Pvt. Francis Ignatius McGuire
| Pvt. Francis I.
McGurie was born on April 26, 1917, in Tooele
County, Utah, to Bartholomew McGuire and Mary
Duffy-McGuire. With his brother and sister,
he grew up at 20 Glenwood Avenue in Tooele City,
Utah. It is known that his father was an
engineer for the Tooele Valley Railroad which
provided railroad service to a copper
Francis was a worker at the copper smelter owned by the Anaconda Copper Company when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was inducted on March 19, 1941 at Salt Lake City. He was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training and then sent to camp Polk, Louisiana, where he was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion.
Francis's tank battalion did not take part in the maneuvers that were being held at Camp Polk while they were there. After the maneuvers, the 192nd Tank Battalion, which had taken part in maneuvers, was informed that it was being sent overseas. Since the battalion was mainly made up of National Guardsmen, those men who were married, or 29 years old or older, were given the chance to resign from federal service. Francis volunteered to replace a National Guardsman. He was assigned to B Company and to the tank of Zenon Bardowski.
The battalion traveled west by train to San Francisco. Arriving there, they were taken by ferry to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. At Ft. McDowell, they were given physicals and inoculated. Those men found to have a minor medical condition were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. 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 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.
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.
During the time they were in the Philippines, the tankers worked to ready their tanks for maneuvers. On December 8th, December 7th in the United States, Francis lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield just ten hours after Pearl Harbor. That morning news of the attack on Pearl Harbor reached the Philippines. The tankers were issued orders to guard the perimeter of the airfield against Japanese paratroopers. All morning, the sky was filled with American planes. At 12 noon, the planes landed.
Around 12:45, the tankers watched as planes approached the airfield from the north. Fifty-four planes were counted by the tankers. At first, they believed the planes were American. Then, they watched as little silver droplets fell from the planes. It was only when explosions took place on the runways that the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.
The tankers did not have weapons to fight the planes, but two of the half-tracks had been rigged with .50 caliber machine guns on rings that could rotate. Zenon Bardowski shot down a Zero from one of the half-tracks during the attack.
The tankers would leave Clark Airfield and sent north to support the 26th U.S. Cavalry at Lingayen Gulf. The job they found themselves in again and again was that of holding a position so that the other troops could disengage from fighting the Japanese.
At Plaribel, B Company was asked to hold a position for six hours so that other troops could disengage the enemy. They held the position for six days. After the Japanese disengaged, the tankers walked among the Japanese dead. They found that many had hypodermic needles on them. The tankers believed that they were "high" when they attacked. This would seem to explain why the soldiers they shot did not die and kept running after they had been hit repeatedly by machinegun fire.
During the Battle of Bataan, B Company was assigned to guard the east coast of Bataan against a possible Japanese invasion. On this duty, the tanks would hide under the jungle's canopy during the day and come out onto the beaches at night. While on this duty, Francis was involved in firefights between the tanks and Japanese gunboats in Manila Bay when the Japanese attempted to land troops behind the main battle line.
The morning of February 3, 1942, after being up all night guarding the east coast of Bataan, Francis and the other members of B Company were attempting to get some sleep. At this time, a Japanese reconnaissance plane appeared overhead attempting to locate the American tanks. Sgt. Walter Cigoi attempted to shoot down the plane but failed. As a result of his attempt to shoot down the plane, he had revealed their position. About twenty minutes later, Japanese dive bombers appeared over B Company's position and bombed them. During this attack, three members of the company died, and Francis was wounded.
The night of April 8th, the tankers received the order "crash." This was their order to destroy their tanks and guns. The next morning, they made their way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan. Francis was now a Prisoner of War.
On the march, the POWs received little food and no water. Artesian wells flowed across the road, if the POWs attempted to get water from the wells, they were killed. The first few miles, leaving Mariveles, were uphill. Since many of the POWs were sick, this made the march worse. At one point, the POWs ran past Japanese artillery which was firing at Corregidor which had not surrendered. Shells from the American guns landed among the POWs.
The POWs made their way to San Fernando. At the train station, the POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars that were used to haul sugarcane. The cars were known as "forty or eights." This meant the cars could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car and shut the doors. Those men who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas. The dead fell out of the cars as the living climbed out.
From Capas, the POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell. The camp was an unfinished Filipino Army Base. There was only one water faucet for the POWs. Men died standing in line for a drink. As many as 50 POWs died each day. The situation got so bad that the Japanese opened a new camp at Cabanatuan.
After being sent to Cabanatuan, Francis was selected to go out on a work detail to Palawan Island. The POWs sent to the island built an airfield with picks and shovels. They also received brutal treatment at the hands of the Japanese guards. The men were beaten with pick handles. They were and kicked and slapped on a daily basis. Prisoners who attempted to escape were executed. Francis became ill with malaria and was sent to Bilibid Prison in Manila on August 22, 1944. As it turned out, this was a stroke of good luck. Those POWs who remained on Palawan Island were later burnt to death by the Japanese on December 15, 1944.
Francis was held at Bilibid until September 30, 1944. He had been selected for transport to Japan and taken to the Port Area of Manila. On October1st, Francis and other POWs were boarded onto the Hokusen Maru. The ship sailed on October 3, 1944, for Japan. His voyage on the hell ship lasted until November 9th. The first part of the journey resulted in the deaths of 40 POWs before it arrived at Hong Kong on October 11, 1944. It was on this ship that Pvt. Arthur Van Pelt of B Company was beaten to death by another American POW because the man wanted his water.
It should be noted that Francis's POW Detachment was scheduled to sail on the Arisan Maru, but since the Hokusen Maru was ready to sail and the other detachment of POWs had not completely arrived, the Japanese switched the POW detachments. As it turned out, the Arisan Maru was sunk by an American submarine resulting in the death of 1794 of the 1803 POWs on the ship.
Upon reaching Formosa, the POWs were held at Heito Camp because the Japanese were too hard pressed to send them on to Japan. He was in the camp from November 9, 1944, until January 24, 1945. Francis was in a group of 110 Americans to arrive at the camp from Luzon. Upon arrival, the POWs were made to stand in line. The camp commander, 1st Lieutenant Tamaki, went down the line and searched the POWs and their possessions. The next day, the POWs met and noted that Tamaki had taken all the medicine and first aid equipment from them.
After remaining in the camp for five days, the POWs were put to work. Francis was put into a work group with four other POWs. The POW groups were given the job of loading ballast stones into boxcars. The POWs were expected to load three boxcars a day. Each boxcar held ten tons of ballast. To do this job, the POWs loaded a basket called a "punki' with stone. The POWs were clearing a dry river bed so that sugarcane could be planted. Those POWs "too ill" to do this worked in the camp farm.
On different occasions, Francis and the other POWs witnessed men pulled out of line for not working hard enough. At the end of a work day as the POWs returned to the camp, three of four guards grabbed and dragged the man to a water trough and threw him into it. The guards held the POW underwater. The POWs never witnessed the entire event since they had to go to their barracks. But they knew, from talking to the men who were punished, that when the Japanese were done using the trough, the man was marched into the guardhouse.
From their barracks, they could hear the man's screams. They learned from their talks that once the POW was inside the guardhouse the was beaten by Lt. Tamaki. Tamaki hit the POW, with a bamboo cane, on his back, shoulders, and legs. After two or three days, the POW was released from the guardhouse.
A short time after arriving at Heito, ten Americans died from severe headaches or "brain fever." The British doctor could not do anything for the men who came down with the fever since he had no medicine. Lt. Tamaki called both the American and British POWs together and had a talk with them. He asked if any of the POWs had a fever. About fifty or sixty POWs raised their hands. Lt. Tamaki told the POWs that the camp had a large cemetery with a lot of room in it and that he was going to work hard to fill the cemetery.
A Japanese colonel, who was in charge of making sure that the POWs were fed well, came to the camp. When he visited the POWs rations were increased. He would tell them how lucky they were to be Japanese POWs. He mentioned meals of ducks, geese, pigs and vegetables. All these were raised in the camp but not eaten by the POWs. After the colonel left the camp, the POWs rations were reduced to 450 grams of rice and one potato a day. The pigs being raised in the camp were fed better than the POWs.
Francis and the other POWs were boarded onto the Enoshima Maru on January 25, 1945, at Keelung, Formosa. He finally arrived in Japan in February 1945, where he was sent to Naruo Camp where he worked in a graphite factory. The graphite would produce ulcers on the POWs which would grow in size the longer that they worked in the factory. The camp was closed May 29, 1945.
Francis was then sent to
Nagoya #9, outside of Toyama, in north
central Honshu, Japan. The POWs in the
camp worked as stevedores. Francis
remained in the camp until he was liberated on
September 5, 1945. After liberation, he
was returned to the Philippines for medical
Francis returned to the United States on the U.S. Storm King at San Francisco on October 15, 1945, and was hospitalized at Bushnell General Hospital in Brigham, Utah. He was discharged from the Army on November 27, 1945, as a staff sergeant. He would later live at 3010 North 13th Street in Grand Junction, Colorado, where he died on October 23, 2001.