Pvt. Jay Alexander Hampton
    Pvt. Jay A. Hampton was born on March 1, 1918.  His given name was Joseph A. Hampton.  He was the son of Joseph N. Hampton & Nannie Bennett-Hampton and one of the couple's six sons.  During the 1920s, he grew up in Meadows, North Carolina.  He would later reside in Kernersville, North Carolina.
    Jay was drafted into the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  He would later be assigned to the 19th Ordnance Company and sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky.  During his time at Ft. Knox, he attended tank mechanics' school.  At Ft. Knox, he was assigned to the 17th Ordnance Company when it was formed from one of the companies of 19th Ordnance on August 1941 and received orders for overseas duty on August 17.
    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 company left Ft. Knox, on September 1, and rode a train to Ft. Mason, in San Francisco, California, and were ferried by the U.S.A.T General Frank M. Coxe.  It was during the train trip that the members of the company learned they were being sent to the Philippines.  On the island, they received physicals and inoculated and men found to have medical conditions were replaced.
    The company spent their time on the island removing the turrets of the tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion so they would fit in the ship's holds.  They boarded the S. S. President Calvin Coolidge and the ship sailed on Monday, September 8th, at 9:00 P.M.  The ship arrived Saturday, September 13th at 7:00 A.M. and the men were allowed ashore but had to return to ship before it sailed at 5:00 P.M.  The ship took a southerly route and was joined by the U.S.S. Astoria and an unknown destroyer which were its escorts.
    On several occasions, smoke was seen on the horizon and the Astoria took off to intercept the unknown ship.  Each time the ship was from a neutral country.
    The ships crossed the International Date Line on Tuesday, September 16, and suddenly, it was Thursday, September 18.  The morning of September 26th at 7:00 A.M., the ship entered Manila Bay.  The soldiers disembarked at 3:00 P.M. later that day, and 17th Ordnance, with the maintenance section of the 194th Tank Battalion, remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks of the 194th and reattach the turrets.  The men took turns sleeping on the ship that night and completed the work by 7:00 A.M. the next day.
    For the next few months, the company members familiarized themselves with the M3 Stuart tank and the other vehicles of the tank battalion.  The 192nd Tank Battalion, which 19th Ordnance trained with at Ft. Knox, arrived in the Philippines in November.
   The morning of December 8, 1941, the members of the company were told of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor just hours earlier.  The company moved to a bamboo thicket and set up their machine shop trucks and other vehicles.  Later in the day, they were ordered to return to Ft. Stotsenburg.
    At 12:45, planes appeared over Clark Airfield and bombed the airfield.  Japanese Zeros followed and strafed the buildings.  The company lost one half-track during the attack.  When the attack was over, there were wounded and dead everywhere.
    For the next four months, the members of 17th Ordnance worked to keep the tanks of the tank group supplied with ammunition and running.  On Bataan, the company set up its operations in the ordnance deport building which had been abandoned since it was empty.
    On April 9, 1942, he became a Prisoner of War and took part in the death march from Mariveles to San Fernando.  The POWs, at San Fernando, were boarded onto small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane.  Each car could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese packed 100 men into each car.  Those who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas.  They walked ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
    The company left Ft. Knox on September 1, and rode a train which took them to Ft. Mason, in San Francisco, California, and were ferried by the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  There, they received physicals and inoculated and men found to have medical conditions were replaced.
    The company spent their time on the island removing the turrets of the tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion so they would fit in the ship's holds.  They boarded the S.S. President Calvin Coolidge and the ship sailed on Monday, September 8th, at 9:00 P.M.  The ship arrived Saturday, September 13th at 7:00 A.M. and the men were allowed ashore but had to return to ship before it sailed at 5:00 P.M.  The ship took a southerly route and was joined by the U.S.S. Astoria and an unknown destroyer which were its escorts.
    On several occasions, smoke was seen on the horizon and the Astoria took off to intercept the unknown ship.  Each time the ship was from a neutral country.
    The ships crossed the International Date Line on Tuesday, September 16, and suddenly, it was Thursday, September 18.  The morning of September 26th at 7:00 A.M., the ship entered Manila Bay.  The soldiers disembarked at 3:00 P.M. later that day, and 17th Ordnance, with the maintenance section of the 194th Tank Battalion, remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks of the 194th and reattach the turrets.  The men took turns sleeping on the ship that night and completed the work by 7:00 A.M. the next day.
    For the next few months, the company members familiarized themselves with the M3 Stuart tank and the other vehicles of the tank battalion.  The 192nd Tank Battalion, which 19th Ordnance trained with at Ft. Knox, arrived in the Philippines in November.
    The morning of December 8, 1941, the members of the company were told of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor just hours earlier.  The company moved to a bamboo thicket and set up their machine shop trucks and other vehicles.  Later in the day, they were ordered to return to Ft. Stotsenburg.
    At 12:45, planes appeared over Clark Field and bombed the airfield.  Japanese Zeros followed and strafed the buildings.  The company lost one half-track during the attack.  When the attack was over, there were wounded and dead everywhere.
    For the next four months, the members of 17th Ordnance worked to keep the tanks of the tank group supplied with ammunition and running.  On Bataan, the company set up its operations in the ordnance deport building which had been abandoned since it was empty.   The members of the company worked constantly to keep the tanks running during the Battle of Bataan.
    When Bataan surrendered to the Japanese, the tankers became a Prisoners of War.  The POWs were ordered to the bivouac of the Provisional Tank Group.  It was from there that they were marched to join the main column of POWs on the march out of Bataan.
    The Japanese brought in fresh troops from Singapore and on April 3 launched an all out attack.  On April 7, 1942, the Japanese broke through the east side of the main defensive line on Bataan.  C Company was pulled out of their position along the west side of the line.  They were ordered to reinforce the eastern portion of the line.  Traveling south to Mariveles, the tankers started up the eastern road but were unable to reach their assigned area due to the roads being blocked by retreating Filipino and American forces.
    It was the evening of April 8 that Gen. Edward P. King decided that further resistance was futile, since approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to fight, and he estimated they would last one more day.  In addition, he had over 6,000 troops who sick or wounded and 40,000 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 accomplished."
    On April 10, the Japanese arrived and 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 trial 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 O'Donnell.
    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 bull pen and remained until they were ordered to form detachments of 100 men.
    At some point marched the POWs 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 Japanese lieutenant.
    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 were forced to work in the fields 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.  After arriving, Jay was admitted into the camp hospital on June 26, 1942, suffering from malaria.  He remained in the hospital until he was discharged on August 29, 1942.
    What is known is that the POWs saw their first American plane in years fly over the camp in late 1944.  They also could hear the guns of the American fleet as the Invasion of the Philippines began.  The Japanese attempted to prevent their liberation by sending large number of POWs to Japan or other occupied countries.       
    In early October 1944, 1775 POWs were marched to the Port Area of Manila.  When his POW group arrived at the pier, the ship they where scheduled to sail on, the Hokusen Maru, was ready to sail, but some of the POWs in the detachment had not arrived at the pier.  Another POW detachment, scheduled to sail on the Arisan Maru, had completely arrived, but their ship was not ready to sail.  It was at that time that the Japanese made the decision that they switch POW detachments so the Hokusen Maru could sail.
    On October 10, the POWs boarded the Arisan Maru and 1775 prisoners were crammed into the first hold of the Arisan Maru which could hold 400 men.  They were packed in so tightly that they could not move.  Those POWs who had lain down in the wooden bunks along the haul could not sit up because the bunks were so close together.  Eight large cans served as the washroom facilities for the POWs.
    Later in the day on October 11, the ship set sail but took a southerly route away from Formosa.  The ship anchored in a cove off Palawan Island where it remained for ten days.  The Japanese covered the hatch with a tarp so during the night, the POWs were in total darkness.  Within the first 48 hours, five POWs had died.  Being in the cove resulted in the ship missing an air raid by American planes, but the ship was attacked once by American planes while there.
    Each day, each POW was given three ounces of water and two half mess kits of raw rice. Although the Japanese had removed the lights in the hold, they had not turned off the power to the lights.  Some of the prisoners were able to hot-wire the ship's blowers into the light power lines.  This allowed fresh air into the hold, until the power was disconnected, two days later, when the Japanese discovered what had been done.
    After this was done, the POWs began to develop heat blisters.  The Japanese realized that if they did not do something many of the POWs would die.  To prevent this, they opened the ship's number two hold and transferred 600 POWs into it.  At this point, one POW was shot while attempting to escape.
    The Arisan Maru returned to Manila on October 20, where it joined a twelve ship convoy.  On October 21, the convoy left Manila and entered the South China Sea.  The Japanese refused to mark POW ships with red crosses to indicate they were carrying POWs making them targets for American submarines.  In addition, U.S. military intelligence was reading the Japanese messages as fast as the Japanese.  To protect this secret, they did not tell the submarine crews that ships were carrying POWs which made the ships targets for the submarines.  The POWs in the hold became so desperate that they prayed for the ship to be hit by torpedoes.
    According to the survivors of the Arisan Maru, on Tuesday, October 24, 1944, about 5:00 pm, some of the POWs were on deck preparing dinner for the POWs in the ship's two holds.  The ship was, off the coast of China, in the Bashi Channel.  Suddenly, sirens and other alarms were heard.  The men inside the holds knew this meant that American submarines had been spotted and began to chant for the submarines to sink the ship.
    The waves were high since a storm had just passed.  At about 5:50 P.M., as the POWs watched, the Japanese ran to the bow of the ship and a torpedo passed in front of the ship.  Moments later, the Japanese ran to the ship's stern and watched as a second torpedo passed behind the ship.  There was a sudden jar and the ship stopped dead in the water.  It had been hit by two torpedoes amidships in its third hold where there were no POWs, but it still killed some POWs.  It is believed that the submarine that fired the torpedoes was the U.S.S. Snook.
    The Japanese guards took their guns and used them as clubs on the POWs who were on deck.  To escape, the POWs dove back into the holds.  After they were in the holds, the Japanese cut the rope ladders and put the hatch covers on the holds, but they did not tie them down.  They then abandoned the ship.
    Some of the POWs from the first hold climbed out and reattached the ladders and dropped them to the men in the holds.  The POWs left the holds but made no attempt to abandon ship.  On the ship's deck an American major spoke to the POWs, he said, "Boys, we're in a hellva a jam - but we've been in jams before.  Remember just one thing: We're American soldiers.  Let's play it that way to the very end of the script."  Right after he spoke, a chaplain said to them, "Oh Lord, if it be thy will to take us now, give us the strength to be men."  The ship sank lower into the water.
    According to surviving POWs, the ship stayed afloat for hours but got lower in the water.  At one point, the stern of the ship began going under which caused the ship to split in half but the halves remained afloat.  It was about this time that about 35 POWs swam to the nearest Japanese ship.  When the Japanese realized that they were POWs, they pushed them underwater with poles and drowned them or hit them with clubs.  Those POWs who could not swim raided the food lockers for a last meal, because they wanted to die with full stomachs.  Other POWs took to the water with anything that would float.  
    Three POWs found an abandoned life boat and managed to climb in but found it had no oars.  With the rough seas, they could not maneuver it to help other POWs.  According to the survivors, the Arisan Maru and sank sometime after dark on Tuesday, October 24, 1944.  The men in the boat heard cries for help, which became fewer and fewer, until there was silence.  The next day they picked up two more survivors.  Four other men were picked up by a Japanese ship and taken to Formosa. Pvt. Jay Hampton was not one of them. 
    Since he was lost at sea, Pvt. Jay Hampton's name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside Manila. 

 

 

 


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