Pvt. Charles F. Erickson

Born: 6 August 1913 - Durand, Wisconsin

Parents: Andrew Erickson & Augusta Sobottka-Erickson

Siblings: 3 brothers

Hometown: Durand, Wisconsin

Occupation: worked for the county highway department


    - U. S. Army 

        - 7 April 1941 - Milwaukee, Wisconsin


    - Fort Knox, Kentucky
        - trained in using equipment of tank battalion

    - Camp Polk, Louisiana

Overseas Duty:
    - Boarded: U.S.A.T. Hugh Scott

    - Sailed: San Francisco, California - Monday, 27 October 1941
    - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Sunday, 2 November 1941
        - soldiers given shore leave
    - Sailed: Wednesday, 5 November 1941
    - Arrived: Guam - Sunday, 16 November 1941
        - ship loaded bananas, vegetables, water, and coconuts
    - Sailed: next day

    - Arrived: Manila, Philippine Islands - 20 November 1941

        - tankers lived in tents along main road between fort and airfield
    - 1 December 1941 - tankers assigned positions around Clark Field
        - two tank crew members remained with tanks at all time
        - meals served from food trucks
    - 8 December 1941
        - parents received the only letter home written by Charles
            - dated - 25 November 1941


    - Battle of Luzon 

        - 8 December 1941 - 6 January 1942
            - Clark Field
                 - lived through Japanese attack

        - 12 December 1941 - Barrio of Dau
                 - guarded a road and railway
        - 23/24 December 1941
            - Urdaneta. Pangasinan Province
            - while outside barrio the company's commander Captain Walter Write was killed

            - because the tanks were not allowed to withdraw, they almost were captured
            - tanks made end run to a bridge in the Bayambang Province over the Agno River
        - 25 December 1941 - tanks held south bank of Agno River from Carmen to Tayung

            - asked to hold position for six hours
            - held the position until 5:30 A.M. until December 27th
            - prevented Japanese from crossing river
            - A Company attached to 194th - east of Pampanga

                - Lt.William Read killed in action
                - remained with 194th until 8 January 1942
        - 31 December 1941 to 1 January 1942 - Bamban River
            - 192nd held south bank so troops could withdraw
            - Japanese lunch a night attack wearing white shirts
            - tankers massacre Japanese - 50% casualties

                - used smoke in attempt to cover attack

                - blew back into the Japanese
            - Japanese disengaged

    - Battle of Bataan

        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942

        - 31 December 1941 - BamBam River

            - stop Japanese attempt to cross river at night

            - Japanese suffered 50% casualties
        - 23 January 1942 - 17 February 1942

            - Battle of the Pockets
                - wiped out Japanese troops cut off behind main line of defense after a failed Japanese offensive

            - Two methods used to do this:

                - one method had three Filipinos riding on back of tank

                    - each had a sack of hand grenades

                    - as tank went over each foxhole, they drop three grenades into it

                    - since the grenades were from WWI, one out three usually exploded

                - second method was for the tank to park with one track over the foxhole

                    - the driver gave power to the opposite track which caused the tank to spin

                    - as it spun, it dug lower into the ground

                        - the tankers slept upwind from their tanks because of rotting flesh in the tracks

            - the Japanese attempted to knock out the tanks with gasoline

                - a soldier attempted to board the tank and dump the gasoline in its vents to light on fire

                - tank crews machine gunned them before they reached tank

                - those who made it to a tank were shot by the crew of another tank

                    - the tank crews did not like to do this because it caused the rivets in the hauls to pop wounding the crew members
        - 28 January 1942 - beach duty
            - prevented Japanese from landing troops on Bataan

        - A Company wiped out a Japanese Bicycle Battalion that rode into its bivouac at night

            - the company had bivouacked on both sides of a road

            - a noise was heard - the tankers grabbed tommy-guns and stood behind their tanks

            - as they watched the bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac 

            - the tankers opened up with everything they had

            - when they ceased fire, the entire battalion had been wiped out 

Prisoner of War: 

    - 9 April 1942

        -  Death March

             - Mariveles - POWs start march at southern tip of Bataan
            - POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing at Corregidor
                - Americans on Corregidor returned fire
            - San Fernando - POWs put into small wooden boxcars
                - each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men
                - 100 POWs packed into each car
                - POWs who died remained standing
            - Capas - dead fell to floor as living left boxcars
            - POWs walked last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell
    - 24 July 1942 - family received word he was a POW

POW Camps: 

    - Philippine Islands: 

        - Camp O'Donnell

            - 1 April 1942 - unfinished Filipino training base Japanese put into use as a POW camp
                - Japanese believed the camp could hold 15,000 to 20,000 POWs
            - POWs searched upon arrival at camp
                - those found with Japanese money were accused of looting
                - sent to guardhouse
                - over several days, gun shots heard southeast of the camp
                    - POWs who had money on them had been executed
            - Japanese took away any extra clothing from POWs as they entered the camp and refused to return it
                - since no water was available for wash clothing, the POWs threw soiled clothing away
                - clothing was taken from dead
                - few of the POWs in the camp hospital had clothing
            - POWs were not allowed to bathe
            - only one water spigot for entire camp
                - POWs waited 2 hours to 8 hours to get a drink
                    - water frequently turned off by Japanese guards and next man in line waited as long as 4 hours for water to be turned on again
                    - mess kits could not be cleaned
                - POWs had to carry water 3 miles from a river to cook their meals
                - second water spigot installed a week after POWs arrived
            - slit trenches overflowed since many of the POWs had dysentery
                - flies were everywhere including in camp kitchens and food
            - camp hospital had no water, soap, or disinfectant
            - the senior POW doctor wrote a list of medicines he wanted to treat the sick and was told by the camp commandant, Capt. Yoshio
              Tsuneyoshi, never to write another letter
                - Tsuneyoshi said that all he wanted to know about the American POWs was their names and numbers when they died
                - refused to allow a truckload of medicine sent by the Archbishop of Manila into the camp
                - 95% of the medicine sent by Philippine Red Cross was taken by the Japanese for their own use
            - POWs in camp hospital lay on floor elbow to elbow
            - operations on POWs were performed with mess kit knives
            - only one medic out of six assigned to care for 50 sick POWs, in the hospital, was well enough to work
            - as many as 50 POWs died each day
                - each morning dead were found everywhere in the camp and stacked up under the hospital
                - ground under hospital was scrapped and cover with lime to clean it
                - the dead were moved to this area and the section where they had laid was scrapped and cover with lime
                - usually not buried for two or three days
            - work details: if a POW could walk, he was sent out on a work detail
                - POWs on burial detail often had dysentery and malaria  

        - Tayabas Road Detail

            - 300 POWs left Camp O'Donnell - 29 May 1942

            - took three days to reach site 

            - POWs built a road

            - food was prepared in a rusty wheel barrow 

             - POWs slept on rocks

            - many came down with malaria 

            - Charles became ill and was sent to Bilibid Prison  

        - Bilibid Prison
            - U.S. Naval Hospital Unit

                - doctors believed there was little they could do for him and the other POWs from the detail

                - they referred to these POWs as "the living dead"

                - the doctors believed POWs from detail were doomed to die
            - admitted to hospital - 10 July 1942
                - records indicated he was suffering from blood in his stools


    - Sunday - 8 August 1942 - dysentery & malaria
        - time of death - 11:30 A.M.

        - date of death verified by the final report on the 192nd Tank Battalion and records kept by doctors on the

          Tayabas Road Detail 


   - Bilibid Hospital Burial Plot 

       - Row: 2  Grave: 28
Note:  In September 1945, his parents received a letter from Chaplain Perry O. Wilcox.  He said:

    "I have recently returned to the States after imprisonment under the Japanese in the Philippine Islands and have just received permission to send letters of condolence to the nearest of kin of army men who were buried at Bilibid prison.
    Your son, Pvt. Charles F. Erickson, 36026291, died in Bilibid Military prison hospital 8 August 1942.  I noticed the war department probably informed you using a date 11 May, 1943, that being the date on which they received the information.  It was the custom to drop men as deceased on the date that the report was received.  But the date I am giving you is the date on which I performed his burial in the prison cemetery.  The cause of death was malaria, complicated with amoebic dysentery and lack of food.  Under the circumstances it is difficult to say what was the cause of death.  Most of us had enough things combined to make it hard to attribute death to any one thing. 
     Bilibid prison hospital was staffed by American naval doctors and hospital corpsman of excellent skill and they rendered the best services that they could do to all patients considering their limitations as to equipment and medicines. 
    I may also say that all burials in Bilibid were made in individual graves, well marked with heavy plank crosses on which the name and date of death were carved with a chisel.  The cemetery was well cared for, the grass mowed and flowers growing in large flower beds about the cemetery.  None of the graves suffered any damage in the battle of Manila.
    I find our prisoners of war are being accorded equal honors with those who served without falling into the hands of the enemy, and I hope it will be some comfort to you to feel your son did his best as long as he could and that his imprisonment under the Japanese  was due to circumstances over which he had no control."

Note: Wilcox sent this message to multiple families.


    - October 1948 - Forest Hill Cemetery - Durand, Wisconsin




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