Garland





Pvt. Thomas Hodges Garland
Pvt. Thomas H. Garland was born on April 7, 1919, in Cleveland, Ohio, to Thomas A. Garland & Bertha Kiser-Garland.  His family resided in Newburgh Heights and later in Lakewood, Ohio.  He left school after completing his first year of high school.
    Thomas was drafted into the U.S. Army on March 28, 1941, and sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training.  After completing basic training, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, where he was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion.  The battalion had been sent to the base from Ft. Benning, Georgia, but it did not take part in the maneuvers taking place there.
    When the maneuvers ended, the members of the 192nd Tank Battalion remained behind at Camp Polk.   Many had no idea why they were being kept there.  What they were told on the side of a hill was that they were being sent overseas. It was at this time that members of the battalion, 29 years old or older, were allowed to resign from federal service.  Thomas replaced a National Guardsman and was assigned to B Company.
    The battalion traveled west by train to San Francisco.  Arriving there, they were taken by ferry to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  At Ft. McDowell, they were given physicals and inoculated.   Those men found to have a minor medical condition were held back and scheduled to rejoin 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.
   
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.
    On the morning of December 8, 1941, the members of B Company were informed of the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  His tank and the others were sent to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  About 12:45 in the afternoon as the tankers were eating lunch, planes approached the airfield from the north.  At first, the soldiers thought the planes were American.  It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that they knew the planes were Japanese.
   
   
The 192nd remained at Clark Field for about a week before they were ordered to the barrio of Dau so it would be near a road and railroad.  For the next four months, the tankers held positions so that the other units could disengage and form a defensive line. 

  
    At Gumain River, the tank companies formed a defensive line along the south bank of the river.  When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts.  It was there the tankers noted that the Japanese soldiers were high on drugs when they attacked.  Among the dead Japanese, the tankers found the hypodermic needles and syringes.   The tankers were able to hold up the Japanese for several weeks.
    The tankers soon found themselves in given the job of holding a defensive line so that the other troops could disengage and form a new defensive line further south.  They repeated this action over and over.
   
During the Battle of the Points the tanks were sent in to wipe out Japanese troops that had broken through the main defensive line and than trapped behind the line after the Filipino and American troops pushed the Japanese back.  According to members of the battalion they resorted two ways to wipe out the Japanese.
    The first method was to have three Filipino soldiers sit on the back of the tanks with sacks of hand grenades.  When the Japanese dove back into their foxholes, the tank would go over it and the soldiers would drop three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the ordnance was from World War I, one out of three hand grenades would explode.
    The second method was simple.  The tank was parked with one track across the foxhole.   The driver spun the tank on one track.  The tank dug into the dirt until the Japanese soldiers were dead.
 
    The night of April 8, 1942, the tankers received the order "crash."  They circled their tanks.  Each tank fired a armor piecing shell into the engine of the tank in front of it.  They also opened the gasoline cocks inside the tank compartments and dropped hand grenades into the tanks.  Most of the company waited in their bivouac for the Japanese to make contact, while others attempted to reach Corregidor which had not surrendered.
    After the Japanese made contact with B Company, the members of the company made their way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  They were now officially Prisoners of War.  At Mariveles, the Japanese took blankets and other items from the POWs that they could use.  The tankers striped anything from their uniforms that indicated that they were tankers.  They heard the rumor that the Japanese were looking for them.
    From Mariveles, the tankers made their way north toward San Fernando.  They were given little food or water.  When they arrived at San Fernando, they were put in a bull pen.  In one corner was a slit trench that was the washroom for the POWs.  The surface of it moved from the maggots. 
    The POWs were ordered to form detachments of 100 men.  They were taken to the train station and packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane.  The cars were known as forty or eights since they could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese put 100 POWs into each boxcar.  Those who died remained standing since there was no place to fall.  At Capas, the POWs disembarked and the dead fell to the floor of the cars.  The POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army training base that the Japanese pressed into use as a POW camp.  There was one water faucet for the entire camp.  Disease among the POWs ran wild with as many as 55 POWs dying each day.  It is not known if Leonard remained in the camp or went out on a work detail.  The Japanese closed the camp and moved the POWs there to Cabanatuan.  It is not known if Thomas went right to the new camp, or if he was sent to the camp after returning from a work detail.
    It is known that Thomas was in the camp when names were posted of POWs being sent to Japan.  Thomas' name was on the list.  Trucks arrived at the camp and took the POWs to Bilibid Prison.
   Thomas remained at Bilibid for a little over a week, when his name appeared on a roster of POWs being sent to Japan.  The POWs were taken to the Port Area of Manila and boarded onto the Canadian Inventor.  The ship was given the name of "The Mati Mati Maru" since it's trip to Japan would take months.
    The ship sailed on July 4th but, after a day at sea, it returned to Manila because of boiler problems.  The ship remained in harbor for eleven days while the Japanese attempted to repair the boiler.  On July 16th the ship sailed again.  After a few days out at sea, it once again experienced boiler problems.  Since it could not keep up with the rest of the convoy, it was left behind to fend for itself.  It finally arrived at Takao, Formosa, on July 23rd.  The ship remained in port while salt was loaded onto it.
    On August 4th, the ship sailed again and made its way along the west coast of Formosa and arrived at Keelung, Formosa, on August 5th.  It remained at Keelung for twelve days while the Japanese worked on repairing the boiler again.  When the repairs were finished it sailed o August 17th to the the Ryuku Islands.  Once again it was having boiler problems and repairs were attempted again.
    The Canadian Inventor made it to Naha, Okinawa, where more repairs were attempted.  The ship finally reached Moji, Japan, on September 1st.  The trip to Japan had taken 62 days with the deaths of six POWs.  When they disembarked the ship, the POWs were broken up into to detachments and taken to the train station.

    Thomas' detachment was taken by train to
Omine Machi.  Upon arriving at the camp, he was given the POW identification number of 396.  The POWs in the camp worked in a coal mine.  This was the Japanese propaganda camp which meant the POWs were treated a little better than the POWs in the other camps.  When the Red Cross visited, this was the camp they were taken to see how the POWs were treated, but they were not allowed to talk to the POWs.
    Thomas was liberated from the camp on September 15, 1945, and taken to Wakayama, Japan.  There, the former POWs were boarded onto the U.S.S. Consolation and returned to the Philippines for medical treatment.  When he boarded the ship, records indicate he was in good health, but that he was malnourished.  In the Philippines, he was promoted to Tec 3 which meant he held the rank of staff sergeant. 

    Thomas was returned to the United States on the Dutch ship, the S.S. Klipfontein arriving at Seattle, Washington, on October 27, 1945.  The men were sent to Ft. Lewis,Washington, for more medical treatment. 
    Thomas discharged from the Army on May 3, 1946.  He married and became the father of two daughters and a son.  It appears his first marriage ended in divorce.  Thomas married Vera M. Cook on June 16, 1960, and worked as a car salesman at a Chevrolet dealer.
    Thomas H. Garland died on January 28, 1981, in Cahrdon, Ohio.  He was buried at Chardon Municipal Cemetery.




 

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