Campbell_W

 

Sgt. Willard Harold Campbell


   
    Sgt. Willard H. Campbell was born in May 21, 1920, to Earl F. Campbell and Florence E. Zierth-Campbell in Wisconsin.  With his sister, he grew up at 8 Linn Street in Janesville.  He was also the cousin of Lewis Wallisch of A Company.  Willard joined the Wisconsin National Guard's tank company in Janesville.  In September 1940, the tank company was federalized and designated A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.
   
The company left for Fort Knox, Kentucky, on November 27, 1940, by train.  Since they had few tanks, the companies pulled their tanks from the junkyard at the fort and rebuilt them to operating order.  The members of the company trained on the equipment and learned to operate it.  In January 1941,Willard was transferred to Headquarters Company when it was formed and was put in command of one of the company's three tanks.
   The 192nd Tank Battalion was sent to Louisiana, in the late summer of 1941, to take part in maneuvers.  At the end of the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk without being given a reason.  According to members of the battalion, it was on the side of a hill that they learned that General George S. Patton had selected them for duty overseas.  Men who were married or 29 years old or older were given the chance to be released from federal service.  Replacements for these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.  Most of the members of the battalion were allowed to go home and say goodbye.  It appeared that Willard married at this time.
   The battalion traveled by train to San Francisco, California, and were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island they were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases.  Some men were held back for health issues but scheduled to join the battalion at a later date.  Other men were simply replaced.
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, as part of a three ship convoy that arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd. 
The soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.  On November 5th, the ships sailed 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 they were being sent into harm's way.  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 Colonel Edward King, who apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield. The truth was that he had not learned of their arrival until just days before their ship docked.  He made sure that they had what they needed and that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner.
    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, while they prepared for maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.
    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. 
   At six in the morning, the officers of the battalion were called to the radio room at the fort.  They were ordered to move their entire companies to the perimeter of Clark Airfield.  The tankers watched that morning as the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed to be refueled and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45, the tankers watched as 54 planes approached the airfield.  As they watched, they saw "raindrops" falling from the planes.  When bombs began exploding, the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese.
    The tankers could do little more than watch since their weapons were useless against planes. What amazed the tankers was that very few planes attempted to destroy the tanks.  After the attack, the tankers saw the damage done to the airfield.  They remained at the airfield for a week before being sent north.
    HQ Company was sent to Lingayen Gulf in support of B and C Companies which had been sent there to relieve the 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts. Because of logistical problems, there wasn't enough gasoline to refuel one company, so only one platoon of B Company could be sent to the gulf.

    At Gumain River, the tank companies formed a defensive line along the south bank of the river.  When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts.  It was there the tankers noted that the Japanese soldiers were high on drugs when they attacked.  Among the dead Japanese, the tankers found the hypodermic needles and syringes.   The tankers were able to hold up the Japanese for several weeks.     
    On another occasion the company had bivouac for the night, along both sides of the road, and posted sentries.  The guards heard a noise and alerted the other tankers who grabbed their guns.  As they sat quietly, a Japanese bicycle battalion road into their bivouac.  They opened fire with everything they had.  There were flashes of light and screaming.  Then, there was silence.  The tankers had completely wiped out the bicycle battalion.

    During the Battle of the Points, A Company was involved in wiping out Japanese soldiers who had been landed on two peninsulas on Bataan.  The Japanese landed troops Quinauan Point ten miles behind the main defensive line.  When they attempted to reinforce them, they landed additional troops Anyasan Point seven miles behind the main battle line.  When the tanks became available, A Company was sent in to help wipe out the 2000 soldiers trapped in the pockets.
    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.     The Japanese ordered the POWs to form ranks.  They were marched to the train station where they were packed into small wooden
boxcars used to haul sugarcane.  The cars were known as "forty or eights" since they could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car.  Those POWs who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas.  From Capas, the POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
     Camp O'Donnell, an unfinished Filipino training base, was pressed into use as a POW camp.  There was only one water faucet for the entire camp.  Men literally died for a drink of water.  The Japanese guard could and would turn off the faucet whenever he felt like it.  If a man wanted a drink, he would have to stand in place until it was turned back on again.
    The death rate in the camp began to climb.  As many as 55 POWs died each day.  For those assigned to the burial detail, the job was endless.  Seeing that something had to be done to lower the number of deaths, the Japanese opened a new camp at Cabanatuan and sent the healthier POWs there.
    When the POWs were moved to Cabanatuan, Willard was left behind at Camp O'Donnell.  He was considered too ill to be moved.  According to 2nd Lt. Jacques Merrifield's diary on the 192nd Tank Battalion, Sgt.Willard H. Campbell died from malaria on Wednesday, June 3, 1942.  This was confirmed by records kept by the medical staff at the camp.  After he died, he was buried in the camp cemetery Section: L, Row: 9, Grave 3. 
    After the war, Sgt. Willard Campbell's remains were positively identified.  At his wife's request, he was reburied at the new American Military Cemetery at Manila in Plot D, Row 5, Grave 63.


 

 

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