Pfc. Garratt Gilbert Royalty
Pfc. Garratt G. Royalty was
born on November 11, 1917, to Ella Godfrey-Royalty
& Ralph Royalty in Bohon, Kentucky. He
had five brothers and four sisters. His
father was a farmer outside of Harrodsburg.
Garratt joined the Kentucky National Guard in Harrodsburg and was called to federal duty in November, 1940. After ten months of training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Garratt with his company, now known as D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, took part in maneuvers in Louisiana. After the maneuvers he and the other soldiers learned that instead of being released from federal service, they were being sent overseas.
Traveling west be train, the members of the
192nd arrived in San Francisco. They were
ferried to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay
where they were given physicals and inoculated.
Garratt and the other members of D Company lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field on December 8, 1941. He took part in various engagements against the Japanese.
On April 9, 1942, Garratt became a Prisoner Of War when the Filipino and American defenders of Bataan were surrendered. Garratt took part in the death march. He and the other members of D Company walked the entire length of the march from Mariveles to San Fernando. There they boarded freight cars and traveled to Capas. At Capas, the POWs got out of the cars. As they did, the bodies of those who died fell out of the cars. From there, Garratt walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was a death trap. As many as fifty POWs died a day. There was only one water faucet for the entire camp. To get out of the camp, Garratt volunteered to go out on a bridge building detail. The prisoners on this detail rebuilt the bridges that had been destroyed as the Filipino and American forces retreated into the Bataan Peninsula.
The detail lasted until September 1942. Garratt was then sent to Cabanatuan. In this camp, which had been opened to relieve the conditions at Camp O'Donnell, Garratt. After arriving in the camp, Garratt was admitted to the camp hospital on Friday, July 3, 1942, suffering from malaria and dysentery. He remained in the hospital until he was discharged on Friday, December 4, 1942. During his time in the camp, he was assigned to the farm detail. He and the other POWs raised many types of vegetables.
The situation for the POWs at the camp was
bad. Garratt recalled eating cats,
monkeys, dogs and even snakes. He weighed
only 84 pounds when he became ill. During
various times, he suffered from double
pneumonia, neuritis and dysentery. Being
so ill resulted in his remaining at Cabanatuan
while other POWs were being sent to Japan or
another occupied country. It was also at
this time, in May, 1943, that his parents
learned he was a POW.
As American forces approached the Philippines, the Japanese evacuated the healthy POWs from Cabanatuan. Those who remained were too ill to be sent to Japan. Garratt was taken to Bilibid Prison due to his illness and received treatment by American doctors. Although they had few medical supplies, he did start to get better. He was then returned to Cabanatuan.
In late January, 1945, General MacArthur made the decision to send U. S. Rangers behind Japanese lines to attempt a rescue of the POWs still remaining at Cabanatuan. MacArthur made this decision after the news reached him that the Japanese had executed the prisoners held on Palawan Island.
Garratt was liberated by American Rangers on January 30, 1945. He stated that the night of the rescue there were only seventeen guards on duty instead of the fifty that usually guarded the camp. Being ill, Garratt was carried out of Cabanatuan on a stretcher and rode in a cart to American lines.
Garratt received treatment at several hospitals before arriving back in the United States. He was discharged, from the army, on October 29, 1946. His one wish after he was discharged was that his good friend, Sgt. Roy Goodpaster who he had grown up with, be rescued from the Japanese. He did not get his wish.
Garratt returned to Harrodsburg, Kentucky, and married. He was the father of six sons and two daughters. His first marriage ended in divorce. He worked as a employee at a furniture store. On May 5, 1978, he married Delores Johnson. The couple remained married to the end of his life. He passed away on January 5, 1985, in Harrodsburg, Kentucky.