Pvt. Alfred Raymond Langley
| Pvt. Alfred R.
Langley was born on February 26, 1912, in Rector,
Arkansas, to Walter W. & Alma Langley and was
the third oldest of the couple's four
children. His younger brother died as a
child. Alfred grew up in Monette,
Arkansas, and he worked as a truck driver.
He was known as "Ray" to his family and
Sometime in 1940, Ray moved to Janesville, Wisconsin, looking for work. Knowing that he would be drafted into the Army, he enlisted in the local National Guard Company which was scheduled to be federalized in the fall of 1940. After a year of service, the company was scheduled to be released from federal service.
In September 1940, the National Guard unit was federalized and re-designated as A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. On November 25th, the company readied itself for training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The company boarded the train for Ft. Knox on November 27th., and after a stop in Maywood, Illinois, to pick up B Company of the battalion, it proceeded to Ft. Knox.
When the tankers arrived at Ft. Knox, they learned that their barracks were not finished. The area of the fort that they were assigned to was brand new. They found themselves living in tents with stoves in them. They remained in the tents several months. When they did move into their barracks, the roads in front of them were mud since the winter was extremely wet.
Alfred, like all the other members of the battalion, learned to operate all the equipment of the battalion. It is not known what he trained to do with the company. In January 1941, he was transferred to Headquarters Company when it was formed with men from the four letter companies of the battalion. It is not known what his exact duties were with the company.
In late August, the battalion was informed it would take part in maneuvers in Louisiana. During the maneuvers the battalion performed exceptionally well. After the maneuvers, instead of returning to Ft. Knox, the battalion remained at Camp Polk. None of the members had any idea why they were being kept there. On the side of a hill the soldiers learned they were being sent overseas. Married men and those 29 years old or older were given the chance to resign from federal service. It is known that members of the company were given leaves home to say goodbye and get their personal business in order.
The battalion traveled by train to San Francisco, California over different train routes. By ferry, they were taken to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they received inoculations and physicals. Those men who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island and scheduled to join the battalion at a later date. 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 tankers had seasickness, but once they recovered they spent much of the time training in 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.
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. The fact was that he had not learned of their arrival until just days before their ship docked. He made sure that they all 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.
On the morning of December 8, 1941, the members of A 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. About 12:45 in the afternoon as the tankers were eating lunch, planes approached the airfield from the north. At first, the soldiers thought the planes were American. It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that they knew the planes were Japanese.
When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield. The soldiers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and 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 the members of the company slept in a dry latrine that was near their bivouac since it was safer then their tents. They had no idea that they had slept their last night on a bed. The next morning, they saw the bodies of the dead lying on the ground. Pilots who had night duty lay dead in their tents.
The 192nd remained at Clark Field for about a week before they were ordered to the barrio of Dau so it would be near a road and railroad. For the next four months, the tankers held positions so that the other units could disengage and form a defensive line.
On one occasion the company were in bivouac on two sides of a road. The posted sentries and most of the tankers attempted to get some sleep. The sentries heard noise down the road and woke the company. Every man grabbed a weapon. As they watched, a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac. The tankers opened fire with everything they had. When they stopped firing, they had completely wiped out the bicycle battalion.
The evening of April 8, 1942, Capt. Fred Bruni, HQ's commanding officer, gave his men the news of the surrender. While informing the members of the company of the surrender, he waved his arm toward the tanks and told the men that they would no longer need them. As he spoke, his voice choked. He turned away from the men for a moment, and when he turned back he continued. He next told the sergeants what they should do to disable the tanks. During the announcement, Bruni emphasized that they all were to surrender together. He told the soldiers to destroy their weapons and any supplies that could be used by the Japanese. The only thing they were told not to destroy were the company's trucks. The men waited in their bivouac until ordered to move. Somehow, Bruni had found enough bread and pineapple juice for what he called, "Their last supper."
On April 11th, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment. Donald was now a Prisoner of War. A Japanese officer ordered the company, with their possessions, out onto the road that ran in front of their encampment. Once on the road, the soldiers were ordered to kneel along the sides of the road with their possessions in front of them. As they knelt, the Japanese soldiers, who were passing them, went through their possessions and took whatever they wanted from the Americans. They remained along the sides of the road for hours.
HQ Company finally boarded trucks and drove to just outside of Mariveles. From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and ordered to sit. As they sat, the POWs noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming across from them. They soon realized that this was a firing squad and the Japanese were going to kill them.
As they prepared to die, a car pulled up and a Japanese officer got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail. After talking to the sergeant, he got back in the car and drove off. The sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
Later in the day, the POWs were order to move and taken to a school yard in Mariveles and ordered to sit. Behind them were Japanese artillery pieces. The guns were firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum. When the two American strongholds began returning fire, the prisoners found themselves in the line of fire and shells began landing around them. Five POWs who hid in an old brick building were killed when it took a direct hit. When the barrage ended, three if the four Japanese guns had been destroyed.
It was from this school yard that the POWs began the death march and made their way north from Mariveles. The first five miles of the march were uphill, and they received little water and little food. When they reached San Fernando, they were put into a bull pen. In one corner of the bull pen was a trench the POWs were suppose to use as a washroom. The surface of the trench was alive with maggots. How long they remained in the bull pen is not known.
The Japanese ordered the POWs to form ranks. They were marched to the train stationed and packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane. Each car could hold forty men or eight horses and were known as "Forty and Eights." The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car and closed the doors. Those who died remained standing since there was no place for them to fall. At Capas, the living left the cars and the dead fell to the floors. They walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base. There was one water faucet for the entire camp. Men literally died for a drink. The death rate in the camp began to rise until as many as 55 men dying each day. The burial detail worked non-stop to bury the dead. Often, when they returned the next morning, the wild dogs had dug up the bodies or the bodies were sitting up in their graves.
From available information, it appears that Alfred returned to Bataan on what was called "The Bataan Detail." From what is known about the detail, the POWs collected scrap metal and ordnance that were left over after the surrender. When the work was completed, the POWs were sent to Cabanatuan where Albert spent most of his internment in the Philippines. There were work details that left the camp every day and returned each evening, so Albert may have been on one of these details.
In the July 1943, Albert's name appeared on a roster of POWs being sent Japan. The POWs were taken by truck to the Port Area of Manila and boarded onto the Clyde Maru.
The ship sailed from Manila on July 23, 1943, for Santa Cruz, Zambales, Philippines, and arrived there on the same day. The ship was loaded with manganese ore and remained in port for three days. On July 26th, the ship sailed for Formosa. During the trip, 100 POWs at a time were allowed on deck from 6:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. It arrived at Takao, Formosa, on July 28, 1943. The ship remained in port until August 5th, when it sailed for Moji, Japan, as part as a nine ship convoy. The convoy arrived at Moji on August 7th. The next day, August 8th, the POWs were unloaded and formed detachments of 100 men. They were marched to the railroad station and boarded a train, which they rode for two days until they reached Omuta, Japan. They left the train and marched 18 miles to Fukuoka #17. Those POWs too ill to walk were driven by truck to the camp.
Fukuoka 17 was the worst POW camp to be held in as a prisoner. The stronger American prisoners preyed on the weaker prisoners. POWs would trade their food rations for cigarettes. Around the camp was a ten foot high wooden fence. On top of the fence were three electrified wires. 50 POWs were assigned to each barrack which were 20 feet wide by 120 feet long. There were ten rooms in each barrack with four to six men in each room. The POWs worked in a condemned coal mine.
One morning, the POWs who were not working in the mine saw a large explosion over Nagasaki. Those who witnessed it told the POWs who had been working in the mine about it. Many believed that the Japanese main ammunition dump had been hit. None knew that the town their camp was located in had been the primary target for the atomic bomb.
While he was in the camp Pfc. Noah C. Heard of the 194th Tank Battalion was executed for being a trouble maker. Heard had been placed in the guard house for stealing food and escaped. The camp commanding officer, Lt. Yuri ordered the execution.
"At the command of Lieutenant Yuri, a Jap guard bayoneted Heard in the middle of his back. Heard grunted and as he rolled over, he screeched. A second Jap bayoneted Heard in the abdomen. Yuri, the interpreter, and others examined the body. It was still twitching so another guard slashed Heard vertically across the throat. Other guards came out and slashed his abdomen to ribbons."
After the war, Yuri was put on trial for the murder of Heard.
One morning the camp commandant told the POWs that Japan and the United States were now friends. They officially knew the war was over when B-29s appeared over the camp and dropped 50 gallon drums of food and clothing to the POWs. George Weller, a reporter for the Chicago Daily News arrived at the camp and told the men that their were American troops on the island. Some of the POWs left the camp and made contact with them.
Ray was liberated in September 1945, and returned to the Philippine Islands. After receiving treatment, he was returned to the United States on the S.S. Simon Bolivar arriving at San Francisco on October 21, 1945. He was promoted to the rank of Master Sergeant and discharged on September 22, 1946.
On August 3, 1951, Ray married Zella Marie Freeman in Sonora, Mexico. The couple resided in Snyder, Texas. Alfred R. Langley passed away on September 22, 1987, in Snyder, Texas. He was buried in Hillside Memorial Gardens in Snyder, Texas.