Pvt. James Henery Hurndon Jr.

    Pvt. James H. Hurndon Jr. was born in Milstead, Georgia, on February 4, 1922, to James H. Hurdon Sr. & Eliza Ellen Rousey-Hurndon and had three sisters and a brother.  In 1940, he enlisted in the U. S. Army.  At this time, his family was living in Cordele, Georgia.  

    James did his basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, as a member of Headquarters Company, 68th Armored Regiment.  He was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, where he attended radio operators school.  It was during this time he was promoted to private first class. 

    In early September 1941, James wanted to go home to see his family, but his request was refused.  He learned he was being transferred to 753rd Tank Battalion which had been sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, where James was sent to join them.  While at Camp Polk, James volunteered, or had his name selected, to join the 192nd Tank Battalion and replaced a National Guardsman who had been released from federal duty because the man was considered to be "too old" to go overseas.   James was assigned to A Company as a member of a tank crew.  It should be mentioned that he lost his rank and reverted back to a private.     

    The battalion traveled by train to San Francisco, California., and were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island, where they received inoculations and physicals by the battalion's medical detachment.  Those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island and were scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date, while other men 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 they 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. 
Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
    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.  The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea.  They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance as they readied their tanks to take part in maneuvers.

    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 received their meals from food trucks.
    The morning of December 8th, December 7th in the United States, the 192nd was brought up to full strength along the southern end of the airfield.  That morning they were told of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Many of the men believed that this was the start of the expected maneuvers.  At 8:30, the American planes took off and filled the sky in every direction.  They landed at noon, to be refueled, and were lined up, in a straight line, near the mess hall, while the pilots went to lunch.    
    During lunch, the "replacements" were ordered to stay with the equipment while the original members of the battalion went to eat.  As the tankers he and the other men watched the sky, they felt good about the planes in the sky and the protection they were providing them.  It was only when they heard the sound of bombs falling did they realize that the planes were Japanese. 
    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.
   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. 

    On December 23rd and 24th, the company was in the area of Urdaneta.  It was there, that 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 a road east of Zaragoza, on December 30th, the company was bivouacked for the night and 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.
   As the Filipino and American forces fell back toward Bataan, A Company took up a position near the south bank of the Gumain River the night of December 31st and January 1st.  Believing that the Filipino Army was in front of them allowed the tankers to get some sleep.  It was that night that the Japanese lunched an attack to cross the river.
    As the Japanese attempted to advance they were cut down by the tankers.  The tankers created gaping holes in their ranks.  To lower their losses, the Japanese tried to cover their advance with a smoke screen.  Since the wind was blowing against them, the smoke blew into the Japanese line.  When the Japanese broke off the attack, they had lost about half their men.
    From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.  It was also 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. January that the food rations wer cut in half.  Not long after this, malaria, dysentery, and dengue fever soon    spread among the soldiers.
     A Company, was sent in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga.  At Guagua,  A Company with the 11th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, attempted to make a counterattack against the Japanese.  Somehow, the Filipinos mistook the tanks as Japanese and accurately used mortars on them knocking out three tanks.  A Company rejoined the 194th east of Guagua.tan    A Company was sent in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga.  At Guagua, the company with the 11th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, attempted a counterattack against the Japanese.  Somehow, the Filipinos mistook the tanks as being Japanese and accurately used mortars on them knocking out three tanks which were abandoned.  A Company rejoined the 194th near Guagua and later returned to the command of the 192nd.
    The night of January 7th, the company was waiting to cross a bridge over the Cubis Creek.  The engineers wanted to blow up the bridge but were ordered by Lt. Col. Ted Wickord not to do so until he returned.  Wickord got in his jeep and crossed the bridge looking for his missing tank company.  He found the tank crews asleep in their tanks and ordered them across the bridge.  It turned out that they were never received the order to cross the bridge.  After they crossed the bridge it was blown.  A Company was the last American unit to enter Bataan.

    At Guagua,  A Company with the 11th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, attempted to make a counterattack against the Japanese.  Somehow, the Filipinos mistook the tanks as Japanese and accurately used mortars on them knocking out three tanks.  A Company rejoined the 194th east of Guagua.tanks were often the last units to disengag    While American and Filipino forces were withdrawing from Pilar-Bigac Line, the battalion prevented the Japanese from overrunning the position and cutting off the withdrawing troops. 
The morning of January 27th, a new battle line had been formed and all units were suppose to be beyond it.  That morning, the tanks were still holding their position six hours after they were suppose to have withdrawn.  While holding the position, the tanks, with self-propelled mounts, ambushed, at point blank range, three Japanese units causing 50 percent casualties.
    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. 

    The company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets.  The Japanese offensive had been stopped and two groups of Japanese soldiers were trapped behind the main line of defense.  The tanks were sent in to help eliminate the pockets.   The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time to replace a tank in the pocket.  Another tank did not enter the pocket until the tank, which had been relieved, had left the pocket.    
    To wipe out the Japanese two methods were employed.  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 usually explode.
    The second method was simple.  The tank was parked with one track across the foxhole.  The driver gave power to the opposite track and spun the tank dragging the other track.  The tank dug into the dirt until the Japanese soldiers were dead.

    During the Battle of the Points, on March 2nd and 3rd, 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 to two ways to wipe out the Japanese.  

    What is known is that James became a Prisoner of War when Filipino and American forces were surrendered in the Philippine Islands.  It is believed that he escaped to Corregidor and became a POW on May 6, 1942, when the island surrendered.

    The POWs who surrendered on Corregidor were held on the island before they were taken by barge to an off shore area close to Manila.  The POWs were forced to jump into the water and swim to shore.  Once on shore, they were put to work rebuilding a dock.

    When the work was done, the POWs were taken out to a road and put into columns.  Many had heard of the march out of Bataan and initially feared for their lives.  They were surprised at how well the Japanese treated them.  They marched down Dewey Boulevard in Manila and taken to Bilibid Prison, where they remained until they were taken to Cabanatuan.

    James was held as a POW at Cabanatuan until the Japanese organized a work detail.  On October 26, 1942, the Japanese selected James and other POWs for a work detail to the Island of Mindanao.  He and the other POWs were loaded onto the Erie Maru and taken to Davao, Mindanao, arriving there on October 28th.  One group of POWs remained at Davao, at the penal colony, and worked on a farm, while the rest of the POWs were sent to Lasang on November 7th, and spent the next twenty months building runways.  

    At the camp, the POWs were housed in eight barracks that were about 148 feet long and about 16 feet wide.  A four foot wide aisle ran down the center of each barracks.  In each barracks, were eighteen bays.  Twelve POWs shared a bay.  216 POWs lived in each barracks.  Four cages were later put in a bay.  Each cage held two POWs.

    The camp discipline was poor, and the American commanding officer changed frequently.  The junior officers refused to take order from the senior officers, and the enlisted men began  speaking anyway they wanted to, to the officers.  The situation improved because the majority of POWs realized that discipline was needed to survive.

    At first, the work details were not guarded at the farm.  The POWs plowed, planted, and harvested the crops, while the sick POWs made baskets.  In April 1943, the POWs working conditions varied with those working the rice fields receiving the worst treatment.  They were beaten for not meeting quotas, there were misunderstandings between the POWs and guards because of a translator who could not be trusted to tell the truth.

    The Japanese ended the detail at the farm and sent the POWs to Lasang on March 2, 1944.  The POWs thought that it would not be as bad as the farm; they were wrong.  The barracks of the POWs were only 400 yards from the runway.  The POWs believed that this was done so that American planes would kill their own countrymen.

    The POWs either built runways or were sent to a quarry to mine coral for the runways.  The POWs dug out the coral, broke it up, and loaded it until trucks that were driven to the airfield.  For their work, the enlisted men received five cents for twelve hours of work.  The POWs simply slowed down to slow down the amount of work they did.  The Japanese resorted to torture to get the POWs to work harder. 

    One night the POWs heard the sound of a plane, and from the sound of the engine, they knew it was American.  It was the first American plane they had heard in over two years.  As the plane dove on the airfield, it dropped four bombs at the far end of the runway; the POWs celebrated silently.  On June 6, 1944, some of the POWs were sent to Manila, while the remainder of the men stayed on the island until August 19, 1944.

    Over the next two weeks the atmosphere at the airfield changed.  The Japanese posted guards, with bayonets on their rifles, by the POW barracks as air raids became daily.  The Japanese camouflaged the airfield and hid their planes in revetments.  The POWs heard rumors that the Americans had landed on the Island of Palau to the east of the Philippines.

    During this time, the POWs rations were cut to a single cup of rice a day.  The POWs were now so hungry that they raided the Japanese garbage pile for remnants of vegetables.  Many ate the weeds that grew inside the camp until it was bare.

    Air raids soon were nightly events.  Japanese planes flying out of the airfield were loaded with bombs and carried extra gasoline tanks.  Finally, all work on the airfield was stopped.

    On that day, the POWs were lined up by fours.  The outside men had rope tied to their wrists to prevent escape.  They were marched shoeless to the Tabunco Pier and arrived at noon.  They were packed into the two holds of the Erie Maru with 400 POWs put in the first hold while the remaining 350 POWs were put in the second hold.  In addition, several tons of Japanese baggage were packed into the hold.  Around six that evening, the ship sailed.

    As the ship made its way north it swayed in the waves.  Many of the prisoners became seasick.  They retched when they tried to throw up since there was no food in their stomachs.   The next day, the POWs heard the sound of a plane, and an American plane flew over the ship.  Moments later bombs exploded near the ship.  The sound of machine gun fire was heard by the POWs.  The Japanese once again tied down the hatch covers cutting off the air.  Over the next three days, there were several more alerts.  Each time the hatch covers were battened down leaving the POWs in darkness.

    On August 24th, the ship arrived in Zamboanga where it waited for ten days until the Shinyo Maru arrived.  The POWs were not allowed out of the holds and the conditions in the ship's holds were terrible.  The holds were hot and steamy and the floors were covered with human waste.  In addition, the longer the POWs were in the holds the stench became worse.  During this time, the POWs were allowed on deck and sprayed with salt water to clean them.

    It should be noted that the United States had intercepted the order from Japanese command sending the Shinyo Maru to Zamboanga.  Someone misinterpreted the order as saying the ship would be transporting "750 troops" instead of "750 prisoners of war" to Manila.  The U.S.S. Paddle was sent to the area to intercept the ship.  

   On September 4th, the POWs were transferred onto the Shinyo Maru.  250 POWs were put in the ship's smaller hold, while the 500 POWs were put into its larger hold.   That night, bombs from American planes landed alongside of the ship rocking and shaking it.  The POWs prayed for the ship to be hit.

    The ship sailed on September 5th at 2:00 a.m.  Before the ship sailed, the hatch covers were secured so that the POWs could not lift them from below.  The ship headed north in a zigzag pattern in an attempt to avoid submarines.  The ship was now part of a convoy designated as C-076. 

    The POWs were no longer allowed on deck, and their lips and throats were covered with dust from cement that had previously been hauled by the ship.  For the next two days the ship made good time.  It was at this time that the Japanese guards threatened to kill the POWs if the ship came under attack by American planes.  Since the POWs had not heard any air raid alerts, they assumed that they were safe.

    At 7:37 p.m. on Thursday, September 7, 1944, the U.S.S Paddle spotted the convoy off the west coast of Mindanao at Sindangan Point.  It fired two torpedoes at the Shinyo Maru, and the first torpedo hit the ship in its main hold; moments later, a second torpedo hit the ship.  Some of the POWs were blown out of the hold and into the water by the explosion which left a gaping hole in the ship's side.  Those POWs still alive saw the bodies of the dead floating in the water as the hold filled with water. 

    The surviving POWs found that the hatch cover had been blown off the hold by the explosion, and as the water level rose, they were able to climb out.  Seven Japanese officers had positioned themselves on the bridge with rifles.  As the POWs emerged from the hold, they picked them off by them.  The lucky POWs made it through their fire and dove into the water.

    The POWs in the smaller hold were also wounded from the torpedo hits.  But, the hold remained dry.  Many of these POWs also were able to make it onto the deck and attempted to swim to shore.  As they swam, they were fired upon by the same seven Japanese officers.

    According to the POWs in the water, the Shinyo Maru began to capsize.  There was a tremendous crushing sound and the ship seemed to bend upward, in the middle, and split in two before it sank into the water.

    Japanese seaplanes  dropped depth charges in an attempt to sink the American submarine.  When they spotted the POWs in the water, they strafed them.  The planes stopped strafing when they realized that there were Japanese in the water with the POWs.  The one good thing about the depth charges was that they kept sharks away from the POWs.

    A Japanese tanker that had been hit by torpedoes spilled oil and gasoline into the water before the ship ran aground.  The Japanese quickly set up machine guns, on the ship, and fired on the POWs.  Boats from the other ships attempted to hunt down the POWs swimming in the water.  If they found a man, they shot him.  What saved many lives was that with dusk it became harder for the Japanese to see them. 

    The Japanese announced to the Americans that if they surrendered that they would be treated with compassion, and about 30 men gave up after hearing this.  According to one man who escaped after surrendering, the POWs had their hands tied to the ship's rail, and the Japanese shot each POW in the back of the head and pushed the bodies overboard.

   What saved the surviving POWs was that it got dark and they could not be seen in the water.  Of the 750 POWs who were boarded onto the ship, 82 POWs avoided the Japanese and escaped.  One man died on shore while the remainder were rescued by Filipino guerillas, who protected them, and returned them to U.S. Forces in October 1944.  Pvt. James H. Hurndon, Jr. was not one of these men.

    Pvt. James H. Hurndon Jr., is listed as dying on September 7, 1944, during the sinking of the Shinyo MaruOn December 31, 1944, the United States acknowledged that the sinking of the Shinyo Maru was a result of the content of a radio message being misinterpreted.

    Since he was lost at sea, Pvt. James H. Hurndon's name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery at Manila.



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