Pvt. Wallace Raymond Marston
Pvt. Wallace R. Marston was born in Dunedin,
Florida, to Harry & Eloise Marston on December
23, 1923. With his sister and brother, he
attended Dunedin Grade School and Dunedin Junior
On September 6, 1940, at the age of sixteen,
Wallace joined the United States Army and became
a member of the 2nd Armored Division. He
went to radio operator school at Fort Knox,
Kentucky, for three months and was trained as a
low speed radio operator. In June of 1941,
he was transferred to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and
became a member of the 753rd Tank
Battalion. Although at Camp Polk, the
753rd did not take part in the Louisiana
maneuvers of 1941. It was there that
Wallace volunteered to become a member of
Company B, 192 Tank Battalion in September 1941.
Wallace was a member of the tank crew of Lt. Daniel J. Byars. Sgt. Robert Bronge was the tank driver, and Zenon "Bud" Bardowski was the gunner. The other members of his tank crew called him, "The Kid,' because of his age. As a member of this crew, Wallace saw the action against the Japanese at the Lingayen Gulf as the tanks covered the retreat of Filipino troops down to the Bataan Peninsula.
Later, Wallace became a member of Sgt. Zenon Bardowski's tank crew when Bardowski was given his own tank. The defensive line set up by the tanks would hold until Bataan was surrendered
When Bataan surrendered on April 9, 1942, Wallace took part in the death march starting at Mariveles at the very southern end of the Bataan Peninsula. What Wallace remembered about the march was the that there was no food or water and that the POW's marched for five or six days under a blistering sun. He saw men bayoneted or shot for just trying to get a drink of water. He also witnessed men being bayoneted or shot because they could not keep up with the column. But, the most inhuman act of brutality Wallace witnessed was a young Filipino boy being bayoneted for trying to hand out bananas to the prisoners. To Wallace, the boy looked as if he was ten or twelve years old.
At San Fernando, Wallace and the other Prisoners of War were packed into railroad box cars like sardines. The prisoners disembarked the cars at Capas and marched the final miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army
training base that the Japanese put into use as
a POW camp. There was one water faucet for
the entire camp. The POWs stood in line
for hours for a drink, at any moment the guard
could shut it off just because he wanted to do
so. The death rate at the camp exploded
since there was little medicine to treat the
sick. The Japanese repeatedly turned away
the Filipino Red Cross when they brought
medicine to the camp. The Japanese opened
a new camp at Cabanatuan to lower the death rate
among the POWs.
In Japan, he was held at Hirohata 12-B which was about thirty miles from Osaka. His POW number was 2089. There he worked on various details at the Seitetsu Steel Mill. The work included unloading coal and iron ore from ships, working the blast furnaces and cleaning slag from the furnaces. During this time, Wallace recalled that the prisoners did not have any idea of how the war was going until American planes began appearing in the sky.
The prisoners knew that the war was over when American planes began buzzing the camp on August 23, 1945. A large "PW" had been painted on the roof of one of the buildings. The Japanese had received orders from Tokyo to mark all POW camps just days before the surrender on September 2, 1945. The POWs were freed by American Liberation Forces on September 9, 1945.
After being liberated by American troops, the former POWs were put on a train and taken on a 24 hour trip to Yokohama, Japan. At the harbor, they were put on American ships and then took a ten day trip back to the Philippines.
Once in the Philippines, they were housed in a tent city and signed affidavits as to their service records since they had been destroyed when the Philippines fell. At the camp, there was an attempt to reunite the original outfits, but some of the units were almost wiped out. A week later, the men were placed on ships bound for the United States.
One night at 3:00 A.M., someone spotted the lights of San Francisco. Men ran to the rails and stayed there as a harbor boat helped the ship dock at the pier. Wallace remembered that there were pretty girls waiting at the dock and a band playing, "San Francisco." There wasn't one dry eye on the deck of the ship. Wallace thought to himself that, in October of 1945, he had returned back to the place where his four year journey had started in October of 1941. He was discharged, from the army, on June 9, 1946.
Wallace R. Marston returned to Florida, married and raised a family. He passed away in Crystal River, Florida on April 21, 2008. He was buried at Dunedin Cemetery, Dunedin, Florida.