Sgt. Judson David Simpson

    Sgt. Judson D. Simpson was born in March 7, 1921, in Washington County, Kentucky.  He was one of the six children of George & Catherine Simpson and worked on his family's farm.  Judson joined the Kentucky National Guard and was called to federal duty when his tank company was federalized on November 25, 1940.  His company was renamed D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.

    After training at Fort Knox and taking part in maneuvers in Louisiana, Judson and other members of his company learned that they were being sent overseas.  Those men 29 years old  or older were given the chance to resign from federal service.  They were replaced by men from the 753rd Tank Battalion.  Men were also given leaves home to say goodbye to their families and friends.
    Traveling west over different train routes, the battalion arrived in San Francisco and ferried to Angel Island.  On the island, the tankers were immunized and given physicals.  Men found to have treatable medical conditions were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.

    The battalion sailed, on the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott, from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover.  The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands.  They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th, for Guam. 
    When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water.  The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day. About 8:00 in the morning on November 20th, the ships arrived at Manila Bay.  After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked.  Most of the battalion boarded trucks and rode to Ft. Stotsenburg north of Manila, while the maintenance section remained behind to unload the battalion's tanks.
    At the fort, the tankers were met by General Edward King.  King welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed.  He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.  The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
  A little over two weeks later, he lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield.

    On December 19, 1941, Judson wrote a letter home to his parents.


    " Dearest Mother and all;


             I am getting along just fine. I hope you received my telegram. Don't worry about me because I will make out  all right. How is everything around home and how are the children getting along? This will be the first Christmas that I have been missed at home since I can remember.


                                                                                          Love to all,

                                                                                    Your son, Judson"


    What is known about his time fighting the Japanese is that during the withdrawal into Bataan Judson's tank crew, with the crews of seventeen other tanks,  found themselves on the wrong side of the Agnoo River.  They had been ordered there by General Wainwright.  The only problem was that the only way in was the only way out.  They soon found themselves surrounded by the Japanese.

    All the bridges had been blown so he had his tank driver, Roy Goodpaster, attempt to find a crossing.  While attempting to find the crossing, Goodpaster determined that he could not find a suitable place to cross.  He began to climb out of the tank when Judson asked him what he was doing. Roy stated that he attended to destroy the tank after abandoning it.

    Judson pulled out his service revolver and put it to Goodpaster's head.  He told Goodpaster to get the tank across the river.  Goodpaster found a crossing and saved the tank.  For his actions, Judson received the Silver Star.

    What else is known about Judson is that on January 26, 1942, he was wounded in action.  He was awarded the Purple Heart.

    In February 1942, he wrote a second short letter to his family.  In it he said:


        "I do not know when you will get this. You all know the conditions. So the mail will get a little later. I guess dad is getting ready raise another crop.  Sure would like to be there to help him.  There is a lot I could write about, but you know how it is.  I hope to see you soon.  Be sure to answer.


                                                                                       Love to all,

                                                                                     Your son, Judson"


    Judson escaped to Corregidor when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.  He arrived on the island and volunteered to go to Ft. Drum.  He remained there until Corregidor was surrendered and returned to Corregidor.  From there, he was sent to Cabanatuan.

    At 2:00 AM in the morning on October 5th, Judson and other POWs were awakened and marched to Pier 7 in Manila.  Once there, they were housed in a warehouse on the pier.  They remained there for two days.  On October 7, 1942, Judson boarded a Tottori Maru.

    The prisoners were divided into two groups. One group was placed in the holds while the other group remained on deck.  The conditions on the ship were indescribable, but those in the hold were worse off than those on deck.  This situation was made worse by the fact that for the first two weeks of the voyage the prisoners were not fed.  Many POWs died during the trip.

    On October 8th, the ship sailed at 7:30 A.M. and passed Corregidor at noon.  The next day the Tottori Maru came under a torpedo attack by an American submarine.  The captain of the ship maneuvered it and avoided the torpedoes.  The ship also avoided a mine that had been laid by a American submarine.

    The ship continued its voyage arriving at Takao, Formosa, on October 11th.  The ship remained at Takao for four days before sailing on October 16th at 7:20 A.M.  It returned to Takao the same day at 10:30 at night.  The ship sailed again on October 18th and reached the Pescadores Islands, the same day where it dropped anchor.  It remained off the islands until October 27th when it returned to Takao.  During this stay, the POWs were disembarked and washed down with fire hoses.  At the same time the ship was cleaned and food stuffs were later loaded.

    The ship sailed again on October 30th and arrived at Makou, Pesacadores Islands, the same day.  On October 31st, the ship sailed again as part of a seven ship convoy.  For five days, the ships sailed through a typhoon.  After the storm, the ships were attacked by an American submarine.  One ship was sunk and the others scattered.  

    After 31 days on the ship, the Tottori Maru docked at Pusan, Korea, on November 7th.  1300 POW's got off the ship and were issued new clothes and fur-lined overcoats.  The POWs were taken to a train station and sent on a two day train trip north to Mukden, Manchria.  There, they worked in a sawmill or a machine shop. 

    Meals for the POWs was a soup made from soy beans.  The POWs  supplemented their meals by learning to make snares to capture the wild dogs that roamed into the camp.  They did this until a dog was seen eating the dead body of a Chinese civilian.
    The Japanese trained the POWs to use the lathes, drill presses, and other machinery.  The POWs did everything that they could to sabotage their work.  They dropped sand into the oiling holes on the machines.  The Japanese blames the sabotage on the Chinese civilians in the shop, because they believed the Americans were not smart enough to do this.
    Judson was
next held at Shenyang Camp.  He remained in the camp until he was liberated by the Russian Army in September 1945.  He and other POWs were transported to Darien, China, and taken by transport to the Philippines.  After receiving medical treatment, he boarded the U.S.S.Tryon and arrived at San Francisco on October 24, 1945, which was almost four years to the day that he had sailed for the Philippines from the city.  After arriving, he was taken to Letterman General Hospital.

    Judson remained in the army and served in Korea.   He was married and the father of one son.  He was discharged on August 8, 1957, as a Master Sergeant.  Judson D. Simpson passed away on November 19, 1980, from a heart attack, at his residence, in Jasper, Alabama.  He was buried at Pisgah Baptist Church & Cemetery, Sipsey, Alabama.


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