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.
    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, but the company did fight with the 194th Tank Battalion. 

     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.
    Garratt remained in the camp until he was selected to go out on a work detail to Nichols Field.  It  is not known if he was sent there as part of the original POW draft, or if he was sent there as a replacement for a POW who had died or been sent to Bilibid.  This detail was also known as the Pasay School Detail. 
    The POWs were housed in eighteen rooms inside the school building.  30 POWs slept in each room, no beds were provided, and each man had a 36 inch wide space to sleep in at night. 
    The POWs day started at 6:15 with the call of, "Bango!"  After they were up, the POWs, who were sick and weak, had to do fifteen minutes of calisthenics. 
Meals consisted of the scraps from the Japanese mess hall kitchen.  Usually, it was a water soup of fish eyes and guts with some rice and gourds in it.
    At 7:30 A.M., to reach Nichols Airfield, the POWs marched about a mile.  Those who could not march had to be carried by other POWs.  As they marched in their tattered clothes and without shoes, the Filipino civilians expressed their sympathy to them.  Their doing this angered the Japanese guards who stopped it by killing several POWs.

    The POWs on the this detail built runways with picks and shovels literally leveling hills by hand.  The rubble from the hill was put into mining cars and pushed by two POWs who dumped the cars in a swamp to create landfill for the runway.    

    The brutality shown to the POWs was severe.  The first Japanese commander of the camp, a Lt. Moto, was called the "White Angel" because he wore a spotless naval uniform.  He was commander of the camp for slightly over thirteen months.  One day a POW collapsed while working on the runway.  Moto was told about the man and came out and ordered him to get up.  When he couldn't four other Americans were made to carry the man back to the Pasay School. 
    At the school, the Japanese guards gave the man a shower and straightened his clothes as much as possible.  The other Americans were ordered to the school.  As they stood there, the White Angel ordered an American captain to follow him behind the school.  The POW was marched behind the school and the other Americans heard two shots.  The American officer told the men that the POW had said, "Tell them I went down smiling." There, the White Angel shot the POW as the man smiled at him.     As the man lay on the ground, he shot him a second time.  The American captain told the other Americans what had happened.  The White Angel told them that this was what going to happen to anyone who would not work for the Japanese Empire.
    The second commanding officer of the detail was known as "the Wolf."  He was a civilian who wore a Japanese Naval Uniform.  Each morning, he would come to the POW barracks and select those POWs who looked the sickest and made them line up.  The men were made to put one leg on each side of a trench and then do 50 push-ups.  If a man's arms gave out and he touched the ground, he was beaten with pick handles.
    On another occasion a POW collapsed on the runway.  The Wolf had the man taken back to the barracks.  When the Wolf came to the barracks that evening and the man was still unconscious, he banged the man's head into the concrete floor and kicked him in the head.  He then took the man to the shower and drowned him in the basin.
    A third POW who had tried to walk away from the detail told the guards to shoot him. The guards took him back to the Pasay School and strung him up by his thumbs outside the doorway and placed a bottle of beer and sandwich in front of him.  He was dead by evening.

    POWs on the detail recalled that the Japanese would intentionally drop the butts of their rifles on the toes of the POWs to smash them.  Other guards would hit the POWs in the small of the back with their rifle butts.  Some guards carried iron clubs to break the POWs arms and legs.  One in particular, Pistol Pete, broke so many arms and legs that the Japanese relieved him so that work on the airfield would not continue to fall behind.
    The remains of the POWs who had died on the detail were brought to Bilibid Prison in boxes.  The Japanese had death certificates, with the causes of death and signed by an American doctor, sent with the boxes.  The Americans from the detail, who accompanied the boxes, would not tell the POWs at Bilibid what had happened.  It was only when the sick, from the detail, began to arrive at Bilibid did they learn what the detail was like.  These men were sent to Bilibid to die since it would look better when it was reported to the International Red Cross.
    Garratt developed pellagra and was sent to the Naval Hospital at Bilibid, where he was admitted on July 9, 1943.  He remained in the hospital until he was discharged on July 19th and sent to Cabanatuan.

    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.


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