Camfferman

Cpl. Martin William Camfferman Jr.


     Cpl. Martin W. Camfferman Jr. was born on November 22, 1920, and raised at 1500 South 56th Court in Cicero, Illinois.  He was the youngest of five children of Martin W. Camfferman Sr., & Clasine Godee-Camfferman.  While he was still a child, his mother passed away which resulted in his sister quitting school to take care of Martin so that their father could work.  

    Martin attended Morton High School where he was a member of the Class of 1938.  While in high school, he was a member of the swimming team.  After high school, he worked as a truck driver for an automobile parts wholesaler.

    Like many young men of his age, Martin knew that with the new draft act it was just a matter of time before he would be drafted into the army.  To avoid this, Martin joined the Illinois National Guard in Maywood, Illinois on September 24, 1940.  On November 25, 1940, Martin was inducted into the regular army when the National Guard unit was federalized.

    On April 6, 1941, while he was on leave, he married his grade school sweetheart, Catherine Gray.  He last saw her on October 6, 1941, as his company prepared to leave for overseas duty.

    As a member of the B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, he trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  There he was taught to operate all the equipment used by the company.  In January, 1941, Headquarters Company of the 192nd Tank Battalion was created.  At this time, Martin was transferred into this newly created company.  

    Next, Martin participated in the maneuvers of 1941 in Louisiana.  After the maneuvers at Camp Polk, Louisiana, his battalion was informed that they had been selected by General George S. Patton for duty overseas.  He and the other members of the battalion received furloughs home so that they could take care of unfinished business and say goodbye to family and friends. 
    The battalion traveled west by train to San Francisco.  Arriving there, they were taken by ferry to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  At Ft. McDowell, they were given physicals and inoculated.   Those men found to have a minor medical condition were held back and scheduled to rejoin 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 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.  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.
   
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.  

    When war came on December 8, 1941, Martin lived through the Japanese bombing of Clark Field.  Having received word of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the tanks of the Provisional Tank Group were sent to the perimeter of Clark Field to defend against a possible Japanese paratrooper attack.  

    During the Battle of the Philippines, the battalion was used as the rear guard to slow the Japanese advance and to allow the Filipino and American Forces to withdraw into the Bataan Peninsula.  Being with HQ Company, Martin's job was to insure that the letter companies received the necessary supplies they needed to fight the Japanese.  At times doing this was difficult because the tanks moved frequently to plug leaks in the defensive positions.  To demonstrate how bad the situation was on Bataan, the last time Martin's family heard from him was in a letter dated February 2, 1942.  

    When the Filipino and American Forces in the Philippine Islands were surrendered on April 9, 1942, Martin became a Prisoner of War.  He took part in the death march and was imprisoned at Camp O'Donnell.  When the new POW camp opened at Cabanatuan, Martin was transferred there.  It is known that he was admitted to the camp hospital and assigned to Barracks 1.  The camp hospital was also known as "Zero Ward" since most of the men sent there died.  Records kept at the camp indicate he was admitted on June 22, 1942, suffering from malaria and dysentery.
    According to U. S. Army records, Cpl. Martin W.  Camfferman died of dysentery and malaria on July 27, 1942, at Cabanatuan at approximately 10:00 A.M.  He was buried in Plot 2,  Row 0,  Grave 225, in the camp cemetery.  He was buried in the grave with five other POWs.

     After the war, Cpl. Martin W. Camfferman Jr.'s remains were disinterred on August 31, 1948.  He was reburied in Plot N, Row 12, Grave 70, at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila on October 18, 1949.


 


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