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.  He was 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.  In the late summer of 1941, the 192nd took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  It was after these maneuvers that the men learned they were being sent overseas.  Like many of the men, August was given a leave 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 192nd left Camp Polk, Louisiana over different train routes for San Francisco, California.  After  arriving in San Francisco, they were taken by ferry to Angel Island.  On the island, they were given physicals and inoculated.  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 battalion sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover, so the soldiers received shore leave and allowed to explore the island.  The ships sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th, for Guam.  They took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  The ships took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  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 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 the ships arrived at Guam, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water.  The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day. One night, during this part of the voyage, the ships, in complete blackout, passed an island.  Many of the soldiers believed that this was a sign that they would soon be at war.  About 8:00 in the morning on Thursday, November 20th the ships arrived at Manila Bay.  After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before the soldiers disembarked.  The tankers rode buses to Ft. Stostenburg.  Other battalion members boarded their trucks and drove them to fort north of Manila.  The maintenance section of the battalion remained at the pier to unload the battalion's tanks.

    At the fort, the tankers were met by Colonel Edward 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. 
    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 of the battalion.  After the attack, the tankers saw the carnage done during the attack.  The Japanese had effectively destroyed the Army Air Corps.  The tankers would spend the next four months attempting to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines.
    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 192nd
took part in the Battle of the Points from January 27, 1942, until February 13, 1942.  The Japanese had been landed on two points and been cut off.  The tankers were sent in to wipe out these positions.  According to Capt. Alvin Poweleit, the battalion's surgeon, the tanks did a great deal of damage.
    At the same time, there was another battle taking place known as the Battle of the Pockets which lasted from January 23rd until February 17, 1942.  Japanese troops had been cut off behind the battle line.  Tanks from B and C Companies were sent in to wipe out the Japanese in the Big Pocket.  According to members of the battalion, two methods were used to wipe out the Japanese.
    The first method was to have three Filipinos sit on the back of the tank with bags of hand grenades.  As the tank passed over a Japanese foxhole, each man dropped a hand grenade into the foxhole.  The reason this was done was the grenades were from World War I, and one out of three exploded.
    The second method was to have the tank park with one track over the foxhole.  The tank would spin on one track and grind its way into the ground killing the Japanese in the foxhole.  The tankers slept upwind of the tanks because of the smell of rotting flesh in the tracks. 

    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.  George 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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