Read_W

2nd Lt. William Woodgate Read


   2nd Lt. William W. Read was the son of Arthur D. Read & Ethel F. Woodgate-Read of West Monroe, Louisiana.  He was born on February 8, 1920, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and had two sisters and two brothers.  He was known as "Bill" to his family and friends.
    When he was a child, Bill's family moved to Louisiana. There, he attended and graduated, with honors, from Bolton High School in Alexandria, Louisiana, in 1936.  After high school he attended the University of Idaho where he chose to major in forestry which was the area his father worked in professionally. 
    While in college, Bill, was a member of Phi Eta Sigma a honorary fraternity.   He received this honor for achieving a grade point average of 5.5 or higher.  He was also a member of Xi Sigma Pi an honorary forestry fraternity, the Associated Foresters, and a member of the staff of the Idaho Forester.  He was also a member of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity and the ROTC program at the university.
    Bill graduated college, with honors, in June 1941.  After graduation, he attended ROTC Camp in Washington State during the summer of 1941.  In September 1941, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and assigned to A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  The company had a number of officer vacancies created with the release of National Guardsmen 29 years old and older.  He was made a tank platoon commander.

    On the side of a hill, the battalion members were informed that they were being sent overseas and that the decision had been made by General George S. Patton.  Those members of the battalion who were 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service.  Men who remained were given leave home to say goodbye to family and friends.
    Over four different train routes, the battalion traveled by train to San Francisco, California, and were ferried 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 and scheduled to join the battalion at a later date, while other men were simply replaced.
   
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27th, as part of a three ship convoy.
After the members of the battalion got over their seasickness, they spent much of the time training in breaking down machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP.  They arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a two day layover.  The soldiers were given shore  leave so they could see the island.  On November 5th, the ships sailed for Guam, but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  It was during this part of the voyage that a smoke was seen on the horizon.  The heavy cruiser that was escorting the transports revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out that the ship was from a friendly country.
    During this part of the trip, Bill attempted to raise the morale of the soldiers by providing them with information on the Philippines.  He had taken the time to learn as much as he could about the islands and their people.  He would hold his information lectures on deck.  For many of the soldiers, these sessions were appreciated since they were often seasick and the sessions relieved their boredom.
   
When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila.  Since the ships were sailing the next day, the soldiers remained on board.  At one point during this part of the trip, the ships, in total blackout, passed an island at night.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.   The ships entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th at 8:00 A.M.  They docked at Pier 7 later in the morning, and the soldiers disembarked at 3:00 P.M. and were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. 
    At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward P.  King, who apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field.  He made sure that they had what they needed and that they 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 morning of December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field.  The 194th Tank Battalion guarded the northern half of the field, and the 192nd guarded the southern half of the field.  At all times, two members of each tank crew remained with the tanks and half-tracks and received their meals from food trucks. 
    On December 8th, the officers reported to the battalion's radio room and heard the news about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier. 
All tank and half-track crew members were ordered to the airfield.  When the tankers heard the news many believed that it was the start of the maneuvers that were expecting to participate in with the 194th Tank Battalion. 
    As they sat in their tanks and half-tracks, at 8:30 that morning, planes took off and filled the skies.
  At noon, every plane landed to be refueled and were parked in a straight line in front of the mess hall, and the pilots went to lunch.
   
The tankers were eating lunch, at their vehicles, when they noticed planes approaching from the north.  They had enough time to count that there were 54 planes in the formation.  At first, they watched what was described as "raindrops" fall from the planes.  It was only when the runways began exploding that the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.  Since they had no weapons to fight planes, they could do little more than watch.        

 

    When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield.  Since the battalion's bivouac was near the main road between the fort and 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. 
    A Company was sent to the Barrio of Dau so it could protect a highway and railroad against sabotage.  From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River.  There, the tanks of the battalion, with the 194th, held the position along the south bank of the river.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the company was in the area of Urdaneta, where the tankers lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write.  After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get south of Agno River since the main bridge had been destroyed.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening, but they 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.

    A few days later on December 29th, east of Concepcion, A Company had bivouacked along both sides of a road.  Night had fallen when the tankers heard a commotion from down the road.  The tankers grabbed their tommy-guns and waited in silence.  As they watched a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac. 

    The tankers opened fire on the battalion and the battle was one of gun fire flashes, screams, and confusion.  When A Company ceased fire, they had wiped out the entire bicycle.  As the company left the area, Bill's tank platoon served as the rear guard wand knocked out Japanese tanks that were following the them.

    The next morning, Bill's tank platoon was again serving as a rear guard and was in a dry rice paddy when it came under enemy fire by Japanese mortars.  Bill was riding in a half-track when one of the enemy rounds hit the half-track knocking it out.  After escaping the half-track, Bill stood in front of the it and attempted to free the crew from the cab.  A second round hit the half-track, directly below where he was standing blowing off his legs at the knees and leaving him mortally wounded.  The other members of his crew carried Bill from the half-track and laid him under a bridge.  Bill would not allow himself to be evacuated since their were other wounded soldiers.  He insisted that these men be taken first.  

   Pvt. Jack Bruce went for help, but when he did not return quickly, Pvt. Eugene Greenfield went to find help in an attempt to save Bill's life.  Staying with Bill was Pvt. Ray Underwood.  As Bill lay dying, Underwood cradled him in his arms.  Underwood would later receive a commendation for his actions while he was a Prisoner of War.  

    While Underwood sat with Bill, the Japanese overran the area.  When Underwood was captured, he was sitting on the ground holding Bill in his arms as Bill died.  

    On Tuesday, December 30, 1941, 2nd Lt. William A. Read died of his wounds, under a bridge, during the Battle of the Luzon.  He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star, for gallantry, in 1947.  He also was posthumously promoted to first lieutenant.

    After the war, the remains of 1st Lt. William W. Read were returned to the United States and were buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on February 7, 1950.

    There is one last story involving Lt. William Read.  After the men who had fought in the Philippines had been liberated at the end of the war, they sailed for home.  One of the nurses caring for them on the hospital ship repeatedly approached, the former POWs, and asked them if anyone had known a Lt. William Read.  Sgt. Owen Sandmire, of A Company, heard from the other men that a nurse was asking about Read, so he went looking for her.

    When Sandmire found her, the nurse explained that she was Lt. William Read's fiance and that they had intended to marry when he came home.  Sandmire told the nurse the details of Lt. William W. Read's death.


 

 

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