Pvt. Sidney Ambrose Coy
Pvt. Sidney A. Coy was born
April 30, 1916, in Kentucky. He was the son
of John & Rosemary Coy. With his five
brothers and sister, he was raised at 1743 West
Oak Street, Louisville, Kentucky. On January
1, 1941, Sidney was inducted into the U. S. Army
and assigned to D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.
During Sidney's time at Fort Knox, Kentucky, he
trained as a radio operator and gunner. He
then took part in maneuvers in Louisiana in the
late summer of 1941. It was after these
maneuvers that he and his battalion learned they
were being sent overseas. He received a
leave home to say goodby to family and friends
before returning to Camp Polk, Louisiana.
The morning of December 8, 1941, Sidney and the other men heard of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor ten hours earlier. They were assigned a portion of the perimeter of the airfield to guard. This was to prevent the Japanese from using paratroopers. Around 12:45 in the afternoon planes approached the field. When bombs began exploding, the soldiers knew they were Japanese.
That night the tanks left Clark Field. Sidney and other tankers were sent to Maracot. The tanks were set up along the bank of a river. During this time, little happened, but the tankers were strafed a few times by Japanese planes.
The tankers were next moved to Manalupa. They remained there for a week and a half. During this time, the Japanese landed troops at Lingayen Gulf. Marcus and the other tankers were sent to Lingayen Gulf in support of B Company which had already been sent north.
It was from this time on that Sidney's tank and the other tanks played hit and run with the Japanese. They did this until they got to Guagua. There, they stayed for three days until the Japanese made it so dangerous that they pulled out. As they left, the town was literally burning down around them. Shells were landing in the street and bouncing down it.
The tankers fell back to the BamBam River and lined up along the bank. They thought they were safe there. Other tanks pulled in behind them around midnight. It was sometime after their arrival that the shooting started. It is known Sidney was wounded by enemy fire on January 7, 1942.
The tanks dropped back five miles while under fire. They remained under fire for the next several days. They once again found themselves in a hit and run game with the Japanese. Their main job was to serve as a rear guard covering the withdraws of the other units.
On Bataan, Sidney's tank platoon was assigned to beach duty near the 148th kilometer marker. It was while on this duty that the main defensive line broke. His tank and the other tanks were sent north in an attempt to plug the hole. The tanks moved north, but because of the number of troops and Filipino civilians fleeing the Japanese, they could not reach their objective.
The morning of April 9, 1942, the tankers received the order "crash". Upon hearing it, they opened the gasoline cocks in their tanks and fired an armor piercing shell into the motor of each tank. The tankers then dropped hand-grenades into the turrets igniting the gasoline.
Sydney and many of the members of D Company made their way to Mariveles. It was from there that he began what became known as the death march.
Sydney was held as a Prisoner of War at Camp O'Donnell. He was later sent to Cabanatuan. During his time as a POW, he worked in the camp farm. The POWs were forced to work in the fields from 7:00 in the morning until 5:00 in the evening. Most of the food they grew went to the Japanese not them.
Sydney believed that his attitude was what kept him alive. "I was there a long time, but I never once gave up. I kept feeling that everyone else was going to die, but never me."
Sydney also recalled that the POWs were abused on a daily basis. On one occasion when lunchtime came, Sidney was washing his hands. Apparently, a Japanese guard believed that he was taking too long to wash them. The guard hit him in the face and knocked him down. The guard bent over and picked up Sydney's tooth that was lying on the ground. The guard kept it as a souvenir.
In 1944, the Japanese began sending large
numbers of POWs to Japan and other occupied
countries. This was done so that the POWs
would not be liberated by the advancing American
troops. Being considered too ill to be
sent to Japan, Sydney remained at
Cabanatuan. He was liberated when U. S.
Army Rangers liberated the camp on January 30,
1945. It should be mentioned that in film
shot by American cameramen of the former POWs,
Sidney can be seen marching from the camp
chewing gum given to him by one of the Rangers.
Sydney returned to Kentucky after being liberated and was discharged on July 18, 1945. He married Wilma Birks and became the father of two daughters and two sons. He was a watchman for the American Tobacco Company for 25 years. He would later live in Louisville and Shepherdsville, Kentucky. Sydney Coy passed away on October 27, 1976, in Shepherdsville and was buried at Campground Memorial Cemetery in Shepherdsville.