Bartz A

 

2nd Lt. Albert J. Bartz


   2nd Lt. Albert J. Bartz was the son of Albert E. Bartz & Ida Hawkinson-Bartz.  He was born on May 24, 1913, in Albion Township in rural Edgerton, Wisconsin, and was the fourth of the couple's seven children.  The family later moved to Janesville and lived at 208 West Dodge Street.  It is known he was married and the father of a son.

    Albert joined the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Tank Company from Janesville, Wisconsin, on December 17, 1932, and during the following eight years, he rose in rank from private to first sergeant.  On October 30, 1940, just prior to the tank company being called to federal service, he was commissioned a second lieutenant.  At some point, he was joined in the company by his brother, Robert

    After training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Albert took part in maneuvers in Louisiana in late summer 1941.  According to members of the battalion, they were part of the Red Army and the Blue Army was under the command of General George S. Patton.  One day, the 192nd broke through the Blue Army's defenses and was on its way to capturing it's headquarters when the maneuvers were suddenly canceled.

    Instead of returning to Ft. Knox as expected, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana.  On the side of a hill, they were told 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 allowed to resign from federal service and replaced with men for the 753rd Tank Battalion.  Those men who remained were given leaves home to say their goodbyes to families and friends.
    The company traveled west by train to San Francisco, California, were they were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  They were given physicals by the battalion's medical staff and those men with minor medical conditions were designated to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
    The soldiers boarded the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott which sailed on Monday, October 27th, as part of a three ship convoy.  During this part of the trip, most of the men suffered from seasickness.  When they recovered, they practiced assembling and dismantling machine guns, they cleaned weapons, and they did KP.  The ships
arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd at 8:00 A.M. and had a two day layover.  They sailed on Tuesday, November 4th, for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping routes. 
    During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly country.    
    Arriving at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, vegetables, and coconuts before sailing for Manila. 
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.   The ships entered Manila Bay at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20th and docked at Pier 7 later in the day.  The soldiers disembarked at 3:00 P.M., and were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  The truck drivers drove their trucks to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind to unload the tanks.
    At Ft. Stotsenburg, the soldiers were greeted by Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized that they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field.  He remained with the battalion, made sure they had what they needed, and that they had Thanksgiving dinner before he went to have his own dinner.

    Sometime after arriving in the Philippines, Albert was assigned to C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.   He was with this company when the Japanese bombed Clark Field.  The morning of December 8th, the officers were called to the battalion's radio room and told of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
After the attack, Albert's tank platoon was sent out to locate Japanese paratroopers.  While performing this duty, a Japanese pilot who had been captured by Filipino civilians were turned over to him.  Upon completion of this duty his platoon returned to Clark Field.

    On December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  From this time on, two tank crew members remained with each tank at all times.
    The morning of December 8th, December 7th in the United States, the tankers were told of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  They went to their positions around the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  At 8:30 that morning,  American planes took off and filled the sky.  They landed at noon and their pilots lined up, in a straight line, near their mess hall.    
    The tankers were eating lunch when a formation of 54 planes was spotted approaching the airfield from the north.  The tankers believed the planes were American. As they watched, what were described as "raindrops" fell from the planes.  When bombs exploded on the runways, they knew the planes were Japanese. 
    When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield.  The tankers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and on anything that could carry the wounded was in use.  When the hospital filled, they watched the medics placed the wounded under the building.  Many of these men had their arms and legs missing.  The battalion remained at Clark Field and lived through several additional attacks.

    On December 11, 1941, Japanese bombers again appeared over Clark Field.  C Company tanks were stationed along the southern perimeter of the airfield.  The bombers began pattern bombing along the southern perimeter.  Albert told the corporal with him to get into the tank.  Since Albert believed he would never make it in himself, he ran for cover in a trench.  As he ran, a bomb exploded in front of him.  Shrapnel from the bomb hit him in the shoulder breaking his collarbone.  Other shrapnel hit him and caused other wounds including one to the abdomen.
    Seeing what had happened to Albert, the corporal climbed out of the tank's turret and dragged Albert to safety and proceeded to bandage Albert's wounds.  Albert was sent  to a hospital on a freight car with the other wounded.  His injury was considered bad enough that he was sent to a hospital in Manila.  When a truce was arranged, with the Japanese, to allow a ship carrying wounded to leave the Philippines, for Australia, Albert was selected for evacuation.     

    On New Year's Eve 1941, Albert sailed for Australia.  As it turned out, the ship he was on was the last ship to leave the Philippines.  During the voyage the ship's crew had to fight a fire in the engine room, and next the ship had to sail through a storm.   In Australia, he was taken to the 113th Australian General Hospital in Sidney.  He spent six months in the hospital and was reassigned to another unit and were he continued to fight in the South Pacific.  During this time, he was wounded a second time.  In August 1944, Albert returned to Janesville.

    For the remainder of the war, Albert was assigned to military supply movement as a Military Distribution Planning Officer on the West Coast in San Francisco.  He rose in rank to captain and was discharged from the army on January 15, 1946.

    Albert J. Bartz married Jeanette Worthington on September 5, 1947.  He went to work for General Motors plant in Janesville and retired in 1970.  He died on March 30, 1973, in Janesville and was buried at Fassett Cemetery in Edgerton, Wisconsin.


 

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