Adams_W

 

Pvt. William Eugene Adams


    Pvt. William E. Adams was born on February 9, 1919, in Larue County, Kentucky, to John and June Adams in Larue County, Kentucky.  Like many others of the time, he left school after completing grammar school.  It is known that he worked in forestry.
    William was drafted into the U.S. Army on January 21, 1941, in Louisville, Kentucky.  He was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training and assigned to D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  It is not known what armor schools he attended while in basic training. 
   
In the late summer of 1941, the tank battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, to take part in maneuvers.  HQ company did not actively take part in the maneuvers but made sure the letter companies had the supplies they needed.  It was after the maneuvers that the battalion was ordered to remain behind at Camp Polk instead of returning to Ft. Knox.  None of the soldiers had any idea why they were remaining at the base.
    On the side of a hill, the battalion was informed that their time in the Army had been extended from one to five years.  They also learned they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM.  Within hours, most had figured out that PLUM stood for Philippines, Luzon, Manila.  Men 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to resign from military service.
    Traveling west over different train routes, the battalion arrived in San Francisco and ferried to Angel Island.  On the island, the tankers were immunized and given physicals.  Men found to have treatable medical conditions were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.
    The battalion sailed, on the U.S.A.T Hugh L. Scott, from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover.  The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands.  They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th for Guam.  When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water.  The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day.  
    About 8:00 in the morning on Thursday, November 20th the ships arrived at Manila Bay.  After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked.  The tankers rode buses to the train station where they got out and took a train to Ft. Stostenburg.  Other battalion members boarded their trucks and drove them to fort north of Manila.
    At the fort, the tankers were met by General Edward King.  King welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed.  He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.  Since it was Thanksgiving, King made sure all the men had eaten before he left to have his own dinner.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.  The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
    The morning of December 8th, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  During the night, word had been received about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  HQ Company remained behind in the battalion's bivouac.
    All morning long, American planes filled the sky.  At noon, every plane landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45, 54 planes approached the airfield from the north.  The tankers believed the planes were American until what they described as "raindrops" appeared to fall from the planes.  When bombs began exploding around them, the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.  The members of HQ Company could do little more than watch the attack and seek shelters since they had no weapons to be used against planes.
   
On December 13th, the tankers were moved 80 kilometers to do reconnaissance and guard beaches.  They remained there until December 23rd, when they were sent 100 kilometers north to Rosario to assist the 26th U. S. Cavalry because the defensive lines had broken.
    
Christmas Day, the tankers spent in a coconut grove.  As it turned out, the coconuts were all they had to eat.  From Christmas to January 15, 1942, both day and night, all the tanks did was cover retreats of different infantry units.  The tanks were constantly bombed, shelled, and strafed.
    At Gumain River, on January 5th, D Company and C Company of the 194th, were given the job to hold the south riverbank so that the other units could withdraw.  The tank companies formed a defensive line along the bank of the river.  When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts.  The tankers were able to hold up the Japanese.       

   

    The tankers were next assigned to guarding the Bataan and Cabcaban Airfields.  They also guarded against beach landings and paratroopers.  They would continue this duty until April 7th.  On April 8th, the tankers were sent Trail 10 and Mount Samat.  The lines had broken.  They fought there until receiving the news of the surrender.  
    After destroying their equipment, D Company made its way to Mariveles.  
Later in the day, Willam's group of POWs was moved to a school yard in Mariveles.  The POWs were left sitting in the sun for hours.  The Japanese did not feed them or give them water.  Behind the POWs were four Japanese artillery pieces which began firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum.  These two islands had not surrendered.  Shells from these two American forts began landing among the POWs.  The POWs could do little since they had no place to hide.  Some POWs were killed by incoming American shells.  One group that tried to hide in a small brick building died when it took a direct hit.  The American guns did succeed in knocking out three of the four Japanese guns.  
    The POWs were ordered to move again by the Japanese.  The men had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march.  During the march, the POWs received no water and little food.  It took the members of HQ Company six days to reach San Fernando.  Once there, the POWs were put into a bull pin that had a fence around it.  In one corner was a slit trench to be used as a toilet by the POWs.  The surface of the trench moved since it was covered in maggots.  The POWs had enough room to sit, but they could not lie down.  

    During their time in the bull pin, the POWs watched the Japanese bury three POWs.  Two were still alive.  When one of the men attempted to climb out of the grave, he was hit in the head with a shovel and buried.  At some point, the Japanese ordered the men to form ranks.  They were marched in detachments of 100 men to the train station.  

    At the train station, the POWs were put into a small wooden boxcar and taken to Capas.  The cars were known as "forty and eights" because they could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese packed 100 men into each car.  Those who died remained standing until the living climbed out of the car.  From Capas, Grover the last ten miles to Camp O' Donnell.
  

    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base that the Japanese pressed into service as a Prisoner of War camp.  It turned out to be a death trap with as many as fifty POWs dying each day.  There was only one working water faucet for the entire camp.  To get a drink, men stood in line for days.  Many died while waiting for a drink.  The death rate among the POWs was as high as fifty men a day.  Many POWs went out on work details to get out of the camp.  

    The dead, at Camp O'Donnell, were taken to the camp cemetery and buried in shallow graves.  The reason for this was that the water table was high and the POWs could not dig deep.  Once a body was put in the ground, it was held down with a pole until it was covered by earth.  The next day, the POWs, on the detail, found wild dogs had dug up the bodies or the bodies were sitting up in the graves.  

    The Japanese finally acknowledged that the death rate at the camp had to be dealt with.  They opened a new camp at Cabanatuan.  William was healthy enough to be sent to the camp.
  The death rate among the POWs dropped after they received a Red Cross package.
    The Japanese began to transfer POWs from the Philippines to other parts of their empire.  At first, the Japanese sought volunteers, but then forced POWs to be transferred.  The POWs were taken by train to Mnaila on October 5, 1942.  At the port area, they were housed in a warehouse until they boarded the Tottori Maru on October 7th.  The ship sailed October 8th at 10:00 A.M. and passed the ruins of Corregidor at noon.

The POWs were issued three loaves of bread, which equaled on loaf of American bread, that was suppose to last the POWs for two days.
    At 9:00 A.M. on October 9th, an American submarine fired two torpedoes at the ship.  It also laid a mine which the ship passed by safely.  The POWs were issued three candy bags and hardtack to eat.  It reached Takao, Formosa, on October 12th, and remained in port until October 16th.  The extremely ill were taken ashore.  The ship sailed on the 16th, but returned to Takao later the same day.  It sailed again on October 18th for the Pesacadores Islands and arrived the same day and dropped anchor off the island.  It remained there for several days.
    The ship returned to Takao on October 27th.  On October 29th, the POWs were taken off the ship and bathed with a fire hose.  On the 30th, it sailed for Makou, Pescadores Islands arriving about 5:00 P.M. The POWs were issued two meals of rice and soup and a bag of hardtack.  It stayed there overnight before sailing for Fusan, Korea, on October 31st as part of a seven ship convoy.  It arrived at 8:00 A.M. on November 7th. 
    The next day, the POWs were disembarked.  Those who were extremely ill were left behind at Fusan, while the healthy POWs took a two day train ride to Mukden, Manchuria, arriving there on November 11th.  Before they boarded the train, the POWs were issued new clothes and fur-lined overcoats.  At a later date, the ashes of those left behind at Fusan were sent to Mukden in small white wooden boxes.
    At Mukden, the POWs were held at Hooten Camp.  The POWs worked either at a machine shop or a saw mill.  The machine shop never produced anything that was useful to the Japanese.  Each morning, the POWs were marched three miles to the shop where they worked manufacturing weapons for the Japanese.  To prevent the production of  weapons, they committed acts of sabotage like pouring sand into the machine oiling holes.  The Japanese usually blamed these acts of sabotage on the Chinese in the plant because they believed the Americans were not smart enough to commit the sabotage. 

    Since they were underfed, the POWs trapped wild dogs to supplement their meals of soy beans which usually came in the form of soup.  They continued to trap dogs until, while marching to work, they saw one eating a dead Chinese.     

    In the spring of 1943, four Americans escaped and made their way to the Russian border.  Chinese villagers turned them over to the Japanese.  The men were returned to the camp and placed in cells for several months before they were taken to a cemetery and shot.

    As the war went on American planes began to appear over Mukden.  On one occasion, in December 1944, a bomb, from one B-29, hit the camp killing 20 POWs.  The air raids became more frequent until the end of the war.
    In September 1945, an American OSS officer parachuted into the camp.  He demanded to meet with the camp commandant.  A few days later, Russian soldiers liberated the camp.  The POWs were taken by train to Dalian, China.  From there they were returned to the Philippines.  After receiving medical treatment, William was boarded onto the U.S.S. Joseph T. Dychman and arrived at San Francisco on October 16, 1945.  It was almost four years to the day that he had sailed for the Philippines.  He was also promoted to Staff Sergeant after arriving there.
    William married June Parker and moved to rural Williamsburg, Indiana.  The couple became the parents of a daughter and three sons.  He was employed at the Richmond State Hospital in Richmond, Indiana.  William was hospitalized at Richmond Memorial Hospital and passed away on February 26, 1976, in Richmond.  He was buried at Williamsburg Cemetery in Williamsburg, Indiana.


 

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