Bataan Project - 17th Ordnance Company - T/4 Oscar E. Gordon


Bataan Project

Tec 4 Oscar E. Gordon

Born: 1921 - Hendricks County, Indiana

Parents: Lawrence Frank Gordon & Lucinda McCloud-Gordon

Siblings: 12 sisters, 6 brothers

Hometown: Eel River, Indiana

Resided: Putnam County, Indiana


    - U.S. Army

         - 10 January 1941 - Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana


    - Ft. Knox, Kentucky

        - A Company, 19th Ordnance Battalion reorganized as 17th Ordinance Company


    - 19th Ordnance Battalion
        - trained alongside of 192d Tank Battalion at Ft. Knox
        - learned how to maintain the 57  vehicles in use by the Army

    - 17th Ordnance Company
        - A Company, 19th Ordnance Battalion designated 17th Ordnance Company
            - 17 August 1941
                - received orders to go overseas on the same day
    - 1 September 1941
        - traveled by train to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California
        - soldiers told during trip the y were being sent to the Philippines

Overseas Duty:

    - ferried on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island

        - given physicals and innocuated

        - spent two days preparing equipment for overseas transport

        - removed turrets from tanks of 194th Tank Battalion so they would fit in the ship's holds
    - 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 heavy cruiser, U.S.S. Astoria, and an unknown destroyer
                - heavy cruiser intercepted several ships after smoke was seen on the horizon
                - ships belonged to friendly countries
        - 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
        - returned to Manila to help 17th Ordnance with unloading of tanks
    - Philippines
        - lived in tents until barracks completed - 15 November 1941  
        - 8 December 1941 - family received his last letter
        - Disembark
            - 17th Ordnance remained behind to unload tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion
                - reattached turrets to tanks
        - rode bus to Ft. Stotsenburg


    - Battle of Luzon

        - 8 December 1942 - 6 January 1942

    - Battle of Bataan

        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942

Prisoner of War:

    - 9 April 1942

Death March

    - 9 April 1942 - 15 April 1942

            - POWs started march at Mariveles on the southern tip of Bataan
            - ran past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor
                - American artillery returned fire

                    - three Japanese guns knocked out
            - San Fernando - POWs packed into small wooden boxcars
                - each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men
                - Japanese packed 100 POWs into each boxcar
                - POWs who died remained standing
            - Capas - POWs leave boxcars - dead fall out of cars
            - POWs walked last miles to Camp O'Donnell

POW Camps:

    - Camp O'Donnell

            - 1 April 1942 - unfinished Filipino training base Japanese put into use as a POW camp
                - Japanese believed the camp could hold 15,000 to 20,000 POWs
            - POWs searched upon arrival at camp
                - those found with Japanese money were accused of looting
                - sent to guardhouse
                - over several days, gun shots heard southeast of the camp
                    - POWs who had money on them had been executed

            - camp commandant told Americans they were not POWs but captives and would be treated as such
            - 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 2½ 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, at Cabanatuan, to lower death rate

            - 1 June 1942 - transfer of POWs to new camp started
        - considered too ill to be moved
Died: 20 June 1942

    - approximate time of death - 6:30 A.M.
        - from an infection


    - Camp O'Donnell Cemetery


   - American Military Cemetery - Manila, Philippine Islands

       - Plot:  A   Row:  9   Grave:  159 


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