Scoville

 

2nd Lt. Leroy Arnold Scoville


    2nd Lt. Leroy A. Scoville was born in Evansville, Wisconsin, on November 30, 1915.  He was the son of Alvie J. Scoville & Verena M. Huset-Scoville and grew up at 464 South Madison Street.  As a child, he attended school in Evansville and was a 1933 graduate of Evansville High School.  Leroy was known as "Scoops" to his friends.  After high school, he worked as a salesman in a store. 

    Leroy joined the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Tank Company headquartered in an armory in Janesville, Wisconsin, on September 23, 1940.   He did this because the selective service act was about to take effect and he wanted to get his one year of military service over.  On November 25, 1940, the tank company was called to federal service and left Janesville on November 28th.  When he arrived at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Leroy held the rank of private.

    Joining three other National Guard tank companies, the 32nd Tank Company of the Wisconsin National Guard became A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, when the battalion was formed at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in November, 1940. 

    In January 1941, Headquarter Company was formed by taking men from the letter companies of the battalion.  LeRoy was assigned to the company as a clerk.  During the next ten months of training, Leroy rose to the rank of corporal.  

    In the late summer of 1941, the 192nd went on maneuvers in Louisiana.  After the maneuvers the battalion was informed it would not be returning to Ft. Knox.  The members of the battalion were gathered on a side of a hill for a meeting.  At this meeting, Leroy the members of the battalion learned that they were being sent overseas.  Those considered to be "too old" were given the chance to resign from active duty.
    The battalion traveled by train to San Francisco along the southern train route to San Francisco, California.  By ferry, they were taken to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, they received inoculations and physicals.  Those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island.  They were scheduled to join the battalion at a later date.
   
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd.  The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island.  In Honolulu they saw posters asking for blood donations or telling people to join community watches. 
This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way. 
    On November 5th, the ships sailed for Guam.  At one point, the ships passed an island at night.  While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout.  On another occasion, smoke was scene over the horizon.  A cruiser, who was escorting the ship, bow came out of the water as it went to intercept the ship.  It turned out the ship belonged to a neutral county. 
    When they arrived at Guam, the ship took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  The convoy sailed, the same day, for Manila and entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th.  They docked at Pier 7 and the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  It was during this time that Leroy was promoted to sergeant.
    At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward King, who apologized that they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  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.
   The last week in November, they were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field and assigned was position.  Two members of the each tank crew had to remain with the tank at all times.
    On December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  They remained there off and on for several days.  At all times, two crew members remained with the tanks. 

    On December 8, 1941, ten hours after Pearl Harbor was attacked, Leroy lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  As tankers sat at their tanks, the sky above them was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed and two crew members were allowed to go to a food truck to get lunch.
    The tankers who manning their tanks watched as two formations of planes approached the airfield from the north.  They counted the formations were made up of 54 planes.  Many believed the planes were American until they saw what looked like raindrops falling from the planes.  When the raindrops began exploding on the runways, the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese.

    Sometime 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.  It was there, that 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. The 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.

    During the next four months, Leroy and the other members of A Company fought to slow the Japanese advance.  Doing this meant that A Company often found itself as the rear guard of the retreating Filipino and American forces.  It was during the Battle for Bataan that Leroy wrote this letter to his parents:

 

Dear Mom and Dad and all, 

 

    How is everything back in America's fairyland, I mean dairy-land?  I'll bet you had begun to think for sure that I had forgotten all about you.  The truth of the matter is that we had been just a little bit too busy taking care of these little yellow devils from across the ocean.

     I figure that before this thing is over though they will begin to think they have more than just a little bit to take care of. We have already taken care of a lot of them and with the Philippines really begin to click and now the ... we need,  I believe we can blow the whistle most anytime and we will start a touchdown march that will make the Japs look like termites in reverse.

    I have quite a bit of film and have taken a few pictures of our fellows and the scenery around; just the nicer things, because there are really a lot of nice things to see around here; the mountains the sun shining on them, the moonlight and ocean all go together to make up some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever scene. 

    I have written you on several occasions and I certainly hope you have received the letters so you will not be too much concerned or worried for my safety.  They have sent in a request for my promotion to Second Lt., but it has not come through.

    We have been eating and living pretty well.  Food is limited but we have enough to keep us going fairly well.  Cigarettes are scarce as heck but we even get few of those occasionally.  We have seen a lot of action and have been in a lot of close situations but God has smiled favorably in our direction because we're still a-kicking. I thank him often for the grace that has accompanied me in this whole life.

    I am in the rear echelon right now but am in reserve capacity to assist in any operation were I might be needed.  Herb Durner is with me.  I have seen Robert Hubbard a few times. He has been bothered with some kind of infection on his hands and arms but seems to be getting along quite well.  Each day we hope for assistance from the states and have complete faith that it will soon come.

    Is everyone well?  I wish I could hear from you, a letter or wire or anything.  Do you still have my car? I hope so.  If not though it is O.K. That is not very important to me now.  I pray for your good health and for faith to carry us through the experience.  Some day we shall be together again and that will be an experience to be thankful for. 

    There is not a great deal to say or attempt to say except that we are still well.  We live in the woods and have learned the numerous ways of preparing beds and all types of things for protection.  Have faith.  Pray for me as I pray for you and I know that he will take care of us.  Should be time to eat soon.  I have made an allotment to the bank.  If you should need the money I want you to feel welcome to use it in any way.

    Please write and tell me about all the folks, those at the store, and our relatives and friends.  I presume mail is very difficult to get through.  Anyway, Bye now and God bless you all.

 

                                                                                                                Love,

                                                                                                                Leroy

 

In another letter he wrote:

 

                                                                                        January 19, 1942

 

Dear Mom and Dad and all;

 

    Things have been really popping this past month and that is for sure.  We have been all over this darned island scrapping with these cussed little Japs.  I presume you are more than worried about me even as I am considerably concerned about your welfare and health and all.  So far I have been fortunate.  I have placed my complete faith in God and I know in my heart that nothing on this earth can guarantee me safety.

    I have read my New Testament constantly and have found some wonderful promises there and some wonderful examples of other people before me that have had to endure as difficult time as we are now experiencing and God helped them. I am not positive, but I think I have seen a few signs that must have been from Him and I know He must be with me because I am never as worried in a situation now as I was when the war first started.

    It would be useless and foolish to try to tell you here of our experiences as we will be censored so we will dwell upon the nicer things as connected with this business.

    Naturally there has been a great deal of destruction and we have been greatly out numbered.  Nevertheless, we have received many compliments from the higher authority upon our work and I know with some white troops to assist assist and work with the Philipinos we will be able to rid this Island of the pests from Japan. We are in a rest-camp now and it is a much appreciated rest.  We have plenty to eat, a good place to bathe and are now getting plenty of sleep.  We have been very fortunate this far. We had ___ ___ ___ and there have been a few injuries.  No deaths in our company as yet - among the enlisted men, with one possible exception which we are not sure of.  Our greatest loss which you probably know about was the death of Captain Walter Write.  He was most important to us and I am sure that his presence throughout the past month would have given us an entirely different picture of this campaign.  We also lost a fine ___ ___ ___.  But rumor is he was picked up by medics and now has been evacuated to Australia.  God willing I hope this is true for he was a wonderful individual.  I cabled you shortly after the war began! I hope you received it.

    Hubbard, Durner, Ken Hatlevig and Kubly are well.  Trebs was in the hospital for a while with some shrapnel in his leg but should be out by now.

    The Jap planes are pretty active today but I expect they will hum a different tune when the U. S. starts marching the other way.

    I always wonder if God would make me undergo some great trial for my sins and determining my worth to his Kingdom.  I hope and pray with all my heart he shall not find me lacking in any respect.  I read the 23rd Psalm, the 91st Psalm a lot and also the 14th chapter of John. I have found so many comforting things there and am really beginning to find out how little I knew about some of the things in my Testament.

    I sincerely hope this finds you all well.  This is a big job of course but at a time like this no one must shirk responsibility and every one must do their best to get this thing over with and help make this a pleasant world.

    May God bless you all and keep you constantly under His care.  Some day, some where we will be together again and may God bless the day and grant that wherever it may be that it shall be to His glory.  With all my love and best wishes forever.

 

                                                                                                          Your Loving Son

                                                                                                                   Le Roy

 

    On March 12, 1942, during the Battle of Bataan, Leroy met with the commanding officer of A Company and received a battlefield commission as a second lieutenant.  With the commission, came a transfer to C Company.  He would remain with C Company until the surrender.

    Leroy suffered from sores that covered his hands and arms.  It was believed this illness was a result of the poor diet that the defenders of Bataan had.

    On April 9, 1942, at 6:45 .M., the tankers heard the order "crash."  Most of the tank crews circled their tanks and fired an armor piercing shell into another tanks engine. dropped hand grenades into the tanks. 
    The company made its way to Mariveles were Leroy started what has become known as the Bataan Death March. From the southern tip of Bataan, the soldiers made there way north to San Fernando.  They received little food and no water.  Men who fell often were killed by the guards.  Those who ran to the artesian wells that poured water onto the road were shot.  Leroy continued the march until he reached San Fernando.
    At San Fernando, the POWs were put into a bull pin.  The concrete was covered with human waste, which indicated it had been used by other POWs.  They were ordered to sit down and left in the sun all day. Later that day the POWs were ordered to form detachments of 100 men.  They were marched to a train station and packed into boxcars.
    The boxcars were known as "forty or eight" because the cars could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese put 100 men in each car.  Those who died remained standing until the living left the cara at Capas.  From there, the POWs walked the last miles to Camp O'Donnell.
    When the POWs arrived at Camp O'Donnell, the camp commandant lectured them and told them they were not prisoners of war but captive.  He also made it clear that they would be treated as captives.

    It was while a POW at Camp O'Donnell that Leroy was credited with saving the life of Sgt. Lewis Wallisch.  Wallisch was in the camp hospital.  Knowing that if Wallisch stayed in the hospital he would most likely die,  Leroy convinced Wallisch to go out on a work detail with him.  So the Japanese would think Wallisch was healthy enough to work, Leroy helped him walk out of the camp.

    On the work detail, Leroy and the other POWs recovered disabled vehicles as scrap metal.  Since the cars and trucks did not run, the POWs would tie them together with rope and tow them behind an operational vehicle.  Each man, would steer one of the vehicles that was tied together by rope.

    When the scrap metal detail ended, Leroy was sent to Cabanatuan #1.  This camp was opened to replace Camp O'Donnell.  He remained in the camp for ten days before being sent to Cabanatuan.  It is known that he was in the camp hospital immediately after arriving in the camp.  According to medical records from the camp hospital, he was tested for tuberculosis on June 6th.  The results were negative, but no date of discharge was given.  He spent another two and one half years in the camp and lived in Barracks #9, Group II, Company  VII.  It was during this time, that Leroy became good friends and bunk mates with 2nd Lt. Jacques Merrifield.  Merrifield had been a Illinois National Guardmen assigned to HQ C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  At some point, during his time in the camp, Leroy contracted malaria.

    Leroy was placed in charge of an enlisted men's barracks at the camp.  From what is known, he was well liked by the men.  He was known to always have a smile on his face.  His men knew that if they heard him singing, he was in a good mood.

    During this time, Leroy worked in the camp kitchen.  This was a desirable job since the POWs doing it got extra food.  Leroy's job was to collect wood to be used for cooking.  It was also while he was held as a POW at Cabanatuan that Scoops and Jacques Merrifield of B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, became best friends.  The two men became bunkmates.  What this meant is that they would keep watch over each others possessions while the other man worked. 

    With two other officers from the battalion, Leroy and Merrifield grew vegetables to supplement their regular meals.  To do this, the men scrounged plant seeds from wherever they could get them.  The extra food helped Leroy to maintain his health.

    On September 25, 1944, Leroy and his friend, Jack Merrifield, were sent to Bilibid Prison.  The prison served as the clearinghouse for prisoners being sent to Japan or other occupied countries.   During their time at Bilibid, Leroy, Harvey Riedeman, and Jack would get together and talk.  In the evening after roll call, their favorite place to get together was on top of an air raid shelter.  Two or three times during the evening Japanese guards would chase them away.  After the guards left, the three men would get back together.

    On December 12, 1944, the POWs heard rumors that a detail was being sent out.  On December 13th, the POWs whose names were posted were awakened at 4:00 A.M.  At 7:30, roll call was started and took until 9:00 A.M. to finish.  The POWs names appeared on a roster.  They went through what was a farce of an inspection.  They were told cigarettes, soap, and salt would be issued.  The POWs were also told that they would also receive a meal to eat and one to take with them.  

     The prisoners were allowed to roam the compound until they were told to fall-in at 11:30 A.M. At that time, they were organized into detachments of 100 men, fed a meal, and marched to Pier 7 in Manila which was about two miles away.  During the march down Luzon Boulevard, the POWs saw that the street cars had stopped running and many things were in disrepair.

    The Americans saw that the American bombers were doing a job on the Japanese transports.  There were at least forty wrecked ships in the bay.  When the POWs reached Pier 7,  it too was in disarray.  There were three ships docked at the pier.  One was a old run down ship, the other two were large and in good shape.  They soon discovered one of the two nicer ships was their ship. 

     It was at this time that Leroy was allowed to sit down.  At 5:00 P.M., the other POWs boarded the Oryoku Maru for transport to Japan.   Leroy was put into the ship's rear hold with his friend Jack Merrifield.  800 POWs were put in the hold.  They were then fed fish and barley.  The sides of the hold had two tiers of bunks that went around its diameter.  The POWs near the hatch used anything they could find to fan the air to the POWs further away from it.   

    The ship left Manila on December 14th, at about 3:30 AM, as part of the MATA-37 a convoy bound for Takao, Formosa.  By the swells in the water, the POWs could tell that the ship was in open water. 

    The POWs received their first meal around dawn.  Meals on the ship consisted of a little rice, fish, and water.  Three fourths of a cup of water was shared by twenty POWs.  The prisoners had just eaten when they heard the sounds of guns.  At first, they thought the ship's anti-aircraft gun crews were just drilling since they had not heard any planes.  It was only when the first bomb exploded that they knew it was no drill.  When the POWs heard the change in the sound of the planes' engines, they knew that the planes had begun their dives toward the ships in the convoy.  Explosions were taking place all around the POWs, and bullets from the planes ricocheted into the hold causing many casualties.  In all, the POWs would have to sweat out several air raids.  The one result of the raids was no evening meal.  After the first raid, the ship was left alone by "playing possum" in the water.  The fighters went after the other ships in the convoy.

    At four-thirty in the afternoon, the ship experienced its worse attack.  It was hit at least three times, by bombs, on its bridge and stern.  Most of the POWs were wounded by ricocheting bullets or shrapnel from explosions.  Bombs that exploded near the ship sent turrets of water over it.  Bullets from the fighters hit the metal hull plates at an angle that prevent most from penetrating the hull.  Somewhere on the ship a fire had started but was put out after several hours.
    The planes attacked in waves of 30 to 50 planes.  The attack lasted from twenty to thirty minutes until the attack was broken off.  There was a twenty to thirty minute lull until the next attack started.

    Sometime after midnight, the POWs heard noise on deck as women and children were unloaded.  In the holds the moaning and muttering of men who were losing their minds kept the POWs up all night.  That night 25 POWs.   The ship reached Subic Bay at 2:30 in the morning and was taken as close to shore as possible attempting to find a suitable landing place.  The ship steamed in closer to the beach and dropped anchor. 

    During the night, the medics in the ship's hold were ordered out by a Japanese officer to tend to the Japanese wounded.  One of the medics recalled that the dead, dying and wounded were everywhere.

    The POWs were told, at 4:00 in the morning, that they would be disembarked after daybreak.  It was December 15th.  They sat in the hold for hours after daybreak when the sound of planes was heard.  They would live through three more attacks.  When the U.S. Navy planes resumed their attack, the attacks again came in waves.  The POWs noted that attack was heavier then the day before. 

    At 8:00 AM, a Japanese guard yelled to the POWs, "All  go home; Speedo!"   He also shouted that the wounded would be the first evacuated.  As the POWs were abandoning ship, the planes returned.  The pilots of the planes had no idea that the ship was carrying prisoners.

    In the hold the POWs crowded together.  Chips of rust fell on them from the ceiling.  After the raid, they took care of the wounded before the next attack started.  A Catholic priest, Fr. John Duffy, began praying, "Father forgive them.  They know not what they do."  

    When the attack resumed, the ship bounced in the water from the explosions.  Overall, six bombs hit the ship.  One hit the stern of the ship killing many.  About a half hour later, the ship's stern started to really burn.  Leroy made his way on deck and went over the side and swam to shore near Olongapo, Subic Bay, Luzon.  As he swam to shore, which was about 300 to 400 yards away.  Japanese soldiers fired on the POWs  to keep them in the water so they would not escape.
    As they were swimming to shore, four American planes flew low over the water above them.  One of the planes veered off and flew back over the men even lower.  The POWs waved and shouted at the pilot.  He dipped his wings to show he knew they were POW and flew off with the other planes.  The attack stopped until the POWs were off the ship.  Then, it was sunk.

    Leroy and the other prisoners swam to shore near the Naval Station at Olongapo on Luzon.  There, they were divided between the healthy and injured.  The injured, or those who said they could not go on, were taken into the hills and never seen again.  Leroy spent the next five days on the tennis courts of an country club.  He received water, but the Japanese did not feed the POWs.

    On December 20, 1944, Leroy and the other healthy prisoners were taken to San Fernando, Pampauga, where they spent Christmas Day in an old school house.  Their Christmas dinner was a little rice and a half of canteen of water.  The night of December 22nd, the Japanese interpreter spoke to the ranking American officer and told him they were going to be moved.  At 2:30 that morning, each man received a cup of rice and half a canteen of water.  All day long the POWs waited to be moved but weren't.
    At eight on the morning of December 23rd, the POWs were awakened and marched to the train station about a mile from where they had been held.  When they were taken by train to San Fernando, La Union, off the Lingayen Gulf.  They were boarded onto another "Hell Ship" the Enoura Maru.

    The Enoura Maru made the journey to Formosa safely arriving on December 31, 1945.  On January 6, 1945, the coal in the forward hold was emptied, and 500 POWs were put into the hold.  Leroy and Merrifield were two of these men.

     On January 9, 1945, as the ship sat docked in the harbor, it also came under attack by American planes.  During the attack, the POWs watched three bombs fall toward the ship.  They could do nothing but watch to see where the bombs would hit.  One bomb exploded in the hold that Leroy and Merrifield were in on the ship.  Merrifield was on the other end of the hold and was not wounded, but Leroy was.

    Leroy's right leg and foot were torn to pieces by the bomb.  He was cared for by medics, but since they had almost no medical supplies, there was not much they could do for him.  With the other surviving POWs, Leroy was placed on a third "Hell Ship" the Brazil Maru.

    It was on this ship that 2nd Lt. Leroy A. Scoville died of his wounds the morning of Wednesday, January 24, 1945.  Before he died, he asked Robert Boehm, of A Company, to give his parents his last possession.  He had lost everything else in the sinking of the Oryoku Maru.  According to Jack Merrifield, LeRoy Scoville died at sea, and his remains were thrown overboard.

    Since his remains were lost at sea, the name of 2nd Lt. Leroy A. Scoville appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.


 

 

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