DuBois

 

Pvt. Albert Joseph DuBois


    Pvt. Albert J. DuBois was born on January 16, 1918, in St. Paul, Minnesota, to Peter and Philamoine DuBois.  While a child, Albert's father passed away.  His mother would remarry and the family would move to Wisconsin.  After he finished school, he went to work in the Civilian Conservation Corps.

    He grew up in Webster, Wisconsin, and was drafted into the army on April 9, 1941, and was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, where he was assigned to A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. The reason for this was that A Company had originated as a Wisconsin National Guard company and the army was attempting to fill vacancies in each of the letter companies with men from the home states of the companies.  In his opinion, he did not learn much at Ft. Knox since he was not there very long.  The one thing that he did learn at Ft. Knox was how to drive a tank.

    Albert took part in the Louisiana maneuvers in the late summer of 1941.  Being a tank driver, he was assigned to the tank crew of Sgt. Owen Sandmire.   Albert believed that the maneuvers taught him how his tank operated in combat situations.  After the completion of the maneuvers, the battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft. Knox.  It was there that they learned that they were being sent to overseas duty. 
    The battalion traveled over four different train routes to San Francisco, California, where they were taken by ferry to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, they received inoculations and physicals, and those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Some men were simply replaced.
   
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27th,  as part of a three ship convoy. 
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.  The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island.
    On November 5th, the ships sailed for Guam bbu 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 they arrived at Guam, 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 on at 8:00 A.M. on Thursday, November 20th, and docked at Pier 7 later that morning.  At 3:00 P.M. the soldiers disembarked and were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  Those assigned to trucks drove 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.

    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.

    The morning of December 8th, December 7th in the United States, the 192nd was guarding the southern perimeter of Clark Field.  A week earlier, they had been given assigned positions around the airfield to guard against enemy paratroopers.  At 8:30 that morning, the American planes took off and filled the sky.  They landed at noon to be refueled, and lined up in a straight line near the mess hall.  The pilots went to lunch.   
    The tankers were eating lunch when a formation of 54 planes was spotted approaching the airfield from the north.  The tankers believed the planes were American.  As they watched, raindrops fell from the planes.  When bombs exploded on the runways, they knew the planes were Japanese.    
    When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield.  They watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks and trucks.  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.
 
  
The company was sent to the Barrio of Dau, on December 12th, so it could protect a highway and railroad against sabotage. 
On December 23rd and 24th, the company was in the area of Urdaneta.  It was there, that 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. They successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
   
From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River.  On December 25th, the tanks of the battalion 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 were asked to hold the position for six hours so that other units could withdraw and for a new battle-line; They held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th.
    As the Filipino and American forces fell back toward Bataan, A Company took up a position near the south bank of the Gumain River.  Believing that the Filipino Army was in front of them allowed the tankers to get some sleep.  It was that night that the Japanese lunched an attack to cross the river.
   The Japanese attempted to cross the river but were cut down by the tankers.  The tankers created gaping holes in their ranks.  To lower their losses, the Japanese tried to cover their advance with a smoke screen.  Since the wind was blowing against them, the smoke blew into the Japanese line.   The Japanese broke off the attack heaving suffered 50% casualties.

    The tankers were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th.  On January 1st, conflicting orders were received from the General MacArthur's chief of staff about who had command of the troops.  Gen. Wainwright was attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5 which would allow the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan and was unaware of the orders.
    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.
    A Company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga.  It was there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt. William Read.  The company returned to the 192nd 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.     
    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.
   Albert
saw a great deal of action during the Battle of the Points.  In an attempt to end resistance on Bataan, the Japanese had landed troops on a small point of land on Bataan behind Filipino and American lines.  When additional Japanese troops were landed to relieve their comrades, they were landed on the wrong point.  This created a second pocket of Japanese troops.

    On April 9, 1942, Albert and the other tank crews of A Company were ordered to destroy their equipment, because they had been surrendered to the Japanese.  The members of A Company made their way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  It was from there that Albert began what would become known as the Bataan Death March.

    On the march, Albert witnessed numerous beatings.  He also saw the Japanese guards bayonet those who could not keep up or had fallen to the ground.  In his opinion, the extremely hot temperatures, lack of water, lack of food, and general fatigue of the prisoners all contributed to making the march so terrible.  He recalled that all he had to eat on the entire march was one bowl of food.

    As a Prisoner of War, Albert was held first at Camp O'Donnell.  The worst thing about the camp was the burial detail.  On an average day, fifty American prisoners had to be buried. 

When Cabanatuan was opened, Albert was sent there.  In this camp, he worked in the garden that grew badly needed food for the POWs.  The worst thing that Albert witnessed as a prisoner there was four prisoners were forced to dig their own graves and shot.  They had been caught trying to escape by the Japanese

    Sometime around June, 1943, Albert was sent to Bilibid Prison for processing.  There he was given a physical, declared to be healthy, and boarded onto the Clyde Maru.  The ship sailed on July 23, 1943, but instead of going toward Formosa, it went to Santa Cruz, Zambales, where the ship took on manganese ore.  Three days later, the ship sailed for Formosa arriving there on July 28th.  After a stay of nearly eight days, it sailed as a part of a nine ship convoy on August 5th.  During the voyage, the convoy was attacked by American submarines. When the Clyde Maru arrived at Moji, Japan, on August 7, 1943, a number of ships in the convoy had been lost.  After a two day train ride, the POWs arrived at their POW camp on August 10th.

    In Japan, he was assigned to Fukuoka #17 which was considered the worst of the Japanese POW camps.  The prisoners in this camp worked in a coal mine that been condemned by the Japanese.  Albert and the other POWs learned the war was over when George Weller, a reporter from the Chicago Daily News, entered the camp who entered the camp a month after the end of the war.  American B-29s flew over the camp and dropped 55 gallon drums of supplies to them. 

    Albert was sent back to the Philippines until it was determined that he was healthy enough to return to the United States.  Like many members of the 192nd, Albert was promoted to Staff Sergeant after being liberated.  He returned home on Thanksgiving Day, 1945, which was exactly four years, to the day, that he had arrived in the Philippines.

    Albert married and was the father of a daughter and two sons.  He spent 20 years working for the U.S. Post Office in Saint Paul, Minnesota.  After he retired, he resided in Webster, Wisconsin.  He passed away on August 3, 2012, and was the last surviving member of A Company.  He was buried at Sacred Hearts Catholic Cemetery in Burnett County, Wisconsin.


 

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