Taylor_R

 

Pvt. Rogers Louis Taylor


    Pvt. Rogers L. Taylor was born on January 23, 1919, in Normangee, Texas, to Monroe Taylor and Lena Long-Taylor.  With his five brothers and four sisters, he was raised in Bald Prairie, Texas.   He attended high school for two years and was working as a carpenter when he was inducted into the U.S. Army on March 20, 1941, in Houston, Texas.
    Rogers was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky,  for basic training.  After completing his basic training, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, where he was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion.  The battalion had been sent to the base from Ft. Benning, Georgia, but it did not take part in the maneuvers  that were taking place at the base.  After the maneuvers, the 192nd Tank Battalion, which was made up mainly of National Guardsmen, was informed it was being sent overseas.  It was at this time that Rogers volunteered to replace a National Guardsman released from federal service.

    From Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over four different train routes.  Arriving in San Francisco, the soldiers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, the soldiers were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases. Those with health issues were released from service and replaced.
    The battalion sailed 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 October 29th 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.  The tankers remaining behind prepared the tanks and half-tracks for transport to the fort.
    At the Ft. Stotsenburg, 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.
    The morning of December 8th, the officers of the battalions met and were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier.  The 192nd letter companies were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield. 
    All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, all the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45 planes approached the airfield from the north.  The tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54 planes.  When bombs began exploding, the men knew the planes were Japanese.  After the attack the 192nd remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for almost two weeks. 
    The tankers were than sent to the Lingayen Gulf area where the Japanese had landed.  It was at Lingayen Gulf that a platoon of the battalion's tanks engaged the Japanese in the first tank battle of World War II involving American tanks.  The tank companies, during the withdrawal into Bataan, repeatedly were the last unit to disengage from the enemy before a new defensive line was formed.
     The company took part in the Battle of the Pockets.  The Japanese had lunched an offensive and were pushed back to the original battle line.  Two pockets of Japanese soldiers were trapped behind the line.  The tanks were sent in to the pockets to wipe them out.  One platoon of tanks would relieve another platoon.  The tanks would do this one at a time.
    The tanks used two strategies to do this. In the first, the tanks would go over a foxhole.  Three Filipino soldiers were sitting on the back of the tanks.  Each man had a bag of hand grenades.  As the tank was passing over the foxhole, the three soldiers would drop hand grenades into the foxhole.
    The second method was to park a tank over a foxhole.  The driver would then spun the tank, in a circle, on one track until it ground itself into the ground wiping out the Japanese.  The tankers slept upwind from the tanks so they didn't have to smell the rotting flesh.
    The company also took part in the Battle of the Points.  The Japanese attempted to land troops on points in Southern Bataan.  The operation was intercepted by American PT boat and which sunk two of the barges.  The remaining Japanese soldiers landed on Quinawan and Aglaloma Points.  The tanks were sent in to help wipe-out the Japanese.
    In February 1942, B Company was also given the job of defending a beach, along the east coast of Bataan, where the Japanese could land troops.  One night while on this duty, the company engaged the Japanese in a fire fight as they attempted to land troops on the beach.  When morning came, not one Japanese soldier had successfully landed on the beach.
    After being up all night, the tankers attempted to get some sleep.  Every morning "Recon Joe" flew over attempting to  locate the tanks.  The jungle canopy hide the tanks from the plane.  Walter Cigoi aggravated about being woken up, pulled his halftrack on the beach and took a "pot shot" at the plane.  He missed.  Twenty minutes later, Japanese planes appeared and bombed the position.  Frank took cover under a tank.

   
    After the attack, the tankers found Richard Graff, Charles Heuel dead and Francis McGuire was wounded.  Another man had his leg partially blown off.  The tankers attempted to put the man in a jeep,  his leg got in the way.  To get him into the jeep, leg was cut off by
T/4 Frank Goldstein
    Around 6:45 in the morning of April 9, 1942, the tankers received the order "crash."   They circled their tanks, fired a amour piercing shell into the engine of each tank, and dropped hand grenades into the crew compartments after opening the gasoline cocks.  They then remained in their bivouac until the Japanese made contact with them and ordered them to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.
   
    The Americans started the march from Mariveles and were marched in groups of 100 with guns on them at all times.  Each group was assigned six Japanese guards who would be changed at regular intervals.  During the 70 mile march, the Americans were seldom allowed to stop and were not fed until the fifth day.  Those who stopped or dropped out were bayoneted or left to die.
    At San Fernando, the Prisoners of War were herded into a bullpen which was covered in human waste,  They again were ordered to form 100 men detachments and taken to the train station.  There, they were packed into small wooden boxcars known as "forty and eights."  Each car could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car.  On the trip, those who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas.
    From Capas, the POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.  Upon arriving at the camp, the POWs were lectured by the camp commandant who told them they were captives and not POWs and would be treated as captives. 
    The camp was an unfinished Filipino training base that the POWs put into use as a POW camp.  There was one water faucet for the entire camp.  Men literally died for a drink of water.  Disease among the POWs ran wild with as many as 55 POWs dying each day.
    Many of POWs went out on work details to get out of the camp.  The Japanese finally acknowledged that something had to be done and opened a new camp at Cabanatuan, but did not stay in the camp very long.  It is known Rogers was most likely sent to Japan on the Tottori Maru
    The POWs left Cabanatuan on October 5th and taken by truck to Manila where they arrived at Pier 7 on October 6th.  They were held in a warehouse and the next day they boarded the ship and put into it's holds. The ship sailed on October 8, 1942, for Takao, Formosa.  The next day an American submarine fired two torpedoes at the ship.  The captain maneuvered the ship and one torpedoed passed it by feet. 
    On October 12th the ship arrived at Takao.  The ship sailed on October 16th, but returned to Takao with engine problems.  After repairs, it sailed again on October 18th for the Pescadores Islands, north of Formosa, arriving there the same day.  There it dropped anchor and waited for a convoy to form.  The ship returned to Takao on October 27th and the POWs were disembarked the next day and bathed with fire hoses.
    The ship sailed again on October 30th, and arrived the same day at Makou, Pescadores Islands.  After an overnight stay, the ship sailed for Fusan, Korea, arriving on November 7th where some of the POWs disembarked.  It sailed again and arrived at Osaka, Japan, on November 11th.
    The POWs were disembarked and organized into detachments of 100 men each.  They were taken to the train station and dropped off at various POW camps along the rail line.  In Rogers case, he was taken to

Kawasaki 2-B arriving there on November 13th.  The POWs in the camp were used as slave labor bu Mitui Corporation at a steel mill and on docks as stevedores.

    It is known Rogers was transferred to Omori Camp, but he may have also been held at Tokyo 13-B.  Once at Omori Camp he and the other POWs were used as slave labor on the docks and in an iron works.  He remained in the camp until liberated in September 1945.

    Rogers was returned to the Philippines for medical treatment and then the United States.  He was discharged on May 25, 1946.  He married Edith Ridgeway and became the father of a daughter and two sons.  Rogers spent the rest of his life in Texas.
    Rogers Taylor died on August 5, 2005, and was buried in Section 23, Site 592, at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas. 
    The photo at the top of the page was taken while Rogers was a POW at Omori Camp in Japan.


 

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