BruceP

                                                         Pvt. Paul H. Bruce


     Pvt. Paul H. Brice was the son of Clomer L. Bruce & Mamie E. Hendrix-Bruce.  He was born on May 21, 1918 in Palo Pinto County, Texas.  He had two sisters  and two brothers.  Sometime during the 1930s, his mother passed away and the family moved in with his father's brother and his wife.   The family resided in Gladewater, Texas, in 1940.  Paul attended Texas A & M College for three years but left before graduating.  He worked on a street crew for the City of Gladewater.
    Paul was inducted into the U.S. Army in Houston, Texas, on March 11, 1941.  He was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training.  After basic training, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, where he was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion.  Maneuvers were going on when the battalion arrived there, but they did not take part in the maneuvers.
    After the maneuvers, the 192nd Tank Battalion was informed that they were being sent overseas.  Since the battalion was primarily National Guardsmen, the Army allowed men 29 years old or older to resign from federal service.  Paul replaced one of these men and was assigned to Headquarters Company. 
    Over four different train routes the tankers traveled to San Francisco, California.  The tankers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  On the island, they were given physicals and inoculated for duty in the Philippine Islands.  Those with health issues were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion in the Philippines.
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S Calvin Coolidge 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.  When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  They sailed the same day for Manila.  The ships 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.
    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 morning of December 8th, the officers of the 192nd were called to an office and informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  The letter companies were ordered to the south end of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  HQ Company remained behind in their bivouac. 
    All morning the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45 in the afternoon, Japanese bombers appeared over Clark Field destroying the American Army Air Corps.  William and the other members of HQ took cover since they had no weapons to use against the planes.  After the attack, they witnessed the devastation caused by the bombing and strafing.
    For the next four months Paul worked to keep the tanks of the battalion supplied and running. 
On April 9, 1942, Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese at 7:00 A.M.  The members of the company remained in their bivouac.  Capt. Fred Bruni, HQ's commanding officer, gave his men the news of the surrender.  He told the soldiers to destroy their weapons and any supplies that could be used by the Japanese.  The only thing they were told not to destroy were the company's trucks.  The men waited in their bivouac until ordered to move.  Paul was now a Prisoner of War.

  
    On April 11th, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment.  A Japanese officer ordered the company, with their possessions, out onto the road that ran in front of their encampment.  Once on the road, the soldiers were ordered to kneel along the sides of the road.  They were told to put their possessions in front of them.  As they knelt, the Japanese soldiers, who were passing them, went through their possessions and took whatever they wanted from the Americans.

    The company boarded their trucks and drove to Mariveles.  From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and sat and waited.  As they sat, the POWs noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming across from them.  They soon realized that this was a firing squad and the Japanese were going to kill them.

    As they sat watching and waiting to see what the Japanese intended to do, a Japanese officer pulled up in a car in front of the Japanese soldiers.  He got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail.  The officer got back in the car and drove off.  The Japanese sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.

    Later in the day, Paul's group of POWs was moved to a school yard in Mariveles. The POWs were left sitting in the sun for hours.  The Japanese did not feed them or give them water.  Behind the POWs were four Japanese artillery pieces which began firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum.  These two islands had not surrendered.  Shells from these two American forts began landing among the POWs.  The POWs could do little since they had no place to hide.  Some POWs were killed by incoming American shells.  One group that tried to hide in a small brick building died when it took a direct hit.  The American guns did succeed in knocking out three of the four Japanese guns.

    The POWs were ordered to move again by the Japanese.  Paul, and the other men, had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march.  During the march, he received no water and little food.  It took the members of HQ Company six days to reach San Fernando.  Once there, the POWs were put into a bull pen that had a fence around it.  In one corner was a slit trench to be used as a toilet by the POWs.  The surface of the trench moved since it was covered in maggots.  The POWs had enough room to sit, but they could not lie down.
     How long the POWs remained in the bull pen is not known.  The Japanese ordered the POWs to form columns and took them to the train depot at San Fernando. 
Paul was put into a small wooden boxcar and taken to Capas.  The cars could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese packed 100 men into each car.  Those who died remained standing until the living climbed out of the car.  From Capas, William walked the last ten miles to Camp O' Donnell. 
    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base that the Japanese pressed into service as a Prisoner of War camp.  It turned out to be a death trap with as many as fifty POWs dying each day.  There was only one working water faucet for the entire camp.  To get a drink, men stood in line for days.  Many died while waiting for a drink.  The death rate among the POWs was as high as fifty men a day.  Many POWs went out on work details to get out of the camp.
    Paul was next held at Cabanatuan.  It is not known if he was sent there when the camp opened or if he was sent to the camp after being on a work detail.  It is known that he worked on the burial detail at the camp.  In late September 1942, Paul's name appeared on a transfer list.  He was sent to a warehouse on Pier 7 in Manila on October 5, 1942.  There, the POWs were given physicals and prepared to be transferred to another part of the Japanese Empire.

    The POWs were boarded onto the Tottori Maru on October 7th but the ship did not sail until the next day.   The ship was at sea, when torpedoes from an American submarine missed the ship.  A while later, the ship passed a mine that had been laid by the submarine.  The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on October 12th.  It sailed on October 16th but returned to Takao the same day.  The ship sailed again on October 18th and arrived at the Pescadores Islands the same day.  It remained anchored off the islands for several days.   It was at this time that two POWs died, and their bodies were thrown into the sea. 
    The ship sailed again on October 27th and returned to Takao the same day. The next day, the POWs were taken ashore and bathed with seawater.  They were again put into the holds.  The ship sailed again on October 30th and arrived at Makou, Pescadores Islands.  The ship sailed on October 31st and it rode out a typhoon for five days on its way to Fusan, Korea.  It arrived at Fusan on November 7th, but the POWs did not disembark on November 8th.  Those POWs who were too ill to continue the trip to Mukden, Manchuria, remained behind at Fusan.  Those who died were cremated and had their ashed placed in small white boxes. 
    The POWs were taken on a two day train trip to Mukden, Manchuria on November 11th.  Arriving there, the POWs first held at the first Mukden camp.  On August 3, 1943, they were transferred to the new camp when it was opened.  The POWs worked in a machine shop or at a lumber mill.  POWs who died, during the winter, bodies were stored in a warehouse until spring.  They were than buried in the camp cemetery.
    A U.S. Recovery Team was parachuted into the camp on August 18, 1945.  They informed the Japanese that Japan had surrendered.  The Russian Army liberated the camp.  After liberation, most of the POWs were taken to Darien, China.  From there, they were transported to Okinawa. 
    Paul Bruce returned to the United States and was discharged on March 9, 1946.  He resided in Texas and died at Dallas, Texas, on June 8, 1972.  He was buried at Gladewater Memorial Park in Gladewater, Texas.




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