Jones

Sgt. Elwin Cornelius Jones


     Sgt. Elwin C. Jones was born on December 16, 1917, in Marion County, Ohio, to Nelson & Gladys Irene Rasey-Jones.  He was the eldest of seven children.  As children, he and his four brothers and two sisters lived at 1053 Davids Street in Marion, Ohio.  They later lived on Barnhart Street.

    Elwin and his siblings attended Forest Lawn School and later Vernon Junior High School.  In 1931, Elwin's family moved to Caledonia, Ohio, and lived in a house on South Water Street.  Elwin attended Caledonia High School and graduated as class Valedictorian in 1936.  After high school, Elwin got a job with the Erie Railroad.  During his time with the railroad, he worked as a telegraph operator and depot clerk in Broadway, Ohio.  

    On January 30, 1941, Elwin was inducted into the U. S. Army at Fort Hayes in Columbus, Ohio.  From there, he was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky for basic training.  At Ft. Knox, he became a member of C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion which had originally been an Ohio National Guard tank company from Port Clinton.

    In the late summer of 1941, after taking part in maneuvers in Louisiana, Elwin and the rest of his battalion learned that they were being sent overseas.  Elwin received leave so that he could return home to say goodbye to his family and friends.

    From Camp Polk, Louisiana, Elwin's company traveled west by train to San Francisco.  Once there, they were ferried to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  After being inoculated, the soldiers were boarded onto a U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott for the Philippine Islands on Monday, October 27, 1941. 

    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 8, 1941, Elwin and his company were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  He and the other tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  

    Around 12:45 in the afternoon, Elwin and the other tankers were eating lunch when planes approached the airfield from the north.  At first the tankers believed the planes were American.  It was not until the bombs began exploding on the runways did the soldiers learn that they were Japanese.

    For the next four months, Elwin fought to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines. In early January 1942, Elwin's company wiped out a platoon of Japanese tanks.  This was the first tank victory of World War II for American tanks.  

    During this time, he took part in the Battle of the Pockets.  The Japanese had landed Marines behind the main battle line.  These soldiers were successfully cut off from their troops.  To wipe out the pockets, the tankers drove their tanks through the Japanese positions.  As they did, the Japanese hid in their foxholes.  The tanks drove over the foxholes and soldiers sitting on the tanks dropped hand grenades into them.

    On April 9, 1942, Elwin with his battalion destroyed their tanks.  They had received orders from General King's staff that all Filipino and American Forces on Bataan were to surrender to the Japanese.  After they had destroyed their tanks, they waited to see what would happen when the Japanese appeared.  When they made contact, the Prisoners of War were ordered to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  From this barrio, Elwin began the death march.

    On the march, Elwin made his way to San Fernando.  During this time, he received little food and ever less water.  At San Fernando, Elwin and the other POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars that were used to haul sugarcane.  One hundred men were put into each car.  When the train arrived at Capas, the living climbed out of the cars as the bodies of the dead fell to the ground.  From Capas, Elwin walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.  

    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino military camp.  The housing was inadequate and there was only one water faucet for 12,000 POWs.  Men died standing in line for a drink.  

    It was while Elwin was at Camp O'Donnell, that he became ill with dysentery.  According to U. S. Army records, Pvt. Elwin Cornelius Jones died of dysentery on Sunday, May 9, 1942.  He was buried in the camp cemetery in Section D, Row 6, Grave 5.

    After the war, another member of C Company visited the Jones family in Caledonia.  According to family members, this soldier told them how Elwin really died.  He told the family that Elwin and him had been selected to go out on a work detail.  Elwin was sick from dysentery that he could hardly stand.  An aggravated Japanese guard, believing Elwin was faking illness, so that he would not have to work, came up to him and killed him.

   After the war, Elwin's remains were returned to his family.  In April 1949, he was buried in Caledonia Cemetery in Caledonia, Ohio. 


 

 

 

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