McAuliffe

 


S/Sgt. William M. McAuliffe


    S/Sgt. William M. McAuliffe was born on June 6, 1918, to William & Ella McAuliffe.  With his brother and five sisters, he was raised at 907 West McKinley Street, Janesville, Wisconsin.  In high school, he was a halfback on the Janesville High School football team.  He was a member of the Janesville High School class of 1937.

    Right after graduating high school, William joined the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Tank Company.  In November, 1940, he traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky, when the company was federalized as A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  William was known for his "free spirit" and rose and dropped in rank repeatedly.

    William took part in maneuvers in Louisiana in late summer 1941.  After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to remain at Camp Polk.  It was on the side of a hill that the soldiers were told they were being sent overseas.  Many of the men were allowed to go home to say their goodbyes.
    The reason for this move was because of an event that happened during the summer of 1941.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf, on a routine patrol, when one of the pilots noticed something odd in the water.  He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water. and saw another flagged buoy in the distance.  The squadron flew toward it and came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line, for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island, with a large radio transmitter, hundred of miles away.  The squadron continued its designated patrol and flew south to Mariveles before returning to Clark Field.  By the time the planes landed and reported what had been seen, it was too late to do anything that evening.
   The next morning, another squadron was sent to the area but the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat which was seen making its way toward shore.  Since communication between and Air Corps and Navy was poor, the boat was not intercepted.  It was on August 15th that the decision was made to send the battalion to the Philippines.
    The battalion traveled by train routes to San Francisco, California, and were taken to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island by the ferry the U.S.A.T Frank M. Coxe.  On the island, they received inoculations and physicals from its medical detachment, and those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date, while 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 of the tankers suffered from seasickness.  Once they recovered, they spent their time 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.
    During this part of the voyage, 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 King, who apologized that they 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.
    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 as they readied their tanks to take part in maneuvers.

    The morning of December 8, 1941, Capt. Walter Write informed his company that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japanese.  The tanks were put on alert and took their positions around the airfield.   At 8:30 A.M., American took off to intercept any Japanese planes.  Sometime before noon, the alert was canceled and the planes landed and were lined up near the mess hall.  Their pilots went to lunch.

    The tankers were eating lunch when planes were seen approaching the airfield from the north at about 12:45.  Many of the tankers counted 54 planes.  The planes approached the airfield and watched hat was described as "raindrops" falling from the planes.

    When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield.  Since the battalion's bivouac was near the main road between the fort and airfield, the soldiers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks and trucks.  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 soldiers had slept their last night in a bed.  For protection, they slept under their tanks or in them.
    Four days after the attack, on December 12th, the company was sent to the Barrio of Dau so it would be close to a highway and railroad to guard against sabotage.  From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River. 
    On December 23rd and 24th, the company was in the area of Urdaneta., where the tankers lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write.  After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get south of Agno River after the main bridge had been destroyed.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening but successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
    From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River.  There, the tanks, with A Company, 194th, held the position.  On December 25th, the 192nd 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 192nd, and part of the 194th, fell back to form a new defensive line the night of December 27th and 28th.  From there they fell back to the south bank of the BamBan River which they were suppose to hold for as long as possible.  The tanks were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th serving as a rear guard against the Japanese.
    A Company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga.  It was there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt. William Read.  That night, on a road east of Zaragoza, on December 30th, the company was bivouacked for the night and posted sentries.  The sentries heard a noise on the road and woke the other tankers who grabbed Tommy-guns and manned the tanks' machine guns.  As they watched, a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac.  When the last bicycle passed the tanks, the tankers opened up on them.  When they stopped firing, they had completely wiped out the bicycle battalion.  To leave the area, the tankers drove their tanks over the bodies.
    From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.  It was also in January 1942, that the food ration was cut in half.  It was not too long after this was done that malaria, dysentery, and dengue fever began hitting the soldiers. January that the food rations were cut in half.  Not long after this, malaria, dysentery, and dengue fever soon    spread among the soldiers.
    The tanks often were the last units to disengage from the enemy and form a new defensive line as Americans and Filipino forces withdrew toward Bataan.  The night of January 7th, A Company was awaiting orders to cross the last bridge into Bataan over the Culis Creek.  The engineers were ready to blow up the bridge, but the battalion's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Ted Wickord, ordered the engineers to wait until he had looked to see if they were anywhere in sight.  He found the company, asleep in their tanks, because they had not received the order to withdraw across the bridge.  After they had crossed, the bridge was destroyed.
   A Company was next sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga.  At Guagua, A Company, with units from the 11th Division, Philippine Army, attempted to make a counterattack against the Japanese.  Somehow, the tanks were mistaken by the Filipinos to be Japanese, and the 11th Division accurately used mortars on them.  The result was the loss of three tanks.  The company rejoined the 194th west of Guagua.
    The company, on January 5th, was near the Gumain River attached to the 194th Tank Battalion.  It was evening and they believed they were in a relatively safe place.  Lt. Kenneth Bloomfield told his men to get some sleep.  Their sleep was interrupted by the sound of a gun shot.  The tankers had no idea that they were about to engage the Japanese who had lunched a major offensive.  There was a great deal of confusion and the battle lasted until 3:00 A.M., when the Japanese broke off the attack.  After this date, the company returned to the command of the 192nd.
   A Company was next sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga.  At Guagua, A Company, with units from the 11th Division, Philippine Army, attempted to make a counterattack against the Japanese.  Somehow, the tanks were mistaken by the Filipinos to be Japanese, and the 11th Division accurately used mortars on them.  The result was the loss of three tanks.  The company rejoined the 194th west of Guagua.
    A Company, on January 5th, while attached to the 194th Tank Battalion, withdrew from the line.  Lt. Kenneth Bloomfield received orders to launch a counter-attack against the Japanese on a tail picked by Provisional Tank Group command. Bloomfield, while attempting to attack, radioed the tank group that the trail did not exit.
   It was evening and the tankers believed they were in a relatively safe place near Lubao along a dried up creek bed.  Bloomfield told his men to get some sleep.  Their sleep was interrupted by the sound of a gun shot at about 1:50 A.M.  The tankers had no idea that they were about to engage the Japanese who had lunched a major offensive across an open field wearing white shirts which made them easy targets.  There was a great deal of confusion and the battle lasted until 3:00 A.M., when the Japanese broke off the attack.  Within days of this action, the company returned to the command of the 192nd.
    A Company, was sent in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga.  At Guagua, A Company with the 11th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, attempted to make a counterattack against the Japanese.  Somehow, the Filipinos mistook the tanks as Japanese and accurately used mortars on them knocking out three tanks.  A Company rejoined the 194th east of Guagua.
    The night of January 7th, A Company was awaiting orders to cross the last bridge into Bataan over the Culis Creek.  The engineers were ready to blow up the bridge, but the battalion's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Ted Wickord, ordered the engineers to wait until he had looked to see if they were anywhere in sight.  He found the company, asleep in their tanks, because they had not received the order to withdraw across the bridge.  After they had crossed, the bridge was destroyed.   
    The next day the tanks received maintenance.  It was the first rest that the two tank battalions had since December 24th.
    On January 28th, the tank battalions 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.

    After the withdrawal into Bataan, William was involved in the Battle of the Pockets.  On February 3, 1942, near kilometer post 214,  while attempting to recover a tank that had been disabled and crew buried alive in the tank. He was hit by shrapnel from a exploding landmine.  He had wounds on his legs and chest.  For the rest of his life, he also carried a deep scar on his nose. The other members of his tank crew were fine.

    After a Japanese breakthrough of one of the defensive lines, tanks were sent north to help stop the advance.  William was wounded when a landmine exploded beneath his tank.  The shrapnel from the mine penetrated the lighter armor of the belly of the tank and hit him in the chest, nose, and legs.  The wounds he received on one of this legs would affect him the rest of his life.  He was the only member of his tank crew wounded and was awarded the Purple Heart.  He would also have a scar on his nose for the rest of his life.

    William was sent to Little Beguio Hospital, where he remained until the surrender on April 9, 1942.  Since he was in the hospital, the Japanese allowed him to ride in a truck to Bilibid Prison.  The prison was used as a hospital, but there was no medicine to treat the sick and wounded.

    After Bilibid, William was sent to Cabanatuan where he was reunited with other members of A Company.  Sgt. Dale Lawton changed the dressing on William's leg daily.  By doing this, he prevented William from developing an infection even though pieces of shrapnel were still in his leg.

    In October, 1942, William was sent back to Bilibid Prison.  On October 26, 1942, he was marched to the dock area of Manila.  There, he was boarded onto the cattle boat, Nagato Maru sailed on November 7, 1942.  The Prisoners of War were packed so tightly in the hold that they could not sit down.  Unlike later ships, the prisoners were fed well.  The Japanese guards also gave the prisoners any food they did not finish.  After a stop at Formosa, the Nagato Maru arrived at Takao, Formosa, on November 11, 1942.  It stayed three days before sailing for the Pescadores Islands.  It left the islands on November 18th.

    After leaving the Pescadores Islands, the ship arrived at Kelung Island the same day.  It remained there for two days leaving on November 20th for Moji, Japan.  On the 24th, it arrived in Japan.

    Upon arriving in Japan, the POWs were taken by train from Moji to Kobe.  William and the other POWs were imprisoned at Yodogawa Camp # 3-D.  The POWs at Yodogawa worked in a factory.  The camp was located between Osaka and Kobe on the south bank of the Yodogawa River.  He would remain at this camp from November 26, 1942 until May 1945.  

    It was at Yodogawa that William received the only Red Cross package he received as a POW.  In the package were vitamin pills.  William ate 500 of these pills in two days.  His reason for doing this was that they were sweet and sweet tasting things were almost none existent in the POW's diet.  On October 15, 1944, Bill was caught smuggling bean paste into the camp and was beaten.

    In early May 1945, American bombers attacked the industrial complex where William worked.  The bombings were so bad that the camp was totally destroyed by fire.  What made the attacks worse was that the POW barracks were located in the middle of the industrial area.  On May 18, 1945 the POWs were transferred to Osaka Camp #3-B at Oeyama an island seaport.

    William and the other prisoners unloaded food, coal and coke from ships for a nickel refinery at the Miyazu docks.  The food they unloaded was bound for the Japanese army, so the POWs would steal a couple of pocketful of beans everyday.  In addition, the POWs worked inside the Hachidate Branch Nickel Refinery.  With a pick and shovel, he and the other POW's had to extract ore from the mine.  When they loaded a car, they next had to push it to the railroad track that ran past the mine.  The prisoners had to work in all types of weather and in snow as deep as six feet.  They also worked at the nickel mine almost six miles from the camp.  It is also known that one group of POWs did carpentry work.

    The Japanese enforced collective discipline in the camp.  Sometimes work groups would be punished, other times larger groups of POWs were punished, and there were times all the POWs were punished.  On one occasion a work group of twelve POWs were made to stand at attention for two hours before they were forced to swallow rope which caused them to throw up.  This was done because the Japanese believed they had stolen rice.  When none was found, the Japanese fed the POWs rice and sent them to their barracks.

    On December 6, 1944, the entire camp was placed on half rations because one POW had violated a rule.  The entire camp again was put on half rations on January 7.  At various times a portion of the POWs were put on half rations.  80 to 90 POWs were put on half rations on March 7, 1944, while 60 POWs were put on half rations on April 7 and made to stand at attention in a heavy rain.

    Since a certain number of POWs had to report for work everyday, illness was not an excuse for getting out of working.  The camp doctor's recommendation that POWs not work, because they were too ill, was ignored and men suffering from dysentery or beriberi were sent to work.
     Red Cross packages were withheld from the POWs and the Japanese raided them for canned meats, canned milk, cigarettes, and chocolate.  The clothing and shoes sent for POW use was also appropriated by the Japanese.

    On July 30, 1945, B-29s  bombed Miyazu.  Since the bombing run ran over the camp, two  POWs were killed.  About two weeks later, a massive air raid on the town took place and lasted all night until it ended about midday. 

    Even at this point in the war the Japanese weighed the prisoners.  To William, this was silly since all the POWs were underweight.  When he was freed, William weighed 104 pounds.

    William was liberated in September, 1945, after spending 41 months as a Prisoner of War.  He returned to the Philippine Islands for medical treatment.  He was boarded onto the Simon Bolivar which arrived at San Francisco on October 21, 1945.   The former POWs were taken to Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco and later was sent to Mayo Veterans Administration Hospital in Galesburg, Illinois.  There, he underwent surgery to remove shrapnel and scar tissue from his leg.  He also had skin grafted onto the leg. 

    William married and raised a family.  He also remained in the army and did a tour of duty in Vietnam.  He was discharged on May 23, 1966.  William M. McAuliffe passed away on February 8, 1977, in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  He was buried at Ft. Bliss National Cemetery in El Paso, Texas. 


 

Return to A Company

Next