Pfc. George S. Garmen was born on October 18, 1917, to Stephen Garman and Mabel
May-Garman and raised in Fort Recovery, Ohio, with his sister and three brothers. He would later live
outside of Celina, Ohio, and work on the family farm. On February 5, 1941, he was inducted into the U. S.
Army and sent to
Ft. Knox, Kentucky for basic training. Being from Ohio, he was assigned to C
Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, which had been an Ohio National Guard tank company.
A typical day for the soldier s
tarted in 6:15 with reveille, but most of the soldiers were up before this since they
wanted to wash and dress. Breakfast was from 7:00 to 8:00 A.M., followed by calisthenics at 8:00 to
8:30. Afterwards, the tankers went to various schools within the company. The classes consisted of
.30 and .50 caliber machine guns, pistol, map reading, care of personal equipment, military courtesy, and
training in tactics.
At 11:30 the soldiers stopped what they were doing and cleaned up for
mess which was from noon to 1:00 P.M. Afterwards, they attended the various schools which they had been
assigned to on January 13, such as: mechanics, tank driving, radio operating. At 4:30, the soldiers
called it a day and returned to their barracks and put on dress uniforms and at five held retreat followed by
dinner at 5:30. After dinner, they were off duty and lights were out at 9:00 P.M., but they did not have
to turn in until 10:00 when Taps was played.
From September 1 through 30, 1941, George took part in maneuvers in
Louisiana. It was after these maneuvers that the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead
of returning to Ft. Knox. At Camp Polk, the battalion learned it was being sent overseas. He
received a leave home to say his goodbyes to friends and family.
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.
Many of the members of the battalion were given furloughs so that they could say
goodbye to family and friends. They returned to Camp Polk and traveled by train to Ft. Mason in San
Francisco, California, and were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island on the
U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe. On the island they were given physicals and inoculated for
tropical diseases by the battalion's medical detachment. Some men were held back for health issues
but scheduled to join the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
After receiving the necessary inoculations, C Company was boarded onto the
U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott on Monday, October 27, 1941. It took the ship five days to reach
Hawaii, the ship docked on Sunday, November 2, and the men received shore leave to see the
On Wednesday, November 5, 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 the
S. S. President Calvin Coolidge. Sunday night, November 9, the soldiers went to bed and when they
awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11. During the night, while they slept, the ships had
crossed the International Dateline. On Saturday, November 15, 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.
The ships arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16. The soldiers were not
allowed to go on shore since they would be sailing the next day. While they were docked, coconuts, bananas,
vegetables, and water were loaded. The ship sailed the next day, for Manila, and entered Manila Bay around
8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20. After it docked, the soldiers disembarked and were boarded onto buses.
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. The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they
arrived. King stayed with the tankers until they had their Thanksgiving dinner., which was a stew.
Afterwards, he went and had his own.
For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from
their weapons. 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.
On December 1, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against
Japanese paratroopers. Two members of each tank and half-track crew remained with their vehicles at all
times and received their meals from food trucks.
The morning of December 8, 1941, at 8:30, the planes of the the Army Air Corps took off
and filled the sky. At noon the planes landed to be refueled, line up in a straight line, and the pilots
went to lunch in the mess hall. At 12:45 in the afternoon, just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor,
Danny lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield.
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 10 and 13.
The tank battalion received orders on December 21 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
On December 23 and 24, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta. The bridge
they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of
river. As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening. They successfully
crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
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 27.
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, C Company's tanks were hidden in brush. The Japanese troops passed
the tanks 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 Cabanatuan.
C Company was re-supplied and withdrew to Baluiag where the tanks encountered Japanese
troops and ten tanks. It was at Baluiag that C Company's tanks won the first tank battle victory of
World War II against enemy tanks.
After the battle, C Company made its way south. When it entered Cabanatuan, it
found the barrio filled with Japanese guns and other equipment. The tank company destroyed as much of the
equipment as it could before proceeding south.
On December 31, 1941, the 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, the company set up it's defenses in view of the bridge and the rice patty it
Early on the morning of the 31, 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.
Later that 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. Lt. 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
Major Morley 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's steeple. The guard became
very excited so Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks positions, got into his jeep and drove off.
Bill had told him that his tanks would hold their fire until he was safely out of the village.
When 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
Kennady's platoon held it's 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 Bill's unit was ordered to disengage from the enemy,
they had knocked out at least eight enemy tanks.
The tankers 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.
The tanks were spaced 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.
Lighting the rice stacks, the Americans opened up with small fire. They then used
their .37 mm guns. The fighting was such a rout that the the tankers were using a .37 mm shell to kill
one Japanese soldier.
The 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, Gentry learned where the guns
were and attacked. Before the Japanese withdrew, the tankers had knocked out three of the guns.
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.
In addition to serving as a rear guard, the tankers burnt everything that was being left
behind. They burnt warehouses, banks, and businesses that would help the Japanese.
At Gumain River, the night of December 31 to the morning of January 1st, the tank
companies formed a defensive line along the south bank of the river. When the Japanese attacked the
position at night, they were easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts. The Japanese were taking
heavy casualties, so they attempted to use smoke to cover their advance, but the wind blew the smoke into the
Japanese. When the Japanese broke off the attack, they had suffered fifty percent casualties.
At Guagua, A Company, with units from the 11th Division, Philippine Army, attempted to
make a counterattack against the Japanese. Somehow, the tanks were mistaken, by the Filipinos to be
Japanese. The 11th Division accurately used mortars on them. The result was the loss of three
On January 1, the tanks of the 194th were holding the Calumpit Bridge allowing the
Southern Luzon Forces to cross the bridge toward Bataan. General Wainwright was attempting to hold the
main Japanese force coming down Route 5 to prevent the troops from being cut off. General MacArthur's
chief of staff gave conflicting orders involving whose command the defenders were under which caused
confusion. Gen. Wainwright was not aware these orders had been given.
Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces
defending the bridges over the Pampanga River. 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
2 to 4, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
On January 5, while attached to the 194th Tank Battalion, A Company withdrew from the
line. Lt. Kenneth Bloomfield received orders to launch a counter-attack against the Japanese on a trail
picked by Provisional Tank Group command. Bloomfield, while attempting to attack, radioed the tank group that
the trail did not exist.
It was evening and the tankers believed they were in a relatively safe place near
Lubao along a dried up creek bed. Bloomfield told his men to get some sleep. Their sleep was
interrupted by the sound of a gun shot at about 1:50 A.M. The tankers had no idea that they were about to
engage the Japanese who had lunched a major offensive across an open field wearing white shirts which made them
easy targets. There was a great deal of confusion and the battle lasted until 3:00 A.M., when the
Japanese broke off the attack. Within days of this action, the company returned to the command of the
The tanks often were the last units to disengage from the enemy and form a new
defensive line as Americans and Filipino forces withdrew toward Bataan. The night of January 7, the A
Company was awaiting orders to cross the last bridge into Bataan over the Culis Creek. The engineers were
ready to blow up the bridge, but the battalion's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Ted Wickord, ordered the
engineers to wait until he had looked to see if they were anywhere in sight. He found the company, asleep
in their tanks, because they had not received the order to withdraw across the bridge. After they had
crossed, the bridge was destroyed.
The next day the tanks received maintenance. It was the first rest that the two
tank battalions had since December 24. On January 28, the tank battalions 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. The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them
from attempting landings.
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.
It was at this time the tank battalions received these orders which came from Gen.
: "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."
Over the next several months, the battalion fought battle after battle
with tanks that were not designed for jungle warfare. The tank battalions , on January 28, 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. The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them
from attempting landings.
In early February, the Japanese attempted to land troops behind the main battle line
on Bataan. The troops were quickly cut off and when they attempted to land reinforcements, they were
landed in the wrong place. The fight to wipe out these two pockets became known as the Battle of the
The Japanese had been stopped, but the decision was made by Brigadier General Clinton
A. Pierce that tanks were needed to support the 45th Infantry Philippine Scouts. He requested the tanks
from the Provisional Tank Group.
On February 2, a platoon of C Company tanks was ordered to Quinan Point where the
Japanese had landed troops. The tanks arrived about 5:15 P.M. He did a quick reconnaissance of the
area, and after meeting with the commanding infantry officer, made the decision to drive tanks into the edge of
the Japanese position and spray the area with machine-gun fire. The progress was slow but steady until a
Japanese .37 milometer gun was spotted in front of the lead tank, and the tanks withdrew. It turned out
that the gun had been disabled by mortar fire, but the tanks did not know this at the time. The decision
was made to resume the attack the next morning, so 45th Infantry dug in for the night.
The next day, the tank platoon did reconnaissance before pulling into the front
line. They repeated the maneuver and sprayed the area with machine gun fire. As they moved forward,
members of the 45th Infantry followed the tanks. The troops made progress all day long along the left
side of the line. The major problem the tanks had to deal with was tree stumps which they had to avoid so
they would not get hung up on them. The stumps also made it hard for the tanks to maneuver.
Coordinating the attack with the infantry was difficult, so the decision was made by to bring in a radio car so
that the tanks and infantry could talk with each other.
On February 4, at 8:30 A.M. five tanks and the radio car arrived. The tanks were
assigned the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, so each tank commander knew which tank was receiving an order. Each
tank also received a walkie-talkie, as well as the radio car and infantry commanders. This was done so
that the crews could coordinate the attack with the infantry and send so that the tanks could be ordered to
where they were needed. The Japanese were pushed back almost to the cliffs when the attack was halted for
The attack resumed the next morning the next morning and the Japanese were pushed to
the cliff line where they hid below the edge of the cliff out of view. It was at that time that the tanks
were released to returned to the 192nd.
During the Battle of the Pockets 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. During all these engagements, Ralph worked to keep the tanks running. Often
this meant scavenging parts from tanks that no longer were operable.
The company took part in the Battle of the Pockets. The Japanese had lunched an
offensive and were pushed back to the original battle line. Two pockets of Japanese soldiers were trapped
behind the line. The tanks were sent in to the pockets to wipe them out. One platoon of tanks would
relieve another platoon. The tanks would do this one at a time.
The tanks used two strategies to do this. In the first, the tanks would go over a
foxhole. Three Filipino soldiers were sitting on the back of the tanks. Each man had a bag of hand
grenades. As the tank was passing over the foxhole, the three soldiers would drop hand grenades into the
The second method was to park a tank over a foxhole. The driver would then spun the
tank, in a circle, on one track until it ground itself into the ground wiping out the Japanese. The
tankers slept upwind from the tanks so they didn't have to smell the rotting flesh.
While the tanks were clearing out the Japanese, the Japanese sent
soldiers carrying cans of gasoline against the tanks. The soldiers would attempt to jump onto the tanks,
pour gasoline into the vents on the back of the tanks, and set the tanks on fire. If the tankers could
not machine gun them before they reached the tanks, they would shoot them as they stood on the tanks. The
tankers did not like to do this because of what it did to the crews inside the tanks. The bullets hitting
the tank often popped the tank's rivets which hit the crew members and wounded them.
On March 2 or 3, during the Battle of the Points, the tanks had been sent in to
wipe out two pockets of Japanese soldiers who had been landed behind the main defensive line. The
Japanese were soon cut off. When the Japanese attempted to land reinforcements, they landed them at the
wrong place creating another pocket. Both, of the pockets, were wiped out.
On April 4, 1942, the Japanese launched an attack supported by artillery and
aircraft. A large force of Japanese troops came over Mount Samat and descended down the south face of the
volcano. This attack wiped out two divisions of defenders and left a large area of the defensive line
open to the Japanese.
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 were 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
When the Japanese arrived, they ordered the Prisoners of War onto the road. They
quickly stripped the POWs of their watches, pens, and sun-glasses. The POWs were taken to a trail and found
that walking on the gravel trail was difficult. They immediately witnessed "Japanese Discipline"
toward their own troops. The Japanese apparently were marching for hours, and when a man fell, he was
kicked in his stomach and hit in the head with a rifle butt. If he still did not get up, the Japanese
determined that the man was exhausted and left him alone.
The trail the POWs were on ended when they reached the main road. The first thing the
Japanese did was to separate the officers from the enlisted men and counted them. The POWs were left in the
sun for the rest of the day wondering what was going to happen. That night they were ordered north which
was difficult, on the rocky road, in the dark, since they could not see where they were walking.
The POWs made their way north against the flow of Japanese horse artillery and trucks which
were moving south. At times, they would slip on something wet and slippery which were the remains of a man
killed by Japanese artillery the day before. When dawn came, the walking became easier but as the sun rose
it became hotter and the POWs began to feel the effects of thirst. It was at this time that the POWs
saw a group of Filipinos being marched by the Japanese. Looking at them, they realized that they had been
hungry, but the Filipinos had been starving.
When the men crossed the Lamao River, they smelled the sweet smell of death. The Japanese
had heavily bombed the area causing many casualties and many of the dead lay partially in the river. The
air corps POWs in front of them ran to the river and drank. Many would later die from dysentery at Camp
At Limay, the officers with the rank of major or above, were put into a school yard.
The officers were told that they would be driven the rest of the march. At 4:00 AM, the officers were put
into trucks for an unknown destination. It was there that the lower ranking officers and the enlisted men
joined the main column of POWs being marched out of Bataan. For the first time, they began to witness the abuse
of POWs as they walked through Balanga to Orani.
At Orani, the men were put into a bull pen where they were ordered to lay down. In
the morning, the POWs realized that they had been lying in the human waste of POWs who had already used the
bullpen. At noon, they received their first food.
When they resumed the march they were marched at a faster pace. The guards also
seemed to be nervous about something. The POWs made their way to just north of Hormosa. where the road went
from gravel to concrete, and the change of surface made the march easier. When the POWs were allowed to sit
down, those who attempted to lay down were jabbed with bayonets.
The POWs continued the march and for the first time in months it began to rain which felt
great and many men attempted to get drinks. When they arrived at San Fernando, the POWs were put into
another bullpen and remained until they were ordered to form detachments of 100 men.
They were marched to the train station, where they were packed into small
wooden boxcars known as,
"forty or eights.
" They were called this since each car could hold forty men or eight horses, but the
Japanese packed 100 men into each car and shut the doors. The heat in the cars was unbearable and many POWs
died but could not fall to the floors since there was no room for them to fall. The POWs rode the train to
Capas were they disembarked the cars. As they left the cars, the dead fell to the floors. The POWs
walked the last eight kilometers to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell 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 added.
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 use.
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
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. The Japanese finally acknowledge that they had to do something,
so the opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.
On June 1, 1942, the POWs formed detachments of 100 men each and were marched to
Capas. There, the were put in steel boxcars with two Japanese guards. At Calumpit, the train was
switched onto another line which took it to Cabanatuan. The POWs disembarked and were taken to a schoolyard
where they were fed cooked rice and onion soup. From there, they were marched to Cabanatuan which had been
the headquarters of the 91st Philippine Army Division and was formerly known at Camp Panagaian.
To prevent escapes, the POWs set up a detail that patrolled the fence of the camp.
The reason this was done was that those who did escape and were caught, were tortured before being executed,
while the other POWs were made to watch. It is believed that no POW successfully escaped from the
camp. The POWs were sent out on work details to cut wood for the POW kitchens. Meals on a daily basis
consisted of 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, and sweet potato or corn.
The POWs worked on the camp farm from 7:00 in the morning until 5:00 in the
evening. Most of the food they grew went to the Japanese not them. Other POWs worked in rice
The POW barracks were built to house 50 POWs, but most held between 60 and 120 men.
The POWs slept on bamboo slats without mattresses, covers, or mosquito netting. The result was many became
Each morning, the POWs lined up for roll call. While they stood at attention, it wasn't
uncommon for them to be hit over the tops of their heads. In addition, one guard frequently kicked them in
their shins with his hobnailed boots. after arriving at the farm, the POWs went into a tool shed to get their
tools. As they left the shed, the guards hit them on their heads. While working in the fields, the
favorite punishment given to the men in the rice paddies was to have their faces pushed into the mud and stepped
on by a guard. Returning from a detail the POWs bought, or were given, medicine, food, and tobacco, which
they somehow managed to get into the camp even though they were searched when they returned.
The camp hospital was composed of 30 wards. The ward for the sickest POWs was known
as "Zero Ward," which got its name because it had been missed when the wards were counted. The
name soon meant the place where those who were extremely ill went to die. Each ward had two tiers of bunks
and could hold 45 men but often had as many as 100 men in each. Each man had a two foot wide by six foot
long area to lie in. The sickest men slept on the bottom tier since the platforms had holes cut in them so
the sick could relieve themselves without having to leave the tier.
In January 1943, George was selected to go out on the Lipa Detail to
Lipa Batangas. On the detail the POWs built runways and revetments at Lipa Airfield. Every other
day, the POWs worked on a farm.
On June 22, 1943, George was sent to the Naval Hospital at Bilibid
Prison and admitted. Medical records show that he had dysentery. He remained at Bilibid until June
28th, when he was transferred to Cabanatuan.
In July 1943, George went out on the Las Pinas work detail. The POWs on the
detail built runways. The only tools that the POWs had to do this with were picks and shovels.
He remained on this detail until April 1944.
George built runways at Camp Murphy and worked on a farm. The
POWs on this detail had nothing but picks and shovels to build the runways. At first the work was hard
but not as hard as it was going to get. About 400 yards from where they began working where hills.
The POWs removed these hills with picks and shovels. The dirt was put into wheel barrows and carried to a
swamp and dumped as landfill. This turned out to be inefficient, so the Japanese brought in mining cars
and railroad track. Two POWs pushed each car to where it was to be dumped. He would remain on this
detail for almost seventeen months.
The brutality shown to the POWs was severe. The first Japanese
commander of the camp, a Lt. Moto, was called the "White Angel" because he wore a spotless naval
uniform. He was commander of the camp for slightly over thirteen months. One day a POW collapsed
while working on the runway. Moto was told about the man and came out and ordered him to get up.
When he couldn't four other Americans were made to carry the man back to the Pasay School.
At the school, the Japanese guards gave the man a shower and straightened his clothes
as much as possible. The other Americans were ordered to the school. As they stood there, the White
Angel ordered an American captain to follow him behind the school. The POW was marched behind the school
and the other Americans heard two shots. The American officer told the men that the POW had said
"Tell them I went down smiling." There, the White Angel shot the POW
as the man smiled at him. As the man lay on the ground, he shot him a second time. The American
captain told the other Americans what had happened. The White Angel told them that this was what going to
happen to anyone who would not work for the Japanese Empire.
The second commanding officer of the detail was known as "the Wolf."
He was a civilian who wore a Japanese Naval Uniform. Each morning, he would come to the POW barracks and
select those POWs who looked the sickest and made them line up. The men were made to put one leg on each
side of a trench and then do 50 push-ups. If a man's arms gave out and he touched the ground, he was
beaten with pick handles.
On another occasion a POW collapsed on the runway. The Wolf had the man taken
back to the barracks. When the Wolf came to the barracks that evening and the man was still unconscious,
he banged the man's head into the concrete floor and kicked him in the head. He then took the man to
the shower and drowned him in the basin.
A third POW who had tried to walk away from the detail told the guards to shoot him,
the guards took him back to the Pasay School and strung him up by his thumbs outside the doorway and placed a
bottle of beer and sandwich in front of him. He was dead by evening.
The remains of the POWs who had died on the detail were brought to Bilibid Prison in
boxes. The Japanese had death certificates, with the causes of death and signed by an American doctor,
sent with the boxes. The Americans from the detail, who accompanied the boxes, would not tell the POWs at
Bilibid what had happened. It was only when the sick, from the detail, began to arrive at Bilibid did
they learn what the detail was like. These men were sent to Bilibid to die since it would look better
when it was reported to the International Red Cross.
It is known that while he was on the detail Steve was sent to the hospital at Bilibid
Prison. Medical records show that he was admitted on September 22, 1943, from beriberi. No date of
discharge was given.
On July 17, 1944, he was taken to Japan on the Japanese hell ship
Nissyo Maru. The ship stopped at Takao, Formosa on July 20th and remained there until July
28. On that date, it sailed for Moji, Japan. It arrived at Moji on August 3.
In Japan, George was held at
where the POWs worked in the Yawata Steel Mills. The POWs were given different types of work to
do. Some of the POWs were used to push coal carts from the docks to the mill. Other POWs were given
to the job of shoveling iron ore and rebuilding the ovens. The POWs were also 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. They worked from 9 to 10 hours a day 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 and infested with fleas, lice, and bedbugs. Only the sick rooms had heat. All POWs
who died were reported to have died in the camp hospital. Around the perimeter of the buildings were two
tiers of platforms for the POWs to sleep on. One was six inches above the ground and the second was six
feet from the ground. Each POW had a straw mattress to sleep on. At one end of the barracks was a
latrine with six stalls, one urinal, and 2 cold water sinks.
Food for the POWs consisted of a main dish of rice, wheat, wheat flour, corn, and,
Kaoliang, a millet. Most of the time, the POWs received millet and dakon, a radish, soup for breakfast
and supper. Lunch was millet which was packed into a bento box that the POWs took to work with
them. To supplement their diets, the POWs in the camp hunted rats at night for meat. On two
occasions, the Japanese issued meat to the POWs. In both cases, it was given to the POWs because it was
rotten. After cooking it, they ate it.
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 hacksaws and crude medical tools even though the Red Cross had
sent the proper surgical tools. The sick POWs were required to work even if it meant they could possibly
die from doing it. POWs running fevers had to work unless the fever was higher than 102 degrees.
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 beating. This resulted in men developing pneumonia. Some of these
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 and 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.
George remained in the camp until he was liberated on September 13, 1945. Three weeks
after the end of the war, a international group of soldiers reached the camp. They organized the prisoners
for transport by train to Nagasaki. There they were deloused, showered and given new clothing.
After this was done, they were boarded onto a British ship and taken to Manila in the Philippines for medical
treatment and was promoted to Staff Sergeant.
He returned to the United States on the
U.S.S. Storm King arriving at San Francisco on October 15, 1945, and was taken to Letterman General
Hospital. George was discharged, from the army, on November 26, 1945.
George married Thelma Jean Schock and lived in Fort Recovery, Ohio. He
was the father of four daughters and four sons. George S. Garman passed away in April 8, 1987, and was
buried at Saint Mary Cemetery in Ft. Recovery.