Edward Theodore French was the son of Clifton
French & Mary Alice Smith-French. He was
born in Boyle County, Kentucky on August 16,
1917. Like his father, Edward was a
farmer outside Harrodsburg before the
war. He was the brother of Sgt. Morgan French.
Edward joined the Kentucky National Guard in
Harrodsburg and was called to Federal duty on
November 25, 1940. During his time at
Ft. Knox, Edward attended tracked vehicle
maintenance school. After 10 months of
training at Fort Knox, KY, he was sent home
due to a pre-existing medical condition. In
fact, the Army doctors tried to get Edward to
take a medical discharge and he refused. As a
result of his medical condition, he did not
participate in the 1941 Louisiana maneuvers
with the rest of D Company.
However, when the men of D Company traveled
back to Kentucky for a 14-day leave prior to
shipping out to California, Edward traveled to
Camp Polk, Louisiana, and waited for his
brother and the other men in D Company to
return. When Morgan and the others returned to
Louisiana to supervise the loading of their
equipment onto railroad cars, Edward was there
and traveled to San Francisco with Morgan and
of the members of the battalion were
given leave so that they could say
goodbye to family and friends.
They returned to Camp Polk and 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
The 192nd was boarded onto
the U.S.A.T. 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.
soldiers were given leaves so they could
see the island. On Tuesday,
November 4th, the ships sailed for
When they arrived at
Guam, the ships took on water, bananas,
coconuts, and vegetables. The
soldiers remained on board since the
ships sailed the next day for
Manila. The ships 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.
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
At six in the morning, the officers
of the battalion were called to the radio room
at the fort. They were ordered to move
their platoons to the perimeter of Clark
Airfield. The 192nd had been assigned to
the southern portion of the airfield.
The tankers watched that
morning as the sky was filled with American
planes. At noon, the planes landed and the
pilots went to lunch. At 12:45, the
tankers watched as 54 planes approached the
airfield. As they watched, the saw
"raindrops" falling from the planes. When
bombs began exploding, the soldiers knew the
planes were Japanese.
After the attack the tankers saw the carnage
done by the attack. The Japanese had
effectively destroyed the Army Air Corps.
It is known that Edward and the other members of
HQ Company were sent north to Lingayen
Gulf. The Japanese had landed troops
there. The tankers would spend the next
four months attempting to slow the Japanese
conquest of the Philippines. At some point
Edward was wounded.
Edward was in a field hospital on Bataan
recovering from his injuries. In an attempt to
prevent the American guns on Corregidor and
Ft. Drum from firing on their artillery, the
Japanese placed their guns among the buildings
of the 2nd General Hospital on Bataan.
When a shell fired from Ft. Drum fell short
and hit the hospital, Edward, along with 24
other soldiers, was killed. His date of death
was listed as Wednesday, April 22, 1942, as a
result of “friendly fire." He was 24
years old at the time of his death.
Pvt. Edward T.
French is buried at the American Military
Cemetery in Manila. Edward was awarded a
Purple Heart for injuries received during
combat. Since his company was attached
to the 194th Tank Battalion, his cross
indicates he was a member of the
battalion. In reality, D Company was
never transferred and remained under the
command of the 192nd Tank Battalion.