| S/Sgt. Willard Daylis Jennings was
was born on June 29, 1919, in Billings, Montana, to
George T. Jennings & Stella Daylis-Jennings.
With his two sisters and two brothers, he would later
move to Forest Park, Illinois, where he resided at
1120 Circle Avenue. He attended the
Field-Stevenson School in Forest Park and was a member
of the Proviso Township High School Class of
1939. He worked in the shipping department
of a newspaper.
In 1937, with his parents
permission and while he was still in high school,
Willard enlisted in the Illinois National Guard's 33rd
Tank Company in Maywood, Illinois. When the
company was federalized as Company B, 192nd Tank
Battalion, he went to Fort Knox, Kentucky to
train. After nearly a year of training at Fort Knox, Willard qualified as a
tank driver. He would later become a tank
A typical day for the soldiers
started 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
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 and 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.
It was after these maneuvers that
the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana,
instead of returning to Ft. Knox as they had
expected. On the side of a hill, the battalion
learned it was being sent overseas as part of
Operation PLUM. Within hours, the tankers had
figured out that PLUM stood for Philippines, Luzon,
Manila. Those men 29 years old, or older, were
allowed to resign to from federal service and were
replaced by men of the 753rd Tank Battalion, and the
battalion received the tanks of the 753rd. The
decision to send the battalion to the Philippines was
made on August 15, 1941.
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.
The battalion traveled west by
train to San Francisco, California, and was taken by
ferry to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island on the ferry the
U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe. At Ft.
McDowell, they were given physicals and inoculated for
overseas duty. Those men found to have a
minor medical condition were held back and scheduled
to rejoin the battalion at a later date, while other
men were simply replaced.
The 192nd boarded onto the U.S.A.T.
Gen. 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
2 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
At the fort,
Gen. Edward P.
that they had
to live in
the main road
fort and Clark
He made sure
that they all
he went to
was the date
members of the
expected to be
The grease was
put on the
belts and did
The first week of
December, 1941, the tank battalions were ordered to
the perimeter of the airfield to guard against enemy
paratroopers. Two members of every tank crew
were to remain with their tanks at all time.
The morning of December 8, the
tankers were informed of the Japanese attack on
Pearl Harbor They were ordered to return to
the perimeter of the airfield to guard against
Japanese paratroopers. As they watched the
sky that morning, it was filled with American
planes. At noon, the planes landed and the
pilots went to lunch.
12:45, as the tankers were eating lunch, 54 planes
approached the airfield from the north. At
first the tankers thought the planes were Americans,
until they noticed silver raindrops falling from the
planes. When bombs began exploding on the
runways, they knew the planes were Japanese.
The bombing destroyed most of the planes of the Army
Air Corps. After the attack, the battalion remained
at the airfield
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.
tankers were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan
on December 27, and at San Isidro south of
Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29. On
January 1, conflicting orders were received
by the defenders who were attempting to stop
the Japanese advance down Route 5.
Doing this would allow the Southern Luzon
Forces to withdraw toward Bataan.
General Wainwright was unaware of the orders
since they came from Gen. MacArthur's chief
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
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
During the withdraw into the peninsula, the company
crossed over the last bridge which was mined and
about to be blown. The 192nd held its position
so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog
past it and then cover the 192nd's withdraw. The
192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
During the Battle of the
sent in to
line and than
the line after
members of the
ways to wipe
method was to
on the back of
the tanks with
sacks of hand
tank would go
over it and
from World War
I, one out of
The tank was
spun the tank
The tank dug
into the dirt
On April 3, 1942, the Japanese
launched a 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 sick or wounded and 40000 civilians
who he feared would be massacred. At 10:30
that night, he sent his staff officers to negotiate
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."
At 6;45 the morning of April 9, 1942, the tankers
received the order "crash." They circled their
tanks. Each tank fired a armor piecing shell
into the engine of the tank in front of it.
They also opened the gasoline cocks inside the tank
compartments and dropped hand grenades into the
tanks. Most of the company waited in their
bivouac for the Japanese to make contact, while
others attempted to reach Corregidor which had not
the Japanese made contact with B Company, the
members of the company made their way to Mariveles
at the southern tip of Bataan. They were now
officially Prisoners of War. At Mariveles, the
Japanese took blankets and other items from the POWs
that they could use. The tankers striped
anything from their uniforms that indicated that
they were tankers. They heard the rumor that
the Japanese were looking for them.
Mariveles, the tankers made their way north toward
San Fernando. They were given little food or
were often marched at night. When
they arrived at San Fernando, they were put in a
bull pen. In one corner was a slit trench that
was the washroom for the POWs. The surface of
it moved from the maggots.
The POWs were
taken to the
used to haul
The cars were
known as forty
forty men or
put 100 POWs
Those who died
there was no
and the dead
fell to the
floor of the
last ten miles
The camp 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
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. Tsuneyoshi also told the doctor that
the only thing he wanted to know about the Americans
was their names and serial numbers when they died.
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 burial detail would carry the
dead to the cemetery and put the corpse in the
grave. Since the water table was high, so that it
could be covered with dirt, one POW held the body
down with a pole while dirt was thrown on the
corpse. The next day when the burial detail
returned to the cemetery, the dead often were dug up
by wild dogs or sitting up in their graves.
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. The trip was not as
bad since the POWs had more room in the
boxcars. 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.
The camp was actually three
camps. Camp 1 housed the POWs who had been captured
on Bataan and held at Camp O'Donnell. Camp 2
was two miles from Camp 1 and was closed because it
lacked an adequate water supply. It was later
reopened and held Naval POWs. Camp 3 was eight
miles from Camp 1 and six miles from Camp 2.
It housed the POWs from Corregidor and those men who
had been hospitalized when Bataan surrendered.
The camp was later closed and the POWs were sent to
Camp 1. The camp was actually three camps. Camp 1
housed the POWs who had been captured on Bataan and
held at Camp O'Donnell. Camp 2 was two miles
from Camp 1 and was closed because it lacked an
adequate water supply. It was later reopened
and held Naval POWs. Camp 3 was eight miles
from Camp 1 and six miles from Camp 2. It
housed the POWs from Corregidor and those men who
had been hospitalized when Bataan surrendered.
Camps 1 and 3 were later consolidated into one camp.
The barracks were built for 50
men, but most had 60 to 120 men in them. Each
man had a are two feet wide by six feet long to
sleep in. The POWs slept on bamboo slats
without mattresses, bedding, and mosquito
netting. Disease soon spread quickly.
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. In September 1942, three officers were
caught attempting to escape. After being
beaten for day, they were shot. In October,
seven POWs were made to dig their own graves and
shot. 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. Other POWs worked in rice
paddies. Each morning, 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 1 hospital was made up
of 30 barracks. Zero Barracks had been missed
when the wards were being counted so it was given
the name of "Zero Ward." The ward became the
place were POWs who were going to die were
sent. The Japanese were so terrified by it,
that they put a fence up around it and would not go
near the building. Inside the buildings
were two rolls of wooden platforms along the
walls. The sicker POWs were put on the lower
platform which had holes cut into them. This
allowed the POWs to relieve themselves without
having to get off the platform.
Willard was admitted to the camp
hospital and assigned to Zero Ward. It was
there that Sgt. Willard D. Jennings died at about
4:00 in the morning on Friday, June 12, 1942, from
dysentery. He was 22 years old and was buried
in the camp cemetery.
After the war the remains
recovery team identified the remains of Sgt. Willard
D. Jennings. At the request of his family,
Sgt. Willard D. Jennings remains lie in Plot B,
Row 2, Grave 137, at the American Military
Cemetery just outside of Manila.