Ryman

 

Cpl. Gilbert A. Ryman

    Cpl. Gilbert A. Ryman was born in 1914 in Greenwood Township, Vernon County, Wisconsin, to Ralph C. Ryman & Minnie Graham-Ryman.  With his three sisters and step-brother, he was raised at 412 North Terrace Street, Janesville, Wisconsin, and worked as a weaver in the Rock River Woolen Mills.  At some point, he joined the Wisconsin National Guard. 
    On November 28, 1940, the tank company was sent to Fort Knox for training as A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  It was there that Gilbert learned the necessary skills of a company clerk and became one of the clerks for A Company.  It was his job to distribute the company's mail each day.  While training there, he became engaged to
Devota Buggs the sister of Wayne Buggs of A Company.
    Almost a year after arriving in Kentucky, his battalion, the 192nd Tank Battalion, was sent to Louisiana to take part in maneuvers from September 1st through 30th. 
During the maneuvers the battalion performed exceptionally well.  After the maneuvers, instead of returning to Ft. Knox, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana.  None of the members had any idea why they were being kept there.
    On the side of a hill, the battalion members were informed that they were being sent overseas and were told that this 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. 
    The companies of the battalion traveled over different train routes to San Francisco, California, and were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, they received inoculations and physicals from the battalions doctors, and those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Some men were simply replaced.
   
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott and sailed 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 spent much of 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 KThey arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island. 
    On Wednesday, November 5th, the ships sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  While at sea, the ship was joined by the S.S. Calvin Coolidge and the heavy cruiser the U.S.S. Louisville, which was the two transports escort.  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 smoke.  It turned out the smoke was from a ship from a friendly country.

   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 they 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 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 members of the battalion pitched the tents in an open field halfway between the Clark Field Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg.  The tents were set up in two rows and five men were assigned to each tent.  There were two supply tents and meals were provided by food trucks stationed at the end of the rows of tents. 
    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 December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  At all times two members of each tank and half-track crew had to remain with their vehicles.  The men received their meals from food trucks.  
    The morning of December 8, 1941, Capt. Walter Write informed his company that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japanese.  The tank and half-track
crews were brought up to full strength at their positions around the airfield.   At 8:30 A.M., American planes took off and filled the skyAt noon, the planes landed, to be refueled, and were lined up in a straight line, near the pilots' mess hall.  The pilots went to lunch.  
   
The tankers were eating lunch when planes were seen approaching the airfield from the north at around 12:45.  Many of the tankers counted 54 planes.  The planes approached the airfield and watched what was described as "raindrops" falling from the planes.  When the raindrops began exploding on the runways, the tankers knew the planes were Japanese. 

   

    Being a clerk, Gilbert was in the battalion's bivouac during the attack and took cover in a dried up latrine.  After the attack,  there was not much left of the 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.
    That night, most men slept in the dried up latrine since it was safer than sleeping in tents..  They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed.    

    The next day, company members, not assigned to tanks or half-tracks, walked around and saw the bodies of the dead laying everywhere.  Some were pilots who had been caught asleep in their tents during the first attack, because they had flown night missions.  Others were pilots who had been killed attempting to get to their planes. 
    The company was sent to the Barrio of Dau, on December 12th, so it could guard 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 as they made their way toward Lingayen Gulf.

    On December 23rd and 24th, the company was in the area of Urdaneta, when  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 but 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 were asked to hold the position for six hours; they held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th.

    On a road east of Zaragoza, on December 30th, the company was bivouacked for the night and posted sentries.  The sentries heard a noise on the road and woke the other tankers who grabbed Tommy-guns and manned the tanks' machine guns.  As they watched, a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac.  When the last bicycle passed the tanks, the tankers opened up on them.  When they stopped firing, they had completely wiped out the bicycle battalion.  To leave the area, the tankers drove their tanks over the bodies.  
    At Gumain River, the night of December 31st to the morning of January 1st, the tank companies formed a defensive line along the south bank of the river.  When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts.  The Japanese were taking heavy casualties, so they attempted to use smoke to cover their advance, but the wind blew the smoke into the Japanese.  When the Japanese broke off the attack, they had suffered fifty percent casualties.
    At Guagua, A Company, with units from the 11th Division, Philippine Army, attempted to make a counterattack against the Japanese.  Somehow, the tanks were mistaken, by the Filipinos to be Japanese.  The 11th Division accurately used mortars on them.  The result was the loss of three tanks.  
    On January 1st, the tanks of the 194th were holding the Calumpit Bridge allowing the Southern Luzon Forces to cross the bridge toward Bataan.  General Wainwright was attempting to hold the main Japanese force coming down Route 5 to prevent the troops from being cut off.  General MacArthur's chief of staff gave conflicting orders involving whose command the defenders were under which caused confusion.  Gen. Wainwright was not aware these orders had been given. 
    Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River.  Due to the efforts of the Self Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were halted.  From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.  It was also in January 1942, their food rations were cut in half.  It was not too long after this was done that malaria, dysentery, and dengue fever began hitting the soldiers. 

    On January 5th, while attached to the 194th Tank Battalion, A Company withdrew from the line.  Lt. Kenneth Bloomfield received orders to launch a counter-attack against the Japanese on a tail picked by Provisional Tank Group command. Bloomfield, while attempting to attack, radioed the tank group that the trail did not exist.
    It was evening and the tankers believed they were in a relatively safe place near Lubao along a dried up creek bed.  Bloomfield told his men to get some sleep.  Their sleep was interrupted by the sound of a gun shot at about 1:50 A.M.  The tankers had no idea that they were about to engage the Japanese who had lunched a major offensive across an open field wearing white shirts which made them easy targets.  There was a great deal of confusion and the battle lasted until 3:00 A.M., when the Japanese broke off the attack.  Within days of this action, the company returned to the command of the 192nd.
    The tanks often were the last units to disengage from the enemy and form a new defensive line as Americans and Filipino forces withdrew toward Bataan.  The night of January 7th, the A Company was awaiting orders to cross the last bridge into Bataan over the Culis Creek.  The engineers were ready to blow up the bridge, but the battalion's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Ted Wickord, ordered the engineers to wait until he had looked to see if they were anywhere in sight.  He found the company, asleep in their tanks, because they had not received the order to withdraw across the bridge.  After they had crossed, the bridge was destroyed.
    The next day the tanks received maintenance.  It was the first rest that the two tank battalions had since December 24th.
    While American and Filipino forces were withdrawing from the Pilar-Bigac Line, the battalion prevented the Japanese from overrunning the position and cutting off the withdrawing troops.  The morning of January 27th, a new battle line had been formed and all units were supposedly beyond it.  That morning, the tanks were still holding their position six hours after they were should have withdrawn.  While holding the position, the tanks, with self-propelled mounts, ambushed, at point blank range, three Japanese units causing 50 percent casualties.        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.

     In early March, the tankers rations were again cut which meant they received two small meals a day.  On March 2nd or 3rd, during "The Battle of the Points," the tanks were sent in to wipe out two pockets of Japanese soldiers who had landed behind the main defensive line and were soon cut off.  The first group had landed on one point, and when the Japanese attempted to land reinforcements, they landed them at the wrong place creating another pocket.   The Japanese on both points were wiped out.
    The last bivouac area that Gilbert was in was about twelve kilometers north of Marivales and looked out on the China Sea.  The tankers knew that there was no help on the way.  On a half-track's radio they had listened to Secretary of War Harry R. Stimson.  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.
    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 cocks and dropped hand grenades into the turrets.  The next morning at 7:00 A.M. they became Prisoners of War.
   
The POWs made their way north from Mariveles.  The first five miles of the march were uphill which was hard on underfed sick men.  At one point, the members of the company had to run past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor.  They received little water and little food during the march.  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 detachments of 100 men.  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.  From there, they walked the last miles to Camp O'Donnell.
   
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base with only one water faucet for the entire camp.  Men literally died for a drink.  Since there was no medicine, 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, in shallow graves.  Often, when they returned the next morning to the cemetery, the wild dogs had dug up the bodies or the bodies were sitting up in their graves.

    To get out of the camp, Gilbert volunteered to go out on the Camp Olivas Work Detail.  The POWs on the detail recovered scrap metal for the Japanese.  The POWs drove disabled vehicles to San Fernando, where they were taken to Manila and sent to Japan as scrap metal.  The POWs tied vehicles together with rope to a lead vehicle that was operational.  Then, a POW got into each vehicle and steered it as it was towed to San Fernando.
    It was while Gilbert was on this detail that he became ill and sent to Pampanga Provisional Hospital.  According to medical records kept by the staff of the hospital, Cpl. Gilbert A. Ryman died on Saturday, July 25, 1942.  There is conflicting information on the cause of death.  Some sources indicate he died from dysentery, while other sources indicate that he died from Yellow Jaundice.
    After his death. Cpl. Gilbert A. Ryman were buried at the Camp Olivas Cemetery.  After the war, his remains were disinterred and reburied at the new American Military Cemetery at Manila, where he was buried in Plot E, Row 3, Grave 1.
  


 

 

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