Pvt. William L. Arnold

    Pvt. William L. Arnold was born on May 4, 1917, in Fishtail, Montana, to William C. & Margaret B. Arnold.  He was the oldest of the couple's six sons and four daughters.  Since he could not afford the cost of getting to school, he dropped out of high school during his first year.  To help support his family, he worked on the family's farm.  He was one of the first Montana men to have his name selected to be drafted.
    Bill was inducted into the Army on March 25, 1941.  He was sent to Fort Lewis, Washington, for basic training, and Ft. Knox, Kentucky, to radio operator school and qualified as a radio operator. 

    William was assigned to the D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion after radio school and sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, to take part in maneuvers.  After the maneuvers, the 192nd Tank Battalion was ordered to remain behind at the fort.  The members of the battalion were informed that they were being deployed overseas as part of Operation PLUM.  Within hours, the men had figured out that PLUM stood for Philippines, Luzon, Manila.  Since the battalion was made up of National Guard Tank Companies, those men who were 29 years old or older were allowed to resign from federal service.  William volunteered to join the battalion to replace one of these men.  He was assigned to D Company. 
    The battalion also received "new" tanks.  The tanks were new in the sense that they were new to the battalion.  In reality, the tanks had been came from the 753rd.  The members of the 192nd cosmolined the guns so that they would not rust.  The tanks and half-tracks were loaded on flatbed train cars and the battalion traveled west, over different train routes, to San Franciscon.   

    The battalion sailed, 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.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.   It was at this time the work began to transfer D Company to the 194th Tank Battalion.  The transfer was never completed and the company remained a company of the 192nd.  The tankers also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.  The plan was for the 192nd, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
  At one point, the tankers were sent to the perimeter of Clark Airfield and simulated guarding it against Japanese paratroopers.

    The morning of December 8, 1941, Bill and the other members of D Company heard the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  They were sent to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  
    All morning long the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  The tankers were receiving lunch when planes were seen approaching the airfield from the north.   Many men counted 54 planes as the planes approached the airfield.  Raindrops seem to appear under the planes.  When the raindrops began exploding on the runways, the tankers knew the planes were Japanese. 

    After the attack, D Company was ordered to Mabalac on the Delores Road.  They remained there until December 10th.  They were next sent to Calumpit to look for paratroopers.  While there, they guarded a huge bridge from saboteurs. 
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 for John and the other tankers was 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. 
    On January 5th, the company, with C Company of the 194th Tank Battalion, held a 25 mile long line along the Gumain River so that other units could withdrawal into Bataan.  That night, the Japanese attempted to cross the river.  The tankers were able to see them because they were wearing white t-shirts which reflect the moonlight.  The Japanese did not successfully cross the river.
    Bill spent the next four months attempting to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippine Islands.  It was during the Battle for Bataan that he was taken to Field Hospital #2. 

Since Bill was suffering from malaria and dysentery, he was in a military hospital when the surrender took place.  This prevented him from taking part in the death march from Bataan.
    The Japanese set up artillery near the hospital and fired at Ft. Drum and Corregidor which returned fire.  Americans used by Japanese as a human shield to protect the guns.  when Gen. Wainwright learned what had been done, he ordered American artillery to cease firing.

    Bill was transferred to Bilibid Prison as part of the Cabcaben POW Camp Detachment on May 19th.  Medical records kept at Bilibid show that he was suffering from malaria.  He was sent to Cabanatuan and later taken to the Port Area of Manila to work as a stevedore loading and unloading ships.  He remained on this detail until the summer of 1944 when the detail was dissolved and the POWs were sent to Bilibid Prison.
    On August 25, 1944, the Bill and with the other prisoners were take to the Port Area of Manila and boarded the Noto Maru.  The ship sailed as part of a ten ship convoy on August 27th.  The ships sailed and spent the night in Subic Bay before sailing.
    They made the trip to Takao, Formosa, in two days and arrived there on August 30th.  It sailed for Keelung, Formosa, arriving the same day.  The ship sailed again and arrived at Moji, Japan on September 4th.
    In Japan, Bill was held as a POW in the Osaka area.  He was held at an unknown POW camp and sent to Osaka #5-D where the POWs worked as stevedores.  On May 11, 1945, the POWs were sent to Fukuoka #22 which opened in January 1945.  He remained in this camp until he was liberated in September 1945.
    On September 21st, Bill and the other POWs were take to Dejima Docks in Nagasaki, Japan.  He was declared to be in good health and boarded onto a transport and returned to the Philippines. 

    After being declared healthy, Bill sailed to the United States and arrived at Seattle, Washington, in late 1945 and spent two weeks in the hospital at Ft. Lewis.  He was discharged from the army on March 25, 1946.  He returned to Montana and later moved to Billings.  He married, Gertrude, in 1950.  She passed away in 1987.  He worked for the Montana State Highway Department until he retired in 1982.  He married a second time and his second wife passed away in 2012. 
    William L. Arnold passed away on October 14, 2017, in Billings, Montana, and was buried at Terrace Gardens Cemetery in Billings, Montana.  William Arnold may have been the last surviving member of the 192nd Tank Battalion.


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