Bataan Project

Cpl. William Sherman Allen

Born: 8 August 1918 - Union Star, Missouri

Parents: William E. & Margaret Allen

Siblings: 2 sisters, 1 brother

Hometown: 6708 Kings Hill Avenue - Saint Joseph, Missouri

Education: Benton High School

     - Class of 1936

    - St. Joseph Junior College

        - Associate's Degree

Occupation: janitor - public school


     - Missouri National Guard

        - his older brother was in the National Guard 

        - worked as company clerk 


    - U. S. Army

        - 10 February 1941 - St. Joseph, Missouri


    - Fort Lewis, Washington

    - Fort Knox, Kentucky

        - attended company clerk school


    - 194th Tank Battalion

        - assigned to HQ Company

        - 36 members of his National Guard unit were sent to the

        - his brother was sent to Alaska with the rest of the company
Note: On August 15, 1941, the 194th received orders, from Ft. Knox, Kentucky, for duty in the Philippines because of an event that happened during the summer.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a buoy in the water.  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, hundred of miles away, with a large radio transmitter on it.  The squadron continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles before returning to Clark Field.  By the time the planes landed that evening, it was too late to do anything that day.
    The next morning, another squadron was sent to the area and found that the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat which was seen making its way toward shore.  Since communication between and Air Corps and Navy was poor, the boat was not intercepted.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
    - Battalion took train to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California
        - ferried on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island
        - received physical from battalion's medical detachment
            - men who failed physicals replaced

Overseas Duty:

    - Ship: S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
        - Boarded: Monday - 8 September 1941 - 3:00 P.M.
        - Sailed: 9:00 P.M. - same day
        - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Saturday - 13 September 1941 - 7:00 A.M.
        - Sailed: 5:00 P.M. - same day

            - escorted by the heavy cruiser, U.S.S. Astoria, and an unknown destroyer
                - heavy cruiser intercepted several ships after smoke was seen on the horizon
                - ships belonged to friendly countries
        - Arrived: Manila - Friday - 26 September 1941
            - disembark ship - 3:00 P.M.
            - taken by bus to Fort Stostenburg
    - Philippines
        - lived in tents until barracks completed - 15 November 1941  
        - 1 December 1941
            - tank and half-track crews ordered to perimeter of Clark Field
                - designated positions
                - HQ Company remained in battalion's designated area


    - Battle of Luzon

        - 8 December 1941 - 6 January 1942

            - The morning of December 8th, December 7th in the United States, the tankers received news of attack on Pearl Harbor
            - 12:45 P.M. - the airfield was bombed destroying the Army Air Corps
                - tankers were receiving lunch from food trucks when attack came
            - HQ Company members remained in 194th command area
                - could do little more than take cover during attack

            - wounded during attack on Clark Airfield 

                - awarded Purple Heart

            - HQ Company members watched as wounded and dying carried to hospital on anything that could carry them

                - most had arms or legs missing

                - when room ran out in hospital, wounded put under the building

            - Next day, the members of the company walked around airfield

                - the dead were everywhere
            - 10 December 1941
                - battalion sent to Mabalcat
                    - C Company was sent to Southern Luzon to support troops
            - 12 December 1941
                - moved to new bivouac south to San Fernando near Calumpit Bridge
                    - arrived 6:00 A.M.
            - 14 December 1941
                - A Co. & D Co., 192nd moved to just north of Muntinlupa
            - 15 December 1941
                - received 15 Bren gun carriers
                - turned some over to 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts
                - Bren gun carriers used to test ground to see if it could support tanks
            - 22 December 1941
                - sent to Rosario
                    - west and north of the of barrio
                    - ordered out of the 71st Division Commander
                        - said they would hinder the cavalry's operation
            - 22/23 December 1941
                - operating north of Agno River
                - main bridge at Carmen bombed
            - 24 December 1941
                - operating in Hacienda Road area
            - 26/27 December 1941
                - ordered to withdraw - 7:00 A.M.
                    - Lt. Costigan's platoon forced its way through way through Carmen
                        - lost two tanks
                            - one tank belonged to company commander - Captain Edward Burke
                                - believed dead, but was actually captured
                            - one tank crew rescued
                - new line Santa Ignacia-Gerona-Santo Tomas-San Jose
                - rest of battalion made a dash out
                    - lost one tank at Bayambang
                    - another tank went across front receiving fire and firing on Japanese
                - Lt. Petree's platoon fought its way out and across Agno River
                - D Company, 192nd, lost all its tanks except one
                    - the tank commander found a crossing
                    - Japanese would use tanks later on Bataan
            - 28 December 1941
                - Tarlec Line
                    - most of battalion withdrew from line that night
            - 29/30 December 1941
                - new line at Bamban River established
                - tank battalions held line until ordered to withdraw
            - 30/31 December 1941
                    - tank battalions held Calumpit Bridge
                    - covering withdraw of Philippine Divisions south on Rt. 3, San Fernando
            - 2 January 1942
                - both tank battalions ordered to withdrawal to Lyac Junction
                - 194th withdrew there on Highway 7
            - 5 January 1942
                - C Company and A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, withdrew from Guagua-Poraline Line and moved into position between
                  Sasmuan and Lubao
                - 1:50 A.M. - Japanese attempted to infiltrate
                    - bright moonlight made them easy to see
                    - tanks opened fire
                    - Japanese lay down smoke which blew back into them
                - 3:00 A.M. - Japanese broke off engagement
                     - suffered 50% casualties
                - Remedios - established new line along dried creek bed 
            - 6/7 January 1942
                - 194th, covered by 192nd, crosses Culis Creek into Bataan
                - both battalions bivouacked south of Aubucay-Hacienda Road
                - rations cut in half

    - Battle of Bataan

        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942
             - HQ Company serviced tanks and supplied crews with ammunition, gas, and
            - January 1942
                - tank companies reduced to three tanks per platoon
                - tanks given to D Company
    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."
           - 8 January 1942
                - composite tank company made up of tanks from the 192nd and 194th sent to protect East Coast Road north of Hermosa
                    - their job was to keep the East Road open  north of Hermosa and prevent the Japanese from driving into Bataan before the main
                      battle line had been formed
                - remainder of tanks ordered to bivouac for night south of Aubucay-Hacienda Road
                    - tankers had been fighting for a month without a rest
                    - tanks also needed overdue maintenance
                    - 17th Ordnance
                - all tank companies reduced to ten tanks
                - three per tank platoon
                - sent to reopen Moron Road so General Segunda's forces could withdraw
                - tanks knock out an anti-tank gun
                - two tanks disabled by landmines but recovered
                - mission abandoned
                - Gen. Segunda's troops escaped using beach but lost their heavy equipment
            - 12 January 1942
                - C Company, with D Company, 192nd, sent to Cadre Road
                    - forward position with little alert time
            - 13 January 1942
                - mines planted by ordnance prevented them from reaching Cadre Road
                - returned to battalion
            - 16 January 1942
                -  C Company sent to Bagac to reopen Moron Highway
                    - highway had been cut by Japanese
                    - Moron Highway, and Junction of Trail 162
                        - tank platoon fired on by antitank gun
                            - tanks knock out gun
                            - cleared roadblock with support of infantry
            - 20 January 1942
                - Banibani Road -tanks sent in to save 31st Infantry command post
            - 24 January 1942
                - tanks order to Hacienda Road in support of troops
                     - landmines planted by ordnance prevented them from reaching road
            - 26 January 1942
                - the battalion held a position a kilometer north of the Pilar-Bagac Road
                    - four self-propelled mounts with the battalion
                - 9:45 A.M. - warned by Filipino a large Japanese force was coming
                    - when the enemy appeared they opened up with all the battalion had
                - 10:30 A.M. - Japanese withdrew after losing 500 of 1200 men
                - prevented new defensive line being formed from being breached
            - 28 January 1942
                - 194th tanks given beach duty protecting southern beaches
                - guarded coast from Limay to Cabcaben
                - half-tracks patrolled roads
                    - maintained radio contact with on-shore and off-shore patrols
            - March 1942
                - two tanks were bogged down in mud
                - the tankers were working to get them out
                - Japanese Regiment entered the area
                - Lt. Col. Miller ordered tanks and artillery to fire at point blank range
                    - Miller ran from tank to tank directing fire
                - wiped out Japanese regiment
                - gasoline rations cut to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles except the tanks
                - Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that one platoon of tanks be sent to Corregidor
                    - Wainwright rejected idea
        - 4 April 1942
            - Japanese launched major offensive
            - tanks sent into various sectors to stop Japanese advance
        - 6 April 1942
            - four tanks sent to support 45th Philippine Infantry and 75th Infantry, Philippine Scouts
                - one tank knocked out by anti-tank fire at junction of Trails 8 & 6
                - other tanks covered withdraw
            - 3rd Platoon sent up west coast road
                - near Mount Samat ran into heavy Japanese force
                - the tanks withdrew to Marivales
        - 8 April 1942
            - at Cabcaban Airfield
        -9 April 1942
            - 6:45 A.M. - ordered to destroy guns and other equipment that could be used by Japanese
            - 7:00 A.M. - Prisoner of War
            - ordered to report to kilometer marker 168.2.
                - Provisional Tank Group Headquarters
            - Japanese officers told Col. Ernest Miller to keep them there until ordered to move

Prisoner of War: 

    - 9 April 1942

        - Death March

            - started march at Mariveles on southern tip of Bataan

            - POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing at Corregidor

               - Corregidor returned fire 

         - San Fernando 

           - POWs packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul


               - each car could hold 40 men or eight horses

               - Japanese pack 100 POWs into each car

               - those who died remained standing

         - Capas - living leave boxcars

             - dead fall to floor of cars

         - POWs walk the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell 

         - POW for eighteen months before his parents learned he was


        - William took ten days to complete march

        - witnessed three POWs shot

POW Camps:

    - Philippine Islands:
        -Camp O'Donnell

           - 1 April 1942 - unfinished Filipino training base Japanese put into use as a POW camp
                - Japanese believed the camp could hold 15,000 to 20,000 POWs
            - POWs searched upon arrival at camp
                - those found with Japanese money were accused of looting
                - sent to guardhouse
                - over several days, gun shots heard southeast of the camp
                    - POWs who had money on them had been executed
            - Japanese took away any extra clothing from POWs as they entered the camp and refused to return it
                - since no water was available for wash clothing, the POWs threw soiled clothing away
                - clothing was taken from dead
                - few of the POWs in the camp hospital had clothing
            - POWs were not allowed to bathe
            - only one water spigot for entire camp
                - POWs waited 2½ hours to 8 hours to get a drink
                    - water frequently turned off by Japanese guards and next man in line waited as long as 4 hours for water to be turned on again
                    - mess kits could not be cleaned
                - POWs had to carry water 3 miles from a river to cook their meals
                - second water spigot installed a week after POWs arrived
            - slit trenches overflowed since many of the POWs had dysentery
                - flies were everywhere including in camp kitchens and food
            - camp hospital had no water, soap, or disinfectant
            - the senior POW doctor wrote a list of medicines he wanted to treat the sick and was told by the camp commandant, Capt. Yoshio
              Tsuneyoshi, never to write another letter
                - Tsuneyoshi said that all he wanted to know about the American POWs was their names and numbers when they died
                - refused to allow a truckload of medicine sent by the Archbishop of Manila into the camp
                - 95% of the medicine sent by Philippine Red Cross was taken by the Japanese for their own use
            - POWs in camp hospital lay on floor elbow to elbow
            - operations on POWs were performed with mess kit knives
            - only one medic out of six assigned to care for 50 sick POWs, in the hospital, was well enough to work
            - as many as 50 POWs died each day
                - each morning dead were found everywhere in the camp and stacked up under the hospital
                - ground under hospital was scrapped and cover with lime to clean it
                - the dead were moved to this area and the section where they had laid was scrapped and cover with lime
                - usually not buried for two or three days
            - work details: if a POW could walk, he was sent out on a work detail
                - POWs on burial detail often had dysentery and malaria
        - Bridge Building Detail
            - POWs rebuilt bridges that had been destroyed during withdraw into Bataan

        - Cabanatuan #1
        - original name: Camp Panagaian
            - Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
                - actually three camps
                    - Camp 1: POWs from Camp O'Donnell
                    - Camp 2:  four miles away
                        - all POWs moved from there because of a lack of water
                        - later used for Naval POWs
                    - Camp 3: six miles from Camp 2
                        - POWs from Corregidor and from hospitals sent there
                            - POWs later moved to Camp 1
           - Camp 1:
                - work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens, plant rice, and farm
                - when POWs lined up for roll call, it was a common practice for Japanese guards, after the POWs lined up, to kick the POWs in
                  their shins with their hobnailed boots
                    - they also were frequently hit with a pick handle, for no reason, as they counted off
                - POWs on the rice planting detail were punished by having their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on
                - the POWs had to go into a shed to get the tools, as they came out, they were hit on their heads
                - if the guards on the detail decided the POW wasn't doing what he should be doing, he was beaten
                - many POWs on details were able to smuggle in medicine, food, and tobacco into the camp
            - to prevent escapes, the POWs set up patrols along the camp's fence
            - men who attempted to escape and caught were executed after being beaten
                - the other POWs were forced to watch the beatings
            - daily POW meal - 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn

        - Barracks:
            - each built to house 50 POWs
                - 60 to 120 POWs were housed in each barracks
                - POWs slept on bamboo slats
                - many became sick from the lack of bedding, covers, and mosquito netting
        - Camp Hospital:
            - 30 Wards
                - each ward could hold 40 men
                    - frequently had 100 men in each
               - two tiers of bunks
                   - sickest POWs on bottom tier
               - each POW had a 2 foot by 6 foot area to lie in
            - Zero Ward
              - given name because it had been missed when counting wards
              - became ward where those who were going to die were sent
              - fenced off from other wards
                  - Japanese guards would not go near it
                 - POWs sent there had little to no chance of surviving
              - many deaths from disease caused by malnutrition

        - Bilibid Prison

Note: William never had malaria

Hell Ship:

    - Hokusen Maru

        - Sailed: Manila- 3 October 1944

        - Arrived: Hong Kong - 11 October 1944

            - attacked by U.S. fighters

        - Sailed: 21 October 1944

        - Arrived: Takao, Formosa – 11 November 1944

            -    POWs disembark since they were in bad shape

Note: During the trip, he could hear the torpedoes hitting the other

           ships in the convoy.
POW Camp:

    - Formosa

        - Heito Camp

            - POWs cleaned a dry river bed of rocks to plant sugarcane
Hell Ship

    - Melbourne Maru

        -     Sailed: Takao, Formosa – 14 January 1945

        -     Arrived: Moji, Japan - 23 January 1945
POW Camp:

    - Japan

        - Sendai #8B

            - 29 January 1945 - POWs arrived

            - Work:
                - POWs worked at Fujita-gumi Construction Company
                    - work: mining and smelting of copper
                    - civilian employees allowed to beat POWs for not working hard enough

                - William worked in a railroad shop
            - Medical Treatment:
                - Red Cross Boxes withheld from POWs
                    - denied medicine, medical supplies, and medical instruments
                    - proper medical treatment denied POWs

                    - POWs who reported for sick call beaten
                        - sick POWs forced to work

                - 25 January 1945 - 11 May 1945 - William was forced to work while sick
            - Barracks

                - wooden barracks
                    - infested with lice, bedbugs, rats
                    - insufficiently heated
                        - POWs caught smuggling coal into camp beaten
            - Punishment:
                - collective punishment common
                    - when one POW stole a blanket in March 1945, all the POWs stood at attention until the man confessed
                        - other POWs had to walk past him and slap him in the face which took 10 minutes
                        - spent two days in guardhouse
                    - POWs beaten, slapped, hit with iron pipes, and sheaths of swords
                    - often made to stand in cold for hours
                    - on one occasion 5 POWs being punished stood in cold while nude 1½ hours
                    - POWs were made to crawl or take painful positions for long periods of time
            - Meals
                - POWs underfed and smuggled food into camp
                    - when caught they were beaten
            - Red Cross Packages
                - Japanese misappropriated food, clothing, shoes, medicines, medical supplies, and medical equipment meant for POWs

Liberated: 11 September 1945

    - remembered seeing how devastated Tokyo looked after he had been liberated

    - returned to Philippine Islands
    - U.S.S. General R. L. Howze
        - Sailed: Manila - 23 September 1945
        - Arrived: San Francisco - 16 October 1945

    - sent to Schick General Hospital, Clinton, Iowa

     - met his future wife who was working at the hospital with Red Cross

Married: Maxine Bednar - 3 November 1946 - Worth County, Iowa

Children: 2 daughters

Promoted: Staff Sergeant

    - joined Air National Guard

     - discharged when unit was called up for Korean War 


    - Bachelors of Arts - University of Kansas

    - Jurist Doctoral Degree - University of Kansas

Lawyer - served as a judge in Johnson County, Kansas

Died: 16 June 2011 - Overland Park, Kansas

Buried: - Johnson County Chapel & Memorial Gardens - Overland Park, Kansas



William  Allen Interview


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