Singletary

 

 

Pvt. Edrow Ford Singletary
     Pvt. Edrow F. Singletary was born on February 10, 1918, in Cochise County, Arizona, to Clarence P. Singletary & Ada L. Banks-Singletary.  With his two sisters and two brothers, he grew up in Floyd County, Texas.  He was a high school graduate and living in Brown County, Texas, when he was drafted into the U.S. Army on March 18, 1941, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
    Edrow was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training.  After completing basic training, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, where he joined the 753rd Tank Battalion.  The battalion had been sent to the base, in the late summer of 1941, from Ft. Benning, Georgia.  Although maneuvers were taking place there, the battalion did not take part in them.

    When the maneuvers ended, the 192nd Tank Battalion was held back at the camp.  The members of the battalion had no idea why they were being kept there.  It was on the side of a hill that they learned they were being sent overseas.  Those National Guardsmen who were 29 years old or older, were given the chance to resign from federal service.  Elmore volunteered to replace one of the National Guardsmen and was assigned to B Company. 

   
    After the companies were brought up to strength with replacements for the men released from federal service, the battalion was equipped with new tanks and halftracks.  The battalion traveled over three different railroad routes to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. 
    On the island, the soldiers were inoculated and received physicals.  Those who had minor medical issues were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. 

    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.  For many, it would be the last time that they would ever see the United States.  The battalion 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 and the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  
Ironically, it was the day the National Guard members of the battalion had originally been scheduled to be released from federal service.
    Seventeen days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the members of 192nd arrived in Manila.  The battalion was deployed Fort Stotsenburg. 
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.  They spent the next seven days preparing their equipment for use in the maneuvers they expected to take part in.
    The morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield.  Early that morning, the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had reached the Philippines.  The tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  As they sat on their tanks, they watched American planes fill the sky.  At noon, every plane landed. 
    The tankers were eating lunch when they saw 54 planes approaching the airfield from the north.  As they watched the planes, they saw what looked like raindrops falling from the planes.  When bombs began exploding on the runways, the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.  Most of the tankers could do nothing but watch since their weapons were not meant to fight planes. 

    After remaining at Clark Field for several weeks, B Company was sent to Lingayen Gulf in an attempt to stop the Japanese from landing troops.  Lyle, along with the other members of Company B, fought the Japanese for four months. They did this with little food and no hope of being relieved.

    At Gumain River, the tank companies formed a defensive line along the south bank of the river.  When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts.  It was there the tankers noted that the Japanese soldiers were high on drugs when they attacked.  Among the dead Japanese, the tankers found the hypodermic needles and syringes.  Bud's worst memory was of this battle.  He recalled that the Japanese attempted to break the Filipino-American line of defense.  The Japanese attacked after dark and the fighting went on all night. The line of defense held by the 192nd almost broke.   When dawn came, the tankers had held onto their position.  The tankers were able to hold up the Japanese for several weeks. 
    The tankers soon found themselves in given the job of holding a defensive line so that the other troops could disengage and form a new defensive line further south.  They repeated this action over and over.

  
During the Battle of the Points the tanks were sent in to wipe out Japanese troops that had broken through the main defensive line and than trapped behind the line after the Filipino and American troops pushed the Japanese back.  According to members of the battalion they resorted two ways to wipe out the Japanese.
    The first method was to have three Filipino soldiers sit on the back of the tanks with sacks of hand grenades.  When the Japanese dove back into their foxholes, the tank would go over it and the soldiers would drop three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the ordnance was from World War I, one out of three hand grenades would explode.
    The second method was simple.  The tank was parked with one track across the foxhole.   The driver spun the tank on one track.  The tank dug into the dirt until the Japanese soldiers were dead.
   

    The night of April 8, 1942, the tankers received the order "crash."  They circled their tanks.  Each tank fired a armor piecing shell into the engine of the tank in front of it.  They also opened the gasoline cocks inside the tank compartments and dropped hand grenades into the tanks.
    Edrow took part in the march out of Bataan. 
The members of B Company made their way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  It was from this barrio that the tankers started what they simply called "the march."
    The POWs made their way north from Mariveles.  The first five miles of the march were uphill.  At one point, the members of the company had to run past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor.  They received little water and little food.  When they reached San Fernando, they were put into a bull pen.  In one corner of the bull pen was a trench the POWs were suppose to use as a washroom.  The surface of the trench was alive with maggots.  How long they remained in the bull pen is not known. 
   
The Japanese ordered the POWs to form ranks.  They were marched to the train stationed and packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane.  Each car could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese  packed 100 POWs into each car.  Those who died remained standing since there was no place for them to fall.  At Capas, the living left the cars and the dead fell to the floors.  They walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
   
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base.  There was one water faucet for the entire camp.  Men literally died for a drink.  The death rate in the camp began to rise until as many as 55 men dying each day.  The burial detail worked non-stop to bury the dead.  Often, when they returned the next morning, the wild dogs had dug up the bodies or the bodies were sitting up in the graves.
    To get out of the camp, Edrow went out on a work detail to collect scrap metal.  The POWs were held at Camp Olivias.  The POWs tied disabled vehicles together with rope.  The lead vehicle was the only ones till operational.  A POW sat in each vehicle and drove it to San Fernando. 
    It was while he was on the detail that he became ill and died from malaria and dysentery at Camp Olivares.   Two other POWs, 
Sgt. Robert Peterson and Pvt. Harry Norowul, who were members of the 192nd, asked the Japanese to allow them to bury Edrow, Cpl. William Burns, and  Pvt. Charles Peterson, away from the other POW graves.  The Japanese allowed them to do this.
    A
fter the war, Peterson and Norowul drew a map for the families of these men which showed where their friends were buried.  The family of Charles Peterson hired an architect who drew a detail map of the grave site.  The remains of the three men were recovered and positively identified.
    At the request of his family, the remains of Pvt. Edrow F. Singletary were buried at the new American Military Cemetery at Manila in {lot F. Row 4, Grave 1.
   








 

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