Bloomfield

 

1st Lt. Kenneth Bryant Bloomfield


    1st Lt. Kenneth B. Bloomfield was born on January 12, 1920, in Flint, Michigan.  He was the son of R. D.  & Lydia Bloomfield.  His father was an executive with General Motors and was transferred to Janesville, Wisconsin.  In 1935, when he was fifteen, his family moved to 1223 East Blaine Avenue in Janesville, Wisconsin.  He had three brothers and a sister.  Kenneth attended Janesville High School and graduated in 1939.

    After graduation, Kenneth was employed by the the General Motors plant located in Janesville. On April 9, 1939, Kenneth joined the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Tank Company in Janesville.  By July, he had risen in rank to sergeant.  

    On September 28, 1940, Kenneth married Velma Bartlett.  They set up their home at 618 Cornelia Street  in Janesville.  The couple became the parents of Judith Ann Bloomfield during the fall of 1941.  

    On November 25, 1940, Kenneth went to Fort Knox, Kentucky, when the Janesville tank company was federalized.  There the company was designated A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  It was while training at Ft. Knox, that Kenneth received the rating of expert in machine guns.

    In January, 1941, Kenneth was promoted to second lieutenant to fill a vacancy created when Headquarters Company of the 192nd Tank Battalion was created with soldiers of the four letter companies of the battalion.

    In the late summer of 1941, Kenneth took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  Upon completion of the maneuvers, Kenneth and the rest of the 192nd learned that they were not being released from federal service.  Instead, they were being sent overseas.  They were told that this decision had been made by General George Patton.  Those members of the battalion who were 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service.  Men were  given leaves home to say goodbye to family and friends.
    The battalion traveled by train to San Francisco.  By ferry, they were taken to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, they received inoculations and physicals.  Those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island.  They were scheduled to join 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 November 5th, 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.  The general apologized that the men 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.

    Seventeen days after arriving in the Philippines, Kenneth lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  He and the other soldiers watched as two waves of Japanese planes bombed and strafed the airfield.  On December 24, 1941, Kenneth became acting commander of A Company when Capt. Walter Write was killed when a landmine exploded.  He remained in this position for two weeks and then was appointed company commander.
    Around the beginning of the new year, Kenneth was ordered to take A Company to reinforce the 194th which had lost several tanks.  During this move, A Company tried to go through Guagua, but the barrio had been taken by the Japanese.  The tank company supported a counter attack to retake the barrio.  The attack failed.  During the counterattack, the 11th Division thought the tanks were Japanese, and fired at the with mortars.  The company did reach the 194th and supported its withdraw, but it had lost three tanks. 

    During the Battle of Bataan, the Japanese attempted to land troops behind the main Filipino and American defensive lines.  Kenneth's tank platoon was ordered into the "pocket" to wipe out the enemy troops.  Before the attack, the ranking American officer ordered the Japanese to surrender.  In very plain English, a Japanese soldier responded with, "Nuts to you, Joe." 

    Kenneth's tanks rolled into the pocket with sirens blaring.  The tanks ran into and knocked down trees with Japanese snipers in them.  They wiped out numerous machine gun nests and chased many Japanese soldiers from their foxholes.

    With the help of B Company tanks, the tankers destroyed a .37 millimeter gun.  As the tanks rolled over the battlefield, soldiers riding on their backs dropped hand grenades into enemy foxholes.  Those Japanese who attempted to flee were shot.  In one trench, Kenneth counted the bodies of 37 Japanese soldiers.

    In an attempt to stop the tanks, the Japanese planted disk shaped land mines.  The mines had little to no effect on the tanks and all returned to their respective bases safely.

    At one point during the Battle of Bataan, Kenneth's company was ordered to attack the Japanese at a certain point.  According to his orders, the tanks were suppose to go up a specific road shown on military maps.  It is known that while attempting to accomplish his mission, he radioed military command that he could not reach his objective because the road drawn on the map did not exist.

    On April 9, 1942, Kenneth and the rest of A Company received the news of the surrender.  After destroying their equipment, the company made its way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  From thereon April 1th, Kenneth would begin the death march.

    It was at Cacaben, on April 13th, the members of A Company witnessed an artillery battle between Japanese guns and American guns on Corrigedor.  The Japanese guns were setup along the road the POWs were using to make their way out of Bataan.  The Japanese intentionally used the POWs as human shields against the American guns.

    The A Company men found an American truck which had been abandoned by the Japanese because it would not start.  One A Company member hot-wired the truck and got it to start.  Other members of the company climbed into the back and they drove passed the guns as shells fell around them.  

    According to Abel Ortega, after the truck was full, the remaining members of the company who could not fit on the truck ran behind the truck.  They did this so that they would not be separated from the rest of the company.  One of the soldiers who ran behind the truck was Kenneth Bloomfield.  After the truck was out of artillery range, the truck stopped and the POWs climbed out.

    It was at this point that 1st Lt. Kenneth B. Bloomfield was reported to have died from exhaustion near the Barrio of Cabcaban.  According to the story, Kenneth collapsed upon reaching the truck.  Some members of the company say it was while Kenneth was running across the field that his heart gave out.

    According to the surviving members of A Company, they put Kenneth on the back of the truck, but the Japanese believing he was dead removed him from the truck. 2nd Lt. Kenneth Bloomfield died not too long after this.  His date of death was Monday, April 13, 1942.  He was 21 years old.

    Two members of A Company grabbed two shovels that were on the back of the truck and dug a grave for Bloomfield along the side of the road about 3/4s of a kilometer south of Orion. Maps created by the POWs show that Bloomfield and another POW, Lt. Ray Bradford, 194th Tank Battalion were buried next to each other.

    1st Lt. Kenneth B. Bloomfield's final resting place is unknown, so his name appears on The Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.  After the war he was awarded the Silver Star post-posthumously.
    It should be noted that the American Battle Monuments Commission website states that Lt. Kenneth Bloomfield died on October 11, 1942.  This date totally conflicts with the story of his death given by members of his company.


 

 

 


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