Cpl. Martin William Camfferman Jr.
Cpl. Martin W. Cafferman Jr. was born on November 22, 1920, to Martin W. Camfferman Sr. & Clasine Godee-Canfferman. He was the youngest of the couple's five children. The family resided at 1500 South 56th Court in Cicero, Illinois, and attended local schools. While he was still a child, his mother passed away which resulted in his sister quitting school to take care of Martin so that their father could work. While he was still a child, his mother passed away which resulted in his sister quitting school to take care of Martin so that their father could work. Martin attended Morton High School where he was a member of the Class of 1938 and a member of the swimming team. After high school, he worked as a truck driver for an automobile parts wholesaler.
Like many young men of his age, Martin knew that with the new draft act it was just a matter of time before he would be drafted into the army. To avoid this, Martin joined the Illinois National Guard in Maywood, Illinois, on September 24, 1940, since the news that the company was being federalized had been in the paper. On November 25, 1940, Martin was inducted into the regular army when the National Guard unit was federalized and rode a train to Fort Knox, Kentucky, on November 28th.
As a member of the B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, he trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky. There he was taught to operate all the equipment used by the company. In January 1941, Headquarters Company was created and Martin was transferred into the company. In April 1941, he received leave home and married his grade school sweetheart, Catherine Gray, on April 6, 1941.
Next, Martin participated in the maneuvers of 1941 in Louisiana. After the maneuvers at Camp Polk, Louisiana, his battalion was informed that they had been selected by General George S. Patton for duty overseas. He and the other members of the battalion received leaves home so that they could take care of unfinished business and say goodbye to family and friends. He last saw his wife on October 6, 1941, before he returned to Camp Polk, as his company prepared to leave for overseas duty.
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
When war came on December 8, 1941, Martin lived through the Japanese bombing of Clark Field. Having received word of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the tanks of the Provisional Tank Group were at full strength at the perimeter of Clark Field.
During the Battle of the Philippines, the battalion was used as the rear guard to slow the Japanese advance and to allow the Filipino and American Forces to withdraw into the Bataan Peninsula. Being with HQ Company, Martin's job was to insure that the letter companies received the necessary supplies they needed to fight the Japanese. At times doing this was difficult because the tanks moved frequently to plug leaks in the defensive positions. To demonstrate how bad the situation was on Bataan, the last time Martin's family heard from him was in a letter dated February 2, 1942.
of April 8,
his men the
news of the
surrender. While informing the members
of the company
waved his arm
tanks and told
the men that
they would no
he spoke, his
He turned away
from the men
for a moment,
and when he
turned back he
He next told
should do to
that they all
He told the
that could be
used by the
The only thing
they were told
not to destroy
The men waited
juice for what
he called, "Their last supper."
walked the last eight kilometers to Camp
O'Donnell which was an unfinished Filipino Army
Training Base. The Japanese pressed the
camp into use as a POW camp on April 1,
1942. When they arrived at the camp, the
Japanese confiscated any extra clothing that the
POWs had and refused to return it to them.
They searched the POWs and if a man was found to
have Japanese money on them, they were taken to
the guardhouse. Over the next several
days, gunshots were heard to the southeast of
the camp. These POWs had been executed for
It is known that he was admitted to the camp hospital and assigned to Barracks 1 on June 22, 1942, suffering from malaria and dysentery.
According to medical records, Cpl. Martin W. Camfferman died of dysentery and malaria on July 27, 1942, at Cabanatuan POW Camp, at approximately 10:00 A.M., and was buried in Plot 2, Row 0, Grave 225, in the camp cemetery with five other POWs.
After the war, Cpl. Martin W. Camfferman Jr.'s remains were disinterred on August 31, 1948, and identified. At the request of his wife, he was reburied in Plot N, Row 12, Grave 70, at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila on October 18, 1949.