Carter_C

 



Pfc. Charles Albert Carter
    Pfc. Charles A. Carter was born on September 9, 1919, in Franklin County, Ohio, to Minor & Belle Carter. 
His family of six sisters and two brothers were raised at Star Yard on Portsmouth, Ohio.  His father died in the 1930s. 
In 1940, his family was living at 376 Kellogg Street in Columbus, Ohio.  To help support the family, he finished eighth grade and went to work as a laborer at a rock quarry. 
    Charles was inducted into the U.S. Army on March 28, 1941, in Columbus.  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.  The battalion had been sent to Camp Polk from Fort Benning, Georgia.  Maneuvers were taking place at the camp, but the 753rd did not take part of them.
    After the maneuvers the 192nd Tank Battalion expected to return to Ft. Knox.  Instead, they were kept at Camp Polk and not given a reason.  It was on the side of a hill that they learned that they were being sent overseas.  Men 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service.  Replacements for these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.  One of those replacements was Charles.  He was assigned to B Company.

    The battalion traveled by train to San Francisco.  By ferry, they were taken to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, they received inoculations and physicals.  Those members of the battalion who were 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.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.
    On the morning of December 8, 1941, the members of B Company were informed of the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  His tank and the others were sent to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  About 12:45 in the afternoon as the tankers were eating lunch, planes approached the airfield from the north.  At first, the soldiers thought the planes were American.  It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that they knew the planes were Japanese.
   The 192nd remained at Clark Field for about a week before they were ordered to the barrio of Dau so it would be near a road and railroad.  For the next four months, the tankers held positions so that the other units could disengage and form a defensive line. 
   The company took part in the Battle of the Pockets.  The Japanese had lunched an offensive and were pushed back to the original battle line.  Two pockets of Japanese soldiers were trapped behind the line.  The tanks were sent in to the pockets to wipe them out.  One platoon of tanks would relieve another platoon.  The tanks would do this one at a time. 
    The tanks used two strategies to do this. In the first, the tanks would go over a foxhole.  Three Filipino soldiers were sitting on the back of the tanks.  Each man had a bag of hand grenades.  As the tank was passing over the foxhole, the three soldiers would drop hand grenades into the foxhole.
    The second method was to park a tank over a foxhole.  The driver would then spun the tank, in a circle, on one track until it ground itself into the ground wiping out the Japanese.  The tankers slept upwind from the tanks so they didn't have to smell the rotting flesh.
    The night of April 8, 1942, the members of B 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 at 7:00 A.M. they became Prisoners of War.
    The members of B Company made their way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  It was from this barrio that the tankers 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 ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
   
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base.  There was one water faucet for the entire camp.  Men literally died for a drink.  The death rate in the camp began to rise until as many as 55 men dying each day.  The burial detail worked non-stop to bury the dead.  Often, when they returned the next morning, the wild dogs had dug up the bodies or the bodies were sitting up in the graves. 
To lower the death rate among the POWs, the Japanese opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.  He remained in the camp until he was selected to go out on a work detail.
    In July 1943, Charles was sent to Lipa, Batangas, on the Las Pinas Work Detail.  The POWs were housed in the Pasay School about a mile from the airfield.  It was at Nichols Field that he built runways for the Japanese Navy.   At first the work was hard but not as hard as it was going to get.  About 400 yards from where they began working where hills.  The POWs removed these hills with picks, shovels, and wheel barrows.  The dirt was put into wheel barrows and carried to a swamp and dumped as landfill.  This turned out to be ineffective, so the Japanese brought in mining cars and railroad track.  Two POWs pushed each car to where it was to be dumped.  The Japanese wanted the POWs to build a runway that was 500 yards wide.  Charles would remain on this detail for almost seventeen months.
    The brutality shown to the POWs was severe.  The first Japanese commander of the camp
, a Lt. Moto, was called the "White Angel" because he wore a spotless naval uniform.  He was commander of the camp for slightly over thirteen months.  One day a POW collapsed while working on the runway.  Moto was told about the man and came out and ordered him to get up.  When he couldn't four other Americans were made to carry the man back to the Pasay School. 
    At the school, the Japanese guards gave the man a shower and straightened his clothes as much as possible.  The other Americans were ordered to the school.  As they stood there, the White Angel ordered an American captain to follow him behind the school.  The POW was marched behind the school and the other Americans heard two shots.  The American officer told the men that the POW had said, "Tell them I went down smiling." There, the White Angel shot the POW as the man smiled at him.   As the man lay on the ground, he shot him a second time.  The American captain told the other POWs what had happened.  The White Angel told them that this was what going to happen to anyone who would not work for the Japanese Empire.
    The second commanding officer of the detail was known as "the Wolf."  He was a civilian who wore a Japanese Naval Uniform.  Each morning, he would come to the POW barracks and select those POWs who looked the sickest and made them line up.  The men were made to put one leg on each side of a trench and then do 50 push-ups.  If a man's arms gave out and he touched the ground, he was beaten with pick handles.
    On another occasion a POW collapsed on the runway.  The Wolf had the man taken back to the barracks.  When the Wolf came to the barracks that evening and the man was still unconscious, he banged the man's head into the concrete floor and kicked him in the head.  He then took the man to the shower and drowned him in the basin.
    A third POW who had tried to walk away from the detail told the guards to shoot him.  The guards took him back to the Pasay School and strung him up by his thumbs outside the doorway and placed a bottle of beer and sandwich in front of him.  He was dead by evening.

    The welfare of the POWs was of no concern to the Japanese.  They only concern they had was getting the runway built.  If the number of POWs identified as being sick was too large, the Japanese would simply walk among the POWs, at the school, and select men who did not display any physical signs of illness or injury.  Men suffering from dysentery or pellagra could not get out of work.

    In particular, "the Wolf" was was hardest to convince that a man was sick.  If a man's arm or leg was bandaged, he would kick the man's leg, in the spot it was bandaged, and see how the man reacted.  If the man showed a great deal of pain, he was not required to work.  In one case, a man whose broken wrist was in a splint, was twisted by the Wolf while the man trembled in pain.

       The remains of the POWs who had died on the detail were brought to Bilibid Prison in boxes.  The Japanese had death certificates, with the causes of death and signed by an American doctor, sent with the boxes.  The Americans from the detail, who accompanied the boxes, would not tell the POWs at Bilibid what had happened.  It was only when the sick, from the detail, began to arrive at Bilibid did they learn what the detail was like.  These men were sent to Bilibid to die since it would look better when it was reported to the International Red Cross.
    At some point, Charles injured his right knee and was sent to the hospital ward at Bilibid Prison.  He was admitted to the ward on April 25, 1944, and was discharged on May 1, 1944.  When he was discharged, he was sent to Barracks #12 which was designated as the "Well Group."
    In July 1944, Charles' name appeared on a list for POWs being sent to Japan.  On July 17th, the POWs were taken to Pier 7 in Manila and boarded onto the Nissyo Maru.  The Japanese attempted to pack the entire POW detachment into the number one hold.  When they realized that they
couldn't, they opened the number two hold.  The POWs were fed at 9:00 P.M.  The next day, the ship moved further out in the harbor and dropped anchor.  The POWs did not  receive water for over a day.  The ship remained outside the breakwater for a week before it moved again and anchored off Corregidor.
    Once the 21 ships of Convoy HI 68 were gathered in Manila Harbor, the ships sailed on July 24th.  The next day the ships were spotted by an American wolf pack.  Inside the holds, the POWs used buckets as toilets. The Japanese also set up wooden toilets that hung over the side of the ship.
    At 12:22 P.M., the freighters were fired on by the submarines.  The torpedoes missed but the Japanese bow knew that there were submarines in the area and began dropping depth charges. The submarines disengaged from the convoy and waited until after dark to resume the attack. When they did they sunk several of the ships.  The POWs on Nissyo Maru saw the flames from one of the ships, a tanker, go over the hatch, which was uncovered, of the hold.
    On July 27th, the convoy reached Takao, Formosa, at 1:00 P.M.  Sugar was loaded in the lower part of the number two hold.   The ships sailed the next day and the convoy arrived at Moji, Japan, on August 3rd at 4:00 P.M. 
    The POWs disembarked and were deloused.  The detachment of POWs Charles was in was boarded onto a train and taken to Oeyama Camp.  The POWs in the camp were used as slave labor in a nickel mine and worked at a smelter.  The mine the POWs worked in required that they walk nearly six miles each way.  They were also used as stevedores in the nearby port town of
Miyazu.

    The attacks by American B-29s became more frequent in 1945.  On July 30th, B-29s bombed Miyazu doing heavy damage.   Two weeks later the bombers returned bombing all night ending about noon the next day.  A guard who once told the POWs they would executed if the war ended told them the war was over.
    Charles was liberated on September 2, 1945, and returned to the Philippines to receive medical treatment.  He was returned to the United States and married Eva Margaret Albright.  The couple became the parents of two daughters and two sons and resided in Zanesville, Ohio. 
    Charles A. Carter passed away on April 19, 1965, and was buried at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Zanesville.
 




 

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