Pvt. Paul H. Bruce
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.
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.
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 11th. It sailed on October 16th at
7:30 A.M. but returned to Takao at 10:30 P.M. the
same day. At this time the POWs were receiving
two bags of hardtack and a meal of rice and soup
each day. The ship sailed again on October
18th and arrived at the Pescadores Islands at 5:00
P.M. It remained anchored off the islands for
several days during which time two POWs died, and
their bodies were thrown into the sea.