| Pvt. James N.
Bryant was born on September 25, 1920, in Inman,
South Carolina, to William Bryant & Alma
Bridges-Bryant. He was one of the couple's
two sons. His parents divorced while he was
a child. With his mother and brother, he
lived in Beech Springs, South Carolina. He
was known as "Jack" to his family and
friends. His mother would later remarry, and
the family resided at 4404 First Avenue, Columbus,
On February 4, 1941, Jack
was inducted into the Army at Augusta,
Georgia. He was sent to Fort Benning,
Georgia, for basic training. After basic
training, he was assigned to the 753rd Tank
Battalion. What job he was qualified to do
is not known.
In the late summer of
1941, the 753rd was sent to Camp Polk,
Louisiana. Maneuvers were taking place at
the fort but the battalion did not take part in
them. The 192nd Tank Battalion, which had
taken part in maneuvers, was ordered Camp Polk for
further orders. The battalion learned they
were being sent overseas. Those men 29 years
old or older were given the chance to resign from
federal service. Jack replaced a National
Guardsmen released from federal service. He
was assigned to C Company.
for this move - which had been made in
August 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
Many of the members of
the battalion were given furloughs so that they
could say goodbye to family and friends.
They returned to Camp Polk and traveled by train
to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California, and
were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island on
the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe.
On the island they were given physicals and
inoculated for tropical diseases by the
battalion's medical detachment. Some men
were held back for health issues but scheduled
to join the battalion at a later date.
Other men were simply replaced.
The 192nd was boarded
onto the U.S.A.T. 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. 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, they were
greeted by Gen. Edward
P. King, who apologized that the men had to live
in tents along the main road between the fort
and Clark Airfield. He made sure that they
all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went
to have his own. Ironically, November 20th
was the date that the National Guard members of
the battalion had expected to be released from
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.
tanks were ordered to the perimeter of the Clark
Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers
on December 1st. At all times, two
members of each tank crew remained with their
tank. The morning of December 8th, 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 outside the mess hall, and
their 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 bombs.
23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of
Urdaneta. The bridge they were going
to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and
the tankers made an end run to get south of
river. As they did this, they ran into
Japanese resistance early in the evening.
They successfully crossed at the river in the
On December 25th, the
tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of
the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the
tanks of the 194th holding the line on the
Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held the
position until 5:30 in the morning on December
The tankers were fell
back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on
December 27th, and December were at San Isidro
south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and
29th. While there, the bridge over the
Pampanga River was destroyed, they were able
find a crossing over the river.
At Cabu, seven tanks of
the company fought a three hour battle with the
Japanese. The main Japanese line was south
of Saint Rosa Bridge ten miles to the south of
the battle. The tanks were hidden
in brush as Japanese troops passed them for
three hours without knowing that they were
there. While the troops passed, Lt.
William Gentry was on his radio describing what
he was seeing. It was only when a Japanese
soldier tried take a short cut through the
brush, that his tank was hidden in,
that the tanks were discovered. The
tanks turned on their sirens and opened up on
the Japanese. They then fell back to
C Company was
re-supplied and withdrew to Baluiag where the
tanks encountered Japanese troops and ten
tanks. It was at Baluiag that Gentry's
tanks won the first tank victory of World War II
After this battle, C
Company made its way south. When it
entered Cabanatuan, it found the barrio filled
with Japanese guns and other equipment.
The tank company destroyed as much of the
equipment as it could before proceeding south.
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
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.
the withdraw into the peninsula, the company
crossed over the last bridge which was mined and
about to be blown. The 192nd held its
position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could
leap frog past it and then cover the 192nd's
withdraw. The 192nd was the last American unit
to enter Bataan.
Over the next
several months, the battalion fought battle
after battle with tanks that were not designed
for jungle warfare. The tank
battalions , on January 28th, were given the job
of protecting the beaches. The 192nd was
assigned the coast line from Paden Point to
Limay along Bataan's east coast. The
Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding
the beaches prevented them from attempting
C Company also
took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe
out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped
behind the main defensive line. The tanks
would enter the pocket one at a time to replace
a tank in the pocket. Another tank did not
enter the pocket until a tank exited the pocket.
the Japanese, two methods were used. The
first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride
on the back of the tank. As the tank went
over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos dropped
three hand grenades into the foxhole.
Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of
three usually exploded.
method to use to kill the Japanese was to park a
tank with one track over the foxhole. The
driver gave the other track power resulting with
the tank spinning around and grinding its way
down into the foxhole. The tankers slept
upwind of their tanks.
The second method was simple. The tank was
parked with one track across the
foxhole. The driver spun the tank on
one track. The tank dug into the dirt
until the Japanese soldiers were dead.
The Japanese lunched an
all out attack on April 4th.
On April 7th, the 57th Infantry, Philippine
Scouts, supported by tanks, attempted to restore
the line, but Japanese infiltrators prevented
this from happening. During this action,
one tank was knocked out but the remaining tanks
successfully withdrew. C Company, 194th,
which was attached to the 192nd, had only seven
The tanks became a
favorite target of the Japanese receiving fire
on trails and while hidden in the jungle. and
could not fight back. The situation was so
bad that other troops avoided being near the
tanks, and the 26th Cavalry turned down a tank
company's offer of assistance in a
It was at this time
that Gen. King decided that further resistance
was futile. Approximately 25% of his men
were healthy enough to fight, and he estimated
they would last one more day. In addition,
he had over 6000 troops who were sick or wounded
and 40000 civilians who he feared would be
massacred. At 10:30 that night, he sent
his staff officers to negotiate surrender terms.
commanders received this order,
"You will make plans, to be communicated to
company commanders only, and be prepared to
destroy within one hour after receipt by radio,
or other means, of the word 'CRASH', all tanks
and combat vehicles, arms, ammunition, gas, and
radios: reserving sufficient trucks to close to
rear echelons as soon as accomplished."
in the morning of April 9, 1942, the tankers
received the order "crash." They destroyed
their tanks and waited for the Japanese to make
contact with them. When they did, the
Americans officially became Prisoners of
War. They made their way, as a company, to
Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.
There, they started what they simply referred to
as "the march."
From Mariveles, the
POWs made there way north to San Fernando.
They received little food and almost no
water. At San Fernando, the POWs were
packed into a bull pin. In one corner was
a slit trench that was used as a washroom.
The surface moved from the maggots that covered
The Japanese ordered
the POWs to form detachments of 100 men.
They were marched to the train station and put
into small wooden boxcars that were used to haul
sugarcane. The cars could hold forty men
or eight horses and were known as "Forty or
Eights." The Japanese packed 100 men into
each car. Those who died remained standing
until the living left the cars at Capas.
From there, they walked the last miles to Camp
Camp O'Donnell was an
unfinished Filipino Army training base that the
Japanese put into use as a POW camp. There
was one water faucet for the entire camp.
As many as fifty POWs died each day.
Disease spread quickly among the POWs. To
get out of the camp, POWs volunteered to go out
on work details. It is not known what work
details that Jack went out on as a POW.
At some point, Jack was
held at Cabanatuan which had been opened by the
Japanese to lower the death rate among the
POWs. It was only when Red Cross parcels
were given to the POWs that it dropped.
There is no
information on what "hell ship" that Jack was
sent to Japan on. But, it is most likely
he was sent to Japan on the Nissyo
Maru, since the other POWs, from
the Philippines, in the Japanese POW Camp he was
in, arrived on the ship. The POWs from
Cabanatuan were taken to the Port Area of Manila
by truck and loaded onto the ship on July 11th.
The ship was moved from
Pier 7 to the harbor's breakwater where it
dropped anchor. It remained at the
breakwater from July 18th to 23rd while a convoy
formed. On July 23rd, at 8:00 A.M., it
sailed to Corregidor where it dropped anchor
again at 2:00 P.M. It sailed the morning
of the 24th as part of a convoy.
The ships entered the
South China Sea where one ship was sunk at 3:00
A.M. by an American submarine. Since the
hatch covers were not on the holds, the POWs saw
the flames from the explosion shoot over the
ship. Three other ships were also sunk.
The convoy arrived at
Takao, Formosa, on July 28th at 9:00 A.M.
It remained in port until 8:00 P.M. when the
ships sailed for Moji, Japan. From July
30th until August 2nd, the ships sailed through
a storm. The POWs were issued clothing on
August 3rd, but the ship did not arrive at Moji
until midnight of August 4th.
The POWs were unloaded
at 8:00 A.M. and herded into a theater.
The POWs were organized into detachments of 100
POWs. They were marched from the theater
to a train station and rode a train, on the
Tobata Line of the West Railroad Line, to the
In Japan Jack was sent to Fukuoka
#3-B, there he
worked at the Yawata Steel Mills doing manual
labor shoveling iron ore and rebuilding the
ovens. The POWs were sent into the ovens
to clean out the debris. Since the ovens
were hot, because the Japanese would not let
them cool off, the POWs worked faster on this
detail. If an air raid took place while
the POWs were at the mill, they were put into
railway cars and the train was pulled into a
tunnel. Those POWs further from the tunnel
took cover in two air raid shelters.
The barracks that the
POWs lived in were always cold since the
Japanese heated them on a minimal basis.
Only the sick rooms had heat. All POWs who
died were reported to have died in the camp
hospital. Food for the POWs consisted of a main
dish of rice, wheat, wheat flour, corn, and
Kaoliang. The POWs worked at the Yawata
Steel Mills from 8:00 A.M. until 4:00 P.M.
They received a half hour lunch.
Although medical supplies for the POWs were sent
to the camp by the Red Cross the Japanese
commandant would not give the American medical
staff the medicine that was in the
packages. Any surgery in the camp had to
be performed with crude medical tools even
though the Red Cross had sent the proper
surgical tools. To meet quotas for
workers, the sick POWs were required to work
even if it meant they could possibly die from
Three days a month, the
POWs were allowed to exchange their worn out
clothing for new clothing, but a Japanese guard
beat POWs attempting to exchange their
clothing. The POWs went without clothing
to avoid the beatings which resulted in men
developing pneumonia and dying.
The POWs were beaten
daily with fists and sticks for violating camp
rules, and the guards often required them to
stand at attention, in the cold, while standing
water. During the winter, they often had
water thrown on them. There were two brigs
in the camp which had as many as 20 POWs in them
at a time.
Jack was held in the
camp until he was liberated on September 13,
1945. He was returned to the Philippines
for medical treatment and then the United
States. He was promoted to Staff Sergeant
and discharged on February 4, 1946.
Jack married Doris A.
Turner and became the father of one daughter and
two sons. One son died when he was
four. The family resided in Columbus,
Georgia. According to Jack's daughter, he
never recovered from his experiences as a
POW. He died from cirrhosis of the liver
from acute alcoholism on March 11, 1955.
He was buried in Riverdale Cemetery, in Columbus
in Plot 30, Section 14.