Garr



Pvt. Carl E. Garr

    Pvt. Carl E. Garr was the son of Alfred & Lena Garr on February 13, 1917, in Kiowa, Oklahoma, but he was raised in the town of Mayhill, in Pittsburg County, Oklahoma.  It is known he had one brother and one sister.  He joined the army in 1940 and took basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  He was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, where he was assigned to A Company, 753rd Tank Battalion.

    Although the 753rd was present at Camp Polk, they did not take part in the Louisiana maneuvers of 1941.  After the maneuvers, he volunteered to join the 192nd Tank Battalion which was preparing for duty in the Philippine Islands.  The battalion was in need of soldiers to replace those National Guardsmen released from Federal service because they were too old to go overseas.  He was assigned to B Company as a tank driver.
    The decision for this move -  which had been made on August 15, 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.
    The battalion's new tanks came from the 753rd Tank Battalion and were loaded onto flat cars, on different trains.  The soldiers also cosmolined anything that they thought would rust.  Over different train routes, the companies were sent to San Francisco, California, where they were ferried, by the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, they were given physicals by the battalion's medical detachment and men found with minor medical conditions were held on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Other men were simply replaced.

    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27.  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 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, another transport, 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.
    When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16, 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 20, 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, they were greeted by Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they had what they needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner.  Ironically, November 20 was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
    The members of the battalion pitched the tents in an open field halfway between the Clark Field Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg.  The tents were set up in two rows and five men were assigned to each tent.  There were two supply tents and meals were provided by food trucks stationed at the end of the rows of tents.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons.  The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea.  They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance as they prepared to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.  
    On December 1, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers.  Two crew members had to be with their tank at all times.  They received their meals from food trucks.

    On December 8, 1941, Carl's company was ordered to the perimeter of the airfield to guard it against Japanese paratroopers.  That morning they had been informed of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He and the other tankers watched the attack on Clark Field since most of their weapons were useless against airplanes.  They fought the best they could with weapons that were not designed to fight aircraft.
    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 26th Cavalry.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta, where 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 successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
    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 27.  The tankers were fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27, and were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29. 

    The tankers were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27, and at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th.  On December 31/January 1,  the tanks were stationed on both sides of the Calumpit Bridge when they received conflicting orders, from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff, about whose command they were under and to withdraw from the bridge.  The defenders were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5 which would allow the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan.  General Wainwright was unaware of the orders.
    Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River and about half the defenders withdrew.  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.
    At 2:30 A.M., the night of January 5/6, the Japanese attacked at Remlus in force and using smoke as cover.  This attack was an attempt to destroy the tank battalions.  At 5:00 A.M., the Japanese withdrew having suffered heavy casualties.

    During the withdraw into the peninsula, the night of January 6/7, the 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross a bridge, and then cover the 192nd's withdraw over the bridge. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.

    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 25.  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 25, 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 26/27, 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. 
    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.

    During the Battle of Bataan, Carl took part in the Battle of the Pockets.  During this battle, the tanks were used to wipe out pockets of Japanese Marines who had been landed behind the main defensive lines on Bataan.  He was a member of Sgt. Zenon Bardowski's tank crew with Pvt. Herb Kirchhoff and Pvt. Lester Tenenberg.

   During this battle, Carl's tank came to the aid of the tank crew of Lt. Ed Winger.  The crew of the tank shouted at his tank crew, over the radio, they needed his tank crew's help.  Lt. Winger's tank had knocked out a number of Japanese positions.  As Lt. Winger's tank approached another Japanese position, it was fired upon by Japanese flamethrowers.  The crew was blinded and their tank ended up wedged between two trees.  The tank was abandoned by it's crew.  

    Carl pulled his tank behind the trapped tank. Sgt. Bardowski dismounted the tank and dragged the towing cables from the bow of his tank to the rear of Lt. Winger's tank.  The Japanese managed to shoot the cable away from the hook, so Bardowski had to run around to the rear of his tank and set the cable again to make the rescue.  

    Carl's tank crews efforts saved Lt. Winger's crew.  In the process of rescuing the tank crew, Carl's tank had destroyed a .57 mm Japanese gun and a Japanese flamethrower. 

    Later, Carl's company was assigned to the east coast of Bataan to prevent the Japanese from landing troops.  At night, they fought firefights with Japanese landing barges attempting to land troops behind the main defensive line on Bataan.  The Japanese never landed one soldier on the beach.

    One morning, Walter Cigoi, lost his temper after being woke up by the "Photo Joe."  He took a "pot shot" at the Japanese reconnaissance plane that was trying to locate them under the jungle canopy.  This resulted in thre tankers being killed when their tanks were bombed by Japanese dive bombers.
    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 3.  On April 7, 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.

    When the news that Bataan was being surrendered to the Japanese reached Carl's platoon of tanks, they decided to escape to Corregidor.  After being told the tanks could not be taken to the island, his platoon abandoned them.  When the final Japanese attack on Corregidor was made, one of the first tanks landed was Carl's own tank since they had not disabled it.  

    On May 6, 1942, Corregidor was surrendered to the Japanese.  The Prisoners of War were taken about a mile from shore and made to swim ashore.  Once on land they were told they would have to march to Cabanatuan.  Knowing about the death march, the men feared they would receive the same treatment.  Although they marched, they were never mistreated. 
    Cabanatuan which had been the headquarters of the 91st Philippine Army Division and was formerly known at Camp Panagaian was made up of three camps. Camp One housed the POWs who surrendered on Bataan, taken part in the march, and had been held at Camp O'Donnell.
    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 farms 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 paddies.
    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 ill.
   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.

    What is known is that Carl was listed as having been sent to Palawan Island on a work detail.  The POWs on the detail built an airfield with picks and shovels.  It is not known how long he remained on the detail before he was returned to Manila and sent to Bilibid Prison for medical treatment. 
    After recovering from his illness, Carl was sent, as a replacement, to Clark Field.  It appeared he remained there until he was selected for transport to Japan and returned to Bilibid.  He was boarded onto the Hokusen Maru and was sent to Formosa.  On the island, he was held at Heito Camp.

    Carl was in a group of 110 Americans to arrive at the camp, from Luzon, on November 9, 1944.  Upon arrival, the POWs were made to stand in line.  The camp commander, 1st Lieutenant Tamaki, went down the line and searched the POWs and their belongings.  The next day, the POWs met and noted that Tamaki had taken all the medicine and first aid equipment from them.

    After five days in the camp, the POWs were put to work in teams of five men.  Each team of POWs was expected to load three boxcars a day with ten tons of ballast each.  To do this they were issued "punkis" which were baskets to carry the ballast in to the boxcars.  The reason they doing this is that the Japanese wanted to turn the field into rice patties.  POWs who were to weak to do this work were made to work on the camp farm.

    If the Japanese determined a POW was not working as hard as he should be, they punished the man.  At the end of a work day as the POWs returned to the camp, three of four guards dragged the man to a water trough and threw him into it.  The guards held the POW underwater.  Since the other POWs had report to their barracks, none of them ever witnessed the entire event.  But they knew, from talking to the those who were punished, that when the Japanese were done using the trough, the POW was marched into the guard house.

    From their barracks, the POWs could hear screams.  They learned that once a POW was inside the guardhouse he was beaten by Lt. Tamaki.  Tamaki hit the man on his back, on his shoulders, and on his legs with a bamboo cane.  After two or three days, the POW was released from the guardhouse.  The POWs who were punished like this showed the other prisoners the welts on their backs and legs from the beatings.     

    In late January 1945, many of the POWs were sent to Keelung for transport to Japan.  It is believed that it was at this time the Carl was sent to Taihoku #6.  He would be moved again and sent to Shirakawa.  It was at this camp that Carl is reported to have died of dysentery and malaria.

    1st Lt. Jacques Merrifield's final report on the 192nd Tank Battalion states that  Pvt. Carl E. Garr died on Friday, July 13, 1945.  According to the National Archives POW punch cards, the last information on Pvt. Carl E. Garr  was received on August 12, 1945.

    While Carl was a POW, his parents moved to Bell Gardens, California.  After the war, they requested that his remains be returned to the United States.  His remains were returned home in December 1948, and were buried at Park Lawn Cemetery in Plot  F,  Lot  21, Grave 2, in Bell Gardens, California.  Today, he is buried next to his parents.


 

 

Return to B Company

Next