Short_J

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.  At some point, John was given command of his own tank.  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 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 as they prepared to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.

    The tanks were ordered to the perimeter of the Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers on December 1st to guard against paratroopers.  Two members of each tank remained with their tank at all times. On December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, John lived the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  He recalled, "This sergeant, Morine, ran through the tank park and yelled, 'They bombed Pearl Harbor! They bombed Pearl Harbor!'  And just about that time we saw 54 Japanese bombers come over us, open up their bomb-bay doors, and drop bombs on the airfield." During the attack, John and the other tankers could do very little since they did not have the proper weapons to fight aircraft.
    The tank battalion received orders on December 21st that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.   Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas.  When they reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta.   The bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of river.  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.
    The tankers were fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th.  While there, the bridge over the Pampanga River was destroyed, they were able find a crossing over the river.  
   
    At Cebu, seven tanks of the company fought a three hour battle with the Japanese.  The main Japanese line was south of Santa Rosa Bridge ten miles to the south of the battle.
  The tanks were hidden in brush as Japanese troops passed them for three hours without knowing that they were there.  While the troops passed, Lt. William Gentry was on his radio describing what he was seeing.  It was only when a Japanese soldier tried take a short cut through the brush, that his tank was hidden in, that the tanks were discovered.  The tanks turned on their sirens and opened up on the Japanese.  They then fell back to Cabanatuan. 
   
C Company was re-supplied and withdrew to Baluiag where the tanks encountered Japanese troops and ten tanks.  It was at Baluiag that Gentry's tanks won the first tank victory of World War II against enemy tanks.       
    After this battle, C Company made its way south.  When it entered Cabanatuan, it found the barrio filled with Japanese guns and other equipment.  The tank company destroyed as much of the equipment as it could before proceeding south.
  
  On December 31, 1941,  Company was sent out reconnaissance patrols north of the town of Baluiag.  The patrols ran into Japanese patrols, which told the Americans that the Japanese were on their way.  Knowing that the railroad bridge was the only way into the town and to cross the river, Lt. Gentry set up his defenses in view of the bridge and the rice patty it crossed.       
    Early on the morning of the 31st, the Japanese began moving troops and across the bridge.  The engineers came next and put down planking for tanks.  A little before noon Japanese tanks began crossing the bridge.
    By the afternoon, the Japanese had assembled a large number of troops in a rice field on the north end of the barrio. 
One platoon of tanks under the command of 2nd Lt. Marshall Kennady were to the southeast of the bridge.  Gentry's tanks were to the south of the bridge in huts, while third platoon commanded by Capt Harold Collins was to the south on the road leading out of Baluiag2nd Lt. Everett Preston had been sent south to find a bridge to cross to attack the Japanese from behind.       
    Major Morley came riding in his jeep into Baluiag.  He stopped in front of a hut and was spotted by the Japanese who had lookouts in the town's church's steeple.  The guard became very excited so Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks positions, got into his jeep and drove off.  Bill had told him that his tanks would hold their fire until he was safely out of the village.          
    When Gentry felt the Morley was out of danger, he ordered his tanks to open up on the Japanese tanks at the end of the bridge.  The tanks then came smashing through the huts' walls and drove the Japanese in the direction of Lt. Marshall Kennady's tanks.  Kennady had been radioed and was waiting.

   
Kennady's platoon held its fire until the Japanese were in view of his platoon and then joined in the hunt.  The Americans chased the tanks up and down the streets of the village, through buildings and under them.  By the time Bill's unit was ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had knocked out at least eight enemy tanks.
    During the withdraw into the peninsula, the company crossed over the last bridge which was mined and about to be blown.  The 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it and then cover the 192nd's withdraw. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan. 
   
Over the next several months, the battalion fought battle after battle with tanks that were not designed for jungle warfare.  The tank battalions , on January 28th, 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.  
   
C Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese soldiers 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 exited 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.
    
On April 7, 1942, the Japanese broke through the east side of the main defensive line on Bataan.  C Company was pulled out of their position along the west side of the line.  They were ordered to reinforce the eastern portion of the line.  Traveling south to Mariveles, the tankers started up the eastern road but were unable to reach their assigned area due to the roads being blocked by retreating Filipino and American forces.

    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. 
     Recalling his time in the camp, he said, "Towards the end, I didn't have the energy to get up in the morning anymore.  If things had gone on that way for another month, I wouldn't have made it."  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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