French_E

 

Sgt. Edward Theodore French


    Sgt. 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 the others.
    Many 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 later date.
    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. 
The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island.  On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam. 
    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
, while the maintenance section remained behind to unload the battalion's tanks.    
    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.
 
   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.


 

 

 

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