MoodyA

 

Pvt. August James Moody


    What is known about Pvt. August J. Moody is that he was born in April 12, 1918, in Rowan County, Kentucky.  He was the son of Bessie M. Workman-Moody & Henry C. Moody and had two brothers and two sisters.  During the 1920s, his family moved to Dayton, Ohio, where they lived at 404 Groveland Avenue.  Hewas inducted into the army on March 23, 1941, at Fort Thomas in Newport, Kentucky, and assigned to the HQ Company, 192nd Tank Battalion at Ft. Knox, Kentucky.

    On July 18, 1941, August married Georgia Virginia Simmons in Kenton County, Kentucky.  From September 1st through 30th, 1941, the 192nd took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  HQ Company did not actively take part in the maneuvers but insured the tank companies had what they needed.  It was after these maneuvers that the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft. Knox.  It was on the side of a hill that the men learned they were being sent overseas.  Like many of the men, August was given a furlough home to say his goodbyes to friends and family.  It was at this time that his wife informed him that she was pregnant and that he was going to be a father.
    The decision for this move - which had been made in August 1941 - was the result of an event that took place in the summer of 1941.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines, when one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower altitude, noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another in the distance.  He 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 which was hundred of miles away.  The island had a large radio transmitter.  The squadron continued its flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.
    When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.  The next day, when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat - with a tarp on its deck - which was seen making its way to shore.   Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was difficult, the boat escaped.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines. 

    The 192nd left Camp Polk, Louisiana, over different train routes for San Francisco, California, where they were ferried on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, they were given physicals and inoculated by the battalion's medical detachment.  Men with minor medical conditions were held back on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Other men were simply replaced.
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii. 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 and 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 the S.S. President Calvin Coolidge.  On Sunday, November 9th, the ships crossed the International Date Line so the soldiers went to bed Sunday and woke up Tuesday morning.  On Saturday, November 15th, smoke was seen on the horizon from an unknown ship.  The Louisville revved its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off after the unknown ship.  As it turned out the unknown ship belonged to a friendly nation.
    The next day, Sunday, November 16th, the ships arrived at Guam and took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables, before sailing the next day for Manila.  The ships entered Manila Bay, at 7:30 A.M., on Thursday, November 20th and docked at Pier 7 at Manila later that day.  The soldiers disembarked and were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.
    At the fort, the tankers were met by Gen. Edward P. King, who welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed.  He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.  He remained with the battalion until they had settled in and had their Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.  The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.

    On Monday, December 1st, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers.  The 194th Tank Battalion guarded the northern portion of the airfield and the 192nd guarded the southern portion.  At all times, two members of each tank and half-track remained with their vehicles.  Meals were served to the tankers from food trucks.  HQ Company remained in the battalion's bivouac.
    At six in the morning on December 8th, the officers of the battalion were called to the radio room at the fort.  They were ordered to bring their tank platoons up to full strength around Clark Airfield.  The tankers were receiving lunch from food trucks when, at 12:45, they saw a formation of planes approaching the airfield from the north.  At first they thought they were American planes and had enough time to count 54 planes.  As they watched, the saw "raindrops" falling from the planes.  When bombs began exploding, the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese.

    As a member of HQ Company, Joseph remained in the bivouac and took cover in a dry latrine near the tents.  When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield.  The soldiers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and 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, most men slept under their tanks since it was safer than sleeping in their tents.  They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed.   The next day many men walked around the base and saw the tents with bullet holes and the dead lying on the ground.  They lived through two more attacks on December 10th and 13th. 

    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.   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 they successfully crossed the river.
    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, when the tanks fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan, and at San Isidro, south of Cabanatuan, on December 28th and 29th.  While there, the bridge over the Pampanga River was destroyed, but once again, they were able find a crossing over the river.
   
    The tank battalions next covered the withdrawal of the Philippine Army at the Pampanga River.  The battalion's tanks were on both sides of the on December 31st at the Calumpit Bridge.
    On January 1st, conflicting orders, about who was in command, were received by the defenders who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5 and allowing the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan.  General Wainwright was unaware of the orders, since they came from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff.
    Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridge over the Pampanga River about withdrawing from the bridge with half of the defenders withdrawing.  Due to the efforts of the Self Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were halted.  From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
    At 2:30 A.M., on January 6th, the Japanese attacked at Remlus in force using smoke which was an attempt by the Japanese to destroy the tank battalions. That night the tanks withdrew into the peninsula with the 192nd holding its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross the bridge, and then cover the 192nd's withdraw over the bridge.  The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
    The night of January 7th, the tank battalions were covering the withdrawal of all troops around Hermosa.  Around 6:00 A.M., before the bridge had been destroyed by the engineers, the 192nd crossed the bridge.
    The next day, the battalion was between Culo and Hermosa and assigned a road to enter Bataan on which was worse than having no road.  The half-tracks kept throwing their rubber tracks and members of 17th Ordnance assigned to each battalion had to re-track them in dangerous situations.  After daylight, Japanese artillery fire was landing all around the tanks.
    The next day, a composite tank company was formed under the command of Capt. Donald Haines, B Co., 192nd.  Its job was to protect the East Coast Road north of Hermosa open and to stop Japanese tanks attempting to use it to overrun the next defensive line that was forming. While in this position, the tanks were under constant enemy artillery fire.  The rest of the tanks were ordered to bivouac south of the Abucay-Hacienda Road.
    When word came that a bridge was going to be blow, all the tanks were ordered out of the area, which included the composite company.  This could have resulted in a catastrophe, but the Japanese did not take advantage of the situation.
    The tanks bivouacked south of the Pilar-Bagac Road and about two kilometers from the East Coast Road.  It had almost been one month since the tank crews had a rest and the tanks had maintenance work done on them by 17th Ordnance.  It was also on this day that the tank platoons were reduced to three tanks per tank platoon.  The men rested and the tanks received the required maintenance.  Most of the tank tracks had worn down to bare metal and the radial engines long past their 400 hour overhauls.
    It was at this time the tank battalions received these orders which came from Gen. Weaver, "Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying in position and firing at visible enemy until further delay will jeopardize withdrawal.  If a tank is immobilized, it will be fought until the close approach of the enemy, then destroyed; the crew previously taking positions outside and continuing to fight with the salvaged and personal weapons. Considerations of personal safety and expediency will not interfere with accomplishing the greatest possible delay."
    The battalions were sent to cover the junctions of the Back Road and East Road with the Abucay-Heicienda Road on January 25th.  While holding the position, the 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, fought its way to the position at 3:00 A.M.  One platoon was sent to the front of the the column of trucks which were loading the troops.  The tanks provided heavy fire so that the infantry could withdraw and inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese.
    Later on January 25th, both the 192nd and 194th held a defensive line on the Bakanga-Cardre-BaniBani Roads until the withdraw was completed at midnight.  They held the position until the night of January 26th/27th, when they dropped back to a new defensive line roughly along the Pilar-Bagac Roads.  When ordered to withdraw to the new line, the 192nd found that the bridge at Balanga, that they were suppose to use had been destroyed by enemy fire.  To withdraw, they had to use secondary roads to get around the barrio and tanks were still straggling in at noon.
    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, while the battalion's half-tracks were used to patrol the roads.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.    
    Companies A & C were ordered to the west coast of Bataan while B Company - which was held in reserve - and 17th Ordnance held the southern shore of Bataan.  The tankers were awake all night and attempted to sleep under the jungle canopy, during the day, which protected them from being spotted by Japanese reconnaissance planes.  During the night, they were kept busy with repeated threats both on and off shore.
    The tank battalions, on their own, took up the job of protecting the airfields at Cabcaban, Bataan, and Mariveles, since Japanese paratroopers were known to be available.  The tanks and half-tracks were well hidden in the jungle around the airfields and different plans were in place to be used against Japanese forces.  There was only one major alert in March when 73 Japanese planes came over.
    The battalion 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.  Doing this was so stressful that the tank companies were pulled out and replaced by one that was being held in reserve.
    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 tankers slept upwind of their tanks.
    In March, the amount of gasoline was reduced to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles except the tanks.  This would later be dropped to ten gallons a day.  At the same time, food rations were cut in half again.  Also at this time, Gen. Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that a platoon of tanks be sent to Corregidor.
    The Japanese lunched an all out attack on April 3rd.  On April 7th, the 57th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, supported by tanks, attempted to restore the line, but Japanese infiltrators prevented this from happening.  During this action, one tank was knocked out but the remaining tanks successfully withdrew.  C Company, 194th, which was attached to the 192nd, had only seven tanks left.
    The tanks became a favorite target of the Japanese receiving fire on trails and while hidden in the jungle. and could not fight back.  The situation was so bad that other troops avoided being near the tanks, and the 26th Cavalry turned down a tank company's offer of assistance in a counter-attack.   
   It was at this time that Gen. Edward King decided that further resistance was futile.  Approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to fight, and he estimated they would last one more day.  In addition, he had over 6000 troops who sick or wounded and 40000 civilians who he feared would be massacred.  At 10:30 that night, he sent his staff officers to negotiate surrender terms. 
    Tank battalion commanders received this order, "You will make plans, to be communicated to company commanders only, and be prepared to destroy within one hour after receipt by radio, or other means, of the word 'CRASH', all tanks and combat vehicles, arms, ammunition, gas, and radios: reserving sufficient trucks to close to rear echelons as soon as accomplished."        
    The evening of April 8, 1942,
Capt. Fred Bruni, HQ's commanding officer, gave his men the news of the surrender.  While informing the members of the company of the surrender, he waved his arm toward the tanks and told the men that they would no longer need them.  As he spoke, his voice choked.  He turned away from the men for a moment, and when he turned back he continued.  He next told the sergeants what they should do to disable the tanks.  During the announcement, Bruni emphasized that they all were to surrender together.   He told the soldiers to destroy their weapons and any supplies that could be used by the Japanese.  The only thing they were told not to destroy were the company's trucks.  The men waited in their bivouac until ordered to move.  Somehow, Bruni had found enough bread and pineapple juice for what he called, "Their last supper."    
  
   
   
On April 11th, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment.  August was now a Prisoner of War.  A Japanese officer ordered the company, with their possessions, out onto the road that ran in front of their encampment.  Once on the road, the soldiers were ordered to kneel along the sides of the road with their possessions in front of them.  As they knelt, the Japanese soldiers, who were passing them, went through their possessions and took whatever they wanted from the Americans.  They remained along the sides of the road for hours. 

    HQ Company finally boarded their trucks and rode to an area outside of Mariveles.  Once there, they were herded into a field and ordered to sit.  As they sat, some of the men noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming in front of them.  They soon realized that this was a firing squad.  It was at that time that a Japanese officer pulled up in a car and got out.  He told the sergeant in charge of the detail to come over to him and said something to him.  The officer got back into the car and drove off as the sergeant ordered his men to lower their guns.
    Later in the day, the POWs were moved to a school yard in Mariveles, and once again they were left sitting in the sun for hours.  The Japanese did not feed them or give them water.  Behind the POWs were four Japanese artillery pieces which began firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum which had not surrendered.  Shells from these two American forts began landing among the POWs, who could do little since they had no place to hide.  Some POWs were killed by incoming American shells.  One group, of POWs, who tried to hide in a small brick building, died when it took a direct hit.  The American guns did succeed in knocking out three of the four Japanese guns.

    The POWs again were ordered to move and had no idea they had started the death march.  They made their way north to San Fernando.  There, they were boarded into small wooden boxcars that could hold forty men or eight horses.  One hundred men were packed into each car and the doors were closed.  The dead remained standing until the living left the cars, since there was no room for them to fall to the cars' floors.  After leaving the boxcars, the POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.

    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army Camp which the Japanese pressed into service as a POW Camp.  As many as fifty men died each day.  There was only one water faucet for the entire camp and men literally died for a drink.  Fred was sent to Cabanatuan when the new camp opened to relieve the conditions at Camp O'Donnell.

    On October 26, 1942, August was selected for a work detail to be sent to Davao, Mindanao. The POWs were sent by train from Cabanatuan to Manila.  They were held in Bilibid Prison for two days before being boarded onto the Erie Maru.  The trip to Lasang took thirteen days because the ship made stops at Iloilo and Cebu, Mindanao.  August arrived on the Island of Mindanao on November 7th and was one of 650 POWs who built an airfield at Lasang, while another 100 POWs built an airfield south of Davao.  He remained on the detail for nearly two years.

    One night the POWs heard the sound of a plane.  It was the first American plane they had heard in over two years.  As the plane dove on the airfield it dropped four bombs at the far end of the runway; the POWs celebrated silently.  Some men had tears in their eyes. 

    Over the next two weeks the atmosphere at the airfield changed.  The Japanese posted guards  with bayonets on their rifles by the POW barracks as air raids became daily.  The Japanese camouflaged the airfield and hid their planes in revetments.  The POWs heard rumors that the Americans had landed at Palau.  Some of the POWs were sent to Manila, on June 6th, while the remainder of the men remained on the island until August 19, 1944. 

    During this time, the POWs rations were cut to a single cup of rice a day.  The POWs were now so hungry that they raided the Japanese garbage pile for remnants of vegetables.  Many ate the weeds that grew inside the camp until it was bare.

    Air raids soon were nightly events.  Japanese planes flying out of the airfield were loaded with bombs and carried extra gasoline tanks.  Finally, all work on the airfield was stopped.  On that day, the POWs were lined up by fours with the outside men having rope tied to their wrists to prevent escape.  They were marched shoe-less to the Tabunco Pier and arrived at noon.   The POWs were packed into the two holds of Erie Maru.  400 POWs were in the first hold while the remaining 350 POWs were put in the second hold.  In addition, several tons of Japanese baggage were packed into the hold.  Around six that evening, the ship sailed.

    As the ship made its way north it swayed in the waves.  Many of the prisoners became seasick.  They retched since there was no food in their stomachs to throw-up.   The next day, the POWs heard the sound of a plane.  An American plane flew over the ship.  Moments later bombs exploded near the ship.  The sound of machine-gun fire was heard by the POWs.  The Japanese once again tied down the hatch covers cutting off the air.  Over the next three days, there were several more alerts.  Each time the hatch covers were battened down leaving the POWs in darkness.

    On August 24th, the ship arrived in Zamboanga where it waited for ten days until the Shinyo Maru arrived.  As they waited, the POWs were not allowed out of the holds and the conditions in the ship's holds became terrible.  The holds were hot and steamy and the floors were covered with human waste.  In addition, the longer the POWs were in the holds the stench became worse.  The smell got so bad that the Japanese allowed the POWs on deck and sprayed with salt water.

    It should be noted that the United States had intercepted the order from Japanese command sending the Shinyo Maru to Zamboanga.  Someone misinterpreted the order as saying the ship would be transporting "750 military personnel" instead of "750 military prisoners" to Manila.  The U.S.S. Paddle was sent to the area to intercept the ship.  

    On September 4th, the POWs were transferred onto the Shinyo Maru.  250 POWs were put in the ship's smaller hold, while the 500 POWs were put into its larger hold.   That night, bombs from American planes landed alongside of the ship rocking an shaking it.  The POWs prayed that the ship would be hit by a bomb.

    The ship sailed on September 5th at 2:00 A.M.  Before sailing, the hatch covers were secured so that the POWs could not lift them from below.  The ship headed north in a zigzag pattern in an attempt to avoid submarines, and the POWs were no longer allowed on deck.  Their lips and throats were covered with dust from cement that had previously been hauled by the ship.  For the next two days the ship made good time.  It was at this time that the Japanese guards threatened to kill the POWs if the ship came under attack by American planes.  The ship was now part of a convoy designated as C-076.  Since the POWs had not heard any air raid alerts, they assumed that they were safe.  In reality, American submarines were picking off ships in the convoy one at a time.

    At 7:37 p.m. on Thursday, September 7, 1944, the U.S.S Paddle spotted the convoy off the west coast of Mindanao at Sindangan Point.  It fired two torpedoes at the Shinyo Maru.  The first torpedo hit the ship in its main hold.  Moments later, a second torpedo hit the ship.  There was a gaping hole in the ship's side.  The explosion blew some POWs out of the hold, through the hole, and into the water.  Those POWs in the hold, who were still alive, saw the bodies of the dead floating in the water as the hold filled with water. 

    The surviving POWs found that the hatch cover had been blown off the hold by the explosion.  As the water level rose, they were able to climb out.  Seven Japanese officers were on the bridge with rifles.  As the POWs emerged from the hold, they picked them off.  The lucky POWs made it through their fire and dove into the water.

     The POWs in the smaller hold were also wounded from the torpedo hits.  But, the hold remained dry.  Many of these POWs also were able to make it onto the deck and attempted to swim to shore.  As they swam, they were fired upon by the same seven Japanese officers.

    According to the POWs in the water, the Shinyo Maru began to capsize.  There was a tremendous crushing sound and the ship seemed to bend upward in the middle.  The ship split in two. and sunk into the sea.

    Japanese seaplanes dropped depth charges in an attempt to sink the American submarine.  When they spotted the POWs in the water, they strafed them.  The planes stopped strafing when they realized that there were Japanese in the water with the POWs.  The good thing about the depth charges was that they kept sharks away from the POWs.

    A Japanese tanker that had been hit by torpedoes spilled oil and gasoline into the water, and the ship ran aground.  The Japanese quickly set up machine-guns and fired on the POWs.  Boats from the other ships in the convoy attempted to hunt down the POWs swimming in the water.  If they found a man, they shot him.  What saved many lives was that with dusk it became harder for the Japanese to see them. 

    The Japanese announced to the Americans that if they surrendered that they would be treated with compassion.  About 30 men gave up after hearing this.  According to one man who escaped after surrendering, the POWs had their hands tied to the ship's rail, and the Japanese shot each POW in the back of the head.  They than pushed the bodies overboard.

    Of the 750 POWs who were boarded onto the ship, 82 POWs escaped.  One man died on shore while the remainder were rescued by Filipino guerillas and returned to U.S. Forces in October 1944.  Pvt. August Moody was not one of these men.

    It is not known if Pvt. August Moody died when the torpedoes hit the Shinyo Maru , when it sank, or if he was shot while attempting to escape.  What is known is that Pvt. August J. Moody died in the sinking of the Shinyo Maru on September 7, 1944.

    Since Pvt. August J. Moody was lost at sea, his name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside Manila.


 


 

 

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