DuttH
Pfc. Homer Rea Dutt
    Pfc. Homer R. Dutt was born in Marion, Ohio, on July 20, 1915, to Henry F. Dutt and Idella Fisher-Dutt and was the couple's only child.  With his parents, he lived at 366 Hane Avenue in Marion and attended Vernon School and Marion Central Junior High School.  Before he entered the service, he worked at a Chevrolet dealership and operated his own gas station.  He was next employed at Marion Steam Shovel Company until he entered the army. 
    Homer was inducted into the U. S. Army on January 22, 1941, at Fort Hayes in Columbus, Ohio, and joined the 192nd Tank Battalion at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  He was assigned to Headquarters Company and attended tank mechanics school.

    During his time at Ft. Knox, Homer qualified as a tank mechanic.  In the late summer of 1941, Homer 's battalion was sent to Louisiana to take part in maneuvers.  It was after these maneuvers that the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft. Knox as expected.  On the side of a hill, that the battalion was being sent overseas.  It was at this time that he received a furlough home to say his goodbyes arriving there on October 7th.  He returned to Camp Polk on October 16th.
    The decision 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 Philippines.
    Traveling west over different train routes, the battalion arrived in San Francisco, California,  and ferried, by the U.S.A.T General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  On the island, they received physicals and were inoculated by the battalion's medical detachment, and men determined to have minor medical condition were scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Some men were simply replaced.
    The 192nd 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 the fort, the tankers were met by Gen. Edward P. King, who welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed.  He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents, but the fact was he learned of their arrival just days before they arrived.  He stayed with the battalion until they had received their Thanksgiving Dinner.  Afterwards, he went for his own dinner.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons which had been greased to prevent them from rusting during the trip to the Philippines.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.  The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
    The battalion was put on full alert the morning of Monday, December 1st, and the tanks and half-tracks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers.  At all times, two tank and half-track crew members remained with their vehicles. 
    The morning of December 8th, the officers of the battalion were told of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Most of the battalion members were ordered to the airfield, but HQ Company remained in the battalion's bivouac.  All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed to be refueled and were parked in a straight line.  The pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45, planes were scene approaching the airfield from the north.  When bombs began falling on the runways, the Americans knew the planes were Japanese.
    When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield.  The soldiers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and anything that could carry the wounded was in use.  When the hospital filled, they watched the medics place the wounded under the building.  Many of these men had their arms and legs missing.
    That night, most men slept under their tanks since it was safer than sleeping in their tents.  They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed.  They lived through two more attacks on December 10th and 13th.
    After the attack, the battalion remained at Clark Field for about two weeks before being ordered to Lingayen Gulf where the Japanese were landing. 
Being a member of HQ Company, Homer did not take part in fighting the Japanese, but he worked to keep the tanks supplied and running.  Since there was no air cover, he did live with the constant bombing and strafing by Japanese planes.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta and found the bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed.  The tankers made an end run to get south of river and ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening, but they successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.  Later on the 24th, the battalions formed a defensive line along the southern bank of the Agno River with the 192nd on the right and 194th on the left.
    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 27th and withdrew, following the Philippine Army, to the Tarlec-Cabanatuan Line and was near Santo Tomas and Cabanatuan on the 28th and 29th.
    The tank battalions next covered the withdrawal of the Philippine Army at the Pampanga River.  The battalion's tanks were on both sides of the on December 31st at the Calumpit Bridge.
    On January 1st, conflicting orders, about who was in command, were received by the defenders who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5 and allowing the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan.  General Wainwright was unaware of the orders, since they came from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff.
    Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridge over the Pampanga River about withdrawing from the bridge with half of the defenders withdrawing.  Due to the efforts of the Self Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were halted.  From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
    At 2:30 A.M., on January 6th, the Japanese attacked at Remlus in force using smoke which was an attempt by the Japanese to destroy the tank battalions. That night the tanks withdrew into the peninsula with the 192nd holding its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross the bridge, and then cover the 192nd's withdraw over the bridge.  The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
    The night of January 7th, the tank battalions were covering the withdrawal of all troops around Hermosa.  Around 6:00 A.M., before the bridge had been destroyed by the engineers, the 192nd crossed the bridge.
    The next day, the battalion was between Culo and Hermosa and assigned a road to enter Bataan on which was worse than having no road.  The half-tracks kept throwing their rubber tracks and members of 17th Ordnance assigned to each battalion had to re-track them in dangerous situations.  After daylight, Japanese artillery fire was landing all around the tanks.
    The next day, a composite tank company was formed under the command of Capt. Donald Haines, B Co., 192nd.  Its job was to protect the East Coast Road north of Hermosa open and to stop Japanese tanks attempting to use it to overrun the next defensive line that was forming. While in this position, the tanks were under constant enemy artillery fire.  The rest of the tanks were ordered to bivouac south of the Abucay-Hacienda Road.
    When word came that a bridge was going to be blow, all the tanks were ordered out of the area, which included the composite company.  This could have resulted in a catastrophe, but the Japanese did not take advantage of the situation.
    The tanks bivouacked south of the Pilar-Bagac Road and about two kilometers from the East Coast Road.  It had almost been one month since the tank crews had a rest and the tanks had maintenance work done on them by 17th Ordnance.  It was also on this day that the tank platoons were reduced to three tanks per tank platoon.  The men rested and the tanks received the required maintenance.  Most of the tank tracks had worn down to bare metal and the radial engines long past their 400 hour overhauls.
    It was at this time the tank battalions received these orders which came from Gen. Weaver:  "Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying in position and firing at visible enemy until further delay will jeopardize withdrawal.  If a tank is immobilized, it will be fought until the close approach of the enemy, then destroyed; the crew previously taking positions outside and continuing to fight with the salvaged and personal weapons. Considerations of personal safety and expediency will not interfere with accomplishing the greatest possible delay."
    The battalions were sent to cover the junctions of the Back Road and East Road with the Abucay-Heicienda Road on January 25th.  While holding the position, the 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, fought its way to the position at 3:00 A.M.  One platoon was sent to the front of the the column of trucks which were loading the troops.  The tanks provided heavy fire so that the infantry could withdraw and inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese.
    Later on January 25th, both the 192nd and 194th held a defensive line on the Bakanga-Cardre-BaniBani Roads until the withdraw was completed at midnight.  They held the position until the night of January 26th/27th, when they dropped back to a new defensive line roughly along the Pilar-Bagac Roads.  When ordered to withdraw to the new line, the 192nd found that the bridge at Balanga, that they were suppose to use had been destroyed by enemy fire.  To withdraw, they had to use secondary roads to get around the barrio and tanks were still straggling in at noon.
    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, while the battalion's half-tracks were used to patrol the roads.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.     
    Companies A & C were ordered to the west coast of Bataan while B Company - which was held in reserve - and 17th Ordnance held the southern shore of Bataan.  The tankers were awake all night and attempted to sleep under the jungle canopy, during the day, which protected them from being spotted by Japanese reconnaissance planes.  During the night, they were kept busy with repeated threats both on and off shore.
    On one occasion, a member of the company, who had gotten frustrated by being awakened by the planes, had his half-track pulled out onto the beach and took pot shots at the plane.  He missed the plane, but twenty minutes later, Japanese planes appeared over the location and dropped bombs that exploded in the tree tops.  Three members of the company were killed.
    The tank battalions, on their own, took up the job of protecting the airfields at Cabcaban, Bataan, and Mariveles, since Japanese paratroopers were known to be available.  The tanks and half-tracks were well hidden in the jungle around the airfields and different plans were in place to be used against Japanese forces.  There was only one major alert in March when 73 Japanese planes came over.
    The battalion 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.  Doing this was so stressful that the tank companies were pulled out and replaced by one that was being held in reserve.
    To exterminate 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.
    The other 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.
    In March, the amount of gasoline was reduced to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles except the tanks.  This would later be dropped to ten gallons a day.  At the same time, food rations were cut in half again.  Also at this time, Gen. Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that a platoon of tanks be sent to Corregidor.
    The Japanese lunched an all out attack on April 3rd.  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 tanks left.
    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 counter-attack.    
   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 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.  
    Tank battalion 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."
    During the Battle of Bataan, Lester drove supplies to the various companies of the 192nd.  When Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese, Lester became a Prisoner Of War.  Lester with Harry Norowul was selected to remain on Bataan to drive cars and trucks for the Japanese.  After five days, the Japanese ended the detail.
   Capt. Fred Bruni, HQ's commanding officer, gave his men the news of the surrender the night of April 8th.  He told the soldiers to destroy their weapons and any supplies that could be used by the Japanese.  The only thing they were told not to destroy were the company's trucks.  Somehow Bruni came up with enough bread and pineapple juice to hold what he called, "Their last supper."
    The evening of April 8th, Capt. Fred Bruni - the commanding officer of HQ Company - came to his men and informed them that they would be surrendered the next morning at 7:00 A.M.  He told them to destroy anything that the Japanese may be able to use.  He somehow came up with enough bread and pineapple juice to have what he called. "Their last supper."

    On April 9, 1942, Homer became a Prisoner of War when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.  That morning, the company received word of Bataan's surrendered to the Japanese.  The soldiers found a mule which they slaughtered and cooked for its meat.  As they were eating, a Japanese officer and soldiers showed up and took charge of the area.  When the Japanese order the Prisoners of War to move, Homer's company members made their way to the road that ran past their bivouac.  Once on the road, the prisoners were made to kneel along the sides of the road with their possessions in front of them.  As they knelt, Japanese soldiers passing them went through the POWs possessions and took what they wanted from them. 

    After they had been searched, the company boarded their trucks and drove to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  Once there, they were herded onto an airfield and left in the sun.  As they sat in the sun without water, the POWs noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming in front of them.  The POWs realized that the Japanese were forming a firing squad, and that they were the intended victims.  Just when it looked like the Japanese were ready to take action, a car pulled up and a Japanese officer got out.  He spoke to the Japanese sergeant, in charge of the detail, and got back in the car and drove off.  The Japanese soldiers received orders from the sergeant to lower their guns. 

    Not too long after this happened, Homer and the other POWs were marched to a school yard and ordered to sit once again in the sun.  They remained there most of the day until they were ordered to move.
    The POWs marched until they were ordered to take a break.  Behind them in the field, were four Japanese artillery pieces firing at Corregidor and Ft. Drum.  Corregidor and Ft. Drum, which had not surrendered, were also firing on the Japanese.  Shells from the American guns began landing among the POWs.  The prisoners sought shelter, but since there was none, some of the POWs were killed.  During this incident, the American artillery managed to knock out three of the four Japanese guns.

    Once again, the POWs received orders to move.  It was upon receiving this order that Homer started what became known as the "death march."  For Homer, and the other Prisoners of War, the two hardest things about the march were the hunger cramps and the senseless killing of men who could not keep up with the column.  Those who could no longer walk were left behind and in most cases killed.  He witnessed many men flattened into the ground by Japanese tanks as they headed south toward Mariveles. 

    On the march, Homer made his way to San Fernando.  There, he and the other Prisoners of War were first put into a bull pen and remained there most of the day.  The Japanese ordered the POWs to form detachments of 100 men and marched to the train station.  There, they were packed into small wooden boxcars used for hauling sugarcane.  Each car could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese put 100 men in each car and closed the doors.  Those who died remained standing since there was no place for them to fall.   The POWs rode a train to Capas and disembarked.  From there, the POWs walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.  

    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army Training Base that the Japanese put into use as a POW camp.  There was one water spigot for the entire camp which was turned off whenever a guard decided to do so.  Men literally died for a drink.  Disease ran wild among the POWs and many began to die.  The burial detail worked endless to bury the dead.  The number of deaths became so bad that the Japanese opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.

    It is not known if Homer went out on a work detail or if he was sent to the new camp when it opened.  What is known is that on Tuesday, March 2, 1943, he was admitted to Ward 9 of the camp hospital.  No reason for admittance or date of discharge were given. It was while he was a POW at Cabanatuan that his parents received word, on April 15, 1943, that he was a POW.

    As American forces got closer to the Philippines, the Japanese began sending large numbers of POWs to other parts of their empire.  Homer was put in a group of almost 1800 POWsand sent to the Port Area of Manila on October 10, 1944. 

    Homer's group was scheduled to be boarded onto the Hokusen Maru.  At the same time, another detachment of POWs was waiting to be boarded onto the Arisan Maru.  Homer's ship was ready to sail, but many of the POWs from his detachment had not arrived, the Japanese  switched detachments so that the shop could sail. 

    When the remaining POWs arrived, the POWs were  boarded onto the Arisan Maru and packed into the ship's number two hold.  Along the sides of the hold were shelves that served as bunks.  These bunks were so close together that a man could not lift himself up while lying down, while those standing had no room to lie down. The latrines for the prisoners were eight five gallon cans.  Since the POWs were packed into the hold so tightly, many of the POWs could not get near the cans.  The floor of the hold was soon covered with human waste.

    The Arisan Maru sailed to a cove off Palawan Island to avoid American planes.  Within the first 48 hours, five POWs died in the ship's hold.  Only those POWs near the hatch got a good meal when food was lowered into the hold.  Each day, each POW was allowed three ounces of water.  As more POWs died, the Japanese moved about half the POWs into the ship's first hold which was partially filled with coal.  Although the ship was sent to the cove to hide from American planese, it was attacked, at least once, by American planes.

    At some point, some of the POWs figured out how to wire the ventilation system of the hold into the wiring for the hold's lights.  Although the Japanese had removed the bulbs, they had failed to turn off the power.  For several days the POWs had fresh air until the Japanese discovered what had been done and cut the power to the light system.

    The Arisan Maru returned to the Manila on October 20th.  There, it joined a convoy which sailed on October 21st, and entered the South China Sea.  The Japanese refused to mark POW ships with red crosses to indicate they were carrying POWs.  This made the ships targets for submarines.  It should be noted that although the United States had cracked the Japanese Naval Code, the crews of the submarines had no idea that some of the ships they were attacking were carrying POWs.

    According to the survivors of the Arisan Maru, on Tuesday, October 24, 1944, about 5:00 pm, POWs were on deck preparing the meal for those in the ship's two holds.  The ship was off the coast of China, in the Bashi Channel, of the South China Sea.  Suddenly, sirens and other alarms were heard.  The men inside the holds knew this meant that American submarines had been spotted. They began to chant, "Sink us Navy".

    As the POWs on deck watched, the Japanese, on deck, ran toward the bow of the ship and watched a torpedo pass in front of the ship.  Moments later, the Japanese ran to the aft of the ship and watched a second torpedo pass the ship's stern.  There was a sudden jar and the ship stopped dead in the water when it was hit by two torpedoes amidships in its third hold where there were no POWs.  It is believed that the submarine that fired the torpedoes was the U.S.S Snook.

    One of the Japanese guards aimed his machine gun at the POWs who were on deck and motioned for them to get into the holds.  Others used their rifles as clubs and hit the POWs.  To escape, the POWs dove back into the holds.  After they were in, the Japanese put the hatch covers on the holds but did not tie them down.

    As the Japanese abandoned ship, they cut the rope ladders into the ship's two holds.  Some of the POWs in the second hold were able to climb out and reattached the ladders.  They also dropped ropes down to the POWs in both holds.  Most of the POWs had survived the explosion and climbed onto the ship's deck.

    At first, few POWs attempted to escape the ship even as the ship got lower in the water.  A group of 35 POWs swam to a nearby Japanese ship, but when the Japanese realized they were POWs, they were pushed them away, or underwater with poles, and hit with clubs.  The Japanese destroyers in the convoy deliberately pulled away from the POWs as they attempted to reach them.

    As the ship got lower in the water, some POWs took to the water.  These POWs attempted to escape the ship by clinging to rafts, hatch covers, flotsam and jetsam.  Most of the POWs were still on deck even after it became apparent that the ship was sinking.   At some point, the ship split in two. The exact time of the ship's sinking is not known since it took place after dark.

    Three of the POWs found a abandoned lifeboat, but since they had no paddles, they could not maneuver it to help other POWs.  According to the survivors, as the night went on, the cries for help grew fewer until there was silence. The next morning, two more men were pulled into the boat.  Of the 1800 POWs on the ship, only nine survived the sinking, and only eight of these men survived to the end of the war.

    Pfc. Homer R. Dutt died in the sinking of the Arisan Maru on October 24, 1944.  Since he was lost at sea, his name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside Manila.


 

 




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