McArthur

 

T/Sgt. Albert Cox McArthur Jr.


    T/Sgt. Albert C. McArthur Jr. was born in April 28, 1919, to Albert C . McArthur Sr. & Catherine Dickinson-McArthur in Chicago.  With his two sisters, he lived at 310 South Villa Avenue in Villa Park, Illinois.  He was known as "Bert" by his family and friends.  
    Albert attended grade school in Villa Park and was a graduate of York High School in Elmhurst, Illinois. 
He also attended the Illinois Institute of Technology studying radio at night  and worked as a clerk in an insurance company.

    In September 1940, Albert enlisted in the Illinois National Guard.  A month later, on October 10th, he married Helen Okken.  He was called to federal service when his tank company was federalized as B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion in November of that year.  From Maywood, Illinois, with his company, he traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky.  There, Albert attended radio school.  After completing his classes, he was put in charge of radio communications for the battalion.

    Albert took his job very seriously.  When Frank Goldstein and Charles Corr arrived at Ft. Knox - after being inducted into the army and assigned to B Company - Albert was waiting for them at the train depot.  It was 2:00 in the morning.  Since both had trained in the Illinois National Guard's radio operator program while in high school, he told them that he needed one man to repair radio equipment and the other to train radio operators.

    In the fall of 1941, at Camp Polk, Louisiana, the 192nd Tank Battalion learned that they were being sent overseas.  Albert received a furlough home.  On October 10, 1941, he married Helen Orkken.  He returned to Camp Polk the next day.

   The 192nd traveled west by train to San Francisco.  They were taken by ferry to Angel Island where they were given physicals and  inoculated.  Those who had minor medical issues were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  For many, it would be the last time that they would ever see the United States.  The battalion arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd.  The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island.  On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam.
   
At one point, the ships passed an island at night.  While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  The ships sailed the same day for Manila and entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th.  They docked at Pier 7 and the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  

    Seventeen days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Harold and the other members of Company B arrived in Manila.  The battalion was deployed Fort Stotsenburg. 
At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King.  The general apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own.  Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service 

    On December 8, 1941, Albert and the other members of HQ Company were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  The letter companies were put on duty guarding the perimeter of Clark Field against Japanese paratroopers.  Around noon, the soldiers saw airplanes appear overhead.  When the bombs began exploding, they knew the rumors of Pearl Harbor being attacked were true.

    After the attack B Company was sent to the barrio of Bamban.  About one week later,  the battalion's tanks were sent north to Lingayen Gulf.  Being in a non-combatant position, Albert remained behind working to ensure that communications with the tanks was maintained and giving orders to the radiomen.  

    On April 9, 1942, the soldiers on Bataan were ordered to surrender to the Japanese.  Albert and the other men in the rear area were awakened at bayonet point.  The Japanese did not allow the soldiers to take anything with them.  If they had been sleeping in their underwear, that is how they left their bivouac.

    From Mariveles, on the same day as the surrender, Albert began what became known as the death march.  During the march, the Japanese killed anyone who fell out.  Albert saw many prisoners bayoneted because they had fallen to the ground.

    At one point, the POWs were given a rest to be fed.  When rain began to fall, the Japanese canceled the meal and forced the prisoners to march again.  With Albert on the march were Sgt. Ray Vadenbroucke, Sgt. James Bainbridge, and Cpl. Albert Cornils.  Cpl. Cornils was weak and sick and had reached the point that he was going to fall out.  Knowing that if he fell out he would be killed, Albert, Bainbridge and Vadenbroucke took turns helping Cornils so that he would continue the march.

    At San Fernando, Albert and his friends were packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul saugarcane.  The cars could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car.  They were packed in so tightly that those who died remained standing.  At Capas, the POWs disembarked from the cars.  The bodies of the dead fell out as they did.

    Albert with the other prisoners walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.  This former Philippine Army Base had been pressed into use as a POW Camp.  The camp had one water faucet for over 12,000 POWs.  Disease also ran wild in the camp.
    To lower the death rate among the POWs, the Japanese opened a new camp at Cabanatuan.  Being considered a "healthier" POW, Albert was sent to the camp.  According to records kept by the camp's medical staff, Albert was admitted to the camp hospital with dysentery and Noma disease.  Noma is infection of the mouth or genitals.
    Albert McArthur died on September 10, 1942, at Cabanatuan POW Camp.  The cause of death was listed as dysentery and Noma.  He was buried in the camp cemetery.
    In March 1943, six months after his death, his parents received word that he was a POW.  His parents learned of his death in June 1943.

    After the war, T/Sgt. Albert McArthur was buried in Plot B, Row 7, Grave 18, at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila at the request of his family.


 

 



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