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 battalion traveled by train to San Francisco.  By ferry, they were taken to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, they received inoculations and physicals.  Those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island.  They were scheduled to join 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.  They arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd.  The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island.  On November 5th, 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. 
    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.
   
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.

    On December 8, 1941, William and the other members of the battalion heard the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  They immediately were sent in their tanks to the perimeter of the airfield.  Around lunchtime, they saw planes that they believed were American above them.  Only when bombs began to explode, did they realize that the planes were Japanese.

    For the next several months, William fought to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines.  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.  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.  He was awarded the Purple Heart.  He would carry 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.

    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 addtion, the POWs worked inside the Hachidate Branch Nickel Refinery doing common labor.  They also worked at the nickel mine almost six miles from the camp.  
    On July 30th, 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 of 1945.  He had spent 41 months as a Prisoner of War.  He returned to the United States on October 19, 1945.  He was held at Letterman 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. 


 

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