Adams_L

 


Pvt. Leonard Marvin Adams
    Pvt. Leonard M. Adams was born on August 7, 1919, in Montague County, Texas, to Daniel W. Adams & Rosa Adams.  With his three sisters and five brothers, he grew up in Texas and Anadarko, Oklahoma.  He attended Fairview School in Anadarko, but left school after finishing the seventh grade.  During the 1930s, his family was living outside Fort Cobb, in Caddo County, Oklahoma, where they were renting a farm.  Leonard and his brother were working on the farm for their father.   The address he listed on his military records was: Route 3, Box 229, Port Cobb, Oklahoma.
    On March 20, 1941, in Oklahoma City, Leonard was inducted into the U.S. Army.  He was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he did his basic training.  What particular training he received is not known at this time.  But, it believe he was assigned to a tank.
    After basic training, Leonard was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, where he was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion.  The battalion had been sent to the base from Ft. Benning, Georgia, but did not take part in the maneuvers that were taking place.
    When the maneuvers ended, the members of the 192nd Tank Battalion remained behind at Camp Polk.   Many had no idea why they were being kept there.  What they were told on the side of a hill was that they were being sent overseas. It was at this time that members of the battalion, 29 years old or older, were allowed to resign from federal service.
    The battalion traveled west by train to San Francisco.  Arriving there, they were taken by ferry to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  At Fort McDowell, they were given physicals and inoculated.   Those men found to have a minor medical condition were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.

    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd.  The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island.  On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam.
   
At one point, the ships passed an island at night.  While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  The ships sailed the same day for Manila and entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th.  They docked at Pier 7 and the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. 
  At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King.  The general apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own.  Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
   
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons.  The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea.  They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance.
    On the morning of December 8, 1941, the members of C Company were informed of the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  His tank and the others were sent to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  About 12:45 in the afternoon as the tankers were eating lunch, planes approached the airfield from the north.  At first, the soldiers thought the planes were American.  It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that they knew the planes were Japanese.
   
   
The 192nd remained at Clark Field for about a week before they were ordered to the barrio of Dau so it would be near a road and railroad.  For the next four months, the tankers held positions so that the other units could disengage and form a defensive line. 

  
    At Gumain River, the tank companies formed a defensive line along the south bank of the river.  When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts.  It was there the tankers noted that the Japanese soldiers were high on drugs when they attacked.  Among the dead Japanese, the tankers found the hypodermic needles and syringes.   The tankers were able to hold up the Japanese for several weeks.
    The tankers soon found themselves in given the job of holding a defensive line so that the other troops could disengage and form a new defensive line further south.  They repeated this action over and over.
   
During the Battle of the Points the tanks were sent in to wipe out Japanese troops that had broken through the main defensive line and than trapped behind the line after the Filipino and American troops pushed the Japanese back.  According to members of the battalion they resorted two ways to wipe out the Japanese.
    The first method was to have three Filipino soldiers sit on the back of the tanks with sacks of hand grenades.  When the Japanese dove back into their foxholes, the tank would go over it and the soldiers would drop three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the ordnance was from World War I, one out of three hand grenades would explode.
    The second method was simple.  The tank was parked with one track across the foxhole.   The driver spun the tank on one track.  The tank dug into the dirt until the Japanese soldiers were dead.
 
    The night of April 8, 1942, the tankers received the order "crash."  They circled their tanks.  Each tank fired a armor piecing shell into the engine of the tank in front of it.  They also opened the gasoline cocks inside the tank compartments and dropped hand grenades into the tanks.  Most of the company waited in their bivouac for the Japanese to make contact, while others attempted to reach Corregidor which had not surrendered.
    After the Japanese made contact with C Company, the members of the company made their way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  They were now officially Prisoners of War.  At Mariveles, the Japanese took blankets and other items from the POWs that they could use.  The tankers striped anything from their uniforms that indicated that they were tankers.  They heard the rumor that the Japanese were looking for them.
    From Mariveles, the tankers made their way north toward San Fernando.  They were given little food or water.  When they arrived at San Fernando, they were put in a bull pen.  In one corner was a slit trench that was the washroom for the POWs.  The surface of it moved from the maggots. 
    The POWs were ordered to form detachments of 100 men.  They were taken to the train station and packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane.  The cars were known as forty or eights since they could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese put 100 POWs into each boxcar.  Those who died remained standing since there was no place to fall.  At Capas, the POWs disembarked and the dead fell to the floor of the cars.  The POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army training base that the Japanese pressed into use as a POW camp.  There was one water faucet for the entire camp.  Disease among the POWs ran wild with as many as 55 POWs dying each day.  It is not known if Leonard remained in the camp or went out on a work detail.  The Japanese closed the camp and moved the POWs there to Cabanatuan.
    It is known that Leonard was a POW at Cabanatuan and that he was selected to go out on a work detail to Las Pinas.  He may have become ill and returned to Cabanatuan because he was selected to be sent to Davao, Mindanao, on October 27, 1942. 
He and the other POWs were loaded onto the Erie Maru and taken to Davao, Mindanao, arriving there on October 28th.  A smaller group of POWs remained at Davao, at the penal colony, and worked on a farm, while the rest of the POWs were sent to Lasang, on November 7th, and spent the next twenty months building runways and farming.  The POW camp was located about 36 miles from Davao City.

    At the camp, the POWs were housed in barracks that were about 148 feet long and about 16 feet wide.  A four foot wide aisle ran down the center of each barracks.  In each barracks, were eighteen bays.  Twelve POWs shared a bay.  216 POWs lived in each barracks.  Four cages were later put in a bay.  Each cage held two POWs.

    The camp discipline was poor.  The American commanding officer changed frequently.  The junior officers refused to take orders from the senior officers.  Soon, the enlisted men spoke anyway they wanted to, to the officers.  The situation improved because all majority of POWs realized that discipline was needed to survive.
   
At first, the work details were not guarded.  The POWs plowed, planted, and harvested the crops.  The sick POWs made baskets.  In April 1943, the POWs working conditions varied.  Those working the rice fields received the worst treatment.  They were beaten for not meeting quotas, misunderstandings between the POWs and guards, and a translator who could not be trusted to tell the truth.
    The Japanese ended the detail at the farm and sent the POWs to Lasang on March 2, 1944.  The POWs thought that it would not be as bad as the farm; they were wrong.  The barracks of the POWs were only 400 yards from the airfield.  The POWs believed this was done so if American planes attacked, they would kill their own countrymen.
    The POWs either built runways or were sent to a quarry to mine coral for runways.  The POWs dug out the coral, broke it up, and loaded it onto trucks which were driven to the airfield.  When the POWs slowed the pace of their work down, the Japanese resorted to torture to get them to work.
    One night, the POWs heard the sound of a plane.  From the sound of its engine, they knew it was an American plane.  This was the first American plane they had seen in over two years.  The plane dove on the runway and dropped four bombs at the far end of the runway.  The POWs could not openly show their joy, so they cheered silently.  Not too long later, on June 6, 1944, Leonard was one of the POWs selected to be sent to Manila. 
    The POWs were boarded onto the Yashu Maru which sailed on June 12, 1944.  It arrived at Cebu City on June 17, 1944.  They remained in the ship's holds for three days when they disembarked and transferred to the Teiryo Maru.  This ship sailed on June 21st and arrived at Manila on June 24th. The POWs disembarked and were taken to Bilibid Prison.
    Leonard remained at Bilibid for a little over a week, when his name appeared on a roster of POWs being sent to Japan.  The POWs were taken to the Port Area of Manila and boarded onto the Canadian Inventor.  The ship was given the name of "The Mati Mati Maru" since it's trip to Japan would take months.
    The ship sailed on July 4th but, after a day at sea, it returned to Manila because of boiler problems.  The ship remained in harbor for eleven days while the Japanese attempted to repair the boiler.  On July 16th the ship sailed again.  After a few days out at sea, it once again experienced boiler problems.  Since it could not keep up with the rest of the convoy, it was left behind to fend for itself.  It finally arrived at Takao, Formosa, on July 23rd.  The ship remained in port while salt was loaded onto it.
    On August 4th, the ship sailed again and made its way along the west coast of Formosa and arrived at Keelung, Formosa, on August 5th.  It remained at Keelung for twelve days while the Japanese worked on repairing the boiler again.  When the repairs were finished it sailed o August 17th to the the Ryuku Islands.  Once again it was having boiler problems and repairs were attempted again.
    The Canadian Inventor made it to Naha, Okinawa, where more repairs were attempted.  The ship finally reached Moji, Japan, on September 1st.  The trip to Japan had taken 62 days with the deaths of six POWs.  When they disembarked the ship, the POWs were broken up into to detachments and taken to the train station.

   
From Moji, Leonard was taken to Naygoya #5-B arriving at the camp on September 4th.  In the camp, the POWs were used as slave labor in the production of sulfuric acid.  Leonard remained in the camp until May 25, 1945, when he was one of 150 POWs sent to Nagoya #7-B at Toyama, Japan.      
    Nagoya #7-B was built and operated by the Nippon Soda Company, Limited.   The camp was on the company's property, and the POWs worked at its factory which was about one thousand feet from the camp.  The factory they worked in made a metal alloy that was used in the war effort.
    During his time in the camp,  on July 20th and 26th, the two demolition bombs were dropped on the city.  One bomb did a great deal of damage to the camp, the other damaged the factory.  The city of Toyama was fire bombed on August 1st and had a great deal of damage.  The camp was one of the few places with little damaged.
    On September 5, 1945, the camp was liberated.  Leonard was returned to the Philippine Islands for medical treatment.  In September 1945, he sailed for San Francisco on the U.S.S. Joseph T. Dychman and arrived there on October 16, 1945.  He was promoted to corporal and returned to the United States and was discharged on December 26, 1946.
    Leonard married Dorthy Jean Reading on August 7, 1970, and resided in Southlake, Texas.  Leonard Adams passed away on September 7, 1997, at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Dallas, Texas.  He was buried in Section L, Grave 1305, at Sam Houston National Cemetery in Houston, Texas.




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