Falconer_J

 

Pfc. John Frank Falconer


Born: 1 July 1921 - Minnesota

Mother: George B. Falconer & Elvina E. Novak-Falconer

Siblings: 4 sisters, 2 brothers

Hometown: 1824 Norwood Street - Brainerd, Minnesota

Enlisted: Minnesota National Guard - September 1940

Inducted: 

    - U. S. Army

        - 10 February 1941 - Brainerd, Minnesota

            - 82 men passed Army physicals
        - company remained at armory until  19 February 41
            - left by train at 12:19 A.M. - 20 February 1941
        - arrived at Fort Lewis with two tanks, one reconnaissance car, and six trucks

Training: 

    - Fort Lewis, Washington

        - assistant tank driver/gunner
        - tank crew of Sgt. Donald H. Paine

Unit: 

    - A Company, 194th Tank Battalion

Note: On August 15, 1941, the 194th received orders, from Ft. Knox, Kentucky, for duty in the Philippines because of an event that happened during the summer.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a buoy in the water.  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, hundred of miles away, with a large radio transmitter on it.  The squadron continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles before returning to Clark Field.  By the time the planes landed that evening, it was too late to do anything that day.
    The next morning, another squadron was sent to the area and found that the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat which was seen making its way toward shore.  Since communication between and Air Corps and Navy was poor, the boat was not intercepted.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
Overseas Duty:
    - 4 September  1941 -
        - battalion traveled by train to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California
    - Arrived: 7:30 A.M. - 5 September 1941
        - ferried to Ft. McDowell, Angel Island on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
        - given physicals and inoculations
        - men with medical conditions replaced
    - Ship: S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
        - Boarded: Monday - 8 September 1941 - 3:00 P.M.
        - Sailed: 9:00 P.M. - same day
        - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Saturday - 13 September 1941 - 7:00 A.M.
        - Sailed: 5:00 P.M. - same day
            - escorted by the heavy cruiser, U.S.S. Astoria, and an unknown destroyer
                - smoke seen on horizon several times
                -  cruiser intercepted ships

        - Tuesday, 16 September 1941 - ships crossed International Dateline

            - became Thursday, 18 September 1941
        - Arrived: Manila - Friday - 26 September 1941
            - disembark ship - 3:00 P.M.
            - taken by bus to Fort Stostenburg
            - maintenance section with 17th ordnance remained behind to unload the tanks and attached turrets
                -27 September 1941 - job completed at 9:00 A.M.
Stationed:
    - Ft. Stotsenburg
        - lived in tents until barracks completed - 15 November 1941 
        - 1 December 1941
            - tanks ordered to perimeter of Clark Field
            - 194th guarded north end of airfield with 192nd guarding south portion
            - two crew members of each tank and half-track remained with vehicle at all times
                - meals served by food trucks
            - those not assigned to a tank or half-track remained at command post
Engagements:
    - Battle of Luzon
        - 8 December 1941 - 6 January 1942
            - 8 December 1941
                - lived Japanese attack on Clark Field
                - planes did not go after tanks
                - after attack 194th sent to a bivouac three kilometers north of Clark Field
                    - from there they were sent to Barrio of San Joaquin on the Malolus Road
            - 12 December 1941
                - moved to new bivouac south to San Fernando near Calumpit Bridge
                    - arrived 6:00 A.M.
            - 15 December 1941
                - received 15 Bren gun carriers
                - turned some over to 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts
            - 22 December 1941
                - sent to Rosario
                    - west and north of the of barrio
                    - ordered out of the 71st Division Commander
                        - said they would hinder the cavalry's operation
            - 22/23 December 1941
                - operating north of Agno River
                - main bridge at Carmen bombed
            - 24/25 December 1941
                - tank battalions make end run to get south of Agno River
                    - ran into Japanese resistance but successfully crossed river
            - 25/26 December 1941
                - held south bank of Agno River from west of Carmen to Carmen-Akcaka-Bautista Road
                - 192nd held from Carmen to (Route 3) to Tayug (northeast of San Quintin)
            - 26/27 December 1941
                - ordered to withdraw
                    - 1 platoon forced its way through way through Carmen
                        - lost two tanks
                            - one tank belonged to company commander - Captain Edward Burke
                                - believed dead, but was actually captured
                            - one tank crew rescued
                - new line Santa Ignacia-Gerona-Santo Tomas-San Jose
                - rest of battalion made a dash out
                    - lost one tank at Bayambang
                    - another tank went across front receiving fire and firing on Japanese
                - Lt. Petree's platoon fought its way out and across Agno River
                - D Company, 192nd, lost all its tanks except one
                    - the tank commander found a crossing
                    - Japanese would use tanks later on Bataan
            - 29/30 December 1941
                - new line at Bamban River established
                - tank battalions held line until ordered to withdraw
            - 30/31 December 1941
                    - tank battalions held Calumpit Bridge
                    - covering withdraw of Philippine Divisions south on Rt. 3, San Fernando
            - 2 January 1942
                - both tank battalions ordered to withdrawal to Lyac Junction
                - 194th withdrew there on Highway 7
            - 5 January 1942
                - C Company and A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, withdrew from Guagua-Poraline Line and moved into position between
                  Sasmuan and Lubao
                - 1:50 A.M. - Japanese attempted to infiltrate
                    - bright moonlight made them easy to see
                    - tanks opened fire
                    - Japanese lay down smoke which blew back into them
                - 3:00 A.M. - Japanese broke off engagement
                    - suffered 50% casualties
                - Remedios - established new line along dried creek bed 
            - 6/7 January 1942
                - 194th, covered by 192nd, crosses Culis Creek into Bataan
                - both battalions bivouacked south of Aubucay-Hacienda Road
                - rations cut in half
    - Battle of Bataan
        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942
           - January 1942
                - tank companies reduced to three tanks per platoon
           - 8 January 1942
               - composite tank company made up of tanks from the 192nd and 194th sent to protect East Coast Road north of Hermosa
                   - their job was to keep the East Road open  north of Hermosa and prevent the Japanese from driving into Bataan before the main
                     battle line had been formed
               - remainder of tanks ordered to bivouac for night south of Aubucay-Hacienda Road
                   - tankers had been fighting for a month without a rest
                   - tanks also needed overdue maintenance
                   - 17th Ordnance
                - all tank companies reduced to ten tanks
                - three per tank platoon
                - sent to reopen Moron Road so General Segunda's forces could withdraw
                - tanks knock out an anti-tank gun
                - two tanks disabled by landmines but recovered
                - mission abandoned
                - Gen. Segunda's troops escaped using beach but lost their heavy equipment
        - 12 January 1942
            - C Company, with D Company, 192nd, sent to Cadre Road
                - forward position with little alert time
        - 13 January 1942
                - mines planted by ordnance prevented them from reaching Cadre Road
                - returned to battalion
        - 16 January 1942
            -  C Company sent to Bagac to reopen Moron Highway
                - highway had been cut by Japanese
                - Moron Highway, and Junction of Trail 162
                    - tank platoon fired on by antitank gun
                        - tanks knock out gun
                        - cleared roadblock with support of infantry
        - 20 January 1942
            - Banibani Road -tanks sent in to save 31st Infantry command post
        - 24 January 1942
            - tanks order to Hacienda Road in support of troops
                 - landmines planted by ordnance prevented them from reaching road
        - 26 January 1942
            - the battalion held a position a kilometer north of the Pilar-Bagac Road
                - four self-propelled mounts with the battalion
            - 9:45 A.M. - warned by Filipino a large Japanese force was coming
                - when the enemy appeared they opened up with all the battalion had
                - 10:30 A.M. - Japanese withdrew after losing 500 of 1200 men
                - prevented new defensive line being formed from being breached
        - 28 January 1942
            - 194th tanks given beach duty protecting southern beaches
            - guarded coast from Limay to Cabcaben
            - half-tracks patrolled roads
                - maintained radio contact with on-shore and off-shore patrols
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."
        - February 1942
            - tank battalions on their own guarded airfields
            - battalions also guarded beaches to prevent Japanese from landing troops   
        - March 1942
            - two tanks were bogged down in mud
            - the tankers were working to get them out
            - Japanese Regiment entered the area
            - Lt. Col. Miller ordered tanks and artillery to fire at point blank range
                - Miller ran from tank to tank directing fire
                - wiped out Japanese regiment
        - 4 April 1942
            - Japanese launched major offensive
            - tanks sent into various sectors to stop Japanese advance
        - 6 April 1942
            - four tanks sent to support 45th Philippine Infantry and 75th Infantry, Philippine Scouts
                - one tank knocked out by anti-tank fire at junction of Trails 8 & 6
                - other tanks covered withdraw
            - 3rd Platoon sent up west coast road
                - near Mount Samat ran into heavy Japanese force
                - the tanks withdrew to Marivales
        - 8 April 1942
            - fighting on East Coast Road at Cabcaban
It was at this time that the 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."
        - 10:30 P.M. - Gen. King announced that further resistance would result the massacre of 6000 sick or
          wounded troops and 40000 civilians
        - less than 25% of his troops were healthy enough to continue fighting
        - he estimated they could hold out one more day
        - sent his staff officers to negotiate the surrender of Bataan

Prisoner of War: 

    - 9 April 1942
        - received order to destroy equipment and report to kilometer marker 168.2.
            - Provisional Tank Group Headquarters
        - Japanese officers told Col. Ernest Miller to keep them there until ordered to move
    - 10 April 1942
        - 7:00 P.M. - started march from Provisional Tank Group headquarters
        - 3:00 A.M. - halted and rested for an hour
        - 4:00 A.M. - resume march
            - at times slipped on remains of dead who had been killed by Japanese shelling
    - 11 April 1942
        - 8:00 A.M. -reached Lamao
            - allowed to forage for food
        - 9:00 A.M. - resumed march
        - Noon - reached Limay and main road
            - officers, majors and up, separated from lower ranking officers and enlisted men
    - Death March
        - 4:00 P.M officers put on trucks
            - officers arrived at Balanga
            - Japanese find handgun in field bag of an officer
                - he was clubbed and bayoneted
                - because of this they were not fed
        - Dusk - officers ordered to form ranks and marched
            - marched through Abucay and Samal
    - 12 April 1942
        - 3:00 A.M. - officers reached Orani
            - herded into a fenced in area and ordered to lie down
            - in morning found they had been lying in human waste
            - latrine in one corner was crawling with maggots
        - Noon - fed rice and salt
            - first meal
        - Afternoon - lower ranking officers and enlisted men arrive at Orani
        - 6:30 P.M. - ordered to form 100 men detachments
            - POWs marched at faster pace
            - fewer breaks
                - when given break, the POWs sat on road
        - North of Hermosa the POWs reached pavement
            - made march easier
    - 13 April 1942
        - 2:00 A.M. - POWs given an hour rest on road
            - those who attempt to lay down are jabbed with bayonets
            - POWs march through Layac and Lurao
            - rains - POWs drank as much as they could
        - 4:30 P.M. - reached San Fernando
            - POWs put in groups of 200 to be fed
                - one POW sent to get a box of rice for each group
                - pottery jars of water given out the same way
    - 14 April 1942
        - 4:00 A.M. - POWs awakened
            - formed detachments of 100 men and marched to train station
            - POWs put into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane
                - each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men
                - 100 POWs packed into each car
                - POWs who died remained standing
        - 9:00 A.M. - Capas - dead fell to floor as living left boxcars
            - as POWs formed ranks, Filipinos threw sugarcane to POWs
            - also gave them water
            - POWs walked last 8 kilometers to Camp O'Donnell

POW Camps:

    Philippines:

       - Camp O'Donnell

            - unfinished Filipino training base Japanese put into use as a POW camp - 1 April 1942
                - 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
        - Japanese opened new POW camp to lower death rate
            - 1 June 1942 - POWs formed detachments of 100 men
                - POWs marched out gate and marched toward Capas
                    - Filipino people gave POWs small bundles of food
                        - the guards did not stop them
                - At Capas, the POWs were put into steel boxcars and rode them to Manila
                - train stopped at Calumpit and switched onto the line to Cabanatuan
                    - POWs disembark train at 6:00 P.M. and put into a school yard
                    - fed rice and onion soup            

       - Cabanatuan

            - original name - Camp Panagaian
            - Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
                - put into use by Japanese as a POW camp
                - actually three camps
                    - Camp 1: POWs from Camp O'Donnell sent there in attempt to lower death rate
                    - Camp 2:  two miles away
                        - all POWs moved from there because of a lack of water
                        - later used for Naval POWs
                    - Camp 3: six miles from Camp 2
                        - POWs from Corregidor and from hospitals sent there
                            - POWs later moved to Camp 1

        - Camp Administration:
            - the Japanese left POWs to run the camp on their own
                - Japanese entered camp when they had a reason
                - POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
                    - Note: men who attempted to escape were recaptured
                    - Japanese beat them for days
                    - executed them
                - "Blood Brother" rule implemented
                    - if one POW in the group of 10 escaped, the other nine would be killed
                - POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
                - Barracks:
                    - each barracks held 50 men
                        - often held between 60 and 120 men
                        - slept on bamboo slats without mattresses, covers, and mosquito netting
                            - diseases spread easily
                        - no showers
            - Morning Roll Call:
                - stood at attention
                    - frequently beaten over their heads for no reason
                - when POWs lined up for roll call, it was a common practice for Japanese guards, after the POWs lined up, to kick the POWs in
                  their shins with their hobnailed boots
            - Work Details:
                - Work Day: 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
                - work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens, plant rice, and farm
                    - they also were frequently hit with a pick handle, for no reason, as they counted off
                - POWs on the rice planting detail were punished by having their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on
                - the POWs had to go into a shed to get the tools, as they came out, they were hit on their heads
                - if the guards on the detail decided the POW wasn't doing what he should be doing, he was beaten
                - many POWs on details were able to smuggle in medicine, food, and tobacco into the camp
            - to prevent escapes, the POWs set up patrols along the camp's fence
            - men who attempted to escape and caught were executed after being beaten
                - the other POWs were forced to watch the beatings
            - Two main details
                - the farm and airfield
                    - farm detail
                        - POWs cleared land and grew comotes, cassava, taro, sesame, and various greens
                        - Japanese took what was grown
                - Guards:
                    - Big Speedo - spoke little English
                        - in charge of detail
                        - fair in treatment of POWs
                        - spoke little English
                            - to get POWs to work faster said, "speedo"
                    - Little Speedo
                        - also used "speedo" when he wanted POWs to work faster
                        - fair in treatment of POWs
                    - Smiley
                        - always smiling
                        - could not be trusted
                        - meanest of guards
        - Airfield Detail:
            - Japanese built an airfield for fighters
                - POWs cut grass, removed dirt, and leveled ground
                    - at first moved dirt in wheel barrows
                    - later pushed mining cars
                   - Guards:
                       - Air Raid
                           - in charge
                           - usually fair but unpredictable
                               - had to watch him
                       - Donald Duck
                           - always talking
                           - sounded like the cartoon character
                           - unpredictable - beat POWs
                           - POWs told him that Donald Duck was a big American movie star
                               - at some point, he saw a Donald Duck cartoon
                               - POWs stayed away from him when he came back to camp

           - Meals:
                - daily POW meal - 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
                - most of the food the POWs grew went to the Japanese
        - Camp Hospital:
            - 30 Wards
                - each ward could hold 40 men
                    - frequently had 100 men in each
               - two tiers of bunks
                   - sickest POWs on bottom tier
               - each POW had a 2 foot by 6 foot area to lie in
            - Zero Ward
              - given name because it had been missed when counting wards
              - became ward where those who were going to die were sent
              - fenced off from other wards
                  - Japanese guards would not go near it
                  - POWs sent there had little to no chance of surviving
                  - medical staff had little to no medicine to treat sick
                  - many deaths from disease caused by malnutrition
            - hospitalized - 20 July 1942 - malaria
                - discharged - 7 November 1942

Hell Ship:

   - Clyde Maru

        - Sailed: Manila - 23 July 1943

        -Arrived: Santa Cruz, Zambales, Philippines - same day

                - loaded manganese ore

             - remained in port for three days

       -  Sailed: 26 July 1943

           - 100 POWs permitted on deck at a time from 6:00 AM to

             4:00 PM

        -  Arrived: Takao, Formosa - 28 July 1943

        - Sailed: 5 August 1942 - at 8:00 AM

            - part of nine ship convoy

        - Arrived: Moji, Japan - 7 August 1943

            - POWs lined up on dock - 8 August 1943

            - marched to rail station and boarded train

                - 9:30 AM - train departed

                    - two day train trip

                - 7:30 PM - 10 August 1943 - arrived at Omuta, Kyushu

                    - POWs marched 18 miles

                        - eighteen rode truck because they could not walk
POW Camp:

    Japan:

        - Fukuoka #3

Note:  The POWs 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.  Many of the products from the mill helped the Japanese war effort.  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.  The POWs worked from 8:00 A.M. until 4:00 P.M.and received a half hour lunch.
    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, a millet.  To supplement their diets, the POWs hunted rats for meat at night. 
    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 doing it.  The Japanese camp doctor made the sick stand out in the cold for hours.  He beat them and allowed the guards to beat them.
    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.  In one incident an entire barracks was slapped in the face, by the guards, because some POWs had smoked in the barracks.  During the winter, POWs who were being punished often had water thrown on them.  A group of about 60 POWs were made to crawl on their hands and knees, while carrying other POWs, on their backs.  As they crawled, they were hit with bamboo sticks, belts, and rifle butts.  There were two brigs in the camp which had as many as 20 POWs in them at a time.
    Another incident involved an American soldier who traded with the Japanese. The war was almost over and Japan was about to surrender.  The soldier traded for roasted beans.  As it turned out, the beans had been tainted with arsenic.  The soldier died the next day.  After going through all he had suffered, the soldier died when freedom was almost his.
    The Yawata Steel Mills were the primary target for the second atomic bomb, but since the sky was extremely overcast, the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.  This time, they saw  Japanese workers facing in the direction of radio speakers with their heads bowed.  The Americans thought that the emperor had passed away.  The truth was that the second atomic bomb had been dropped on Nagasaki, and the emperor was announcing Japan's surrender.  An American ensign, who could read and speak Japanese, saw a newspaper with the announcement of the surrender.  He was the first person to inform his fellow POWs that the war was over.  They were then told the same news by a Japanese officer.

Liberated: 13 September 1945

    - POWs took train to Nagasaki

        - greeted by band
    -returned to the Philippine Islands
Transport:
    - U.S.S. Haven
Returned Home:  11 November 1945

Discharged: 31 May 1949

Wife: Mary J. Peterson

Children: 4 sons

Occupation: Teacher

   - nine years in Minnesota

   - fifteen years San Diego, California

Died: 16 January 1992 - La Mesa, California

Buried:

     - Fort Rosencrans National Cemetery - San Diego, California

        - Section:  A-C   Site: 2106 


 

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