Reed_C

 

 

Pfc. Charles Edmond Reed
    Pfc. Charles E. Reed was born on February 14, 1919, to Charles Reed & Lanta Mae Sims-Reed in Cornishville, Kentucky.  He had six brothers and five sisters.  The family resided in Manns Road in Mercer County, Kentucky.  He worked on the family farm.  He was married to Pearl Yeast and was the father of a daughter.
    At some point, Charles enlisted into the Kentucky National Guard.  He was inducted into the U.S. Army on November 25, 1940, in Harrodsburg, Kentucky.  He trained with his company at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and qualified as a tank driver.   He took part in maneuvers in Louisiana in the late summer of 1941.  After the maneuvers, on the side of a hill, he and the rest of the battalion learned that their time in the army had been extended from one to five years.  They also learned that they were being sent overseas. 

    
    It was at this time, men 29 years or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service.  Those who did were replaced with men from the 753rd Tank Battalion.  This battalion had been sent to the fort, but it had not taken part in the maneuvers.  The M3 "Stuart" tanks from the battalion were also given to the 192nd. 
Before he went overseas, he married Iva Pearl Yates. 
    Traveling west over different train routes, the battalion arrived in San Francisco and ferried to Angel Island.  On the island, the tankers were immunized and given physicals.  Men found to have treatable medical conditions were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.

    The battalion sailed, on the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott, 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.  The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands.  They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th, for Guam. 
    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. About 8:00 in the morning on November 20th, the ships arrived at Manila Bay.  After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked.  Most of the battalion boarded trucks and rode to Ft. Stotsenburg north of Manila, while the maintenance section remained behind to unload the battalion's tanks.
    At the fort, the tankers were met by General Edward King.  King 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.
    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.
    After arriving in the Philippines the paperwork began to be processed to transfer D Company to the 194th Tank Battalion.  Doing this meant that both battalions would have three letter companies.  With the start of the war, the transfer never was completed. 
   

    On December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Charles lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield.  The tank battalions had been ordered to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  At 12:45 in the afternoon, the airfield was strafed and bombed by the Japanese.

    For the next four months Charles fought to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines.  On April 9, 1942, he became a Prisoner of War.  At Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan, he began the death march.  He made his way to San Fernando, where he and the other POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane.  The POWs were packed in so tightly that those who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas.  They then walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.  It was while he was a POW in the camp that his family received two letters from him written in February 1942.

    Charles arrived at Camp O'Donnell  on April 23, 1942.  He remained in the camp until May 6th, when he was selected to go out on the Caluaun Detail.  He and the other POWs simply called it the bridge building detail.  The detail was under the command of Lt. Col. Ted Wickord of the 192nd Tank Battalion.

    The POWs on the detail were separated into two groups.  One group built the bridges, while the other group worked at a sawmill cutting lumber for the bridges.  It was while on this detail that Charles witnessed the execution of four POWs. 

    Here is the story in his own words:

 

    "We were taken to to prison camp at Batangas, Philippine Islands; we were divided into groups of ten each and told by the Japanese that if any one man in the group escaped, all the remaining men in the group would be executed.  On about 10 June 1942, six men of one of the groups escaped, leaving behind four men. 

    As soon as the Japanese discovered that six of the prisoners had escaped, they came into the building we were quartered and without saying anything began to tie up the remaining four prisoners of the group. After binding the the four prisoners, they took them out of the building and forced them to sit on their heels, on the ground, in front of in front of the guard house.

    While the men were in this position, the Japanese would beat them across the thigh and back with rifles and sticks.  They did this in order to tear loose the muscles in the legs of the men.  This beating continued for about about six hours or from about 9:00 AM to 3:00 in the afternoon, after which the Japanese guards lined the men up and bound them a rope and led them to a place about two miles from the camp, where they were shot.

    All during the time, the Japanese were beating the four American prisoners,  I was lying on the floor of where we were quartered, looking out of the window and watching the beatings.  I saw the guards lead the men away from the camp and about two months later the Japanese captain took us to the spot where the men had been executed and showed us where they were buried.  He told us that he did this to show us what would happen if any of us attempt to escape."

 

    On July 15, 1942, the detail ended and Charles was sent to Cabanatuan.  This camp had been opened to relieve the conditions at Camp O'Donnell.  He remained in the camp until July 28, 1943, when he was selected for transport to Japan.   From Cabanatuan, he was taken to Bilibid Prison for processing.  It should be mentioned that in April 1943, his family received word he was a POW.
    The POWs in Charles' detachment were taken to the Port Area of Manila.  There, they were boarded onto the Coral Maru also known as the Taga Maru.  The ship sailed on September 20, 1942, and stopped at Takao, Formosa, arriving there about September 22nd, before sailing for Moji, Japan, about September 26th, arriving there on October 5, 1942.
    In Japan, Charles was sent to
Niigata 5-B arriving there on October 7th.  The POWs in the camp worked at the Niigata docks, at a coal mine, and at the Shintesu foundry.  He remained in the camp until liberated on September 5, 1945, and returned to the Philippines.
     Charles was flown by the Air Transport Command to Hawaii and than to Hamilton Airfield north of San Francisco.  He returned home to his wife and resided in Boyle County, Kentucky, where he farmed.  He lived there until his death on August 11, 1967.  Charles E. Reed was buried in Spring Hill Cemetery in Harrodsburg.





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