Marston

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 High School.  

    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.
    From Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over four different train routes.  Arriving in San Francisco, the soldiers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, the soldiers were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases. Those with health issues were released from service and replaced.
    The battalion sailed, on the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott, from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  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 work was barely finished when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

    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.
    Wallace was sent to Cabanatuan when it opened.  While a prisoner at these camps, he witnessed the deaths of a number of men from Company B.  On August 2, 1942, he was admitted to the camp hospital because of illness.  The records kept by the medical staff do not show what illness he had or when he was discharged.  He remained at Cabanatuan until September 20, 1943, when he was sent to Japan on the Taga Maru. The ship arrived at Moji, Japan on October 5th.

    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.


 


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