Short

Sgt. John Lawrence Short


    Sergeant John L. Short  was born on May 23, 1917.   He was the son of John and Leah Short.  The family resided at 907 State Street, Port Clinton, Ohio.  He attended both grade school and high school in Port Clinton.  After high school, he worked for U.S. Gypsum.

   John joined Company H of the Ohio National Guard in Port Clinton in 1939.  This unit was federalized on November 5, 1940 and designated C Company.  On November 25th, the company joined other tank companies from Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin at Fort Knox, Kentucky and formed the 192nd GHQ Light Tank Battalion. 
    During the winter of 1940 and into the summer of 1941, the battalion continued their training at Ft. Knox.  In the late summer of 1941, the battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana for maneuvers.  Unknown to the members of the battalion, it had already been selected for duty in the Philippine Islands.

    Over different train routes that companies of the battalion made their way to San Francisco, California.  Also arriving with them were their "new" M3 Tanks.  Once in San Francisco, they were taken by ferry to Angel Island.  There they received physicals and inoculated for duty in the Philippine Islands. 
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. 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 Tuesday, November 4th, 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.  After several hours the soldiers disembarked and most and the were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  The maintenance crews remained behind to unload the tanks from the ship.
    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, just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, John lived the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  During the attack, John and the other tankers could do very little since they did not have the proper weapons to fight aircraft.

    On December 22nd, C Company was sent north to Lingayen Gulf to aid the 26th U. S. Calvary who were fighting Japanese invasion forces.  The tanks were used as a rear guard as the Filipino and American forces withdrew from engagements with the Japanese.  During this time, John spent four months on the front lines fighting the Japanese without a break. 

    On April 9, 1942, John became a Prisoner Of War.  He took part in the death march and was held at Camp O'Donnell.  John volunteered to go out on a bridge building detail.  Lt. Col. Ted Wickord of the 192nd was one of the two token American commanders of the detail and attempted to fill it with members of his own battalion.  The POWs on this detail rebuilt the bridges that they had destroyed as they retreated just weeks before.  

    During John's time on this detail, he worked near the barrio of Calaun.  The people of the town showed great generosity to the POWs.  They shared food and provided medical attention to the POWs.  When the people heard that the detail was leaving, they held a great feast.  To get the Japanese to allow the prisoners to attend, the townspeople convinced the Japanese that the feast was to thank them for the bridge.  

    The detail next was sent to Batangas where the POWs were given clothing by Irish Catholic nuns.  From Batangas, they were sent to Candelura where they lived in an old coconut mill.  Again, the Filipino people shared their food with the POWs.

    When the detail ended in September, 1942, John was sent to Mindinao.  It is not known what type of work he did there.  After this detail ended, he was sent to Cabanatuan and assigned to Barracks 10.  After his return to Cabanatuan, his family received a postcard from him.  In it he said: "Was sure glad to hear from you. I am in good health and shape. Hope you are getting along fine.  Give my regards to the rest of the family." 

    In January, 1943, John went out on a work detail to Lipa Batangas.  The POWs on the detail built runways and revetments at Lipa Airfield.  Every other day, they worked on a local farm.  On February 16, 1943, John was sent to the medical ward of Bilibid Prison.  Records kept by the medical staff show that he had dysentery and that he was discharged, to Cabanatuan, on Febraury 21, 1943.
    Medical
records kept by the medical staff at the Cabanatuan hospital show that John was admitted on March 17, 1943.  No reason for his being admitted was given nor was a date of discharge given.

    John was next selected to go to Japan and sent to Manila.  On July 2, 1944, he was boarded onto the Canadian Inventor.  The ship departed Manila on July 4, 1944. The ship sailed but returned to Manila because of boiler problems.  During the repairs, the POWs were kept in its holds.  The floors of the holds were covered with human waste.  On July 16th, the ship sailed again but was extremely slow and given the name, "Mati Mati Maru."  It finally arrived at Takao, Formosa, on July 23rd.  It sailed on August 4th, and arrived at Keelung, Formosa, the same day.  It remained in harbor for twelve days sailing again on August 17th for Naha, Okinawa.  It attempted to sail several times but because of American submarines returned to Naha.  It finally sailed on August 23rd before arriving at Moji, Japan on September 1st.  By the time the ship arrived in Moji on September 4, 1944, John had spent almost 60 days in the hold of the ship.

    In Japan, John was sent to Omine Machi.  It appears that his time at the camp was short, and he was sent to Fukuoka #17.  The POWs there were used to work in a coal mine that had previously been condemned by the Japanese as being unsafe.  John would remain in this camp until he was sent to Fukuoka #9 near the end of the war.  There, John also worked in a coal mine owned by the Kajima Tanko Mining Company.  He was liberated there in September, 1945.  He was returned to the Philippines and after being treated for his illnesses sent home.

    John Short returned to Port Clinton and was discharged, from the army, on May 8, 1946.  He married Sally Custer on June 3, 1946, and became the father of one child, Leah.  John spent the rest of his life in Port Clinton and worked for Ford Motors in Sandusky, Ohio.  He passed away on July 24, 1994.


 

 

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