 #5

Al Krochka, the regtl photog. for 501 PIR, took this on
2nd Army Maneuvers in Tennessee around Sept. 1943.
The best close-up I've seen of Cookie's face appears in a photo
album compiled by a Red Cross girl, which resides in the collection
of the Pratt Museum at Ft Campbell.  Capt. Page showed me the
album back in the spring and he put many of the photos on a disc for me.
The problem is, I can't find the disc around here lately.
I do have a couple other Cookie pics around, which I'll eventually scan and
post here.  M B  

Registered User
Joined: 04 Apr 2008, 11:14

23 Dec 2009, 12:40 #6

ANOTHER 501.... WOW... Mark you are a BLESSING.. :-) Thank AGAIN FOR YOUR GREAT WORK...
What the hell.... everybody is crazy in this outfit, including me if we weren't we wouldn't be in it....

Registered User
Joined: 16 Dec 2014, 17:53

16 Dec 2014, 17:53 #7

Francis Bruce Cook was my Grandfather. He was an amazing man. It is a wonderful connection to him to be able to read posts about him. Thank you to CPortz for his Purple Heart. 

Registered User
Joined: 16 Jun 2017, 20:25

16 Jun 2017, 20:25 #8

Julianne ... your grandfather was my father! He and my mother had a "torrid" affair in 1944/45 and I was the result. Some years ago I visited with his second wife and she gave me many of his medals. Would love to catch up with you .. . just to know more about him. My email is suekatz@rcn.con.