A DECORATED war veteran who survived being shot three times in the Second World War will celebrate his 100th birthday tomorrow (Saturday).
Ralph Cox, who lives at The Beeches Residential Care Home in Northfield, was a sergeant in the Red Berets Parachute Regiment when the incident happened on June 12, 1944. He suffered bullet wounds to his back, arm and leg and, after battling on and continuing his service, he received six military medals, including the Kings Commendation for Brave Conduct.
Before the war Ralph was a fireman and after being demobbed he worked at Raybone Chesterman in Hockley, a firm which manufactured measuring tapes.
Ralph was born in Lozells in 1915 and married his neighbour and childhood sweetheart Anne.
The pair went on to have four children – Jill, Ron, Wendy and Ray. Their eldest Jill was born in 1937 and just months after Ron was born, Ralph was called up to the army.
Wendy said: “They were super parents – very kind.”
And Jill added: “He was a very kind father and we were very close growing up – all of us are.”
Ralph and Anne ran two care homes for young children – one in Shenley Fields, Northfield, and another in Druids Heath. Many of the children they cared for stayed in touch over the years.
The couple enjoyed had a happy marriage for 45 years until Anne sadly died of cancer in 1982.
Ralph married again in 1983 when he was 68 and Marion, his second wife who had three children from her first marriage, passed away in 2005 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.
Jill said her dad lovingly cared for both Anne and his second wife Marion.
Ralph, who has 13 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren, was an all-round sportsman and loved football, golf, bowls and running – a sport which saw him compete for several years with the renowned Birchfield Harriers.
Ralph, who played golf into his 90s and put the secret of his long life down to being happy, playing plenty of sport and always being fit, said: “Sport has played a big part of my life.
“I feel happy and quite contented living life.”
Ralph is known at the home as a Sir Bobby Charlton CBE lookalike as when he arrived two years ago, everyone there thought he looked like Manchester United and England football legend.
When asked what his greatest achievement had been, the centenarean to be said: “It’s simple and close to the heart – getting married and having children will always be the proudest moments of my life.”
Karen Finn, The Beeches’ administrator, said: “Ralph is a pleasure to be around and shares lots of stories about his long and happy life.
“His enthusiasm for life and positive thinking is infectious and it is such a pleasure to be celebrating this special birthday with him.”
Ralph will be having a party tomorrow with his loved ones, the staff and fellow residents at The Beeches.
Ralph in his uniform. s