Griswold

Sgt. Jack Julian Griswold


    Sgt. Jack J. Griswold was born on December 10, 1919, in South Haven, Michigan to Irving L. & Clarissa Griswold.  With his five brothers, he lived at 843 South 17th Avenue in Maywood, Illinois, and attended Roosevelt Grade School in Bellwood.  In June, 1938, he graduated from Proviso Township High School.  After high school, he was a chemist.

    In October of 1939, Jack joined the 33rd Tank Company of the Illinois National Guard which was based in an armory in Maywood.  The tank company was federalized in September 1940 and on November 25, 1940, called to federal duty as B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  It sent for training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. 

    When Headquarters Company was created in January 1941, Jack was assigned to the company.  He was assigned to battalion communication.

    In late summer 1941, the battalion was sent to maneuvers in Louisiana.  It was there that Jack and the other members were informed that they would be going overseas.  Most of the men were allowed to go home to say their goodbyes. 
   
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.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 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.
A little over two weeks later they would live through the bombing of Clark Field by the Japanese just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor.     

    Jack and the other members of the battalion fought to slow the Japanese in their conquest of the Philippines.  It was during this time that his family received their last letter from him postmarked December 28, 1941.  After four months of almost constant fighting, the Filipino and American forces were surrendered to the Japanese on April 9, 1942.  Jack was now a Prisoner of War.

    As a POW, Jack was held at Camp O'Donnell and then sent to Cabanatuan.  He remained in the camp until November when ee was selected for transport to Japan.  The POWs were transported to Manila by truck.  On November 7, 1942, the POWs were boarded onto the Japanese Hell Ship the Nagato Maru.  The ship sailed the same day.  600 POWs were put in one of the ship's holds.  The hold was about 30 feet by 40 feet. There was no room for the POWs to lay down.  The remaining 300 POWs were put in the ship's other hold.  During the trip, the POWs were fed rice, fish and soup.  It arrived in Takao, Formosa, on November 14th, which means it may have stopped at Hong Kong before sailing for Takao.

    It was in the hold of the ship that Jack was reunited with Lt. Tom Savage, Lt. Ben Morin, Lt. Richard Danca, Capt. Ruben Schwass and Lt. Col Ted Wickord.  Lt. Danca was so sick that the other members of the old Maywood Tank Company did not think he would survive the trip.  As it turned out, Lt. Danca died as the ship arrived in Formosa, his remains were taken ashore and cremated. 
   
The ship sailed from Takao on November 17th for the Pecadores Islands and arrived there the same day.  It dropped anchor for the night and sailed again on the eighteenth for Keelung, Formosa.  It arrived the same day and remained in harbor for two days.  On November 20th, it sailed for Moji, Japan, and arrived on November 26th. 
    The POWs disembarked and broken into two detachments to be sent to different POW camps.  Jack was taken to
Tanagawa Camp.  During the train trip Lt. Morin stated that Jack did not have a shirt and it was extremely cold.  It was his belief that this caused Jack to get sick. The POWs arrived at the camp on November 27th as one of 500 POWs sent to the camp.  The POWs were housed in barracks that were 80 feet long by 18 feet wide.  There was little heat since the Japanese gave the POWs very little charcoal.  There were only five blankets in the entire camp.
    The POWs, who were not officers, were required to build a break water for a dry dock at a Japanese submarine base.  They worked eight to eighteen hours a day working and received one day off every two weeks.  The officers had to clean the camp, Japanese quarters, and the latrines.
   
A little under two weeks after arriving at Tanagawa, Sgt. Jack Griswold was sent to the camp hospital. The hospital was a wooden shack with little heat.  The sick lay on the dirt floors.  No POW could be admitted to the hospital without approval of two American doctors.  Then, a Japanese medic had to approve that the POW be admitted.  Since this process was drawn out, many POWs died one or two days after entering the hospital.  There was very little medicine available to treat the POWs.  Most of the POWs died from beatings, starvation, lack of hygiene, and pneumonia.  According to Lt. Morin, Jack died of dysentery, and possibly pneumonia, on December 7, 1942.
    Lt. Ben Morin just happened to be working on the burial detail the day Jack died.  According to Lt. Morin, he and Lt. Henry Knox, of A Company, stopped to pick up a body of a dead American for cremation.  When he looked down at the body, he realized that it was Jack Griswold his high school classmate.  On the trip to the crematorium, the soldiers collected wood to be used to cremate Jack's body.  After the cremation, Jack's ashes were given to the camp commandant and would remain with him until the end of the war. 

    In the fall of 1945, Jack's remains were returned to the Philippine Islands and buried in Plot D, Row 6, Grave 261, at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.


 


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