Bartz_R

 

Sgt. Robert W. Bartz


    Sgt. Robert W. Bartz was the son of Albert E. Bartz & Ida C. Hawkinson-Bartz.  He was born on March 31, 1920, in Edgerton, Wisconsin, and was one of eight children born to the couple.  With his four brothers and three sisters, he grew up at 220 North Palm Street in Janesville.  He worked as a farmhand.   

    Robert joined the Wisconsin national Guard on September 30, 1940.  He was a member of the same tank company as his brother, Albert.  On November 25, 1940, Bob was called to federal duty when his Wisconsin National Guard company was federalized as A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  He trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky, for nearly a year and then took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  It was after these maneuvers that he and the other members of his company that his battalion was being sent overseas.
    Over different train routes, the companies of the battalion arrived in San Francisco.  They were ferried to Angel Island.  There, the battalion's doctors gave them physicals and inoculations.
   
The soldiers boarded the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott which sailed on Monday, October 27th and arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd at 8:00, and the soldiers received shore leave.  The ship sailed on Tuesday, November 4th for Guam.  Arriving there, the ship took on water, bananas, vegetables, and coconuts.
    Sailing, the ship arrived in Manila Bay the morning of November 20, 1941, at 8:00.  The soldiers disembarked the ship about three hours after it docked.  Most took buses to a train station and rode a train to Ft. Stotsenburg.
    At Ft. Stotsenburg, the soldiers were greeted by Col. Edward 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 until every member had had Thanksgiving dinner.  Afterwards, he went to have his own.

    Robert lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  After fighting the Japanese for four months, he became a Prisoner of War when the Filipino and American troops were surrendered to the Japanese on April 9, 1942.

    Robert was held as a POW he took part in the death march and was held as a POW at Camp O'Donnell.  To get out of the camp, Robert volunteered to go out on a work detail to collect scrap metal.  He was part of a group of ten POWs who would tie the disabled American vehicles together and drive them to San Fernando.  Four months later Robert was sent to the Pampanga Provincial Hospital after he came down with malaria.  After recovering from the malaria, he was "taken by Japs" on October 12, 1942, and sent to Cabanatuan POW Camp.  
    In July 1944, a list of POWs was posted at Cabanatuan.
At 8:00 P.M. on July 15th, trucks arrived at the camp.  The POWs were boarded onto the trucks and taken to Bilibid Prison.  The POWs arrived at Bilibid seven hours later.  Their dinner was rotten sweet potatoes.  Since it was night, they had to eat in the dark.  Since he was ill he was put into the hospital ward.  "They treated us pretty good during the time at Bilibid-and I don't think it was just because I was in the hospital.  The hospital orderlies and doctors were Americans, mostly naval personnel.  Their medical supplies were scant but they had quite a bit of equipment needed in performing surgery."
    They remained at Bilibid until July 17th at 8:00 A.M. and walked to Pier 7.  They were boarded onto the Nissyo Maru.  The Japanese attempted to put the entire POW detachment in the forward hold but failed, so 600 of the POWs were put into the read hold.
    The ship was moved and remained outside the breakwater, at Manila, from July 18th until July 23rd while the Japanese attempted to form a convoy.  The POWs were fed rice and vegetables, twice a day, which were cooked together.  They also received two canteen cups of water each day. 
    The ship sailed on July 23rd at 8:00 A.M. to Corregidor and dropped anchor off the island at 2:00 P.M.  It remained off the island overnight and sailed at 8:00 A.M. the next day.  The ship sailed north by northeast.  On July 26th at 3:00 in the morning, there was a large fire off the ship.  It turned out that the one of the ships, the Otari Yama Maru had been hit by a torpedo from the U.S.S. Flasher which was a part of a three submarine wolf pack.  On July 28th, the ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, and docked at 9:00 A.M.   The ship sailed at 7:00 P.M. and continued its northward trip all day and night of July 29th.  On July 30th, the ship ran into a storm.  The storm finally passed by August 2nd.  The POWs were issued clothing on August 3rd and arrived at Moji August the night of August 3rd about midnight. 
    At 8:00 in the morning the next day, the POWs disembarked the ship. They were taken to a theater and were held in it all day.  They were organized into detachments of 200 men and taken to the train station.  The train left at 9:00 P.M. and arrived at the camp at 2:00 A.M., they were unloaded and walked the three miles to the camp. 
Robert and the other POWs were sent to Fukuoka #23 with him was Pfc. Earl Burchard of A Company. The camp commandant gave each POW his job after talking to the man.

    There, Robert and the other POWs worked in a coal mine.  "We use to work ten days on the day shift and ten days night and the only time we got off was when we switched shifts-then we get the extra time until the alternate shift. It was a merry-go-round."  The POWs rotated shifts in the mine.  For ten days, they would work days and then rotated and worked ten nights.  A work day for the prisoners lasted 12 to 14 hours.  Recalling his time as a POW, he said, "One day was the same as another, as far as we were concerned over there.  We use to work ten days on the day shift and ten nights and the only time off was when we switched shifts - then we'd get the extra time until the alternate shift." 

    The POWs in the camp were fed mainly rice.  "Rice and more rice - only it was never enough."  But, they also ate seaweed and potato tops.  There were times that the POWs ate grass.   Since the diet were so bad, Robert developed pellagra and beriberi.

    The day that the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Robert recalled the camp shook since it was 80 miles from the city. 
    On August 28th, B-29s appeared over the camp. Two of the planes circled and dropped fifty gallon drums to  the POWs.  For the first time, the POWs knew they were now in charge.  Most of the guards quickly disappeared.  On September 15th, Americans arrived in the camp.  When he was liberated, John weighed less than 80 pounds.  The POWs were taken by truck to the train station.  They road the train to Nagasaki.  Once there, they were given physicals, deloused, and the seriously ill were boarded onto a hospital ship.  The rest were taken by the U.S.S. Marathon to Okinawa.  They were than flown back to the Philippines.

    Robert returned to Janesville after the war.  He would learn that his father had died in 1943, while he was a POW.  He was discharged from the army on May 26, 1947.  Robert married Eleanor Goehler and would move to Richmond, Illinois, where he was superintendent of the public works department until he retired in 1975. 

    Robert Bartz moved to Harrington, Texas.  In November 1977, he suffered a massive heart attack.  He appeared to be recovering when he suddenly passed away on March 6, 1978.  He was buried at Mont Meta Memorial Park, San Benito, Texas.



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