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.  He was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky and 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 created 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.  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.  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 November 5th, 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.

    In the Philippines, Albert's battalion  was housed in tents between Clark Field and Fort Stotsenburg.  On December 8, 1941, Albert lived through the Japanese bombing of Clark Field.  He would next be sent out to engage the Japanese after they landed troops on Luzon.  He took part in many of the engagements involving A Company.  This included the Battle of Toul Pocket which wiped out Japanese troops who had been landed behind the main battle lines.

    On April 9, 1942, Albert and the other tank crews of A Company were ordered to destroy their equipment.  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 and was declared to be healthy.  He was boarded onto the Clyde Maru.  The ship sailed on July 23, 1943, but instead of going toward Formosa, it went to Santa Cruz, Zambales.  There, 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. The prisoners in this camp worked in a coal mine.  Albert and the other POWs never learned that the war had ended.  One day, about three weeks after the war had ended, an American B-29 flew over the camp and dropped 55 gallon drums of supplies to them.  The first Americans to make contact with the former prisoners did not appear until one month after the war.

    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.  It was exactly four years after 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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