Squyres

Pvt. Earl Monroe Squyres


     What little is known about Pvt. Earl M. Squyres is that he was born in Louisiana on January 1, 1922.  He was the son of C. Squyres & Maude Squyres.  Sometime during the 1920s, his parents divorced.   He and his sister first lived with his father in Alexandria, Louisiana, but in 1940, he and his sister were living with their mother and step-father at 1805 Park Avenue in Shreveport. 
    Earl completed high school and worked at a telegraph office as a messenger.  On September 17, 1940, he enlisted in the U. S. Army and trained at Fort Benning, Georgia.  After basic training, he was assigned to 753rd Tank Battalion.  

   
    The 753rd Tank Battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana.  It was while the unit was there, that Earl volunteered to join the 192nd Tank Battalion.  He was assigned to B Company as a replacement for a National Guardsman who was released from military service because he was deemed to be "too old" for duty overseas.

    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 half-tracks.  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.S Calvin Coolidge 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 November 5th, 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.  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 and were able to hold up the Japanese for several weeks. 
The tankers noted that the Japanese soldiers were high on drugs when they attacked.  Among the dead Japanese, they found the hypodermic needles and syringes.     
    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 and the tank dug into the dirt until the Japanese soldiers were dead.
 
   
  When the Filipino-American forces in the Philippine Islands were surrendered, Earl became a Prisoner of War.  He took part in the Bataan Death March starting at Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  The POWs went days without food or water.  At San Fernando, the POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane.  Each car could hold eight horses or forty men.  The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car.  Those who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas.  He then walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.  This camp was an unfinished Filipino Army Base which was pressed into service by the Japanese as a POW Camp.
    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base that the Japanese put into use as a POW camp.  There was one water spigot for the entire camp.  Men stood in line for hours just to get a drink.  The lack of medicine meant that disease ran wild among the POWs with as many as 55 men dying each day.

     Conditions in the camp were so bad that as many as fifty men a day died from disease.  In addition, there was only one water spigot for the entire camp.  The Japanese, recognizing how bad the situation was, opened a new camp at Cabanatuan.  Earl may have been sent to the camp when it opened or went there when a work detail came to an end. 

    What is known is that Pvt. Earl M. Sqyures was reported by the camp's medical staff to have been admitted to the camp's hospital on Tuesday, August 11, 1942, suffering from dysentery.  He was assigned to Barracks 8.  According to other records. Pvt. Earl M. Sqyures died at Cabanatuan POW Camp on Monday, August 17, 1942, of dysentery.  His approximated time of death was 9:15 in the morning.

    After the war, the graves at Cabanatuan were exhumed.  Those POWs whose remains could not be positively identified were reburied as "unknowns" at the new American military cemetery.  It is very likely that Earl M. Squyres was reburied at the cemetery as an "Unknown."


 

 


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