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.   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 of the 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 sergeant.  

    In the late summer of 1941, the192nd Tank Battalion went on maneuvers in Louisiana.  After the maneuvers the battalion gathered on a side of a hill for a meeting.  At this meeting, Leroy and the other 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.  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.  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.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  The ships 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 Gen. Edward King.  The general apologized that the men 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.
           

    On December 8, 1941, Leroy lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  Having heard the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor, just hours earlier, the tanks had been ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers.

    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, the word came down that the defenders of Bataan were being surrendered.  It was on this day that Leroy became a POW.  He took part in the death march and was held as a POW at Camp O'Donnell.

    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.  At some point, 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 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 Merrifield 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.  The POWs 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 Japanese stated they would leave by 7:00 in the morning, so the lights were left on all night.  At 4:00 a.m. the morning of December 13th, Leroy and the other POWs were awakened.

    By 8:00, the POWs were lined up roll call was taken and the names of the men selected for transport to Japan were called.  The prisoners were allowed to roam the compound until they were told to "fall-in."  The men were fed a meal and then marched to Pier 7 in Manila.  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, there were three ships docked.  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 PM Leroy and the other POWs were 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 at about 3:30 that afternoon.  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 gun crews were just drilling since they had not heard any planes.  It was only when the first bomb hit that they knew it was no drill.  The POWs heard the change in the planes' engines sound as they began their dive toward the ships in the convoy.  Explosions were taking place all around the POWs.  Bullets from the planes ricocheted in to the hold causing many casualties.  In all, the POWs would have to sweat out five air raids.  The one result of the raid was no evening meal.

    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.

    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.  The moaning and muttering of men who were losing their minds kept the POWs up all night.  That night 25 POWs died in the hold.   The ship reached Subic Bay at 2:30 in the morning.  It was a suitable landing place.

    Sometime after midnight, the POWs heard noise on deck as women and children were unloaded.  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 ship steamed in closer to the beach and its anchor was dropped.  The POWs were told, at 4:00 in the morning, that they would be disembarked after daybreak.  It was December 15th.  The POWs sat in the hold four 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 came in waves.  Jack and the other 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.  It was not until the pilots saw the POWs climbing out of the ship's holds that they realized it was a prison ship and stopped the attack. 

    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. 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.  The POWs in the holds lived through seventeen attacks from American planes before sunset.  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.

    Leroy and the other prisoners swam to shore near the town of 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 Pampauga.  The POWs spent Christmas Day in an old school house.  Their Christmas dinner was a little rice and a half of canteen of water.  They remained there until December 20th 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 January 1, 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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