Pvt. Raymond Jospeh McCreanor
What is known as Pvt. Raymond J. McCreanor was that he
was born on March 7, 1917, in Warren, Ohio. He
was the son of Frank & Rose McCreanor. With
his two sisters and four brothers, he was raised at
243 Lowell Avenue Northeast in Warren. He
graduated high school and worked at a steel mill as an
Raymond was inducted into the U. S. Army on March 28, 1941, in Cleveland and joined the 192nd Tank Battalion at Fort Knox, Kentucky in early 1941. He was assigned to C Company to fill out the company's roster.
He took part in maneuvers in the late summer of 1941. After the maneuvers, at Camp Polk, Louisiana, he learned he was being sent overseas with his battalion. The 192nd Tank Battalion received orders for duty, in the Philippines, because of an event that happened during the summer of 1941. A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots noticed something odd. He took his plane down and identified a buoy in the water. He came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island. When the squadron landed he reported what he had seen. By the time a Navy ship was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
After a leave home, he traveled west, by train, to San Francisco. There, his company was taken by ferry to Angel Island. During his stay, he was inoculated and received a physical.
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 tankers had seasickness, but once they recovered they spent much of the time training in 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. 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.
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 P. King, who apologized they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield. He made sure that they had what they needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner. Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
The members of the battalion pitched the tents in an open field halfway between the Clark Field Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg. The tents were set up in two rows and five men were assigned to each tent. There were two supply tents and meals were provided by food trucks stationed at the end of the rows of tents.
The tanks were ordered to the perimeter of the Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers on December 1st to guard against paratroopers. Two members of each tank remained with their tank at all times. The morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor just ten hours earlier. They were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.
All morning, the sky was filled with American planes. At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch. At 12:45, the tankers hears planes approaching the airfield from the north. When bombs began exploding on the runways, they knew the planes were Japanese.
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, where 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. but 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.
At Cabu, seven tanks of the company fought a three hour battle with the Japanese. The main Japanese line was south of Saint Rosa Bridge ten miles to the south of the battle. The tanks were hidden in brush as Japanese troops passed them for three hours without knowing that they were there. While the troops passed, Lt. William Gentry was on his radio describing what he was seeing. It was only when a Japanese soldier tried take a short cut through the brush, that his tank was hidden in, that the tanks were discovered. The tanks turned on their sirens and opened up on the Japanese. They then fell back to Cabanatuan.
C Company was re-supplied and withdrew to Baluiag where the tanks encountered Japanese troops and ten tanks. It was at Baluiag that Gentry's tanks won the first tank victory of World War II against enemy tanks.
After this battle, C Company made its way south. When it entered Cabanatuan, it found the barrio filled with Japanese guns and other equipment. The tank company destroyed as much of the equipment as it could before proceeding south.
On December 31, 1941, Company was sent out reconnaissance patrols north of the town of Baluiag. The patrols ran into Japanese patrols, which told the Americans that the Japanese were on their way. Knowing that the railroad bridge was the only way into the town and to cross the river, Lt. Gentry set up his defenses in view of the bridge and the rice patty it crossed.
Early on the morning of the 31st, the Japanese began moving troops and across the bridge. The engineers came next and put down planking for tanks. A little before noon Japanese tanks began crossing the bridge.
Later that day, the Japanese had assembled a large number of troops in the rice field on the northern edge of the town. One platoon of tanks under the command of 2nd Lt. Marshall Kennady were to the southeast of the bridge. Gentry's tanks were to the south of the bridge in huts, while third platoon commanded by Capt Harold Collins was to the south on the road leading out of Baluiag. 2nd Lt. Everett Preston had been sent south to find a bridge to cross to attack the Japanese from behind.
Major Morley came riding in his jeep into Baluiag. He stopped in front of a hut and was spotted by the Japanese who had lookouts in the town's church's steeple. The guard became very excited so Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks positions, got into his jeep and drove off. Bill had told him that his tanks would hold their fire until he was safely out of the village.
When Gentry felt the Morley was out of danger, he ordered his tanks to open up on the Japanese tanks at the end of the bridge. The tanks then came smashing through the huts' walls and drove the Japanese in the direction of Lt. Marshall Kennady's tanks. Kennady had been radioed and was waiting.
Kennady's platoon held its fire until the Japanese were in view of his platoon and then joined in the hunt. The Americans chased the tanks up and down the streets of the village, through buildings and under them. By the time Bill's unit was ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had knocked out at least eight enemy tanks.
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.
C 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 second method was simple. The tank was parked with one track across the foxhole. The driver spun the tank on one track. The tank dug into the dirt until the Japanese soldiers were dead. The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.
On April 7, 1942, the Japanese broke through the east side of the main defensive line on Bataan. C Company was pulled out of their position along the west side of the line. They were ordered to reinforce the eastern portion of the line. Traveling south to Mariveles, the tankers started up the eastern road but were unable to reach their assigned area due to the roads being blocked by retreating Filipino and American forces.
Two days later, on April 9, 1942, Raymond became a Prisoner of War. It was from Mariveles, at the southern tip of Bataan, he began what has become known as "the Death March." Raymond did the march with his future wife's brother, Edward Lenio, of Headquarters Company. At San Fernando, they, and the other POWs, were packed into small wooden boxcars. Those who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas. The POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was a deathtrap with as many as 50 POWs dying each day. The situation grew so bad that the Japanese opened a new POW camp and moved the "healthier" POWs there.
As a Prisoner of War, he was held at Cabanatuan which had been a Filipino Army base. It is believed he went out on a work detail to Las Pinas.
In July 1944, Raymond was selected to transport to Japan. On July 17, 1944, at 8:00 A.M., he and the other POWs boarded the Nissyo Maru. The ship moved on July 18th to a breakwater in the harbor. It dropped anchor and remained there until July 23rd while a convoy formed. It moved again at 8:00 A.M., July 23rd. This time it dropped its anchor off Corregidor at 2:00 P.M.
The convoy sailed on July 24th and hugged the coastline of Luzon. At 3:00 A.M. on July 26th, one of the ships, the Otari Yama Maru, was hit by a torpedo from the U.S.S. Flasher which was a part of a three submarine wolf pack. When it exploded the POWs saw the flames from the explosion shoot over the hatch of the hold. The convoy reached Takao, Formosa, at 9:00 A.M on July 28th.
At 7:00 P.M. on July 28th, the ships sailed again. From July 30th to August 2nd, the convoy sailed through a storm. The next day the August 3rd, the POWs were issued new clothes. The ship arrived on August 4th at midnight at Moji, Japan. The POWs did not disembark the ship at 8:00 A.M. They were marched to a movie theater and held there in the dark.
The POWs formed detachments and marched to the train station. From there, they rode a train to the various POW camps along the line. Raymond arrived at a new POW camp known as Oeyama Camp. The POWs in this camp worked in a nickel refinery doing manual labor or were marched nearly six miles to a nickel mine. In 1945, the POWs began to be used as stevedores at the Miyazu docks.
In May, 1945, B-29s began bombing the industrial district in which the camp was located. The camp Raymond was held in was inside a factory complex. The bombings were so bad that the camp was totally destroyed by fire.
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.
Raymond and the other prisoners unloaded food, coal and coke from ships for a nickel refinery. The food they unloaded was bound for the Japanese army. Raymond and the other POWs would steal a couple of pocketfuls of beans everyday.
While working at the mines, the POWs witnessed the atomic bomb explode over Nagasaki. They had no idea what they had just seen. Raymond remained a POW until he was liberated by American Occupational Forces on September 9, 1945. Before they were liberated, the former POWs made flags from parachutes representing the nationalities who had been held in the camp.
After being returned to Manila for medical treatment, Raymond returned home to Ohio. He married Clara Lenio, and they became the parents of a son and two daughters. He worked at American Welding and Manufacturing until he retired.
Raymond J. McCreanor passed away on August 2, 1982, in Warren, Ohio. He was buried at Saint Mary's Cemetery in Warren, Ohio.
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