Pvt. Ralph Leroy Boyle
| Pvt. Ralph L.
Boyle was born on December 23, 1919, Fairmont,
West Virginia, to Ralph P. Boyle & Helen M.
Dennis-Boyle. With his four sisters and two
brothers, he was raised at Rear, 526 Depot Street
in Niles, Ohio. He attended high school for
two years and later worked as a laborer in the
Civilian Conservation Corps.
Ralph was inducted into the U.S. Army on March 5, 1941, in Cleveland, Ohio. He was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training and assigned to C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. He attended armor school and qualified as a tank mechanic.
In the late summer of 1941, the 192nd was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, to take part in maneuvers.
During the maneuvers, the Red Army broke through the lines of the Blue Army and on its way to capture the headquarters of the army when the maneuvers were suddenly canceled. Many of the members of the battalion believed it was because the Blue Army was commanded by General George Patton.
The tankers expected to receive orders to return to Ft. Knox, instead they were ordered to remain behind at Camp Polk. None of the men had any idea why this had been done.
It was on the side of a hill that the battalion learned that they were being sent overseas as part of operation "PLUM." Within hours many men had figured out that PLUM stood for Philippines, Luzon, Manila. Those men who were 29 years old or older were given six hours to resign from federal service. Those men who did were replaced by men from the 753rd Tank Battalion.
The decision for this move - which had been made on August 15, 1941 - was the result of an event that took place in the summer of 1941. A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines, when one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower altitude, noticed something odd. He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another in the distance. 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 which was hundred of miles away. The island had a large radio transmitter. The squadron continued its flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.
When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day. The next day, when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat - with a tarp on its deck - which was seen making its way to shore. Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was difficult, the boat escaped. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
The battalion rode trains to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California, and were ferried, on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. There it's medical detachment gave physicals to the members of the battalion and those found to have major medical issues were replaced. Those with minor medical issues were held on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27. 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 2 and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
On Wednesday, November 5, 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 9, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11. During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line. On Saturday, November 15, 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, they were greeted by Gen.
that they had
to live in
the main road
fort and Clark
He made sure
that they all
he went to
own. Ironically, November 20th was
the date that
expected to be
The tanks were ordered to the perimeter of the Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers on December 1. That morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. When they looked up that morning, the sky was filled with American planes. At noon, the planes landed, parked in a straight line, and the pilots went to lunch.
in the afternoon, the tankers noticed planes
approaching the airfield. When bombs began
exploding around them, they knew the planes were
Japanese. Besides their .50 caliber
machine guns, they had few weapons to use
against the planes. Most took cover and
waited out the attack. After it ended,
they saw the destruction done by the tanks.
On December 31, 1941, Company was sent out reconnaissance patrols north of the town of Baluiag. The patrols ran into Japanese patrols, which told the Americans that the Japanese were on their way. Knowing that the railroad bridge was the only way into the town and to cross the river, Lt. Gentry set up his defenses in view of the bridge and the rice patty it crossed.
Early on the morning of the 31st, the Japanese began moving troops and across the bridge. The engineers came next and put down planking for tanks. A little before noon Japanese tanks began crossing the bridge.
Later that day, the Japanese had assembled a large number of troops in the rice field on the northern edge of the town. One platoon of tanks under the command of 2nd Lt. Marshall Kennady were to the southeast of the bridge. Gentry's tanks were to the south of the bridge in huts, while third platoon commanded by Capt Harold Collins was to the south on the road leading out of Baluiag. 2nd Lt. Everett Preston had been sent south to find a bridge to cross to attack the Japanese from behind.
Major Morley came riding in his jeep into Baluiag. He stopped in front of a hut and was spotted by the Japanese who had lookouts in the town's church's steeple. The guard became very excited so Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks positions, got into his jeep and drove off. Bill had told him that his tanks would hold their fire until he was safely out of the village.
When Gentry felt the Morley was out of danger, he ordered his tanks to open up on the Japanese tanks at the end of the bridge. The tanks then came smashing through the huts' walls and drove the Japanese in the direction of Lt. Marshall Kennady's tanks. Kennady had been radioed and was waiting.
Kennady's platoon held its fire until the Japanese were in view of his platoon and then joined in the hunt. The Americans chased the tanks up and down the streets of the village, through buildings and under them. By the time Bill's unit was ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had knocked out at least eight enemy tanks.
chief of staff
- telling the
would cut off
Because of the
half the units
bridge. Gen. Wainwright who was a attempting to save the
unaware of the
for them to
About 6:45 in
the morning of
April 9, 1942,
and waited for
When they did,
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referred to as
have been a
that the camp
Unit 731 and
it is rumored
were done on
was buried at