| Cpl. Thomas
Davenport was born on May 13, 1914, in Murray
City, Ohio, to George W. Hughes & Mary E.
Davenport. His mother placed him to live
with his grandparents Edward & Sarah Davenport
in Murray City, Ohio. His grandparents
adopted him and his legal name became Thomas G.
Hughes-Davenport. He attended school
and completed two years of high school. In
1940, he was living with his mother, Mary, and his
step-father Henry P. Muncie, in Canal Winchester,
Ohio, and working as a bulldozer operator.
He had three half-sisters and five
half-brothers. He was known as "Tom" to his
friends and family.
Tom was drafted into the
Army on January 24, 1941, at Fort Hayes in
Columbus, Ohio. He was using "Muncie" as his
last name when inducted, but since his last name
was legally Davenport, he was required to use it
on his military records. He was sent to Ft.
Knox, Kentucky, for basic training and assigned to
C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. The company
had been an Ohio National Guard tank company from
Port Clinton. He attended tank school and
qualified as a tank driver while at Ft. Knox.
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, which the 192nd was part
of, broke through the lines of the Blue
Army. As they approached the headquarters of
the army, which was under the command of General
George Patton, the maneuvers were suddenly
canceled. The 192nd was ordered to remain
behind at Camp Polk instead of returning to Ft.
Knox. None of the members had any idea why this
order was given.
On the side of a hill at
Camp Polk, the tankers learned 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 29 years old or older were given the
opportunity to resign from federal service.
Replacements for the men came from the 753rd Tank
Battalion which had been sent to Camp Polk from
Ft. Benning, Georgia. The 192nd also
received the battalion's tanks and half-tracks.
Over different train
routes, the battalion was sent to San
Francisco. Once there, they were taken by
ferry to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. At
the fort, they received physicals and inoculated
against tropical diseases. Those men with
minor health issues were held back and scheduled
to rejoin the battalion in the Philippines.
The 192nd was boarded
onto the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from
San Francisco on Monday, October 27, for Hawaii
as part of a three ship convoy. They
arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November
2nd. The soldiers were given leaves so
they could see the island. On Tuesday,
November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam.
At one point, the ships passed an island at
night. While they passed the island, they
did so in total blackout. This for many of
the soldiers was a sign that they were being
sent into harm's way. When they arrived at
Guam, the ships took on water, bananas,
coconuts, and vegetables. The ships sailed
the same day for Manila and entered Manila Bay
on Thursday, November 20th and docked at Pier
7. Ironically, November 20 was the date
that the National Guardsmen were scheduled to be
released from federal service. The
soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.
At the fort, they were
greeted by Colonel Edward P. King, who
apologized that they had to live in tents along
the main road between the fort and Clark
Field. He made sure that they had what
they needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner
before he went to have his own dinner.
Ironically, November 20 was the date that the
National Guard members of the battalion had
expected to be released from federal service.
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.
The 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. That morning of
December 8, 1941, the tankers were informed of
the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and reported
to their tanks. That morning, when they
looked up the sky, it was filled with American
planes. At noon, the planes landed, parked
in a straight line outside the mess hall, and
the pilots went to lunch.
Around 12:45 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.
battalion received orders on December 21st that
it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.
Because of logistics problems, the B and C
Companies soon ran low on gas. When they
reached Rosario, there was only enough for one
tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north
to support the 26th Cavalry.
On December 23 and 24,
the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta, where
they were going to use a bridge to cross the
Agno River which had been destroyed. The
tankers made an end run to get south of river
and ran into Japanese resistance early in the
evening. In-spite of the Japanese, they
successfully crossed at the river in the
On December 25, 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 27, and December were at San Isidro
south of Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29.
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
against enemy tanks.
On December 31, 1941,
Capt. William Gentry, commanding officer of C
Company, 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.
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
Morley, of the Provisional Tank Group, 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
steeple. The guard became very excited so
Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks
positions, got into his jeep and drove
off. Gentry had told Morley that his tanks
would hold their fire until he was safely out of
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.
his 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 C Company was
ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had
knocked out at least eight enemy
withdrew to Calumpit Bridge after receiving
orders from Provisional Tank Group. When
they reached the bridge, they discovered it had
been blown. Finding a crossing the tankers
made it to the south side of the river.
Knowing that the Japanese were close behind, the
Americans took their positions in a harvested
rice field and aimed their guns to fire a tracer
shell through the harvested rice. This
would cause the rice to ignite which would light
the enemy troops.
were about 100 yards apart. The Japanese
crossing the river knew that the Americans were
there because the tankers shouted at each other
to make the Japanese believe troops were in
front of them. The Japanese were within a
few yards of the tanks when the tanks opened
fire which caused the rice stacks to catch
fire. The fighting was such a rout that
the the tankers were using a .37 mm shell to
kill one Japanese soldier.
Tom's tank company was next
sent to the Barrio of Porac to aid the Filipino
Army which was having trouble with Japanese
artillery fire. From a Filipino
lieutenant, they learned where the guns were
located and attacked. Before the Japanese
withdrew, the tanks had knocked out three of the
After this, the tanks
withdrew to the Hermosa Bridge and held it on
the north side until all the troops were
across. The tanks then crossed to the
south and destroyed the bridge which held the
Japanese up for a few days. This was the
beginning of the Battle of Bataan.
During the Battle of the Points the tanks were
sent in to wipe out Japanese troops that had
broken through the main defensive line and than
trapped behind the line after the Filipino and
American troops pushed the Japanese back.
According to members of the battalion they
resorted two ways to wipe out the Japanese.
The first method was to
have three Filipino soldiers sit on the back of
the tanks with sacks of hand grenades.
When the Japanese dove back into their foxholes,
the tank would go over it and the soldiers would
drop three hand grenades into the foxhole.
Since the ordnance was from World War I, one out
of three hand grenades would explode.
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. According to members of the
battalion, the tankers slept upwind from the
About 6:45 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 their 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
was an unfinished Filipino Army Training Base
that the Japanese pressed 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 looting.
There was only one water
faucet in the camp, and the prisoners stood in
line from two to eight hours waiting for a
drink. The Japanese guards at the faucet
would turn it off for no reason and the next man
in line would stand as long as four hours
waiting for it to be turned on again. This
situation improved when a second faucet was
There was no water for
washing clothes, so the POWs would throw out
their clothing when it had been soiled. In
addition, water for cooking had to be carried
three miles from a river to the camp and mess
kits could not be washed. The slit
trenches in the camp were inadequate and were
soon overflowing since most of the POWs had
dysentery. The result was that flies were
everywhere in the camp including the POW
kitchens and in the food.
The camp hospital had no
soap, water, or disinfectant. When the
ranking American doctor at the camp wrote a
letter to the camp commandant, Capt. Yohio
Tsuneyoshi, asking for medical supplies, he was
told never to write another letter.
The Archbishop of Manila
sent a truckload of medical supplies to the
camp, the Japanese commandant refused to allow
the truck into the camp. When the Japanese
Red Cross sent medical supplies the camp the
Japanese took 95% of the supplies for their own
The POWs in the camp
hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow and
only one of the six medic assigned to care for
50 sick POWs was healthy enough to care for
them. When a representative of the
Philippine Red Cross stated they could supply a
150 bed hospital for the camp, he was slapped in
the face by a Japanese lieutenant.
Each morning, the bodies
of the dead were found all over the camp and
were carried to the hospital and placed
underneath it. The bodies lay there for
two or three days before they were buried in the
camp cemetery by other POWs who were suffering
from dysentery and/or malaria. To clean
the ground under the hospital, the ground was
scraped and lime was spread over it. The
bodies of the dead were placed in the area, and
the area they had been laying was scrapped and
lime was spread over it.
Work details were sent
out on a daily basis. Each day, the
American doctors gave a list of names to the
Japanese of the POWs who were healthier enough
to work. If the quota of POWs needed to
work could not be met, the Japanese put those
POWs who were sick, but could walk, to
work. The death rate among the POWs
reached 50 men dying a day.
To get out of the camp, POWs
volunteered to go out on work details. Tom
was selected to go out on the bridge building
detail. The American commanding officer of
the detail was Lt. Colonel Ted Wickord of the
On the detail, the POWs
were divided into two detachments. One
detachment was sent to various barrios to
rebuild the bridges that the retreating Filipino
and American Armies had destroyed as they fell
back into Bataan. The other detachment was
sent Calauan to cut down the trees and mill the
lumber that was used in building the bridges.
records kept at the camp by the American
doctors, Cpl. Thomas Davemport died from
dysentery on May 27, 1942, at Calauan and was
buried in the Calauan Cemetery. His
military records tell a different story, since
they indicate he was Killed in Action. It
is known the Japanese would force the American
doctors to list a false cause of death for POWs
who were executed.
Cpl. Thomas G.
Davenport was buried at the Calauan
Cemetery. Later, the Japanese allowed the
POWs to build a small wooden fence around Tom's
grave and the grave of Sgt. Johnnie Bottoms who
was a member of D Company.
After the war, the
family of Cpl. Thomas G. Davenport requested
that his remains be returned to Canal
Winchester, Ohio. His remains arrived in
the United States on September 22, 1948, on the
U.S.A.T. Sgt. Morris E. Crain.
On October 24, 1948, with full military honors,
the funeral of Cpl. Thomas G. Davenport was held
at David Lutheran Church, and he was reburied at
the Lithopolis Cemetery in Canal Winchester,