Cpl. Marvin Clement Harris

    Cpl. Marvin C. Harris was born on June 4, 1916, in Springfield, Ohio, to John Harris and Anna Mae Gaffin-Harris.  He had three sisters and was known as "Butch" to his family.  It is known that he graduated from high school and worked as a pharmacist at a drug store in Columbus, Ohio. 
    On January 25, 1941, Marvin was inducted into the U.S. Army at Fort Hayes, in Columbus, Ohio.  Right after starting basic training, he returned home when his mother died on February 5th.  He returned to Ft. Knox after the funeral.
    At Ft. Knox, Marvin was assigned to C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  The reason he was assigned to the company was that it had been an Ohio National Guard Tank Company from Port Clinton.  It is not known what training he received during Ft. Knox.

    In late 1940, a draft act had just been passed by the U.S. Government and Paul received his draft notice.  He was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky for basic training.  While there, he was assigned to C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  The reason this was done was that the tank company had originally been an Ohio National Guard Tank Company from Port Clinton, Ohio, and the army was filling vacancies with men from the home states of each tank company.

    At Ft. Knox, Paul was sent to radio school and trained to be a radio operator.  Since each tank crew member needed to know how to do more than one job, he also learned how to use a machine gun.  

    In the late summer of 1941, Paul's battalion took part in maneuvers Louisiana.  On October 25, 1941, after maneuvers in Louisiana, Paul and the other members of the company were given the news that they were being sent overseas.  Since the battalion was created from four National Guard Tank Companies, those men 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service.  Replacements, including Charles, for these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.  He was assigned to C Company.  The 192nd also received the tanks and half-tracks from the battalion.

    From Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over four different train routes.  Arriving in San Francisco, the soldiers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, the soldiers were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases. Those with health issues were released from service and replaced.
    The battalion sailed, on the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott, from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover.  The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands.  They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th, for Guam.  When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water.  The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day. About 8:00 in the morning on November 20th, the ships arrived at Manila Bay.  After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked.  Most of the battalion boarded trucks and rode to Ft. Stotsenburg north of Manila.
    At the fort, the tankers were met by General Edward King.  King welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed.  He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.  The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
    The morning of December 8th, the officers of the battalions met and were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier.  The 192nd letter companies were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield. 
    All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, all the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45 planes approached the airfield from the north.  The tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54 planes.  When bombs began exploding, the men knew the planes were Japanese.  After the attack the 192nd remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for almost two weeks.  They were than sent to the Lingayen Gulf area where the Japanese had landed.

    For the next four months, the tankers held positions so that the other units could disengage and form a defensive line.  They repeated this maneuver over and over again.

    At Kabu, C Company's tanks were hidden in brush.  The Japanese troops passed the tanks for three hours without knowing that they were there.  While the troops passed, Lt. William Gentry was on his radio describing what he was seeing.  It was only when a Japanese soldier tried take a short cut through the brush, that his tank was hidden in, that the tanks were discovered.  The tanks turned on their sirens and opened up on the Japanese.  They then fell back to Cabanatuan.

    C Company was re-supplied and withdrew to Baluiag where the tanks encountered Japanese troops and ten tanks.  It was at Baluiag that C Company's tanks won the first tank battle victory of World War II against enemy tanks.  After the battle, C Company made its way south.  When it entered Cabanatuan, it found the barrio filled with Japanese guns and other equipment.  The tank company destroyed as much of the equipment as it could before proceeding south.

    On December 31, 1941, the commanding officer of C Company 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, the company set up it's 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.   Lt. 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 Baluiag2nd 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 it's 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.  

    The tankers withdrew to Calumpit Bridge after receiving orders from Provisional Tank Group.  When they reached the bridge, they discovered it had been blown.  Finding a crossing the tankers made it to the south side of the river.  Knowing that the Japanese were close behind, the Americans took their positions in a harvested rice field and aimed their guns to fire a tracer shell through the harvested rice.  This would cause the rice to ignite which would light the enemy troops.

    The tanks were spaced about 100 yards apart.  The Japanese crossing the river knew that the Americans were there because the tankers shouted at each other to make the Japanese believe troops were in front of them.  The Japanese were within a few yards of the tanks when the tanks opened fire.

    Lighting the rice stacks, the Americans opened up with small fire.  They then used their .37 mm guns.  The fighting was such a rout that the the tankers were using a .37 mm shell to kill one Japanese soldier.

    The tank company was next sent to the barrio of Porac to aid the Filipino army which was having trouble with Japanese artillery fire.  From a Filipino lieutenant, Gentry learned where the guns were and attacked.  Before the Japanese withdrew, the tankers had knocked out three of the guns. 

    After this, the tanks withdrew to the Hermosa Bridge and held it on the north side until all the troops were across.  The tanks then crossed to the south and destroyed the bridge which held the Japanese up for a few days.  This was the beginning of the Battle of Bataan.

    In addition to serving as a rear guard, the tankers burnt everything that was being left behind.  They burnt warehouses, banks, and businesses that would help the Japanese.    
    The company took part in the Battle of the Pockets.  The Japanese had lunched an offensive and were pushed back to the original battle line.  Two pockets of Japanese soldiers were trapped behind the line.  The tanks were sent in to the pockets to wipe them out.  One platoon of tanks would relieve another platoon.  The tanks would do this one at a time. 
    The tanks used two strategies to do this. In the first, the tanks would go over a foxhole.  Three Filipino soldiers were sitting on the back of the tanks.  Each man had a bag of hand grenades.  As the tank was passing over the foxhole, the three soldiers would drop hand grenades into the foxhole.
    The second method was to park a tank over a foxhole.  The driver would then spun the tank, in a circle, on one track until it ground itself into the ground wiping out the Japanese.  The tankers slept upwind from the tanks so they didn't have to smell the rotting flesh.

    On April 7, 1942, the Japanese broke through the east side of the main defensive line on Bataan.  C Company was pulled out of their position along the west side of the line.  They were ordered to reinforce the eastern line.  Traveling south to Mariveles, the tankers started up the eastern road but were unable to reach their their assigned area because the roads were blocked by retreating Filipino and American forces.   
    The morning of the April 9, 1942, at 6:45 the tankers received the order "crash" and destroyed their tanks.  When the Japanese made contact with them, they were ordered to Mariveles where they started the death march.
    From Mariveles, the members of C Company made their way north along the east coast of Bataan.  The first five miles of the march the were more difficult since the march was uphill.  The POWs also were denied food and received little water.  Those who attempted to get water from the artesian wells that flowed across the road were often killed.
    When the POWs reached San Fernando, they were put into a bull-pin. In one corner, was a trench that was used as a toilet by the POWs.  The surface was alive with maggots.
    At some point, the POWs were organized into detachments of 100 men, marched to the train station at San Fernando, and packed into small wooden
boxcars used to haul sugarcane.  The cars were known as forty or eights.  This was because each car could hold forty men or eight horses.  Since the detachments were made up of 100 men, the Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car.  The POWs who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas.

    The POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.  The camp was an unfinished Filipino training base which was put into use by the Japanese as a POW Camp.  There was only one water spigot for the entire camp.  The POWs had to stand in line for hours to get a drink.  The guards often turned off the water because they could.
    Disease began to run wild among the POWs.  Since the medical staff had no medicines, they could do little to help the sick.  As many as 50 POWs died each day.  To lower the death rate among the POWs, the Japanese opened a new camp at Cabanatuan.  The healthier POWs were sent to the camp.  Those too ill to be moved were left at Camp O'Donnell to die.
    It is known that Marvin was held at Cabanatuan.  The Japanese sought POWs to go to Japan and Marvin volunteered to go.  Like others, he may have believed that the conditions in the Japan had to be better than those in the Philippines.  He and the other POWs were taken by truck to Bilibid Prison and given physicals.  Those determined to be healthy were later marched to Pier 7.  Late in the evening they boarded the Nagato Maru
    The ship sailed on November 7th and arrived at Takao, Formosa, after avoiding submarines, on the 11th.  On the 14th the ship sailed for the Pecadores Islands, north of Formosa, and remained at the island because of a storm.  On November 18th, the ship sailed and arrived at Taipi, Formosa, the same day.  It sailed again on the 20th and finally arrived at Moji, Japan on the 24th.
    The POWs were deloused and given new clothing.  They were broken into detachments of 100 POWs and marched to the train station.  From there, they rode a train that stopped at the various POW camps along the line.  The POWs' train ride went along the northern side of the inland sea to the Osaka-Kobe Area.
    In Marvin's case, he was one of 500 POWs taken to
Tanagawa Camp arriving there late in the evening of November 26th.  The camp contained ten barracks with paper thin walls that went down  to six inches above the dirt floors.  Each barracks housed 50 men. The barracks were very cold.  There were two decks of bunks with a ladder going up every twenty feet to the second deck which was 8 to 10 feet off the ground. Shoes had to be taken off at the foot of the ladder. At the foot of each bunk were five synthetic blankets made out of peanut shell fiber and a rigid pillow in the shape of a small cylinder packed with rice husks. 
    The POWs in the camp were used as laborers to build a dry-dock and submarine base.  To do this, they men tore down the side of a mountain with picks and shovels.    
    On March 20, 1945, the camp was closed and the POWs were moved to Fukuoka 11-D or
Tokyo Camp #7-D.  Marvin was sent to the second camp.  The POWs in the camp worked in a cement factory and quarry owned by the Nippon Mining Company.  He remained in the camp until the POWs were liberated on September 6, 1945.  They were taken by train to Yokohama. 

    From Yokohama, the POWs were returned to the Philippines for medical treatment.    He then returned to the United States on the U.S.S. Yarmouth at San Francisco on October 8, 1945, for further medical treatment.  He was discharged from the Army on May 6, 1946. 
    Marvin married Jean Elizabeth Poulton and became the father of two sons.  Marvin Harris passed away on October 30, 1954.  He was buried at Saint Bernard Cemetery in Springfield, Ohio.


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