Buggs_W

 

Pfc. Wayne T. Buggs


    Pfc. Wayne T. Buggs was the son of Arthur H. Buggs and Lillias Broege-Buggs and was born on October 5, 1919, in Janesville, Wisconsin.  As a child he lived at 414 North Main Street.  To suppport himself, he worked as a pinsetter at a bowling alley.

    Wayne was a member of the Wisconsin National Guard when his tank company was federalized on November 25, 1940.  At Fort Knox, he was transferred to HQ Company when it was formed in January 1941.  He was assigned to the company as a tank driver.  With him in the company were his cousins Lester and Melvin.
    The battalion next was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, where they took part in the Louisiana maneuvers of 1941.  After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to remain behind at Camp Polk.  None of the members of the battalion had any idea why they were there.  On the side of a hill, the members learned they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM.  Within hours, many men had figured out they were being sent to the Philippine Islands.
   
He and his brother returned home to say their goodbyes to friends and family.  Returning to Camp Polk, the battalion was sent over different train routes for San Francisco, California, where they were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island the soldiers were given physicals and inoculated against tropical diseases.  Men with minor medical conditions were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Other men were simply replaced.  It was from this army base that the 192nd left the United States for the Philippine Islands. 
    The battalion sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, as part of a three ship convoy that arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a two day layover.  The soldiers received shore leave and allowed to explore the island. 
The ships sailed on Tuesday, November 4th, for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly country.   
    When the ships arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water before sailing for Manila.
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 war was coming.  The ships entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th, at 8:00 A.M., and docked at Pier 7 later in the day.  At 3:00 P.M., the soldiers disembarked and were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  Other battalion members boarded their trucks and drove them to fort north of Manila, while the maintenance section of the battalion remained behind and unloaded the tanks. 
    At the fort, the tankers were met by Colonel Edward King, who welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed.  He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to live in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.  He stayed with the soldiers and made sure they has Thanksgiving Dinner before leaving them to have his own dinner.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons which had been greased to prevent them from rusting while at sea.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.
    On Monday, December 1st, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers.  The 194th Tank Battalion guarded the northern half of the airfield, while the 192nd guarded the southern half.  At all times, two members of every tank and half-track crew remained with their vehicles.  Meals were brought to them by food trucks.
    The morning of December 8th, the officers of the battalions met and were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier.  All the members of the letter companies were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield. 
    All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, all the planes landed to be refueled and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45 planes approached the airfield from the north.  The tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54 planes.  When bombs began exploding, the men knew the planes were Japanese.  After the attack the 192nd remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for almost two weeks.  They were than sent to the Lingayen Gulf area where the Japanese had landed.

    On December 25th, Wayne and Major John Morley had parked their tank under a canopy of a gas station near Carmen.  Wayne was assigned to one of the three tanks of HQ Company.  Wayne tuned the tank's radio to the frequency used by the 194th Tank Battalion and both men listened to the fight.  Morley attempted to follow the battle on a map.  As they listened they shells exploded around them.  When they knew that the battle was approaching them, they withdrew from the area.
    The evening of April 8, 1942, Capt. Fred Bruni, HQ's commanding officer, gave his men the news of the surrender.  While informing the members of the company of the surrender, he waved his arm toward the tanks and told the men that they would no longer need them.  As he spoke, his voice choked.  He turned away from the men for a moment, and when he turned back he continued.  He next told the sergeants what they should do to disable the tanks.  During the announcement, Bruni emphasized that they all were to surrender together.   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.  Somehow, Bruni had found enough bread and pineapple juice for what he called, "Their last supper."   
    On April 11th, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment.  Donald was now a Prisoner of War.  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 with 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.  They remained along the sides of the road for hours.           

    HQ Company finally boarded trucks and drove to just outside of Mariveles.  From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and ordered to sit.  As they sat, John and the other Prisoners of War 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 prepared to die, a car pulled up and a Japanese officer got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail.  After talking to the sergeant, he got back in the car and drove off.  The sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.

    Later in the day, Wayne and the other men were marched to a school yard in Mariveles and again ordered to sit.  Behind them were Japanese artillery pieces.  The guns were firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum.  When the two American strongholds began returning fire, the prisoners found themselves in the line of fire and shells began landing around them.  Five POWs who hid in an old brick building were killed when it took a direct hit.  When the barrage ended, three if the four Japanese guns had been destroyed.

    It was from this school yard that Wayne began the death march with his cousins.  They made their way from Mariveles to San Fernando.  During the march he saw men who had fallen shot and bayoneted where they fell.  At San Fernando, the POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars. The cars could hold forty men of eight horses, but the Japanese packed 100 men into each car and closed the doors.  Those POWs who died in the cars did not fall to the floors until the living left the cars at Capas.

    The first camp Wayne was held in was Camp O'Donnell.  It is not known if he went out on a work detail.  What is known is that he was held as a POW at Cabanatuan after the camp opened.  While at Cabanatuan, Wayne was selected for a detail that was sent to Davao.  The POWs were taken to Manila and boarded onto transports.  Since it is not known when he was sent to Davao, he could have been sent on one of two ships.  The  Interisland Steamer sailed on July 1st and arrived at Davao on July 9, 1942, or he may have been on the Erie Maru.  This ship sailed on October 28, 1942 and arrived at Lasung, Mindanao on November 11th.

    At the camp, the POWs were housed in eight barracks that were about 148 feet long and about 16 feet wide.  A four foot wide aisle ran down the center of each barracks.  In each barracks, were eighteen bays.  Twelve POWs shared a bay which meant that 216 POWs lived in each of the barracks.  To prevent escapes, four cages were later put in a bay.  Each cage held two POWs.   
    The camp discipline was poor and the American commanding officer changed frequently.  The junior officers refused to take orders from the senior officers.  Soon, the enlisted men spoke anyway they wanted to the officers.  The situation improved because all the majority of the POWs realized that the discipline was needed to survive.

    At first, the work details were not guarded and the POWs plowed, planted, and harvested the crops unguarded.  The sick POWs made baskets.  In April 1943, the POWs working conditions varied.  Those working the rice fields received the worst treatment.  They were beaten for not meeting quotas.  Most of misunderstandings between the POWs and guards, were the result of a translator who could not be trusted to tell the truth.

    On Davao, Wayne built runways and worked the farm.  He remained on the detail until June 6, 1944, when a detachment of POWs were taken to Lasang, Mindano, and boarded onto the Yashu Maru.  The ship sailed for Cebu City on June 12th, but dropped anchor off Zamboanga, Mindanao, before arriving at Cebu City on July 17th.   They disembarked weer held on shore until they were put onto an unnamed ship which sailed on July 21st.  The ship arrived in Manila on June 24, 1944.

    Wayne was held at Bilibid Prison for 11 days.  On July 4, 1944, he was taken back to the Port Area of Manila and boarded onto the Canadian Inventor which sailed the same day for Formosa, but because of boiler problems, it returned to Manila and remained there for repairs until July 16th when it sailed again as part of convoy.  It should be noted that the POWs remained in the ship's hold the entire time. 
    While at sea, the ship had more boiler problems which resulted in it not being able to keep up with the convoy, so it was left behind.  Somehow the ship safely made it to Takao, Formosa, arriving there on July 23rd and staying for eleven days before sailing on August 4th, but ended up stopping at Keelung - the same day - for more boiler repairs and remained there until July 17th when it sailed again.
    The ship had more repairs done at the Ryukyo Islands and at Naha, Okinawa before it finally reached Moji, Japan, on September 1st.  The POWs debarked on September 2nd

and taken to a staple.  The POWs would later be marched to the train station and taken to POW camps along the line.

    In Japan, Wayne was held as a POW at Nagoya #5B.  The POWs in the camp were used to manufacture sulfuric acid.  It was from this camp that he was liberated at the end of the war and returned to the Philippines.  He sailed for the United States on the U.S.S. Gospar arriving at Seattle, Washington, on October 12, 1945, and hospitalized at Ft. Lewis, Washington.  He was discharged from the army on March 19, 1946.

    After the war, Wayne married Eleanor Peckham, on May 4, 1946, and worked as for the U.S. Post Office.  The couple raised a family in Janesville and lived there the rest of their lives.  Wayne Buggs passed away on November 25, 1985, and was buried at Milton Lawns Cemetery in Janesville in Section G, Row 19.
    The photo at the bottom of the page was taken while Wayne was a POW at Nagoya #5B.


 




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