Richardson


Pvt. Obie Cloyce Richardson

    Pvt. Obie C. Richardson was born on December 28, 1915, in Quitman, Texas, to James H. Richardson & Elma May Johnston-Richardson.  With his four sisters and four brothers, he grew up in Wood County, Texas, and was called "Cloyce" by his family and friends.  He left high school after his third year and moved to Houston, where he worked in a drugstore as a clerk.
    Cloyce was drafted and inducted into the Army on March 20, 1941, in Houston, Texas.  He was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training.  It is not known what specific training he received during basic training and what job he qualified to perform.  After basic training, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and became a member of A Company, 753rd Tank Battalion.  The 753rd had been transferred to the base in the late summer of 1941. 
    While the 753rd was at Camp Polk, maneuvers were taking place, but the battalion did not take part in them.  After the maneuvers, the 192nd Tank Battalion was ordered to the base, but  none of the members had any idea why they were being kept there.

    On the side of a hill, the 192nd was informed that they were being sent overseas.  Those members of the battalion who were 29 years old, or older, were given the opportunity to resign from federal service.  Replacements for men who had been released from federal service came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.  One of those replacements was Cloyce.  It is not known if he volunteered to join the battalion or if  he became a member of the battalion after his name was drawn from a hat.  After joining the battalion, he was assigned to A Company.
    The decision to send the 192nd overseas -  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 battalion traveled west by train to San Francisco, California, where they were taken by the ferry, the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  At Ft. McDowell, they were given physicals and inoculated by the battalion's medical detachment.   Those men found to have a minor medical condition were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Other men were simply replaced.
   
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th.
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 they spent much of the time training in breaking down machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP.  they spent much of the time training in breaking down machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KThe ship arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd and had a two day layover.  The soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island. 
    On Tuesday, November 5th, the ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  It was at this time that it was joined by the, heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and the S.S. Calvin Coolidge
On Sunday night, November 9th, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th, During the night, while the slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line.  On Saturday, November 15th, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The Louisville revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it shot off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out the smoke was from a ship that belonged to a friendly country. During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unkno   
    When they arrived at Guam
on Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila the next day.  At one point, the ships passed an island at night and did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  The ships entered Manila Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20th, and docked at Pier 7 later that morning.  At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.
    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 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.
   
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons.  The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea.  They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance.
    On the morning of December 8, 1941, the members of A Company were informed of the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  His tank and the others were sent to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  About 12:45 in the afternoon as the tankers were eating lunch, planes approached the airfield from the north.  At first, the soldiers thought the planes were American. They even had enough time to count that there were 54 planes.  It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that they knew the planes were Japanese.
    After the attack, the company was sent to the Barrio of Dau so it would be close to a highway and railroad.  From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River.  There, the tanks, with A Company, 194th held the position. 
    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 after the main bridge had been destroyed.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening. 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 Company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga.  It was there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt. William Reed.  The company returned to the 192nd on January 8, 1942.
    On January 28th, the tank battalions 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.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.
     
   
    A Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese Marines 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 had left the pocket.
   
   
    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. 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.

   The soldiers were hungry and began to eat everything they could get their hands on to eat.  The Carabao were tough but if they were cooked long enough they could be eaten.  They also began to eat horse meat provided by the 26th U. S. Cavalry.  To make things worse, the soldiers' rations were cut in half again on March 1, 1942.  This meant that they only ate two meals a day.   
    The Japanese also were dropping surrender leaflets with a scantly clad blond on them.  The Japanese would have been more successful at getting the Americans to surrender if the picture had been hamburger, since the men were so hungry that they most likely would have surrendered for a good meal.
    On March 2nd or 3rd, during the Battle of the Points, the tanks had been sent in to wipe out two pockets of Japanese soldiers who had been landed behind the main defensive line.  The Japanese were soon cut off.  When the Japanese attempted to land reinforcements, they landed them at the wrong place creating another pocket.   Both, of the pockets, were wiped out.
   The company's last bivouac area was about twelve kilometers north of Marivales and looking out on the China Sea.  By this point, the tankers knew that there was no help on the way.  Many had listened to Secretary of War Harry L. Stimson on short wave.  When asked about the Philippines, he said, "There are times when men must die."  The soldiers cursed in response because they knew that the Philippines had already been lost.
    On April 4, 1942, the Japanese launched a attack supported by artillery and aircraft.  A large force of Japanese troops came over Mount Samat and descended down the south face of the volcano.  This attack wiped out two divisions of defenders and left a large area of the defensive line open to the Japanese.  When General King saw that the situation was hopeless, he initiated surrender talks with the Japanese.

    The night of April 8, 1942, the members of A Company circled their tanks.  Each tank fired one armor piercing shell into the engine of the tank in front of it.  The tankers next opened up the gasoline valves and dropped hand grenades into the turrets.  The next morning at 7:00 A.M. they became Prisoners of War.
    The members of A Company made their way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  It was from this barrio that the tankers started what they simply called "the march."
 

    The POWs made their way north from Mariveles.  The first five miles of the march were uphill.  At one point, the members of the company had to run past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor.  They received little water and little food.  When they reached San Fernando, they were put into a bull pen.  In one corner of the bull pen was a trench the POWs were suppose to use as a washroom.  The surface of the trench was alive with maggots.  How long they remained in the bull pen is not known. 

    The Japanese ordered the POWs to form ranks.  They were marched to the train stationed and packed into small    wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane.  Each car could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese  packed 100 POWs into each car.  Those who died remained standing since there was no place for them to fall.  At Capas, the living left the cars and the dead fell to the floors.  They walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.       

   
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base.  There was one water faucet for the entire camp.  Men literally died for a drink.  The death rate in the camp began to rise until as many as 55 men dying each day.  The burial detail worked non-stop to bury the dead.  Often, when they returned the next morning, the wild dogs had dug up the bodies or the bodies were sitting up in their graves.
   

    To lower the death rate among the POWs, the Japanese opened a new camp at Cabanatuan.  According to camp hospital records, Cloyce was in the camp's hospital on September 15, 1942.  No illness is indicated and no release date was indicted.  Cloyce was in the camp when he was selected to go out on work detail to Lipa, Batangas.  The POWs on the detail built an runways with picks and shovels.
   
   
The next camp Cloyce a POW in was Bilibid Prison.  It is not known if he was sent there because he was ill or because the detail had ended.  At Cloyce, he was selected for transport to Japan.  The POWs were taken to the Port Area of Manila and boarded on the Hokusen Maru on October 1st.   
    The ship sailed but dropped anchor at the harbor's  breakwater.  It remained there for three days and the temperatures in the hold rose to over 100 degrees causing some men to go crazy.  The Japanese threatened to kill the POWs if they didn't quiet the men. who were going out of their minds  To do this, the sane POWs strangled those out of their minds or hit them with canteens.

    As part of a ten ship convoy it sailed again on October 4th and stopped at Cabcaban.  The next day, it was at San Fernando, La Union, where the ships were joined by four more ships and five escorts.  The ships stayed close to the shoreline to prevent submarine attacks which failed since, on October 6th, two of the ships were sunk.

    The ships were informed, on October 9th, that American carriers were seen near Formosa and sailed for Hong Kong when they were informed American planes were in the area.  During this part of the trip, the ships ran into American submarines which sank two more ships.  The Hokusen Maru arrived at Hong Kong on October 11th and remained several days.  While it was in port, American planes bombed the harbor on October 16th.  On October 21st, the ship sailed for Takao, Formosa, arriving on October 24th.  During this time, four  survivors from the Arisan Maru were put in the hold.
   
On November 8th, the POWs were disembarked and cleaned.  The Japanese had decided they were too ill to continue the trip to Japan.  Once on land, the POWs were taken to a school which the Japanese designated as Toroku Camp which had been opened just for them.  Many of the POWs were in such poor condition that the Japanese did not require them to perform hard work.  They did gardening and other chores, while some of the POWs worked at a sugarcane mill.
    On January 25, 1945, he was boarded onto the Enoshima Maru.  During the trip, the POWs were in a hold with a cargo of hemp.  Some of the POWs discovered that beneath the hemp were bags of sugar and cans of tomatoes.  The men helped themselves to the canned tomatoes.  The ship arrived at Moji, Japan, on January 30th and the POWs were taken to a schoolhouse.  Outside the school, the POWs stripped off their clothes, because they were infested with lice, and deloused.  The POWs later were taken to the train station where they rode a train to various camps along the line.
Cloyce's detachment was taken by train to
Kobe House.  In the camp, the POWs were used as stevedores on the Kobe docks.  Cloyce remained in the camp until the end of the war.

    Cloyce was liberated in September 1945 and returned to the Philippines.  He was promoted to corporal before being returned to the United States on the U.S.S. Joseph T. Dychman arriving at San Francisco on October 16th.  After arriving, he was sent to Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco for further medical treatment.  After returning home, he was discharged from the Army on May 26, 1946 and went back to work.  He married and became the father of three children.  He became the manager of a pharmacy and spent the rest of his life in Houston, Texas.
    Obie C. Richardson passed away on May 16, 2006, and was buried at Forest Park Cemetery in Houston, Texas.




 

Return to A Company

Next