Tec 5 Wesley B. Fancher
| Tec 5 Wesley
Fancher was born in 1922 in Janesville, Wisconsin, to George W.
Fancher & Jeanette Fancher. His family
resided at 529 Jefferson Street in Mason City,
Illinois. During the 1930s his father died and
with his mother he returned to Janesville,
Wisconsin. He was the half-brother of Capt. Walter Write the commanding
officer of A Company.
With his best friend Laurence Grim he joined the Wisconsin National Guard while in high school. His tank company was federalized in September 1940 during his senior year of high school. On November 25th, the company gathered at the armory in Janesville and departed for Fort Knox, Kentucky, on November 28th.
It is not known what job Wesley qualified at while training at Ft. Knox, but he was promoted to Tec 5. A soldier of the the rank was referred to as corporal. During his time at the fort, he was trained to use all the equipment of the battalion.
In the late summer of 1941, the 192nd was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and took part in the maneuvers there. It was after the maneuvers that the tankers expected to return to Ft. Knox, but instead they were held 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. Those 29 years or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service. Replacements for these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.
The battalion traveled by train to San Francisco, California. From San Francisco, the tankers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island they were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases. Some men were held back for health issues but 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. It sailed the same day for Manila. The ship entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th. It 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.
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.
Wesley spent the next four months fighting the
Japanese. At various times, they were
attached to the 194th Tank Battalion. On one
occasion, they had made their bivouac, for the
night, and posted sentries. As sentries
stood guard, they heard a noise down the road ran
through the middle of the bivouac. The
sentries woke the other soldiers who grabbed their
guns. As they stood behind their tanks, a
Japanese bicycle battalion road into their
bivouac. They opened up on the Japanese with
everything they had. When they ceased fire,
they had wiped out the entire bicycle battalion.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino
Army training base which the Japanese put into use
as a POW camp. There was one water faucet
for the entire camp. The death rate among
the POWs rose to as many as 55 deaths a day.
The burial detail worked non-stop to bury the