179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division
Before the War
Bernard Fox was born on November 12, 1921, in Poland. Detailed records of Fox’s family from before the war are scarce. Bernard immigrated to the United States as a child with his brother Samuel. Some records indicate his mother and father had also immigrated to the United States but later returned to Poland. Fox attended Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, New York, and graduated in 1937 at age 16. During high school, he was involved in several activities, including French Club and Junior Arista (Honor Society). He also served as the class secretary.
The “Fighting 45th”
Fox entered the U.S. Army and joined the 45th Infantry Division in February 1943. The 45th Infantry Division, or “Mighty Thunderbirds,” became known after the war for serving for 511 days of combat from the invasion of Sicily to the fall of Munich. Fox fought in the 179th Infantry Regiment and participated in the liberation of Sicily.
After success in Sicily, the 45th Infantry Division participated in an amphibious invasion of mainland Italy at Salerno and Naples. In late October 1943, while participating in fierce fighting just outside of Naples, Fox was wounded by shrapnel on two separate occasions. After healing from these wounds, he rejoined his division and participated in his third amphibious landing at Anzio.
The Battle of Anzio was bloody, long, and brutal. Fox received a much more severe wound at Anzio when he was shot in the thigh and spent almost a month recuperating in the division hospital. The 45th Infantry Division continued to fight into northern Italy until June 1944, when they were withdrawn to prepare for their fourth and final amphibious invasion, Operation Dragoon, the Allied invasion of southern France.
Fox came ashore in southern France in August 1944. Three days after Allied forces landed, he was killed in action near Barjols.
In letters between Fox’s brother Sam and the War Department after Fox’s death, Sam explained how he had suggested to his brother that after being wounded three times, “he would, by now, be entitled to a furlough.” Fox replied that “he feels it to be his duty to do his full share in the decisive battles now taking place.” Technical Sergeant Bernard Fox ultimately earned a Purple Heart with three oak leaf clusters and a Bronze Star for his role in the war.
Fox’s body was buried in a temporary grave shortly after his death. His brother Sam was notified of his death. Following the end of the war, Sam notified the Office of the Quartermaster General that his remaining family, including his father, Fisher Fox, were killed by the Germans during the war in the Polish town of Kalusz. Sam Fox chose to have his brother buried in the Rhone American Cemetery in Draguignan, France.
A memorial to alumni of Abraham Lincoln High School who perished in the war was planned in Brooklyn, New York, but was never completed. A museum for the 45th Infantry Division is located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where Technical Sergeant Bernard Fox is remembered along with all those who served in the 45th Infantry Division during the war.
45th Infantry Division; Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, World War II Operations Reports 1940-1948, Record Group 407 (Box 9260); National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.
45th Infantry Division; Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, World War II Operations Reports 1940-1948, Record Group 407 (Box 9429); National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.
45th Infantry Division; Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, World War II Operations Reports 1940-1948, Record Group 407 (Box 9431); National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.
Abraham Lincoln High School, The Landmark (n.p., 1937), p. 60; "U.S. School Yearbooks, 1880-2012," Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 November 2016).
“Bernard Fox.” American Battle Monuments Commission. Accessed April 1, 2016. http://abmc.gov/node/420587#.VwKzrhIrKi4.
Bernard Fox, Individual Deceased Personnel File, Department of the Army.
Bernard Fox, Official Military Personnel File, Department of the Army, RG 319, National Archives and Records Administration-St. Louis.
Kershaw, Alex. The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau. New York: Crown, 2012.
“Lincoln H.S. Opens $100,000 Drive to Open Hundred Heroes Hall.” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 16, 1947. Newspapers.com.
“Lincoln Class is Told To Map Own Futures.” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 31, 1937. Newspapers.com.
Munsell, Warren P. The Story of a Regiment, A History of the 179th Regimental Combat. World War Regimental Histories. Book 34. 1946. http://digicom.bpl.lib.me.us/ww_reg_his/34.
Nelson, Guy. Thunderbird, A History of the 45th Infantry Division edited, production supervised and a foreword by Roy P. Stewart. Oklahoma City: 45th Infantry Division Association, 1970.
“Open Drive for War Memorial.” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 17, 1947. Newspapers.com.
Rhone American Cemetery and Memorial Brochure. Accessed March 16, 2016. https://abmc.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Rhone_Booklet.pdf.
Rhone American Cemetery and Memorial. Accessed March 28, 2016. https://abmc.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Rhone%20508_8-19-2014.pdf.
Williamson, Kenneth D. Tales of a Thunderbird in World War II: from Oklahoma to Munich and Back Again with a Detour Through Paris. St. Albans, WV: Kendwil Publications, 1994.