Pvt. Otha Johnson
Born: 9 December 1913 - Paducah, Kentucky

Parents: George E. Johnson & Lola C. Jones-Johnson

Siblings: 2 brothers,  2 sisters

Home: 527 North Third Street - Paducah, Kentucky

Married: 18 January 1941
    - Widower- wife died while he was in Army

Occupation: Knitter - hosiery mill

Inducted: 

    - U. S. Army

         - 22 January 1941 - Louisville, Kentucky

Training:
    - Fort Knox, Kentucky
        - Arrived: 28 November 1941
        - January 1941- attended a specific tank school for training
    - 1 September 1941 - 30 September 1941
        Louisiana Maneuvers
            - sent to Camp Polk after maneuvers
    - Camp Polk, Louisiana
        - received orders for overseas duty as part of Operation PLUM
            - PLUM acronym for Philippines, Luzon, Manila
        - men 29 years old or older replaced
        - replacements came from 753rd Tank Battalion
        - received tanks M3 "Stuart" tanks of 753rd
Note: 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.

Overseas Duty:
    - Fort McDowell, Angel Island, California
        - ferried to island on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
        - received physicals from medical detachment - 25 October 1941 - 26 October 1941
            - men with minor health issues held back and scheduled to rejoin battalion at later date
            - other men simply replaced

         - Boarded: U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott
        - Sailed: San Francisco - Monday - 27 October 1941
        - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Sunday - 2 November 1941
            - remained in Hawaii until other ships in convoy arrived
        - Sailed: Wednesday - 5 November 1941
            - took southern route away from main shipping lanes
            - joined by the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and the transport the S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
                - smoke seen on horizon
                - Louisville revved its engines, its bow came out of water, and it intercepted the ship
                    - ship was from a neutral country
        - Sunday - 9 November 1941 - crossed International Dateline
            - soldiers woke up on Tuesday - 11 November 1941
        - Arrived: Guam - Sunday 16 November 1941
            - ship loaded with water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables
        - Sailed: next day
            - passed Japanese held island in total blackout
        -Arrived: Thursday - 20 November 1941 - Manila Bay - 7:00 A.M.
            - soldiers disembark ship three hours after arrival
            - boarded buses for Ft. Stotsenburg
            - maintenance section remained behind to unload tanks from ship

Engagements: 
        - 8 December 1941 - 6 January 1942
            - 8 December 1941
                - lived Japanese attack on Clark Field
                - planes did not go after tanks
                - after attack 194th sent to a bivouac three kilometers north of Clark Field
                    - from there they were sent to Barrio of San Joaquin on the Malolus Road
            - 12 December 1941
                - moved to new bivouac south to San Fernando near Calumpit Bridge
                    - arrived 6:00 A.M.
            - 15 December 1941
                - received 15 Bren gun carriers
                - turned some over to 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts
            - 22 December 1941
                - sent to Rosario
                    - west and north of the of barrio
                    - ordered out of the 71st Division Commander
                        - said they would hinder the cavalry's operation
            - 22/23 December 1941
                - operating north of Agno River
                - main bridge at Carmen bombed
            - 24/25 December 1941
                - tank battalions make end run to get south of Agno River
                    - ran into Japanese resistance but successfully crossed river
            - 25/26 December 1941
                - held south bank of Agno River from west of Carmen to Carmen-Akcaka-Bautista Road
                - 192nd held from Carmen to (Route 3) to Tayug (northeast of San Quintin)
            - 26/27 December 1941
                - ordered to withdraw
                    - 1 platoon forced its way through way through Carmen
                        - lost two tanks
                            - one tank belonged to company commander - Captain Edward Burke
                                - believed dead, but was actually captured
                            - one tank crew rescued
                - new line Santa Ignacia-Gerona-Santo Tomas-San Jose
                - rest of battalion made a dash out
                    - lost one tank at Bayambang
                    - another tank went across front receiving fire and firing on Japanese
                - Lt. Petree's platoon fought its way out and across Agno River
                - D Company, 192nd, lost all its tanks except one
                    - the tank commander found a crossing
                    - Japanese would use tanks later on Bataan
            - 29/30 December 1941
                - new line at Bamban River established
                - tank battalions held line until ordered to withdraw
            - 30/31 December 1941
                    - tank battalions held Calumpit Bridge
                    - covering withdraw of Philippine Divisions south on Rt. 3, San Fernando
            - 2 January 1942
                - both tank battalions ordered to withdrawal to Lyac Junction
                - 194th withdrew there on Highway 7
            - 5 January 1942
                - C Company and A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, withdrew from Guagua-Poraline Line and moved into position between
                  Sasmuan and Lubao
                - 1:50 A.M. - Japanese attempted to infiltrate
                    - bright moonlight made them easy to see
                    - tanks opened fire
                    - Japanese lay down smoke which blew back into them
                - 3:00 A.M. - Japanese broke off engagement
                    - suffered 50% casualties
                - Remedios - established new line along dried creek bed
            - 6/7 January 1942
                - 194th, covered by 192nd, crosses Culis Creek into Bataan
                - both battalions bivouacked south of Aubucay-Hacienda Road
                - rations cut in half
    - Battle of Bataan
        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942
           - January 1942
                - tank companies reduced to three tanks per platoon
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."
           - 8 January 1942
                - composite tank company made up of tanks from the 192nd and 194th sent to protect East Coast Road north of Hermosa
                    - their job was to keep the East Road open  north of Hermosa and prevent the Japanese from driving into Bataan before the main
                      battle line had been formed
                - remainder of tanks ordered to bivouac for night south of Aubucay-Hacienda Road
                    - tankers had been fighting for a month without a rest
                    - tanks also needed overdue maintenance
                    - 17th Ordnance
                - all tank companies reduced to ten tanks
                - three per tank platoon
                - sent to reopen Moron Road so General Segunda's forces could withdraw
                - tanks knock out an anti-tank gun
                - two tanks disabled by landmines but recovered
                - mission abandoned
                - Gen. Segunda's troops escaped using beach but lost their heavy equipment
        - 12 January 1942
            - C Company, with D Company, 192nd, sent to Cadre Road
                - forward position with little alert time
        - 13 January 1942
            - mines planted by ordnance prevented them from reaching Cadre Road
            - returned to battalion
        - 16 January 1942
            -  C Company sent to Bagac to reopen Moron Highway
                - highway had been cut by Japanese
                - Moron Highway, and Junction of Trail 162
                    - tank platoon fired on by antitank gun
                        - tanks knock out gun
                        - cleared roadblock with support of infantry
        - 20 January 1942
            - Banibani Road -tanks sent in to save 31st Infantry command post
        - 24 January 1942
            - tanks order to Hacienda Road in support of troops
                 - landmines planted by ordnance prevented them from reaching road
        - 26 January 1942
            - the battalion held a position a kilometer north of the Pilar-Bagac Road
                - four self-propelled mounts with the battalion
            - 9:45 A.M. - warned by Filipino a large Japanese force was coming
                - when the enemy appeared they opened up with all the battalion had
                - 10:30 A.M. - Japanese withdrew after losing 500 of 1200 men
                - prevented new defensive line being formed from being breached
        - 28 January 1942
            - 194th tanks given beach duty protecting southern beaches
            - guarded coast from Limay to Cabcaben
            - half-tracks patrolled roads
                - maintained radio contact with on-shore and off-shore patrols
        - March 1942
            - two tanks were bogged down in mud
            - the tankers were working to get them out
            - Japanese Regiment entered the area
            - Lt. Col. Miller ordered tanks and artillery to fire at point blank range
                - Miller ran from tank to tank directing fire
                - wiped out Japanese regiment
        - 4 April 1942
            - Japanese launched major offensive
            - tanks sent into various sectors to stop Japanese advance
        - 6 April 1942
            - four tanks sent to support 45th Philippine Infantry and 75th Infantry, Philippine Scouts
                - one tank knocked out by anti-tank fire at junction of Trails 8 & 6
                - other tanks covered withdraw
            - 3rd Platoon sent up west coast road
                - near Mount Samat ran into heavy Japanese force
                - the tanks withdrew to Marivales
        - 8 April 1942
            - fighting on East Coast Road at Cabcaban

            - night of 8 April 1942 - escaped to Corregidor
Note: During this time, 17th Ordnance was headquarters in an abandoned ordnance detail

    - Battle of Corregidor

        - 9 April 1942 - 6 May 1942
            - 5 May 1942
                - Japanese lunched attack at night
                - defenders fell back toward Malenta Tunnel
            - 6 May 1942
                - Americans surrendered
Prisoner of War:

    - 6 May 1942

POW Camps: 

    - Philippine Islands:
        - Corregidor
            - marched in groups to south end of tunnel  

            - Japanese order barrage to end resistance

                - all resistance ended

            - one POW beheaded for not following orders

          - POWs taken to 92nd Garage Area on Monkey Point
              - held on beach for two weeks
                - poor sanitation and medical care
                - no shade to get out of sun
              - POWs volunteered to work burial detail
                  - they could get water and hunt for food

            - taken by barge to a point off Luzon

            - POWs jumped into water and swam to shore

            - marched down Dewey Boulevard as part of Japanese victory parade
        - Bilibid Prison
            - held there for two or three days
            - taken to train station
            - rode train to Calumpit
            - marched by Cabanatuan Camp 1 to Cabanatuan Camp 3

        - Cabanatuan
            - original name - Camp Panagaian
                - Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
                    - put into use by Japanese as a POW camp
                - actually three camps
                    - Camp 1: POWs from Camp O'Donnell sent there in attempt to lower death rate
                    - Camp 2:  two miles away
                        - all POWs moved from there because of a lack of water
                        - later used for Naval POWs
                    - Camp 3: six miles from Camp 2
                        - POWs from Corregidor and from hospitals sent there
                        - camp created to keep Corregidor POWs separated from Bataan POWs
                        - Corregidor POWs were in better shape
                            - January 1943 - Camp 3 consolidated into Camp 1
        - Camp Administration:
            - the Japanese left POWs to run the camp on their own
                - Japanese entered camp when they had a reason
                - POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
                    - Note: men who attempted to escape were recaptured
                    - Japanese beat them for days
                    - executed them
            - Blood Brother Rule
                - POWs put into groups of ten
                    - if one escaped the others would be executed
                    - housed in same barracks
                    - worked on details together
            - Barracks:
                - each barracks held 50 men
                    - often held between 60 and 120 men
                    - slept on bamboo slats without mattresses, covers, and mosquito netting
                        - diseases spread easily
                    - no showers
            - Morning Roll Call:
                - stood at attention
                    - frequently beaten over their heads for no reason
                - when POWs lined up for roll call, it was a common practice for Japanese guards, after the POWs lined up, to kick the POWs in
                  their shins with their hobnailed boots because they didn't like the way the POWs looked
            - Work Details:
                - Two main details
                    - the farm and airfield
                        - farm detail
                            - POWs cleared land and grew comotes, cassava, taro, sesame, and various greens
                            - Japanese took what was grown
                    - Guards:
                        - Big Speedo - spoke little English
                            - in charge of detail
                            - fair in treatment of POWs
                            - spoke little English
                                - to get POWs to work faster said, "speedo"
                        - Little Speedo
                            - fair in treatment of POWs
                        - Smiley
                            - always smiling
                            - could not be trusted
                            - meanest of guards
            - Airfield Detail:
                - Japanese built an airfield for fighters
                    - POWs cut grass, removed dirt, and leveled ground
                        - at first moved dirt in wheel barrows
                        - later pushed mining cars
                    Guards:
                        - Air Raid
                            - in charge
                            - usually fair but unpredictable
                                - had to watch him
                        - Donald Duck
                            - always talking
                            - sounded like the cartoon character
                            - unpredictable - beat POWs
                            - POWs told him that Donald Duck was a big American movie star
                                - at some point, he saw a Donald Duck cartoon
                                - POWs stayed away from him when he came back to camp
                - Work Day: 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
                    - worked 6 days a week
                        - had Sunday off
            - Other Details:
                - work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens and plant rice
                    - they also were frequently hit with a pick handle, for no reason, as they counted off
                - POWs on the rice planting detail were punished by having their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on
                - the POWs had to go into a shed to get the tools, as they came out, they were hit on their heads
                - if the guards on the detail decided the POW wasn't doing what he should be doing, he was beaten
                - many POWs on details were able to smuggle in medicine, food, and tobacco into the camp
            - Burial Detail
                - POWs worked in teams of four
                    - carried 4 to 6 dead to cemetery at a time in liter
                    - a grave contained from 15 to 20 bodies 
            - daily POW meal
                - 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
                 - rice was main staple, few vegetables or fruits
        - Camp Hospital:
            - 30 Wards
                - each ward could hold 40 men
                    - frequently had 100 men in each
               - two tiers of bunks
                   - sickest POWs on bottom tier
               - each POW had a 2 foot by 6 foot area to lie in
            - Zero Ward
              - given name because it had been missed when counting wards
              - became ward where those who were going to die were sent
              - fenced off from other wards
                  - Japanese guards would not go near it
                  - POWs sent there had little to no chance of surviving
                  - medical staff had little to no medicine to treat sick
                  - many deaths from disease caused by malnutrition
            - Burial Detail
                - POWs worked in teams of four
                    - carried 4 to 6 dead to cemetery at a time in liter
                    - a grave contained from 15 to 20 bodies

        - Clark Field

            - POWs built runways and revetments 

Hell Ship:
    - Noto Maru
    - Boarded: 25 August 1944
    - Sailed: Manila - 27 August 1944
    - Arrived: Takao, Formosa - 31 August 1944

        - Sailed: 1 September 1944

        - Arrived: Moji, Japan - 7 September 1944

Note: Otha stated men were taken from the hold and beaten with rifle butts.  He said some never came back to the hold.
POW Camp:

    - Japan:

        - Tokyo #9
            - also known as "Ashio"

            - POWs worked in a copper mine
            - camp commandant slapped and hit POWs
Liberated: September 1945

    - weighed 88 pounds
Promoted: Staff Sergeant

Note: Never emotionally recovered from his time as a POW, but he never complained or felt anything was owed to him.
Died:
    - 19 January 1967 - Paducah, Kentucky
Buried:
    - Johnson Cemetery - McCracken County, Kentucky






Return to D Company


Next