Hensley

 

Pvt. Emmett Edward Hensley


    Pvt. Emmett E. Hensley was born on August 25, 1918, in Downs Township, Sumner County, Kansas, to Robert Hensley & Clara Barrows-Hensley.  He had seven sisters, a twin brother, Elmer, and four other brothers.  The family moved to Dane County, Oklahoma, and later in Cedar Vale, Kansas.  It is known that he worked as a salesman.
    Emmett was inducted into the U.S. Army on March 24, 1941, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  He was sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he did his basic training.  His family never saw him again after he had left for basic training.  After completing his training, he joined A Company, 753rd Tank Battalion at Camp Polk, Louisiana. 
    In the late summer of 1941, the 192nd Tank Battalion which had been taking part in maneuvers was sent to Camp Polk.  Afterwards, on the side of a hill, the battalion was told that they had been selected by General George S. Patton to be deployed overseas.  Members of the battalion, who were 29 years or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service.  After these men were transferred out of the unit, replacements were sought from the 753rd Tank Battalion.  At this time, Emmett volunteered, or had his name drawn, to join the battalion and was assigned to C Company.
   
From Camp Polk his company traveled by train to San Francisco, California, and 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 rejoin the battalion at a later date, while other men, with major medical issues were simply replaced.   
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S. A. T. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27th.  During this part of the trip, many of the tankers suffered from seasickness.  Once they recovered they spent their time breaking down machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP.  The ship arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island. 
    On Wednesday, November 5th, the ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  It was at this time it was joined by, the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and, another transport, the S. S. Calvin Coolidge.  Sunday night, November 9th, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th.  During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line.  On Saturday, November 15th, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The Louisville revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it shot off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out the smoke was from a ship that belonged to a friendly country.
During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly country.During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly countr
    When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila the next day.  At one point, the ships passed an island at night and did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  The ships entered Manila Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20th, and docked at Pier 7 later that morning.  At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.
    At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field.  He made sure that they had what they needed and that they received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner.
    The members of the battalion pitched the tents in an open field halfway between the Clark Field Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg.  The tents were set up in two rows and five men were assigned to each tent.  There were two supply tents and meals were provided by food trucks stationed at the end of the rows of tents.
  
  For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons, which had been greased to protect them from rusting while at sea.  They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance and prepared to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.

    On December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  From this time on, two tank crew members remained with each tank at all times and were fed from food trucks.
    The morning of December 8th, the officers of the 192nd were called to an office and informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  All the members of the letter companies were ordered to the south end of Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  HQ Company remained behind in their bivouac. 
    All morning the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed, lined up in a straight line, outside the mess hall, and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45, Japanese bombers appeared over Clark Field destroying the American Army Air Corps.

    When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield.  Since the battalion's bivouac was near the main road between the fort and airfield, the soldiers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks and trucks.  Anything that could carry the wounded was in use.  When the hospital filled, they watched the medics place the wounded under the building.  Many of these men had their arms and legs missing.
    That night, most men slept under their tanks since it was safer than sleeping in their tents.  They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed and from this point on they would sleep on the ground.
    After the attack, on December 12th, the company was sent to the Barrio of Dau to protect a highway and railroad from sabotage.  From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River.  There, the battalion, with A Company, 194th held the position.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the company was in the area of Urdaneta, where the tankers lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write.  After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get south of Agno River.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening. They successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
    On December 25th, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th.

    The 192nd, and part of the 194th, fell back to form a new defensive line the night of December 27th and 28th.  From there they fell back to the south bank of the BamBan River which they were suppose to hold for as long as possible.  The tanks were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th serving as a rear guard against the Japanese.
    A Company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga.  It was there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt. William Read on December 30th.  That night, on a road east of Zaragoza, the company was bivouacked for the night and had posted sentries.  The sentries heard a noise on the road and woke the other tankers who grabbed Tommy-guns and manned the tanks' machine guns.  As they watched, a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac.  When the last bicycle passed the tanks, the tankers opened up on them.  When they stopped firing, they had completely wiped out the bicycle battalion.  To leave the area, the tankers drove their tanks over the bodies.
    The 192nd formed a defensive line along the south bank of the river of the Bambam River on December 31st.  When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts.  The Japanese were taking heavy casualties, so they attempted to use smoke to cover their advance.  The wind blew the smoke into the Japanese.  When the Japanese broke off the attack, they had suffered fifty percent casualties.
    On January 1st, the tanks of the 194th were holding the Calumpit Bridge allowing the Southern Luzon forces to cross the bridge toward Bataan.  General Wainwright was attempting to hold the main Japanese force coming down Route 5 to prevent the troops from being cut off.  General MacArthur's chief of staff gave conflicting orders involving from  whose command the defenders should take orders.  Gen. Wainwright was not aware these orders had been given.
    Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River.  Due to the efforts of the Self Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were halted.  From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
    From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so that the southern forces could escape. 
It was also in January that the food rations were cut in half.  Not long after this was done, malaria, dengue fever, and dysentery became to hit the soldiers.
    The tanks were often the last units to disengage from the enemy and form a new defensive line as the American and Filipinos forces withdrew toward Bataan.  The night of January 7th,
January 1942, that the food ration was cut in half.  It was not too long after this was done that malaria, dysentery, and dengue fever began hitting the soldiers.

Dinalupihan    The tanks often were the last units to disengage from the enemy and form a new defensive line as Americans and Filipino forces withdrew toward Bataan.  The night of January 7th, A Company was awaiting orders to cross the last bridge into Bataan over the Culis Creek.  The engineers were ready to blow up the bridge, but the battalion's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Ted Wickord, ordered the engineers to wait until he had looked to see if they were anywhere in sight.  He found the company, asleep in their tanks, because they had not received the order to withdraw across the bridge.  After they had crossed, the bridge was destroyed.    In January 1942, that the food ration was cut in half.  It was not too long after this was done that malaria, dysentery, and dengue fever began hitting the soldiers.   From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escap       
    On January 28th, the tank battalions were given the job of protecting the beaches.  The 192nd was assigned the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.  They also took part in the Battle of the Pockets and the Battle of the Points.
    On April 4, 1942, the Japanese launched an attack supported by artillery and aircraft.  A large force of Japanese troops came over Mount Samat and descended down the south face of the volcano.  This attack wiped out two divisions of defenders and left a large area of the defensive line open to the Japanese.  When General King saw that the situation was hopeless, he initiated surrender talks with the Japanese.
    On April 9, 1942, Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.  His company made its way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  In the barrio, the Japanese took what they wanted from the Americans.
    The POWs made their way north from Mariveles to San Fernando. The first five miles of the march was uphill which was difficult for the men many of whom were ill.  At one point they had to run past Japanese artillery firing at Corregidor.  The island had not surrendered and returned fire.
    The POWs made their way north to San Fernando, where they were put into a bull pen.  In one corner was a pit that served as the washroom for the POWs.  The pit actually appeared to be moving because it was covered in maggots.
    The Japanese ordered the POWs to form columns of 100 men. They were moved to the train station where they were put into boxcars.  The cars were known as forty or eights, because each car could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car and closed the doors.  When the POWs left the cars at Capas, those who had died fell to the floor of the cars.  Emmett and the other POWs made their way to Camp O'Donnell.
    The camp was an unfinished Filipino training base that had put into use as a POW camp.  There was one water spigot for the entire camp and disease ran wild.  The burial detail worked long days to bury the dead.  When they returned to the cemetery in the morning with more dead, those who had been buried the day before were either dug up by wild dogs or were sitting up in their graves.  The situation got so bad that the Japanese finally concluded they needed to open a new camp.
    Cabanatuan opened to relieve the conditions at Camp O'Donnell and the healthier POWs were sent to the camp, while the sick remained behind at Camp O'Donnell.  Emmett, being considered healthy, was sent to the new camp and remained there until late in 1942. 
    Emmett was selected for the Bachrach Garage detail which was housed in a garage on an island off the Manila.  The POWs on the detail repaired cars, trucks, and other equipment for the Japanese.  He became ill on the detail and was sent back to Cabanatuan.  He was still there in July 1944 when his name appeared on a list of POWs who were being sent to Japan.
  On July 15, 1944, at 8:00 P.M., trucks arrived at the camp and driven to the Port Area of Manila
    At the pier, the POWs boarded the Nissyo Maru.  The Japanese attempted to put the entire POW detachment in the forward hold but failed, so 600 of the POWs were put into the read hold.  The ship moved and remained outside the breakwater from July 18th until July 23rd while the Japanese attempted to form a convoy.  The POWs were fed rice and vegetables which were cooked together and received two canteen cups of water each day. 
    The ship sailed on July 23rd at 8:00 A.M. to Corregidor and dropped anchor off the island at 2:00 P.M.  It remained off the island overnight and sailed, north by northeast, at 8:00 A.M. the next day.  On July 26th, at 3:00 in the morning, there was a large explosion and fire off the side of the ship.  It turned out that the one of the ships, the Otari Yama Maru had been hit by a torpedo from the U.S.S. Flasher which was a part of a three submarine wolf pack.  On July 28th, the ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, and docked at 9:00 A.M.   The ship sailed at 7:00 P.M. and continued its northward trip all day and night of July 29th.  It ran into a storm the next day which finally passed by August 2nd.  The POWs were issued clothing on August 3rd and arrived at Moji on August 4th at midnight. 
    At 8:00 in the morning, the POWs disembarked the ship and were taken to a theater and held in it all day.  They were then taken to the train station and divided into different detachments bound for different camps.  The train left at 9:00 P.M. and arrived at the camp at 2:00 A.M., they were unloaded and walked three miles to the camp.
    In Japan, Emmett was taken to Fukuoka #23 which consisted of a mess hall, a hospital, six unheated barracks located on top of a hill with a ten foot high wooden fence around it.  In the barracks, the POWs slept in 15 X 15 foot bays.  Six POWs shared a bay.  At 6:00 A.M., 6:00 P.M., and 9:00 P.M., the Japanese took row call.  For the first two weeks in the camp, the POWs learned the Japanese words for mining equipment. 
    The POWs received their jobs from the camp commandant who spoke adequate English.  The POWs were divided into two groups of miners.  The "A" group mined during the day, while the "B" group mined at night.  Every two weeks the groups would swap shifts.  When the POWs arrived at the mine, they were turned over to civilian supervisors.   The POWs quickly learned the more they did the more these supervisors wanted from them.  After awhile, the supervisor and POWs came to a reasonable agreement on how many cars they would load each day.  The one good thing about working in the mine in the winter was the temperature was about 70 degrees.
   
During 1945, things got worse for the POWs, so they knew the Japanese were losing the war.  At 5:00 P.M. on August 15th they learned the war was over.  The POWs did not believe it.  The next day the camp commandant, at 9:00 A.M., informed the POWs that the war was over.  He also told them that they had to stay in the camp.  On August 24th, the Japanese gave the POWs paint and canvas and told them to paint "POW." on the canvas and put it on the barracks roofs.
    On August 28th, B-29s appeared over the camp. Two of the planes circled and dropped fifty gallon drums to  the POWs.  For the first time, the POWs knew they were now in charge.  Most of the guards quickly disappeared.  On September 15th, Americans arrived in the camp.  The POWs were taken by truck to the train station.  They road the train to Nagasaki.  Once there, they were given physicals, deloused, and the seriously ill were boarded onto a hospital ship.  The rest were taken by the U.S.S. Marathon to Okinawa.  They were than flown back to the Philippines for additional medical treatment. From Manila, he returned to the United States.

    Emmett returned home and was discharged from the Army on March 18, 1946.  He married Marie Margaret Nickerson and became the father of her four children and worked as a postal worker to support his family until he retired.
   
Emmett E. Hensley passed away on June 24, 1996, in Wichita, Kansas and was buried at White Chapel Memorial Gardens in Wichita.

 

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