Boyle

 

Pvt. Ralph Leroy Boyle


    Pvt. Ralph L. Boyle was born on December 23, 1919, Fairmont, West Virginia, to Ralph P. Boyle & Helen M. Dennis-Boyle.  With his four sisters and two brothers, he was raised at Rear, 526 Depot Street in Niles, Ohio.  He attended high school for two years and later worked as a laborer in the Civilian Conservation Corps.
    Ralph was inducted into the U.S. Army on March 5, 1941, in Cleveland, Ohio.  He was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training and assigned to C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  He attended armor school and qualified as a tank mechanic.
    In the late summer of 1941, the 192nd was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, to take part in maneuvers.
During the maneuvers, the Red Army broke through the lines of the Blue Army and on its way to capture the headquarters of the army when the maneuvers were suddenly canceled.  Many of the members of the battalion believed it was because the Blue Army was commanded by General George Patton.

    The tankers expected to receive orders to return to Ft. Knox, instead they were ordered to remain behind at Camp Polk.  None of the men had any idea why this had been done. 
    It was on the side of a hill that the battalion learned that they were being sent overseas as part of operation "PLUM."  Within hours many men had figured out that PLUM stood for Philippines, Luzon, Manila.  Those men who were 29 years old or older were given six hours to resign from federal service.  Those men who did were replaced by men from the 753rd Tank Battalion.
   

    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. 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 Tuesday, November 4th, 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 and docked at Pier 7.  November 20th was the date that the National Guardsmen were scheduled to be released from federal service.  The soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.
    At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King, who apologized that they 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.
   
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons.  The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea.  They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance.

    The tanks were ordered to the perimeter of the Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers on December 1st.  That morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  When they looked up that morning, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed, parked in a straight line, and the pilots went to lunch.  

    Around 12:45 in the afternoon, the tankers noticed planes approaching the airfield.  When bombs began exploding around them, they knew the planes were Japanese.  Besides their .50 caliber machine guns, they had few weapons to use against the planes.  Most took cover and waited out the attack.  After it ended, they saw the destruction done by the tanks.
    The 192nd remained at Clark Field for about a week before they were ordered to the barrio of Dau so it would be near a road and railroad.  For the next four months, the tankers held positions so that the other units could disengage and form a defensive line. 
    The tank battalion received orders on December 21st that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.  Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas.  When they reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta.   The bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of 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.
    The tankers were fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th.  While there, the bridge over the Pampanga River was destroyed, they were able find a crossing over the river.  
   
    At Cabu, seven tanks of the company fought a three hour battle with the Japanese.  The main Japanese line was south of Saint Rosa Bridge ten miles to the south of the battle.
  The tanks were hidden in the brush as  Japanese troops passed the tanks for three hours without knowing that they were there.  While the troops passed, Lt. William Gentry was on his radio describing what he was seeing.  It was only when a Japanese soldier tried take a short cut through the brush, that his tank was hidden in, that the tanks were discovered.  The tanks turned on their sirens and opened up on the Japanese.  They then fell back to Cabanatuan.           
    C Company was re-supplied and withdrew to Baluiag where the tanks encountered Japanese troops and ten tanks.  It was at Baluiag that Gentry's tanks won the first tank victory of World War II against enemy tanks.       

   After this battle, C Company made its way south.  When it entered Cabanatuan, it found the barrio filled with Japanese guns and other equipment.  The tank company destroyed as much of the equipment as it could before proceeding south.

    On December 31, 1941,  Company was sent out reconnaissance patrols north of the town of Baluiag.  The patrols ran into Japanese patrols, which told the Americans that the Japanese were on their way.  Knowing that the railroad bridge was the only way into the town and to cross the river, Lt. Gentry set up his defenses in view of the bridge and the rice patty it crossed. 

    Early on the morning of the 31st, the Japanese began moving troops and across the bridge.  The engineers came next and put down planking for tanks.  A little before noon Japanese tanks began crossing the bridge.  

    Later that day, the Japanese had assembled a large number of troops in the rice field on the northern edge of the town.  One platoon of tanks under the command of 2nd Lt. Marshall Kennady were to the southeast of the bridge.   Gentry's tanks were to the south of the bridge in huts, while third platoon commanded by Capt Harold Collins was to the south on the road leading out of Baluiag2nd Lt. Everett Preston had been sent south to find a bridge to cross to attack the Japanese from behind.  

    Major Morley came riding in his jeep into Baluiag.  He stopped in front of a hut and was spotted by the Japanese who had lookouts in the town's church's steeple.  The guard became very excited so Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks positions, got into his jeep and drove off.  Bill had told him that his tanks would hold their fire until he was safely out of the village.

     When Gentry felt the Morley was out of danger, he ordered his tanks to open up on the Japanese tanks at the end of the bridge.  The tanks then came smashing through the huts' walls and drove the Japanese in the direction of Lt. Marshall Kennady's tanks.  Kennady had been radioed and was waiting.

    Kennady's platoon held its fire until the Japanese were in view of his platoon and then joined in the hunt.  The Americans chased the tanks up and down the streets of the village, through buildings and under them.  By the time Bill's unit was ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had knocked out at least eight enemy tanks. 

    On January 1st, conflicting orders were received - from Gen MacArthur's chief of staff - telling the units protecting the bridge to withdraw.  Doing this would cut off the southern Luzon units which were retreating toward Bataan.  Because of the orders, about half the units had withdrawn from the bridge.  Gen. Wainwright who was a attempting to save the troops was unaware of the orders calling for them to hold their positions.
    When Wainwright realized what had been done, he ordered the troops still at the bridge to hold their positions.  He also ordered a attack by the Self-propelled
mounts, the 75th Field Artillery, and the 192nd Tank Battalion on the Japanese, who were advancing down Route 5.  This attack stopped the Japanese and allowed the Southern Luzon units to escape. Doing this would allow the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan.  General Wainwright was unaware of the conflicting orders since they came from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff.      Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River.  Due to the efforts of the Self-Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were halted.  From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
    Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River.  Due to the efforts of the Self-Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were halted.  From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.On January 1st, conflicting orders were received by the defenders who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5.  Doing this would allow the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan.  General Wainwright was unaware of the orders since they came from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff.      Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River.  Due to the efforts of the Self-Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were halted.  From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.        During the withdraw into the peninsula, the company crossed over the last bridge which was mined and about to be blown.  The 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it and then cover the 192nd's withdraw. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
    
Over the next several months, the battalion fought battle after battle with tanks that were not designed for jungle warfare.  The tank battalions , on January 28th, 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.  
    
C Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese soldiers 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 exited 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.  The 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.     The second method was simple.  The tank was parked with one track across the foxhole.   The driver spun the tank on one track.  The tank dug into the dirt until the Japanese soldiers were dead.

    About 6:45 in the morning of April 9, 1942, the tankers received the order "crash."  They destroyed their tanks and waited for the Japanese to make contact with them.  When they did, the Americans officially became Prisoners of War.  They made their way, as a company, to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  There, they started what they simply referred to as "the march."
    From Mariveles, the POWs made their way north to San Fernando.  They received little food and almost no water.  At San Fernando, the POWs were packed into a bull pin.  In one corner was a slit trench that was used as a washroom.  The surface moved from the maggots that covered it.
    The Japanese ordered the POWs to form detachments of 100 men.  They were marched to the train station and put into small wooden boxcars that were used to haul sugarcane.  The cars could hold forty men or eight horses and were known as "Forty or Eights."  The Japanese packed 100 men into each car.  Those who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas.  From there, they walked the last miles to Camp O'Donnell.
    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army training base that the Japanese put into use as a POW camp.  There was one water faucet for the entire camp.  As many as fifty POWs died each day.  Disease spread quickly among the POWs.  To get out of the camp, POWs volunteered to go out on work details. 
    Ralph went out on a work detail to Clark Airfield to get out of the camp.  Since the airfield had been an American base before the war, each of the POWs had a bunk and mattress.  The POWs were used to repair the runways that had bombed by the Japanese the first day of the war.  The POWs worked seven days a week.  The only way a POW got out of working was if the man was ill.  He remained on the detail until June 1944 when the detail ended.
    The POWs were sent to Bilibid Prison near Manila.  They remained in the prison until August 1944, when they were taken to the Port Area of Manila.  On August 25th, the POWs were packed into a hold of the Noto Maru.  On August 27th, the ship sailed as part of a convoy.  During the trip to Formosa, the convoy was attacked by American submarines and several ships were sunk.  The convoy arrived at Takao, Formosa, late in the evening on August 30th.  The ship sailed the next day for Keelung, Formosa, the same day.  It left Formosa and arrived at Moji, Japan on September 4th. 
    After arriving in Moji, the POWs disembarked and were formed into 100 men detachments.  They were taken to the train station and taken to POW camps along the line.  In Ralph's case, he was taken to Tokyo and held at a Niigata Camp.  It was also known as Shinjuku POW Camp.  The POWs worked in a coal yard at loading and unloading coal cars.  They also loaded train coal cars by filling the cars with baskets of coal.  The water in the camp came inland from the ocean and always had a salty taste.  The camp was located in
Nuttari, Higashi Ward, Niigata Prefecture.

    The camp also appears to have been a hospital facility run by the Japanese Army.  It is possible that the camp was also connected to the Japanese biological Unit 731 and it is rumored that experiments were done on the POWs there.
    Ralph remained in the camp until September 1945 when he was liberated.  He was returned to the Philippines for medical treatment and returned to the United States, on U.S.S. Gosper, arriving at Seattle, Washington, on October 12, 1945. 
    Ralph remained in the Army until March 5, 1947, when he was discharged.  He married Esther Cameron-Walter who was a widow with three young sons.  The couple would have a daughter and son together.  They remained married until her death on July 23, 1979.

    Ralph Boyle passed away on November 16, 1987, in Howland Township, Trumbull County, Ohio.  He was buried at Oakwood, Cemetery in Warren, Ohio.    


 

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