Pfc. James W. Gillespie
| Pfc. James W.
Gillespie was born on February 2, 1916, in Dayton,
Ohio, to William A. Gillespie and Estella
Beers-Gillespie. With his sister, he grew
up in various homes in Dayton. In 1940, his
family was living at 520 Peach Avenue. He
attended high school for three years before going
to work as a molder in a Bakelite factory.
He was known as "Jim" to his family and friends.
Jim was drafted into the army and inducted at Fort Thomas in Newport, Kentucky, on March 25, 1941. He was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, and assigned to C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. The company had been an Ohio National Guard Tank Company from Port Clinton, Ohio. At Ft. Knox, he attended tank mechanics school and qualified as a tank mechanic.
After ten months of training at Ft. Knox, the battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, to take part in maneuvers. During the maneuvers, the Red Army, which the 192nd was part of, broke through the lines of the Blue Army. As they approached the headquarters of the army, which was under the command of General George Patton, the maneuvers were suddenly canceled. The 192nd was ordered to remain behind at Camp Polk instead of returning to Ft. Knox. None of the members had any idea why this order was given.
On the side of a hill at Camp Polk, the tankers learned they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM. Within hours many men had figured out that "PLUM" stood for Philippines, Luzon, Manila. Those men 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service. Replacements for the men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion which had been sent to Camp Polk from Ft. Benning, Georgia. The 192nd also received the battalion's tanks and half-tracks.
Over different train routes, the battalion was sent to San Francisco. Once there, they were taken by ferry to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. At the fort, they received physicals and inoculated against tropical diseases. Those men with minor health issues were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion in the Philippines.
The tanks were ordered to the perimeter of the Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers on December 1st. At all times, two members of each tank crew remained with their tank. That morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. When they looked up that morning, the sky was filled with American planes. At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.
in the afternoon, the tankers noticed planes
approaching the airfield. When bombs began
exploding around them, they knew the planes were
Japanese. Besides their .50 caliber
machine guns, they had few weapons to use
against the planes. Most took cover and
waited out the attack. After it ended,
they saw the destruction done by the bombs.
On December 31, 1941, Company was sent out reconnaissance patrols north of the town of Baluiag. The patrols ran into Japanese patrols, which told the Americans that the Japanese were on their way. Knowing that the railroad bridge was the only way into the town and to cross the river, Lt. Gentry set up his defenses in view of the bridge and the rice patty it crossed.
Early on the morning of the 31st, the Japanese began moving troops and across the bridge. The engineers came next and put down planking for tanks. A little before noon Japanese tanks began crossing the bridge.
Later that day, the Japanese had assembled a large number of troops in the rice field on the northern edge of the town. One platoon of tanks under the command of 2nd Lt. Marshall Kennady were to the southeast of the bridge. Gentry's tanks were to the south of the bridge in huts, while third platoon commanded by Capt Harold Collins was to the south on the road leading out of Baluiag. 2nd Lt. Everett Preston had been sent south to find a bridge to cross to attack the Japanese from behind.
Major Morley came riding in his jeep into Baluiag. He stopped in front of a hut and was spotted by the Japanese who had lookouts in the town's church's steeple. The guard became very excited so Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks positions, got into his jeep and drove off. Bill had told him that his tanks would hold their fire until he was safely out of the village.
When Gentry felt the Morley was out of danger, he ordered his tanks to open up on the Japanese tanks at the end of the bridge. The tanks then came smashing through the huts' walls and drove the Japanese in the direction of Lt. Marshall Kennady's tanks. Kennady had been radioed and was waiting.
Kennady's platoon held its fire until the Japanese were in view of his platoon and then joined in the hunt. The Americans chased the tanks up and down the streets of the village, through buildings and under them. By the time Bill's unit was ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had knocked out at least eight enemy tanks.
During the withdraw into the peninsula, the company
was mined and
about to be
The 192nd held
so that the
frog past it
and then cover
192nd was the
unit to enter
The morning of
April 9, 1942,
at 6:45, the
and after the
Mariveles at the
southern tip of
the war, the
Pfc. James W.
was buried at
Manila in Plot
L, Row 15,