SpearM


Pvt. Mitchel O. Spear


Born: 1 February 1916 - Cumberland County, Kentucky

Father: Ebb Spear & Mell Spear

    - mother died when Mitchel was a child

Siblings: 3 sisters, 3 brothers

Hometown: Ellington, Kentucky

Inducted:

    - U. S. Army

        - 1 March 1941

Training: 

    - Fort Knox, Kentucky
        - attended specific tank school

    - Camp Polk, Louisiana
        - provided supplies to letter companies of the battalion
Note: The decision for this move - which had been made in August 1941 - was the result of an event that took place in the summer of 1941.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines, when one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower altitude, noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another in the distance.  He came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island which was hundred of miles away.  The island had a large radio transmitter.  The squadron continued its flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.
    When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.  The next day, when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat - with a tarp on its deck - which was seen making its way to shore.   Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was difficult, the boat escaped.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.

Overseas Duty:
    - battalion travels by train, over four different train routes to San Francisco, California
    - taken to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay by ferry - U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
    - October 25th & 26th - physicals given
        - some men released
        - others held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date
        - replacements fill these positions
    - Boarded: U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott - Monday - 27 October 1941
    - Sailed: same day
    - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Sunday - 2 November 1941
            - arrived in the morning
            - soldiers receive leave
    - Sailed: Wednesday - 5 November 1941
        - took southerly route away from main shipping lanes
        - joined by the heavy cruiser - U.S.S. Louisville and S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
        - Sunday - 9 November 1941 - soldiers went to sleep
            - ships cross International Date Line
            - awoke on Tuesday - 11 November 1941
        - Saturday - 15 November 1941
            - smoke seen on horizon
            - Lousiville revved its engines, its bow came out of water, and it shot off in the direction of the smoke
            - smoke was from a ship considered friendly
    - Arrived: Guam - Sunday - 16 November 1941
        - ship loaded vegetables, bananas, water, coconuts
    - Sailed: same day
    - Arrived: Manila, Philippine Islands -  20 November 1941
        - entered Manila Bay - 8:00 A.M.
        - disembarked in the afternoon
    - battalion rode train to Fort Stotsenburg
    - tanks unloaded by 17th Ordnance

Engagements:

    - Battle of Luzon 

        - 8 December 1941 - 6 January 1942
            - lived through attack on Clark Field
            - HQ Company remained in battalion bivouac
                - members took cover in dry latrine
            - lived through two more heavy attacks on December 10th and 13th
        - 15 December 1941
            - each battalion received 15 Bren Gun Carriers
            - used to see if ground could support tanks
        - 21 December 1941
            - 192nd ordered to support 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts at Lingayen Gulf
            - Japanese landing troops
            - HQ Company went north to support tank companies wherever they were
        - 22 December 1941 - first tank battle
        - tanks make run to Damortis
            - tanks supported 26th Cavalry
            - 26th Cavalry did not want tank support
            - 71st Division Commander said that they would clutter up their action
        - 23/24 December 1941
            - operated north of the Agno River
            - main bridge at Carmen blown
            - tank battalions made end runs to get south of Agno River
        - 24 December 1941
            - tank battalions held line along south bank of Agno River
                - 192nd held left side of line from west of Carmen (on Route 3)
                - critical points - held position for 24 hours
        - 25/26 December 1941 - tank battalions organized tank defenses
            - 192nd held line from Carmen (Route 3) to Tayug - northeast of San Quentin
                - critical points held by tanks
                - some tanks only in radio contact with each other
                - ordered to hold position until 5:00 A.M. - 27 December 1941
        - 26/27 December 1941
            - 192nd tanks ordered to form new defensive line from Carmen to Umigan
            - destroyed most of 44,000 gallons of 100-octane gas
        - 27 December 1941 - withdrew from line that night
            - formed new line: Santa Ignacia - Gerona - Santo Tomas - San Jose
        - 27/28 December 1941 - withdrew
            - formed new line: Tarlac - Cabanatuan
        - 28/29 December 1941
         - dropped back and formed: Bamban Gapan Line
        - 29/30 December 1941
            - new line behind Bamban River
                - ordered to hold until they received further orders
        - 31 December 1941/1 January 1942
            - tanks covering area north of Calumpit
        - 2 January 1942 - tanks ordered to Lyac Junction to covering position
            - cover withdrawal toward Bataan
            - 192nd covered northwest flanks
            - 194th withdrew covered by 192nd
        - 6 January 1942
            - tank battalions held line between Culis and Hermosa
        - 6/7 January 1942
            - 192nd covered withdrawal of 194th
            - 192nd last American unit to enter Bataan
                - bridge blown after it crossed
    - Battle of Bataan
        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942
        - 8 January 1942 - composite tank company created
            - held East Coast Road open
            - under constant enemy fire
            - tank battalions bivouac just south of Pilar-Bagac Road
                - tank companies reduced to 10 tanks
                - HQ Company and 17th Ordnance do needed maintenance on tanks
        - 13 January 1942 - tanks dropped back to battalion bivouac
        - 20 January 1942 - withdrawal from Abucay-Hacienda Line
            - 192nd covered East Coast Road
        - 25 January 1942 - Balanga-the Cadre Road-Bani Bani Road
Note:  It was at this time the tank battalions received these orders which came from Gen. Weaver, "Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying in position and firing at visible enemy until further delay will jeopardize withdrawal.  If a tank is immobilized, it will be fought until the close approach of the enemy, then destroyed; the crew previously taking positions outside and continuing to fight with the salvaged and personal weapons. Considerations of personal safety and expediency will not interfere with accomplishing the greatest possible delay."
        - 25/26 January 1942
            - Balanga - bridge battalion was to use destroyed by artillery fire
            - battalion had to use alternate roads west of Balanga
        - 28 January 1942 - beach duty
            - 192nd from Pandan Point to Limay
            - also was suppose to support sub-sectors A and B
            - during day tanks remained under jungle canopy
            - at night the tanks were moved onto beaches
        - 31 January 1942
            - half-tracks patrolled roads
        - 1 February 1942
            - tanks and half-tracks take on protecting three airfields
    - Battle of the Pockets
        - Japanese attacked and were pushed back creating two pockets behind the main defensive line
            - tanks sent in to wipe out pockets
            - tanks would enter pocket one at a time
            - another tank would not enter until tank that was relieved left the pocket
            - first method used against Japanese
                - three Filipinos soldiers rode on back of tanks
               - as tank passed over Japanese foxhole, Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into foxhole
                   - one of the three hand grenades usually exploded
            - second method used against Japanese
                - tank would park with one track over foxhole
                - tank driver gave power to other track causing the tank to spin
                - tank ground its way into ground
        - March 1942
            - Japanese had been fought to a standstill
            - suffered from same illnesses affecting Americans
        - 3 April 1942
            - fresh troops brought in from Singapore
            - lunch major offense
        - 6 April 1942
            - tanks sent to various areas in attempt to plug holes in defensive line
        - 8 April 1942
            - Gen. Edward P. King
                - determined only 25% of his troops were healthy enough to fight
                    - would last one more day
                - feared that the 6000 troops who were hospitalized and 40000 Filipino civilians would be slaughtered
                - 10:30 P.M. - sent staff officers to meet with Japanese and negotiate surrender terms
Note:  Tank battalion commanders received this order, "You will make plans, to be communicated to company commanders only, and be prepared to destroy within one hour after receipt by radio, or other means, of the word 'CRASH', all tanks and combat vehicles, arms, ammunition, gas, and radios: reserving sufficient trucks to close to rear echelons as soon as accomplished." 

        - 11:40 P.M. - ammunition dumps blown up

POW: 

    - 9 April 1942

        - HQ Company remained in bivouac for two days

        - Japanese arrived and ordered Americans out onto the road in front of bivouac

            - the Prisoners of War were made to kneel along sides of road

            - Japanese soldiers passing them took what they wanted from the POWs

        - POWs road trucks to Mariveles

            - sat in sun at schoolyard for several hours

            - at one point, the Japanese formed an firing squad to kill them

            - a Japanese Naval Officer stopped the execution 

        - Death March

            - Mariveles - POWs start march at southern tip of Bataan
            - POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing at Corregidor
                - Americans on Corregidor returned fire
            - San Fernando - POWs put into small wooden boxcars
                - each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men
                - 100 POWs packed into each car
                - POWs who died remained standing
            - Capas - dead fell to floor as living left boxcars
            - POWs walked last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell

Camps:

    - Philippines: 

        - Camp O'Donnell

            - unfinished Filipino training base
            - Japanese put camp into use as POW Camp
            - only one water spigot for entire camp
            - as many as 50 POWs died each day
            - Japanese opened new POW camp to lower death rate
 

        - Cabanatuan #1
            - hospitalized - Barracks 4 - Hospital Area - dysentery

Died:

    - Friday - 23 July 1942 - dysentery

        - Approximate time of death - 6:30 AM

Buried: Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery
    - remains returned home - 1949

Reburied: Burkesville Cemetery - Cumberland County, Kentucky


 

 

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