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 Gen. 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.

    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 192nd were told of the attack on PEarl Harbor and sent to their tanks around Clark Field.  A week earlier, they had been given assigned positions around the airfield to guard against enemy paratroopers.  At 8:30, the American planes took off and filled the sky.  They landed at noon and lined up, in a straight line, near the pilots' 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, raindrops fell from the planes.  When bombs exploded on the runways, they knew the planes were Japanese.

    The company receive orders on December 12th and went to the Barrio of Dau so it could protect a highway and railroad from sabotage.   From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River.  There, the tanks, with A Company, 194th held the position.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the company was in the area of Urdaneta.  It was there, that the tankers lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write.  After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get south of Agno 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.
    A Company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga.  It was there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt. William Reed.  The company returned to the 192nd on January 8, 1942.
    On January 28th, the tank battalions 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.

    A Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese Marines 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 had left 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. 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 March 2nd or 3rd, during "The Battle of the Points."  The tanks had been sent in to wipe out two pockets of Japanese soldiers who had been landed behind the main defensive line.  The Japanese were soon cut off.  When the Japanese attempted to land reinforcements, they landed them at the wrong place creating another pocket. 

    After fighting the Japanese for four months, Robert became a Prisoner of War when the Filipino and American troops were surrendered to the Japanese on April 9, 1942.
    It was from Mariveles, at the southern tip of Bataan, that Robert began the death march.  The POWs made their way north to San Fernando.  There, they were placed in a bull pin covered in human waste.  When ordered to by the Japanese, they formed a detachment of 100 POWs and marched to the train station. 
    At the station, they were packed into small wooden boxcars known as "forty and eights."  Each car could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese packed 100 men into each car.  Those who died remained standing until the living disembarked at Capas.  From there, they walked the last miles to Camp O'Donnell.

    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 10, 1942, and sent to Bilibid Prison where he was admitted to Ward 8.  Medical records indicate he was suffering from malaria and remained at Bilibid until February 10, 1943, when he was discharged and sent to Cabanatuan.  
    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 before returning to the United States on the Dutch ship, the S.S. Klipfontein arriving there in October 1945.

    Robert returned to Janesville  ater 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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