2nd Lt. Albert J. Bartz was the son of Albert E. Bartz & Ida Hawkinson-Bartz. He was born on
May 24, 1913, in Albion Township in rural Edgerton, Wisconsin, and was the fourth of the couple's seven
children. The family later moved to Janesville and lived at 208 West Dodge Street. It is known he was
married and the father of a son.
Albert joined the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Tank Company from Janesville, Wisconsin, on
December 17, 1932, and during the following eight years, he rose in rank from private to first sergeant. On
October 30, 1940, just prior to the tank company being called to federal service, he was commissioned a second
lieutenant. At some point, he was joined in the company by his brother,
After training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Albert took part in maneuvers in Louisiana from
September 1st through 30th. According to members of the battalion, they were part of the Red Army and the
Blue Army was under the command of General George S. Patton, but it appears that the battalion had been selected
for overseas duty as early as August 15, 1941.
Instead of returning to Ft. Knox as expected, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk,
Louisiana. On the side of a hill, they were told they were being sent overseas as part of Operation
PLUM. Within hours, most had figured out that PLUM stood for Philippines, Luzon, Manila. Men 29 years
old, or older, were allowed to resign from federal service and replaced with men for the 753rd Tank
Battalion. Those men who remained were given leaves home to say their goodbyes to families and friends.
The reason the battalion was being sent overseas was because of an event that happened during the
summer of 1941. A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one pilot , who was at a
lower altitude, noticed something odd in the water. He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in
the water and came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line, in the direction of an Japanese
occupied island hundred of mile to the northwest. The island had a large radio transmitter on it. The
squadron finished their flight plan and when they landed he reported what he had seen. Since it was too late
to do anything that evening, another squadron was sent to the area the next morning and found the buoys had been
picked up by a fishing boat that was making its way to shore. Since radio communication between the Air Corps
and Navy was poor, no ship was sent to intercept the boat. It was at that time the decision was made to build
up the American military presence in the Philippines.
The battalion traveled west over different train routes to San Francisco, California, were
they were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island on the
U.S.A.T General Frank M Coxe. They were given physicals by the battalion's medical staff and those
men with minor medical conditions were designated to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were
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. The ship 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, another transport, the
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 Ft. Stotsenburg, the soldiers were greeted by Gen. Edward P. King, who apologized that
they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field. He remained with the
battalion, made sure they had what they needed, and that they had Thanksgiving dinner before he went to have his
Sometime after arriving in the Philippines, Albert was assigned to C Company, 192nd Tank
Battalion. He was with this company when the Japanese bombed Clark Field. The morning of December
8th, the officers were called to the battalion's radio room and told of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
After the attack, Albert's tank platoon was sent out to locate Japanese paratroopers. While
performing this duty, a Japanese pilot who had been captured by Filipino civilians were turned over to him.
Upon completion of this duty his platoon returned to Clark Field.
On December 1st, the tankers were
ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese
paratroopers. From this time on, two tank crew members remained with
each tank at all times.
The morning of December 8th, December 7th in the United States, the tankers were told of
the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. They went to their positions around the airfield to guard against
Japanese paratroopers. At 8:30 that morning, American planes took off and filled the sky. They
landed at noon and their pilots lined up, in a straight line, near their mess hall.
The tankers were eating lunch when a formation of 54 planes was spotted approaching the
airfield from the north. The tankers believed the planes were American. As they watched, what were described
as "raindrops" fell from the planes. When bombs exploded on the runways, they knew the planes were
When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the
airfield. The tankers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on
bomb racks, trucks, and on anything that could carry the wounded was in use. When the
hospital filled, they watched the medics placed the wounded under the building. Many of these
men had their arms and legs missing.
The battalion remained at Clark Field and lived through several additional attacks.
On December 11, 1941, Japanese bombers again appeared over Clark Field. C Company
tanks were stationed along the southern perimeter of the airfield. The bombers began pattern bombing along
the southern perimeter. Albert told the corporal with him to get into the tank. Since Albert believed
he would never make it in himself, he ran for cover in a trench. As he ran, a bomb exploded in front of
him. Shrapnel from the bomb hit him in the shoulder breaking his collarbone. Other shrapnel hit him
and caused other wounds including one to the abdomen.
Seeing what had happened to Albert, the corporal climbed out of the tank's turret and
dragged Albert to safety and proceeded to bandage Albert's wounds. Albert was sent to a hospital
on a freight car with the other wounded. His injury was considered bad enough that he was sent to either
the Philippine Women's College or Saint Scholastica College, in Manila, which had been converted into
hospitals. While a patient there, he and the other patients could hear the bombs exploding that were being
dropped by Japanese planes. The patients laid in bed wondering if they would be the next to be bombed.
American forces began to withdraw from the city and the soldiers, in the hospital, began to
wonder if they would be left to the Japanese. It was at that time that the Japanese commanding officer
agreed to allow one ship out of Manila carrying wounded. The conditions of the deal was the ship could only
carry wounded and nothing of military value.
Gen. Douglas MacArthur, asked if there were any ships available in the harbor and was
told there were two. One was a lumber schooner which was not fit for the open sea. The other, the
S.S. Mactan, had been used for inter island travel for years and had been condemned. MacArthur
ordered that the Mactan be made ready, and within two days it had been painted white, by Filipino workers, and
red crosses were painted on its sides.
On December 31, 1941, the patients were informed that the Japanese had agreed to allow a
ship to leave Manila with the wounded. Emmett and other patients were moved to the docks to be put on the
S.S. Mactan. The ship was only about 2000 tons and was infested with copra beetles, red ants, and
cockroaches. The patients were placed on mattresses on the deck of the ship because there was no room for
them below deck.
At ten o'clock at night, the ship sailed and zig-zagged its way through the harbor
to avoid mines. As it left Manila, the patients could see and hear the explosions of gasoline storage tanks
and ammunition dumps being dynamited by American troops. The patients had not been told about their
destination so when the silhouette of Corregidor loomed out of the darkness they believed this was their
destination. When the island began to fade into the darkness, the patients knew for the first time that
they were being sent to Australia.
The ship headed south, in Japanese controlled waters, and the wounded expected that any time
it would be hit by a torpedo. On January 7th, it arrived at Makassar, East Dutch Indies, and a Dutch pilot
came aboard to dock the ship. While there, a plane was spotted and air raid sirens and alarms
sounded. It turned out that the plane was from a friendly country. The men on the ship learned later
that the pier where they were docked was mined and almost blown up while the ship was docked to it.
The ship's crew and medical staff attempted to get supplies but were
unsuccessful. On January 11th, the ship sailed and again took a southerly route. At this point the
fresh water was shut off and water and food were rationed. Two days later, on the 13th, the ship arrived at
Darwin, Australia, and again attempted to get supplies. As it turned out, Darwin was rationing what it had
and could not spare any supplies for the ship.
On January 14th, the ship sailed again. The next day, whistles and alarms began
blowing on the ship. The soldiers learned that there was a fire in the engine room and were issued life
jackets. As it turned out the waters they were in were infested with sharks. The ship's crew put
out the fire but one engine room crew member was badly burned.
The ship ran into a typhoon on January 16th and rode it out. Two days later, the
men heard that a Japanese radio broadcast had been intercepted that claimed the
S.S. Mactan had been sunk at sea resulting in the deaths of all on board. The ship arrives at
Townsville, Australia, on the 20th and seven bags of cement were brought aboard. It turned out it was used
on the ships haul to water proof it. The next day, food, water, clean linens, and medicine were brought
The ship sailed on the 23rd and arrived at Brisbane, Australia, the next day.
While there, the men drank milk and were fed. It sailed on the 25th For Sydney, finally arriving there on
January 27th. The wounded and sick were told that a new hospital, 113th Australian General Hospital, had
opened ten miles from Sydney and they would be transported there.
Albert spent six months in the hospital and was reassigned to another unit and were he
continued to fight in the South Pacific. During this time, he was wounded a second time. After
recovering in August 1944, he returned to Janesville.
For the remainder of the war, Albert was assigned to military supply movement as a Military
Distribution Planning Officer on the West Coast in San Francisco. He rose in rank to captain and was
discharged from the army on January 15, 1946.
Albert J. Bartz married Jeanette Worthington on September 5, 1947. He went to work
for General Motors plant in Janesville and retired in 1970. He died on March 30, 1973, in Janesville, and
was buried at Fassett Cemetery in Edgerton, Wisconsin.