JohnsonS

 

Pvt. Shelby Johnson


Born: 11 November 1923 - Grayson County, Kentucky
Parents: Henderson & Bertha Johnson

Home: 701 Colorado Avenue, Louisville, Kentucky

Enlisted:

    - U.S. Army

        - 6 January 1941 - Louisville, Kentucky

            - lied about his age to get into army

Training: 

    - Fort Knox, Kentucky

        - drove an army staff car

Units: 

    - 19th Ordnance Battalion

        - Louisiana Maneuvers

            - drove officers - stayed in hotels 

            - Company A reorganized as 17th Ordnance Company - after maneuvers

               at Ft. Knox

                - took a reduction in rank from Tec 5 to private to go to the Philippines

Overseas Duty: 

    - U.S.S. Calvin Coolidge
        - Boarded: San Francisco, California - Monday - 8 September 1941
        - Sailed: 9:00 P.M.
        - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Saturday 13 September 1941 - 7:00 A.M.
            - soldiers given shore leave for the day
        - Sailed: same day
        - Arrived: Manila, Philippine Islands - Friday - 26 September 1941
        - Disembark
            - 17th Ordnance remained behind to unload tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion
                - reattached turrets to tanks
        - rode bus to Ft. Stotsenburg
     
  
        - lived in tents at Fort Stotsenburg
            - barracks completed - 15 November 1941

Stationed:

    - Ft. Stotsenburg

Engagements: 

    - Battle of Luzon

        - 8 December 1942 - 6 January 1942
            - member of tank wrecker crew
                - recovered disabled tanks

    - Battle of Bataan

        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942

            - at one point he drove a wrecker for tanks

            - while towing a tank he and Robert Houghland were strafed and

               bombed - jumped out of wrecker and took cover

            - The Japanese planes failed to hit the wrecker or tank

            - near the end he was assigned to a machine gun guarding a beach

Prisoner of War: 

    - 9 April 1942

        - Death March

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

             - Shelby had his canteen and cup

                 - when guards were not looking, he would use cup to get water to fill

                   canteen

                 - Japanese guard spotted him and went after him

                 - Lloyd Grever warned him by yelling, "Shelby, watch the guard!"
                 - at that moment other POWs broke from the line to get sugarcane

                 - the guard forgot about Shelby and went after them

                 - Denver King gave purification tablets to Shelby for the water

                 - Shelby shared the water with his friends

            - San Fernando - POWs put 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

POW Camps:

    - Philippine Islands:

        - Camp O'Donnell

           - unfinished Filipino Army training base
            - Japanese use camp for POWs
            - one water spigot for entire camp
            - as many as 50 POWs died each day

            - while on the burial detail, one of the POWs he buried was his best

               friend, Lloyd Grever
            - Japanese opened new camp at Cabanatuan to lower death rate

        - Cabanatuan #1

            - assigned to Barracks 2, Group 2

            - Shelby was put in "Zero Ward" because it was believed he would die 

            - because he refused to die, he was selected to take an experimental

              Japanese drug for dysentery

            - he recovered

            - went out on wood detail

        - Nichols Field - April 1944

            - selected to build runways

            - only on the detail for a few weeks

            - POWs lived at Bilibid Prison

            - suffered from beriberi, pellagra, and amoebic dysentery while a POW

        - Cabanatuan
            - hospitalized - Wednesday - 10 June 1942 - malaria
                - discharged - Monday - 1 February 1943

            - returned in June 1944

    - Japan

        - Fukuoka #17

            - Work: coal mine

                - injured right leg in cave in

                - piece of timber pierced his leg

                - never worked in mine again

Hell Ship:

        - Canadian Inventor

            - Sailed: Manila - 4 July 1944

                - returned to Manila - boiler problems

            - Sailed: Manila - 16 July 1944

                - left behind by convoy - more boiler problems 

            - Arrived: Takao, Formosa - 23 July 1944

                - salt loaded onto ship 

            - Sailed: Takao - 4 August 1944

            - Arrived: Keelung, Formosa - 5 August 1944

                - additional boiler repairs 

            - Sailed: Keeling - 17 August 1944

                - boiler problems continued 

            - Arrived: Naha, Okinawa 

            - Sailed: Naha, Okinawa

                - returned several times over six days 

            - Arrived: Moji, Japan - 1 September 1944

Liberated:

    - September 1944

    - left camp to look for American forces

Returned to United States:

    - 22 October 1945

    - spent six months in Fletcher General Hospital in Cambridge, Ohio 

Promoted: Corporal
Transport:
     - U.S.S. General R. L. Howze
        - Sailed: Manila - 23 September 1945
        - Arrived: San Francisco - 16 October 1945
            - sent to Letterman General Hospital
Note:  Mother died while he was a POW

Discharged: 6 June 1946 - Camp Atterbury, Ohio

Note: One of the things Shelby did was to contact Lloyd Grever's sister and tell her of what he knew about Lloyd.

Education:

    - Bachelors of Science - 1950 - Western Kentucky State College

    - Masters of Science - Public Health - 1958 - University of North Carolina

Married: Doris Tomes

    - Doris passed away in 2012

Children: 1 daughter

Occupation: Operated Sheldor Farm Apple Orchard

Residence: Scottsville, Kentucky

Link to Library of Congress page on Shelby Johnson


 


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