Sgt. Edward Henry Trebs
Sgt. Edward H. Trebs was born
January 8, 1913, in Wisconsin to Hugo Trebs &
Florence Duell-Trebs. He had two sisters and
two brothers. Sometime during the 1920s his
father died. Edward completed the eighth grade
and went to work as a farmhand to help support the
family. His family was residing in Bradford
Township, Rock County, Wisconsin.
At some point, Edward joined the Wisconsin National Guard. He was still a member of the National Guard when the unit was informed it was going to be federalized. In September 1940, the company was designated A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. The members of the company reported to the armory, in Janesville, and packed their equipment for transport. On November 28th, the company boarded a train for Fort Knox, Kentucky.
When the tankers arrived at Ft. Knox, they learned that their barracks were not finished. The area of the fort that they were assigned to was brand new. They found themselves living in tents with stoves in them. They remained in the tents several months. When they did move into their barracks, the roads in front of them were mud since the winter was extremely wet.
Edward, like all the other members of the battalion, learned to operate all the equipment of the battalion. It is not known what he trained to do with the company.
In late August, the battalion was informed it would take part in maneuvers in Louisiana. During the maneuvers the battalion performed exceptionally well. After the maneuvers, instead of returning to Ft. Knox, the battalion remained at Camp Polk. None of the members had any idea why they were being kept there.
On the side of a hill, the battalion members were informed that they were being sent overseas. They were told that this decision had been made by General George Patton. Those members of the battalion who were 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service.
The battalion traveled by train to San Francisco. By ferry, they were taken to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they received inoculations and physicals. Those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island. They were scheduled to join the battalion at a later date.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy. They 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 but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes. During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon. The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke. It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly country.
Arriving at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water before sailing for Manila. 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.
At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward King, who apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field, but the fact was he had just learned of their arrival a few days earlier. He made sure that they all had what they needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner. Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons. The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea. They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance.
On Monday, December 1st, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers. The 194th Tank Battalion guarded the northern half of the airfield, while the 192nd guarded the southern half. At all times, two members of every tank and half-track crew remained with their vehicles. Meals were brought to them by food trucks.
At six in the morning on December 8th, the officers of the battalion were called to the radio room at the fort. They were ordered to bring their tank platoons up to full strength at the perimeter of airfield. All morning the sky was filled with American planes. At noon, the planes landed to be refueled and the pilots went to lunch. At 12:45, the tankers were having lunch and watched as 54 planes approached the airfield from the north. As they watched, the saw "raindrops" falling from the planes. When bombs began exploding, the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese.
The battalion remained at Clark Field for about two weeks before it went north to Lingayen Gulf. During the fall back from the area, Edward was wounded, in the legs, from shrapnel when the Japanese bombed a bridge he was near. He was taken to Little Baguio Hospital and developed tropical ulcers that would not heal. The Japanese agreed to allow one ship out of the Philippines with wounded on it. The doctors determined that Edward should be on the ship.
On December 31, 1941, the patients were informed that the Japanese had agreed to allow a ship to leave Manila with the wounded. Edward and other patients were moved to the docks to be put on the ship. The ship was only about 2000 tons and had red crosses on white fields painted on its sides. The patients were placed on cots on the deck of the ship because there was no room for them below deck.
The remainder of the trip would was not uneventful. First, the ship's crew had to battle a fire in its engine room. Then, the ship had to struggle through a storm before arriving in Australia.
In Australia, Edward was a patient at the 113th
Australian General Hospital in Sydney. He
would spend the remainder of the war in Australia
and met an Australian woman and married her.