| Pvt. William
L. Arnold was born on May 4, 1917, in Fishtail,
Montana, to William C. & Margaret B.
Arnold. He was the oldest of the couple's
six sons and four daughters. Since he could
not afford the cost of getting to school, he
dropped out of high school during his first year
to help support his family by working on the
family's farm. He was one of the first
Montana men to have his name selected to be
Bill was inducted into the Army
on March 25, 1941. He was sent to Fort
Lewis, Washington, for basic training, and Ft.
Knox, Kentucky, to radio operator school and
qualified as a radio operator.
After radio school and sent
to Camp Polk, Louisiana, where he became a
member of the 753rd Tank Battalion. After
the maneuvers, the 192nd Tank Battalion was
ordered to Camp Polk. The battalion was
there for two weeks before the tankers were
informed that they were being deployed overseas
as part of Operation PLUM. Within hours,
the men had figured out that PLUM stood for
Philippines, Luzon, Manila. Since the
battalion was made up of National Guard Tank
Companies, those men who were 29 years old or
older were allowed to resign from federal
service. William either volunteered, or
had his name drawn, to join the battalion as a
replacement and was assigned to D Company.
The reason for this
move was an event that took place in the summer
of 1941. 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, with a large radio transmitter,
hundred of miles away. The squadron
continued its flight plane and flew south to
Mariveles and then returned to Clark
Field. When the planes landed, it was too
late to do anything that day, so the next day -
when a Navy ship was sent to the area - the
buoys had been picked up. It was at that
time the decision was made to build up the
American military presence in the Philippines.
The battalion also received
"new" tank, which were new in the sense that
they were new to the battalion. In
reality, the tanks had been came from the
753rd. The members of the 192nd cosmolined
the guns so that they would not rust. The
tanks and half-tracks were cosmolined and loaded
on flatbed train cars.
Over different train routes,
to San Francisco, California, where they were
ferried, on the U.S.A.T General Frank M.
Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel
Island. On the island the battalion's
medical detachment gave inoculations and
physicals to the tankers. Those men with
minor medical issues were held on the island and
scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later
date. Some men were simply replaced.
The 192nd was boarded onto
the U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and
sailed on Monday, October 27th. During
this part of the trip, many tankers had
seasickness, but once they recovered they spent
much of the time training in breaking down
machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing
KP. They arrived at Honolulu,
Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and had a two
day layover, so the soldiers were given shore
leave so they could see the island.
On Wednesday, November 5th,
the ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly
route away from the main shipping lanes.
It was at this time it was joined by, the heavy
cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and, the
transport, S.S. President Calvin Coolidge.
Sunday night, November 9th, the soldiers went to
bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was
Tuesday, November 11th. During the night,
while they slept, the ships had crossed the
International Date Line. On Saturday,
November 15th, smoke from an unknown ship was
seen on the horizon. The Louisville revved
up its engines, its bow came out of the water,
and it shot off in the direction of the
smoke. It turned out the smoke was from a
ship that belonged to a friendly country.
When they arrived at Guam on
Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on water,
bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing
for Manila the next day. At one point, the
ships passed an island at night and did so in
total blackout. This for many of the
soldiers was a sign that they were being sent
into harm's way. The ships entered Manila
Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20th,
and docked at Pier 7 later that morning.
At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by
bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. Those who drove
trucks drove them to the fort, while the
maintenance section remained behind at the pier
to unload the tanks.
At the fort, the tankers were
met by Colonel Edward P. King, who 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 live in tents. The fact was he had
not learned of their arrival until days before
they arrived. He made sure that they had
Thanksgiving Dinner before he left to have his
The members of the battalion
pitched the tents in an open field halfway
between the Clark Field Administration Building
and Fort Stotsenburg. The tents were set
up in two rows and five men were assigned to
each tent. There were two supply tents and
meals were provided by food trucks stationed at
the end of the rows of tents.
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.
After arriving in the
Philippines, the process was begun to transfer D
Company to the 194th Tank Battalion, which had
left for the Philippines minus one
company. B Company of the battalion was
sent to Alaska while the remaining companies, of
the battalion, were sent to the
Philippines. The medical clerk for
the192nd spent weeks organizing records to be
handed over to the 194th.
On December 1, the tank
battalions were ordered to the perimeter of
Clark Field to guard against Japanese
paratroopers. The 194th, with D Company,
was assigned northern part of the airfield and
the 192nd guarded the southern half. Two
members of each tank and half-track crew
remained with their vehicles at all times and
received their meals from food trucks.
The morning of December 8,
1941, just hours after the Japanese attack on
Pearl Harbor, the company was brought up to full
strength at the perimeter of Clark Field.
All morning long, the sky was filled with
American planes. At noon, the planes
landed to be refueled and the pilots went to
lunch. The planes were parked in a
straight line outside the pilots' mess hall waiting
to be refueled.
At 12:45, two formations,
totaling 54 planes, approached the airfield from
the north. When bombs began exploding on
the runways, the tankers knew that planes were
Japanese. Being that their tanks could not
fight planes, they watched as the Japanese
destroyed the Army Air Corps. Of
this, he said, "The
Japanese hit us the same time they
hit Pearl Harbor. The time difference
is a day, so it was December 8 in the
Philippines and December 7 in Pearl
Harbor. I remember I was out there
waiting for a ride into the village. I
heard these planes come over. They
were high flying bombers. I thought
they were ours until I saw bombs dropping
out of them."
When the Japanese were
finished, there was not much left of the
airfield. He said,
"We had nothing left but what we had
on our backs." The soldiers
watched as the dead, the dying, and the wounded
were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks,
trucks, and anything else, that could carry the
wounded, was in use. When the hospital
filled, they watched the medics place the
wounded under the building. Many of these
men had their arms and legs missing.
That night, most men slept
under their tanks since it was safer than
sleeping in their tents. They had no idea
that they had slept their last night in a bed.
One of the results of the
attack was that the transfer of D Company, to
the 194th, was never completed. The
company retained its designation of being part
of the 192nd for both the Battle of Luzon and
the Battle of Bataan.
The 194th, with D Company,
was moved, the night of the 12th, to an area
south of San Fernando near the Calumpit Bridge
arriving there at 6:00 A.M. On December
13, the tankers were moved 80 kilometers from
Clark Field to do reconnaissance and to guard
beaches. On the 15th, the battalion
received 15 Bren gun carriers but turned some
over to the 26th Cavalry, Philippine
Scouts. These were used to test the ground
to see if it could support tanks.
The tank battalions were sent
to the area around the Lingayen Gulf. The
company was near a mountain, so many of the
tankers climber to the top. On the
mountain, they found troops, ammunition, guns
but were just sitting there watching the
Japanese ships in the gulf. They had
received orders not to fire.
The tankers walked down
the mountain and waited. They received
orders to drop back from the mountain and let
the Japanese occupy it. They watched as
the Japanese brought their equipment to the top
of the mountain. The Americans finally
received orders to launch a counterattack which
On December 22, the companies
were operating north of the Agno River and after
the main bridge was bombed, on December 24/25,
made an end tun to get south of the river and
not be trapped by the Japanese. The tanks
held the south bank of the river from west of
Carmen to the Carmen-Akcaka-Bautista Road with
the 192nd holding the bank east of Carmen to
Tayug (northeast of San Quintin).
Christmas Day, the tankers
spent in the night in a coconut grove. As
it turned out, the coconuts were all they had to
eat. From Christmas to January 15, 1942,
both day and night, all the tanks did was cover
retreats of different infantry units. The
tanks were constantly bombed, shelled, and
The tanks formed a new
defensive held the Santa Ignacia-Gerona-Santo
Tomas- San Jose line on December 26. When
they dropped back from the line, all the
platoons withdrew, except one which provided
cover, as the other platoons from the
area. One tank went across the line
receiving fire and firing on the Japanese.
At Bayambang, Lt. Petree's
platoon lost a tank. It was at this time
that D Company, 192nd, lost all their tanks,
except one, because the bridge they were suppose
to cross had been destroyed. The company
commander, Lt. Jack Altman, could not bring
himself to totally destroy the tanks, and the
Japanese repaired them and used them on
Bataan. The sergeant of the one tank, that
had not abandoned, found a place to ford the
river a few hundred yards from the bridge.
The tankers were at Santo
Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27, and at San
Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28 and
29. On January 1, conflicting orders were
received by the defenders who were attempting to
stop the Japanese advance down Route 5.
Doing this would allow the Southern Luzon Forces
to withdraw toward Bataan. General
Wainwright was unaware of the orders since they
came from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff.
Because of the orders, there
was confusion among the Filipinos and American
forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga
River. Due to the efforts of the Self
Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and
a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion
the Japanese were halted. From January 2
to 4, the 192nd held the road open from San
Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces
At 2:30 A.M., the night of
January 5/6, the Japanese attacked at Remlus in
force and using smoke as cover. This
attack was an attempt to destroy the tank
battalions. At 5:00 A.M., the Japanese
withdrew having suffered heavy casualties.
The night of January 6/7 the
tanks withdrew into the peninsula with the 192nd
holding its position so that the 194th Tank
Battalion could leap frog past it, cross the
bridge, and then cover the 192nd's withdraw over
the bridge. The 192nd was the last
American unit to enter Bataan, before the
engineers blew up the bridge at 6:00 A.M.
It was at this time that the tank companies were
reduced to three tanks each. This was done
to provide tanks to D Company, while those crews
still without tanks were used as replacements,
At Gumain River, on January
5th, D Company and C Company, 194th, were given
the job to hold the south riverbank so that the
other units could withdraw. The tank
companies formed a defensive line along the 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 tankers were able to hold up the Japanese.
The night of January 6/7, the
194th, covered by the 192nd, crossed the bridge
over the Culis Creek and entered Bataan.
This was the beginning of the Battle of
Bataan. At this time, the food rations
were cut in half.
General Weaver also issued
the following orders to the tank battalions
around this time. "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
A composite tank
company was created on January 8 under the
command of Capt. Donald Haines, B Company,
192nd, and sent to defend the Wast Coast Road
north of Hermosa. Its job was to keep the
north road open and prevent the Japanese from
driving down the road before a new battle line
had been formed. The Japanese never
lunched an attack allowing the defensive line to
be formed. The tanks withdrew after they
began receiving artillery fire.
The remainder of the tanks
were ordered to bivouac south of the
Aubucay-Hacienda Road. While there, the
tank crews had their first break from action in
nearly a month. The tanks, which were long
overdue for maintenance, were serviced by 17th
Ordnance. It was also at this time that
tank platoons were reduced to ren tanks, with
three tanks in each platoon. This was done
so that D Company, 192nd, would have tanks.
The 194th was sent to reopen
the Moron Road so that General Segunda's forces,
which were trapped behind enemy lines, could
withdraw. Attempting to do this two tanks
were knocked out by landmines planted by
ordnance, but recovered, and a Japanese
anti-tank gun was destroyed. The mission
was abandoned the next day. Gen. Segunda's
forces escaped but lost their heavy equipment.
The next action the tanks saw
was on the 20th when they were sent to relieve
the 31st Infantry's command post. On the
24th, the tanks were ordered to the Hacienda
Road to support infantry, but again could not
accomplish their mission because of landmines
planted by ordnance.
The 194th was holding a
position a kilometer north of the Pilar-Bagac
Road on January 26 with four self-propelled
mounts. At 9:45 A.M., a Filipino came down
the road and warned the battalion that a large
Japanese force was coming down the road.
When they appeared the tanks opened up on them.
At 10:30, the Japanese withdrew having lost 500
of 1200 men. This action prevented the new
line of defense from being breached.
On January 28, the tank
battalions were given the job of guarding the
beaches so that the Japanese couldn't land
troops. The 194th guarded the coastline
from Limay to Cabcaban. During the day,
the tanks hid under the jungle canopy. At
bight they were pulled out onto the
beaches. The battalion's half-tracks had
the job of patrolling the roads. At all times,
the tanks were in contact with on-shore and
It was during
the Battle for Bataan that he was taken to
Field Hospital #2. About the hospital,
he said, "It was
just a bunch of beds set up in the
jungle." Since Bill was
suffering from malaria and dysentery, he was
in a military hospital when the surrender
took place on April 9, 1942. This
prevented him from taking part in the death
march from Bataan.
The Japanese set up
artillery near the hospital and fired at Ft.
Drum and Corregidor which returned
fire. Americans used by Japanese as a
human shield to protect the guns. when
Gen. Wainwright learned what had been done,
he ordered American artillery to cease
Bill was transferred to
Bilibid Prison as part of the Cabcaben POW
Camp Detachment on May 19th. Medical
records kept at Bilibid show that he was
suffering from malaria. He was sent to
Cabanatuan and later taken to the Port Area
of Manila to work as a stevedore loading and
unloading ships. He remained on this
detail until the summer of 1944 when the
detail was dissolved and the POWs were sent
to Bilibid Prison.
On August 25, 1944, the
Bill and with the other prisoners were take
to the Port Area of Manila and boarded the
Noto Maru. The ship sailed as part of
a ten ship convoy on August 27th. The
ships sailed and spent the night in Subic
Bay before sailing. He and the other
POWs remained on deck since the ship's holds
were filled with dried coconuts.
They made the trip to
Takao, Formosa, in two days and arrived
there on August 30th. It sailed for
Keelung, Formosa, arriving the same
day. The ship sailed again and arrived
at Moji, Japan on September 4th.
In Japan, Bill was held
first at Osaka
#4 which was known as Tanagawa.
Of his time there, he said, "What we were doing
is removing a mountain. We hauled
all the rocks and dirt from the mountain
and dumped it into the sea."
From Tanagawa, he was sent to Osaka #5-D
where the POWs worked as stevedores.
On May 11, 1945, the POWs were sent to
Fukuoka #22 which opened in January 1945,
where he worked in a coal mine. He
recalled, "That was
even worse. I had to go
underground. It was dirty.
You couldn't hardly walk upright."
He remained in this camp until he was
liberated in September 1945. He
morning, the Japanese didn't take us to
work, and all the guards disappeared.
Finallly, the camp commander came over
and gave a little speech and told us the
war was over."
Not too long after
over and dropped supplies
including canned food and
Some of the POWs ate too much
and became ill. Arnold ate a canned of corned
beef which was
American food he had
September 21st, Bill and the other POWs were
take to Dejima Docks in Nagasaki,
Japan. He was declared to be in good
health and boarded onto a transport and
returned to the Philippines.
After being declared
healthy, Bill sailed to the United States,
on October 9, 1945, and arrived at Seattle,
Washington, on October 28, 1945, on the M.S.
Klipfonte, and spent two weeks in the
hospital at Ft. Lewis. He was
discharged from the army on March 25,
1946. He returned to Montana and later
moved to Billings where he worked in a wool
warehouse and for a drug wholesaler.
He later got a job with the state highway
department and worked there until he retired
in 1982. Bill married, Gertrude F.
Holmes, in August 1950. Gertrude
passed away in 1987, and he
married Sadye Rutan in Indianapolis,
Indiana, in 1988. His second wife
passed away in 2012.
time as a POW, he said,
"I never did dwell on it much. I
never made a career of talking about
surviving his time
as a POW, he said,
"I had a lot of luck all the way
William L. Arnold passed
away on October 14, 2017, in Billings,
Montana, and was buried at Terrace Gardens
Cemetery in Billings, Montana. William
Arnold may have been the last surviving
member of the 192nd Tank Battalion.
The photo at the bottom
of the page was taken while William was a
POW at Osaka #5-D.