Jennings_H

 

2nd Lt. Harvey Aaron Jennings


    2nd Lt. Harvey A. Jennings was born on June 1, 1913, to Sanford E. Jennings & Carrie Belle Wordell-Jennings.  With his brother, he grew up at 175 Jefferson Pike in Union, Ohio.  It is known he attended college for two years.  In 1940, he was living at 1356 Summit Street in Columbus, Ohio, with his parents, and working as a general contractor.

    Harvey was inducted into the U.S. Army at Fort Hayes in Columbus in 1941.  He was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, and did his basic training.  He was assigned to C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, after completing his training.  During his time with the company, he rose in rank from private to sergeant.
    A typical day started at 6:15 A.M. with reveille, but most of the soldiers were already up so they could wash, dress, and be on time for assembly.  Breakfast was from 7 to 8 A.M. which was followed buy calisthenics from 8 to 8:30.  After this, the remainder of the morning dealt with .30 and .50 caliber machine guns, pistols, map reading, care of personal equipment, military courtesy, and training in military tactics.
    At 11:30, the tankers got ready for lunch, which was from noon to 1:00 P.M., when they went back to work by attending the various schools.  At 4:30, the tankers day ended and retreat was at 5:00 P.M. followed by evening meal at 5:30.  The day ended at 9:00 P.M. with lights out, but they did not have to be in bed until 10:00 P.M. when taps was played.

    In the late summer of 1941, the battalion was sent to Louisiana where it took part in maneuvers from September 1 through 30.  It was after the maneuvers, that the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft. Knox.  It was on the side of a hill, the members of the battalion learned that they were being sent overseas.  The move was known as “PLUM.”  Within hours, many of the members of the battalion had figured out they were going to the Philippine Islands.
    The decision for this move -  which had been made in August 1941 - was the result of an event that took place in the summer of 1941.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines, when one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower altitude, noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another in the distance.  He came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island which was hundred of miles away.  The island had a large radio transmitter.  The squadron continued its flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.
    When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.  The next day, when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat - with a tarp on its deck - which was seen making its way to shore.   Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was difficult, the boat escaped.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.

    Before traveling west by train, the battalion was issued M3 tanks which came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.  It was also at this time, that many of the members of the battalion were given leaves home to say their goodbyes to family and friends.

    Arriving in San Francisco, the battalion was ferried to Angel Island.  On the island, they were given physicals and inoculated for duty in the Philippines.  Anyone who did not pass the physical, remained behind.  Once “healthy” they were scheduled to rejoin the battalion later.

    The battalion sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for the Philippines.  After five days at sea, the ship, which was a part of a three ship convoy, arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd.  The ships sailed, after two days, for Guam on Tuesday, November 4th.  Arriving in Guam, the ship took on water, vegetables, bananas, and coconuts.  The soldiers remained on ship during the loading.  The ships sailed again and arrived in the Philippines on Thursday, November 20th which was Thanksgiving Day.

    After arriving in the Philippines, the tankers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  When they arrived at the fort, Gen. Edward King greeted them and made sure they had what they needed.  He also apologized that they had to live in tents because their were no barracks for them.  He made sure that they had Thanksgiving dinner before he had his dinner.
   
    The first week of December, 1941, the tankers were ordered to Clark Field to assigned locations.  At all times, two members of each tank crew or half-track crew had to remain with their tank or half-track.
    On the morning of December 8, 1941, the members of B Company were informed of the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  His tank and the others were sent to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. 

    All morning, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed and their pilots went to lunch.  The members of the tank crews each sent one member to get their lunches.  At 12:45, while the tank crews were eating, they watched as planes approached the airfield from the north.   When bombs began exploding, they knew the planes were Japanese.  Since the tanks had orders not to fire on the planes and not equipped to fight planes, the crews just watched as the attack took place.  After the attack, the tank crews saw the damage done to the airfield.

    The 192nd remained at Clark Field until December 14th. They then moved to a dry stream bed.  The battalion was ordered north on December 21st to oppose Japanese landings at Lingayen Gulf.  
    On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta.   The bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of 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 tankers were fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th.  While there, the bridge over the Pampanga River was destroyed, they were able find a crossing over the river.

    During the withdraw into the peninsula, the company crossed over the last bridge which was mined and about to be blown.  The 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it and then cover the 192nd's withdraw. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
    Over the next several months, the battalion fought battle after battle with tanks that were not designed for jungle warfare. 
The tank battalions , on January 28th, 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.

    C Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line.  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 a tank exited the pocket.
    To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used.  The first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank.  As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually exploded.
    The other method to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole.  The driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around and grinding its way down into the foxhole.  The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.

    Sometime in February 1942, Harvey resigned, as an enlisted man, and reenlisted as a second lieutenant.  He was also transferred from C Company to B Company.  With B Company, he was made the commanding officer of the 2nd Tank Platoon.

    On April 9, 1942, Harvey became a Prisoner of War when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.  The tankers circle their tanks, opened up the gasoline cocks in the tanks, and threw hand grenades into each turret.  They then waited for the Japanese.

    When the Japanese made contact, the tankers were made to move to Mariveles.  It was from this barrio at the southern tip of Bataan that Harvey started the death march.  The soldiers who were already weak from undernourishment and suffering from disease, had to walk to San Fernando.  At one point the soldiers had to run past guns firing on Corregidor which had not surrendered. 

    At San Fernando the POWs were put in a bull pen.  In one corner, there was a pit for the POWs to use to relieve themselves.  The top of the pit was covered in maggots.   From the pen, the POWs were marched to the train station.  Once there, they were packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane.   The cars could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese put 100 POWs into each car.  Those who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas.

    From Capas, the POWs walked the last miles to Camp O’Donnell.  The POW camp was an unfinished Filipino training base that the Japanese put into use as a POW camp.  There was one water spigot for the entire camp.  Men literally died for a drink.  As many as fifty POWs died each day in the camp.  The burial detail worked day and night to bury the dead.  The situation was so bad that the Japanese opened a new camp at Cabanatuan.

    Harvey, being a healthier POW, was sent to Cabanatuan.  It is not known if he went out on any work details.  What is known is while he was a POW in the camp he came down with beriberi and edema.  According to records kept by the medical staff, he was admitted into the camp hospital on Saturday, October 10, 1942.  Harvey died on July 1, 1943 at 5:15 P.M. from beriberi and edema.  Albert Allen, a member of C Company, stated that Harvey died because he gave up.  He was buried in the camp cemetery in Plot 2, Row 22, Grave 2725.      

    After the war, the remains of 2nd Lt Harvey A. Jennings were exhumed and positively identified.  His parents requested that his remains be returned home, and he was buried at Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio, on April 20, 1949.


 

 

 

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