Allison

Pfc. Elkoney Albert Allison


     Pfc. Elkoney A. Allison was the son of Thomas D. Allison & Etta C. Warren-Allison.  He was born on November 25, 1916, in Baxter, Tennessee.  He had three sisters, three brothers, and a half brother, and grew up in Putman County, Tennessee.  He left high school after his third year. 

    As a young man, Elkoney joined the Tennessee National Guard and was assigned to a cavalry unit and was a member of Company I, 109th Cavalry.  In early 1941, Elkoney was already in the U. S. Army.  He did his basic training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and was a member of the 753rd Tank Battalion at Ft. Benning, Georgia. 

    The battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, where maneuvers were taking place.  The 753rd did not take part in the maneuvers.  At Camp Polk, Elkoney volunteered to join the 192nd Tank Battalion and became a member of the B Company.  At the time, the battalion was preparing for duty in the Philippine Islands and was looking for soldiers to fill vacancies created when National Guardsmen, 29 years and older, were released 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 Ft. 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.S. 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, who apologized they 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 December 1st, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers.  Two crew members had to be with their tank at all times.  The morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield.  They had received word of the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield.  As they sat in their tanks and half-tracks they watched as American planes filled the sky.  At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45, the tankers watched as planes approached the airfield from the north.  When bombs began exploding on the runways, they knew the planes were Japanese.

    At 12:45 in the afternoon on December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Elkoney lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield.  That morning, they had been awakened to the news that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor just hours earlier.  He and the other tankers were eating lunch when planes approached the airfield from the north.  At first, they thought the planes were American.  They then saw what looked like rain drops falling from the planes.  It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.  The company remained at Clark Field for the next two weeks.
    The tank battalion received orders on December 21st that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.   Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas.  When they reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tankplatoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta.   The bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of river.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening.  They successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
    On December 25th, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th.
    The tankers were fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th. 
    On January 1st, conflicting orders were received by the defenders attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5 and allowing the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan.  General Wainwright was unaware of the orders since they came from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff. 
    Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River.  About half the forces had already crossed the bridges.  Due to the efforts of the Self Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were halted.  From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.

    During the withdraw into the peninsula, the night of January 6th/7th, the 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross a bridge, and then cover the 192nd's withdraw over the bridge. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
    Over the next several months, the battalion fought battle after battle with tanks that were not designed for jungle warfare. 
The tank battalions, on January 28th, were given the job of protecting the beaches.  The 192nd was assigned the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.

    B Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line.  The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time to replace a tank in the pocket.  Another tank did not enter the pocket until a tank exited the pocket.
    To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used.  The first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank.  As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually exploded.
    The other method to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole.  The driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around and grinding its way down into the foxhole.  The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.

    On April 9, 1942, Elkoeny became a Prisoner of War.  He took part in the death march from Mariveles to San Fernando.  At San Fernando, he and the other POWs boarded small wooden boxcars that could hold eight horses or forty men.  One hundred men were packed into each car.  Those who died remained standing.  When the living left the cars at Capas, the dead fell to the ground.  He arrived at Camp O'Donnell on May 15, 1942.

    While a POW, Elkoney was held at Camp O'Donnell.  This camp was a death trap with as many as fifty-five POWs dying each day.  To get out of the camp, Elkoney went out on a work detail to rebuild bridges that had been destroyed by the Americans as they retreated into the Bataan Peninsula.  The detail was under the command of Col Ted Wickord the commanding officer of the 192nd.  The first bridge the POWs rebuilt was at Calauan. 
     Elkoney was next sent to Batangas to rebuild another bridge.  Again, the Filipino people did all they could to see that the Americans got the food and care they needed.  Somehow the Filipinos convinced the Japanese to allow them to attend a meal to celebrate the completion of the new bridge.
    
The next bridge the other POWs were sent to build was in Candelaria.  Once again, the people of the town did what ever they could to help the Americans.  An order of Roman Catholic sisters, who had been recently freed from custody, invited Lt. Col. Wickord and twelve POWs for a dinner.  Wickord picked the twelve sickest looking POWs to attend the meal.
 
  At Cabanatuan Camp One, the prisoners ate rice and lived in crude huts.  In Elkoeny's case he was assigned to Building 11, Group 1.  Discipline in the camp was hard.  If a prisoner was late or missed a detail, that POW was made to kneel on a ladder with a pole placed behind the knees to cut circulation.  The prisoner stayed like this until he fell over.  

   Elkoney was admitted to the hospital on June 30, 1942, with malaria but it is not known when he was discharged.  On Sunday, May 23, 1943, Elkoney was readmitted to the camp hospital for malaria and chronic beriberi.   Medical records kept at the camp show that Pfc. Elkoney A. Allison died on Monday, June 21, 1943, from beriberi at Cabanatuan POW Camp #1.  The approximate time of death was 1:15 P.M., and he was buried in the camp cemetery.
    After the war, Elkoney's remains were identified.  At the request of his family, he was buried at the new American cemetery at Manila.  He rests in Plot N, Row 12, Grave 56, at the American Military Cemetery at Manila.


 

 

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