|Sgt. John Funston Campbell
Sgt. John F. Campbell was born on May 3, 1921,
in Wisconsin to Jesse T. Campbell & Cora
Tubbs-Campbell. He had one sister and three
brothers and resided on the family farm in Harmony
Township, Rock County, Wisconsin. He left high
school of his junior year to work on the family
farm. John was also the cousin of Jesse
Tubbs, who was also a member of A
John joined the Wisconsin National Guard, with his cousin, in October 1940 in Janesville, Wisconsin. Like many young men of the time, he knew he would be drafted into the Army when the new draft law took effect in January 1941.
In September 1940, the National Guard unit was federalized and designated as A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. On November 25th, the company readied itself for training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and boarded the train for Ft. Knox on November 28th.
When the tankers arrived at Ft. Knox, they learned that their barracks were not finished. The area of the fort that they were assigned to was brand new, so they found themselves living in tents with stoves in them. They remained in the tents several months. When they did move into their barracks, the roads in front of them were mud since the winter was extremely wet.
John, like all the other members of the battalion, learned to operate all the equipment of the battalion. It is not known what he trained to do with the company. A typical day started at 6:15 A.M. with reveille, but most of the soldiers were already up so they could wash, dress, and be on time for assembly. Breakfast was from 7 to 8 A.M. which was followed buy calisthenics from 8 to 8:30. After this, the remainder of the morning dealt with .30 and .50 caliber machine guns, pistols, map reading, care of personal equipment, military courtesy, and training in military tactics.
At 11:30, the tankers got ready for lunch, which was from noon to 1:00 P.M., when they went back to work by attending the various schools. At 4:30, the tankers day ended and retreat was at 5:00 P.M. followed by evening meal at 5:30. The day ended at 9:00 P.M. with lights out, but they did not have to be in bed until 10:00 P.M. when taps was played. On January 13th, the soldiers were sent to specific schools for additional training. During this time he was promoted to private first class, corporal, and finally sergeant and tank commander. One member of his tank crew was Emil Schmidt.
In late August, the battalion was informed it would take part in maneuvers in Louisiana. During the maneuvers the battalion performed exceptionally well. After the maneuvers, instead of returning to Ft. Knox, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana. None of the members had any idea why they were being kept there.
On the side of a hill, the battalion members were informed that they were being sent overseas, and that this decision had been made by General George S. Patton. Those members of the battalion who were 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service. Those remaining were given leave home to say their goodbyes.
Each company of the battalion traveled by train, over different routes, to San Francisco, California, and were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they received inoculations and physicals, and those found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island. They were scheduled to join the battalion at a later date.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S. A. T. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27th. During this part of the trip, many tankers had seasickness, but once they recovered they spent much of the time training in breaking down machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP. They arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
On Wednesday, November 5th, the ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes. It was at this time it was joined by, the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and, another transport, the S. S. Calvin Coolidge. Sunday night, November 9th, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th. During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line. On Saturday, November 15th, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon. The Louisville revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it shot off in the direction of the smoke. It turned out the smoke was from a ship that belonged to a friendly country.
When they arrived at Guam, on Sunday, November 16th on Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila the next day. At one point, the ships passed an island at night and did so in total blackout. This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way. The ships entered Manila Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20th, and docked at Pier 7 later that morning. At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.
At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized that they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field. He made sure that they had what they needed and that they received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner. 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 as they prepared to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.
On December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. From this time on, two tank crew members remained with each tank at all times and received their meals from food trucks.
On the morning of December 8, 1941, the members of A Company were informed of the Japanese attack on Clark Field. Many of them believed that this was the start of the maneuvers. The tankers returned to their tanks, at the airfield, to guard against Japanese paratroopers.
At 8:30 in the morning, the American Army Air Coops took off and filled the sky. At noon, the planes landed, to be refueled, were parked in a straight line outside the mess hall, and the pilots went to lunch.
About 12:45 in the afternoon as the tankers were eating lunch, and watched as planes approached the airfield from the north. At first, the soldiers thought the planes were American. As they watched, what appeared to be "raindrops" fell from the planes. It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that they knew the planes were Japanese.
When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield. The soldiers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and anything that could carry the wounded was in use. When the hospital filled, they watched the medics place the wounded under the building. Many of these men had their arms and legs missing.
That night, the tankers lived through several more air raids. Most slept under their tanks since it was safer than sleeping in their tents. They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed for the next three and one half years. The next morning, those men not assigned to tanks or half-tracks, walked around the base and saw the bodies of the dead lying everywhere.
On December 12th, the company was ordered to the barrio of Dau so it would protect a road and railroad against sabotage. On December 23rd and 24th, the company was in the area of Urdaneta, where the tankers lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write. After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get south of Agno River. As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening but successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
From there, the company was sent to rejoin the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River. There, the battalion, with the 194th, held the position so other units could withdraw. On December 25th, the tanks 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 at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th. The 192nd, and part of the 194th, fell back to form a new defensive line the night of December 27th and 28th. From there they fell back to the south bank of the BamBan River which they were suppose to hold for as long as possible. The tanks were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th serving as a rear guard against the Japanese.
Next, A Company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga on December 30th. It was there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt. William Read.
The night of the 30th, on a road east of Zaragoza, the company was bivouacked for the night and posted sentries. The sentries heard a noise on the road and woke the other tankers who grabbed Tommy-guns and manned the tanks' machine guns. As they watched, a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac. When the last bicycle passed the tanks, the tankers opened up on them. When they stopped firing, they had completely wiped out the bicycle battalion. To leave the area, the tankers drove their tanks over the bodies.
The 192nd formed a defensive line along the south bank of the river of the Guiman River on December 31st. When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts. The Japanese were taking heavy casualties, so they attempted to use smoke to cover their advance. The wind blew the smoke into the Japanese. When the Japanese broke off the attack, they had suffered fifty percent casualties.
At Guagua, A Company, with units from the 11th Division, Philippine Army, attempted to make a counterattack against the Japanese. Somehow, the tanks were mistaken, by the Filipinos to be Japanese. The 11th Division accurately used mortars on them. The result was the loss of three tanks.
On January 1st, the tanks of the 194th were holding the Calumpit Bridge allowing the Southern Luzon forces to cross the bridge toward Bataan. General Wainwright was attempting to hold the main Japanese force coming down Route 5 to prevent the troops from being cut off. General MacArthur's chief of staff gave conflicting orders involving from whose command the defenders should take orders. Gen. Wainwright was not aware these orders had been given.
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 6, 1942, A Company rejoined the 192nd. The night of January 6th/7th the tanks withdrew into the peninsula with the 192nd holding its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross the bridge, and then cover the 192nd's withdraw over the bridge. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan, before the engineers blew up the bridge at 6:00 A.M.
At Guagua, A Company, with the units from the 11th Division, Philippine Army, attempted to make a counter attack against the Japanese. Somehow, the tanks were mistaken by the Filipino Army as being Japanese. The 11th Division accurately used mortars on them resulting in the loss of three tanks. The company was attached to the 194th and returned to the command of the 192ns on January 8, 1942. While American and Filipino forces were withdrawing from the Pilar-Bigac Line, the battalion prevented the Japanese from overrunning the position and cutting off the withdrawing troops. The morning of January 27th, a new battle line had been formed and all units were suppose to be beyond it. That morning, the tanks were still holding their position six hours after they were suppose to have withdrawn. While holding the position, the tanks, with self-propelled mounts, ambushed, at point blank range, three Japanese units causing 50 percent casualties. While American and Filipino forces were withdrawing from the Pilar-Bigac Line, the battalion prevented the Japanese from overrunning the position and cutting off the withdrawing troops. The morning of January 27th, a new battle line had been formed and all units were suppose to be beyond it. That morning, the tanks were still holding their position six hours after they were suppose to have withdrawn. While holding the position, the tanks, with self-propelled mounts, ambushed, at point blank range, three Japanese units causing 50 percent casualties.
At Guagua, A Company with units of the 11th Division, Philippine Army, attempted a counter attack against the Japanese. The 11th Division believed the tanks were Japanese and successfully used mortars on them knocking out three tanks. Afterwards the company returned to the command of the 192nd.
The tanks often were the last units to disengage from the enemy and form a new defensive line as Americans and Filipino forces withdrew toward Bataan. The night of January 7th, the A Company was awaiting orders to cross the last bridge into Bataan over the Culis Creek. The engineers were ready to blow up the bridge, but the battalion's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Ted Wickord, ordered the engineers to wait until he had looked to see if they were anywhere in sight. He found the company, asleep in their tanks, because they had not received the order to withdraw across the bridge. After they had crossed, the bridge was destroyed.
While American and Filipino forces were withdrawing from the Pilar-Bigac Line, the battalion prevented the Japanese from overrunning the position and cutting off the withdrawing troops. The morning of January 27th, a new battle line had been formed and all units were suppose to be beyond it. That morning, the tanks were still holding their position six hours after they were suppose to have withdrawn. While holding the position, the tanks, with self-propelled mounts, ambushed, at point blank range, three Japanese units causing 50 percent casualties.
On January 28th, the tank battalions 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.
A Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese troops 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 the tank, which had been relieved, had left 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. It was for their performance during this battle that the 192nd Tank Battalion would receive one of its Distinguished Unit Citations.
The soldiers were hungry and began to eat everything they could get their hands on to eat. The Carabao were tough but if they were cooked long enough they could be eaten. They also began to eat horse meat provided by the 26th U. S. Cavalry. To make things worse, the soldiers' rations were cut in half again on March 1, 1942. This meant that they only ate two meals a day.
The Japanese also were dropping surrender leaflets with a scantly clad blond on them. The Japanese would have been more successful at getting the Americans to surrender if the picture had been hamburger, since the men were so hungry that they most likely would have surrendered for a good meal.
The company's last bivouac area was about twelve kilometers north of Marivales and looking out on the China Sea. By this point, the tankers knew that there was no help on the way. Many had listened to Secretary of War Harry L. Stimson on short wave. When asked about the Philippines, he said, "There are times when men must die." The soldiers cursed in response because they knew that the Philippines had already been lost.
On March 2nd or 3rd, during the Battle of the Points. The tanks had been sent in to wipe out two pockets of Japanese soldiers who had been landed behind the main defensive line. The Japanese were soon cut off. When the Japanese attempted to land reinforcements, they landed them at the wrong place creating another pocket. Both of the pockets were wiped out.
On April 4, 1942, the Japanese launched an attack supported by artillery and aircraft. A large force of Japanese troops came over Mount Samat and descended down the south face of the volcano. this attack wiped out two divisions of defenders and left a large area of the defensive line open to the Japanese. When General King saw that the situation was hopeless, he initiated surrender talks with the Japanese.
The night of April 8, 1942, the members of A Company circled their tanks. Each tank fired one armor piercing shell into the engine of the tank in front of it. The tankers next opened up the gasoline valves and dropped hand grenades into the turrets. The next morning, April 9, 1942, at 7:00 A.M., they became Prisoners of War.
At 6:45 A.m., on April 9th, the tankers heard the order "crash" over their radios. They circled their tanls and each tank fired an armor piercing shell into the engine of the tank in front of it. After this was done, the gasoline cocks were opened in the crew compartment, and hand grenades dropped into the tanks. After this was done, the soldiers waited for the Japanese to make contact with them.
The members of the company made their way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan and started what they simply called "the march." The POWs made their way north from Mariveles. The first five miles of the march were uphill. At one point, the members of the company had to run past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor. They received little water and little food. When they reached San Fernando, they were put into a bull pen. In one corner of the bull pen was a trench the POWs were suppose to use as a washroom. The surface of the trench was alive with maggots. How long they remained in the bull pen is not known.
The Japanese ordered the POWs to form ranks. They were marched to the train stationed and packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane. Each car could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car. Those who died remained standing since there was no place for them to fall. At Capas, the living left the cars and the dead fell to the floors. They walked the last miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base with one water faucet for the entire camp. Men literally died waiting for a drink. The death rated in the camp began to rise until as many as 55 men dying each day, resulting in the burial detail working non-stop to bury the dead. Since the water table was high, the graves were shallow and the bodies had to be pushed down with poles until they were covered with dirt.
To lower the death rate among the POWs, the Japanese took another Philippine Army base and made it a new POW camp. John was sent to the camp when it opened in early June 1942. According to medical records kept at Cabanatuan, Sgt. John F. Campbell died of dysentery on Saturday, July 11, 1942, at approximately 3:00 A.M. Another medical record from the camp shows his cause of death as malaria, while the final report on the 192nd Tank Battalion confirms his date of death, but it does not give a cause of death. Since records were not as organized, at the camp, before August 1942, it is believe he was buried in Grave 1011, with twelve other men who died on that date.
After the war, the Remains Recovery Team could not positively identify the remains of Cpl. John F. Campbell, so he was buried in a grave at the new American Military Cemetery as an "unknown," and his name was placed on the Tablets of the Missing at the cemetery. esult was the loss of three tanks. The company joined the 194th west of Guagua and was returned to the 192nd on January 8, 1942omehow, the tanks were mistaken, by the Filipinos to be Japanese. The 11th Division accurately used mortars on them. The result was the loss of three tanks. The company joined the 194th west of Guagua and was returned to the 192nd on January 8, 1942.
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