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, who 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.  King made sure that they were fed Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own.
    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 1st, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against enemy paratroopers.  Two crew members from each tank remained with their tank at all times.

    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.  
    The tank battalion received orders on December 21st that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.   Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas.  When they reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
    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.    
    B 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.
   

    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, on September 23, 1945, the men were placed on the U.S.S. General R. L. Howze bound for the United States.

    The morning of October 16, 1945, 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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