Pvt. Woodrow Wilson Cravens
| Pvt. Woodrow W.
Cravens was born on December 11, 1915, in
Christian County, Kentucky, to Richard Cravens and
Addie Young-Cravens. He was one of the
couple's three sons.
Woodrow was inducted into the U.S. Army on February 21, 1941, in Louisville, Kentucky, and was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training. During his basic training, he was assigned to D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. It is knot known what specific training he received during his basic training.
In the late summer of 1941, the battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and took part in maneuvers there. It was after the maneuvers that it was ordered to remain at the base instead of returning to Ft. Knox. The soldiers had not idea why they had been ordered to remain at the fort. About two weeks later, on the side of a hill, the soldiers were informed they were being sent overseas. Those who were married or 29 years old or older were allowed to resign from federal service. Replacements for these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.
On the island the soldiers received inoculations and physicals. Those found to have minor medical conditions were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. The battalion traveled west to the Philippine Islands. There, they were taken to Fort Stotsenburg and housed in tents along the main road. It was during this time that D Company was attached to the 194th Tank Battalion.
The battalion sailed, on the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott, from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy. They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover. The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands. They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th, for Guam.
When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water. The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day. About 8:00 in the morning on November 20th, the ships arrived at Manila Bay. After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked. Most of the battalion boarded trucks and rode to Ft. Stotsenburg north of Manila. The soldiers remaining behind unloaded the tanks from the ship's holds.
At the fort, the tankers were met by General Edward King. King welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed. He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents. The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.
For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons. They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts. The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers. At this time, D Company was suppose to be transferred to the 194th Tank Battalion, but the transfer was never completed, so the company remained under the command of the 192nd.
The morning of December 8th, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers. During the night, word had been received about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes. At exactly noon the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch. To get their lunch three tankers from each tank were allowed to go to the food truck that had been sent to the airfield to feed them. Most of the soldiers were in line at the truck when they saw planes approaching. No one was alarmed by this since they did not believe that the Japanese would attack. It was only when bombs began exploding that they realized they were wrong.
After the attack, D Company was ordered to Mabalac on Delores Road. They remained there until December 10th. They were next sent to Klumpit to look for paratroopers. While there, they guarded a large bridge from saboteurs.
On December 13th, the tankers were moved 80 kilometers to do reconnaissance and guard beaches. They remained there until December 23rd, when they were sent 100 kilometers north to Rosario to assist the 26th U. S. Cavalry because the defensive lines had broken.
The tankers were next assigned to guarding the
Bataan and Cabcaban Airfields. They also
guarded against beach landings and
paratroopers. They would continue this
duty until April 7th. On
April 8th, the tankers were sent Trail 10
and Mount Samat. The lines had
broken. They fought there until
receiving the news of the surrender.
During his time at Cabanatuan, Woodrow was
selected to go out on a work detail in January
1943 to Lipa Batangas. The POWs on the
detail built runways with picks and shovels at
Lipa Airfield. It appears that Woodrow was
returned to Cabanatuan before the detail ended
because of illness.