Jones_E

Sgt. Elwin Cornelius Jones


     Sgt. Elwin C. Jones was born on December 16, 1917, in Marion County, Ohio, to Nelson & Gladys Irene Rasey-Jones.  He was the eldest of seven children.  As children, he and his four brothers and two sisters lived at 1053 Davids Street in Marion, Ohio.  They later lived on Barnhart Street.

    Elwin and his siblings attended Forest Lawn School and later Vernon Junior High School.  In 1931, Elwin's family moved to Caledonia, Ohio, and lived in a house on South Water Street.  Elwin attended Caledonia High School and graduated as class Valedictorian in 1936.  After high school, Elwin got a job with the Erie Railroad.  During his time with the railroad, he worked as a telegraph operator and depot clerk in Broadway, Ohio.  

    On January 30, 1941, Elwin was inducted into the U. S. Army at Fort Hayes in Columbus, Ohio.  From there, he was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky for basic training.  At Ft. Knox, he became a member of C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion which had originally been an Ohio National Guard tank company from Port Clinton.  He attended radio operators school and successfully completed the program.

    In the late summer of 1941, from September 1st through 30th took part in maneuvers.  After the maneuvers, Elwin and the rest of his battalion learned that they were being sent overseas.  Elwin received leave so that he could return home to say goodbye to his family and friends.
    The 192nd Tank Battalion received orders for duty, in the Philippines, because of an event that happened during the summer of 1941.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a buoy in the water.  He came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island.  When the squadron landed he reported what he had seen.  By the time a Navy ship was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines. 

    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27th.  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 2nd and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
    On Wednesday, November 5th, 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. Calvin Coolidge.  Sunday night, November 9th, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th.  During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line.  On Saturday, November 15th, 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 16th, 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 20th, 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 tanks.
   At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they had what they needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner.  Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
    The members of the battalion pitched the tents in an open field halfway between the Clark Field Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg.  The tents were set up in two rows and five men were assigned to each tent.  There were two supply tents and meals were provided by food trucks stationed at the end of the rows of tents.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.  The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
  

    The tank battalion was ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field on December 1st to guard against paratroopers.  Two members of each tank crew remained with their tanks at all times and received their meals from fond trucks.  The morning of December 8, 1941, his company were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.   Most of the tankers took it as a joke and believed they were starting maneuvers.  The tank crews were brought up to full strength at the perimeter of airfield.

    Around 12:45 in the afternoon, Elwin and the other tankers were eating lunch when planes approached the airfield from the north.  At first the tankers believed the planes were American.  It was not until the bombs began exploding on the runways did the soldiers learn that they were Japanese.  For some reason, most of the Japanese planes ignored the tanks, but those that didn't managed to drop their bombs between the tanks.
    When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield.  The soldiers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and anything that could carry the wounded was in use.  When the hospital filled, they watched the medics place the wounded under the building.  Many of these men had their arms and legs missing. 

    The tank battalion received orders on December 21st 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 26th Cavalry.    The tank battalion received orders on December 21st 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 26th Cavalry.    The tank battalion received orders on December 21st 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 26th Cavalry.    Orders were received by the battalion, on December 21st, to proceed to Lingayen Gulf to support the 26th U.S. Cavalry, Philippine Scouts.  The Japanese had made landings in the area.  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..   The tank battalion received orders on December 21st 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 26th Cavalry.
    On
    The tank battalion received orders on December 21st 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 26th Cavalry. December 23rd and 24th, 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 25th, 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 27th.
    The tankers were fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th.  While there, the bridge over the Pampanga River was destroyed, they were able find a crossing over the river.  
   
    At Cabu, seven tanks of the company fought a three hour battle with the Japanese.  The main Japanese line was south of Saint Rosa Bridge ten miles to the south of the battle.
  The tanks were hidden in brush as Japanese troops passed them for three hours without knowing that they were there.  While the troops passed, Lt. William Gentry was on his radio describing what he was seeing.  It was only when a Japanese soldier tried take a short cut through the brush, that his tank was hidden in, that the tanks were discovered.  The tanks turned on their sirens and opened up on the Japanese.  They then fell back to Cabanatuan.    
    C Company was re-supplied and withdrew to Baluiag where the tanks encountered Japanese troops and ten tanks.  It was at Baluiag that Gentry's tanks won the first tank victory of World War II against enemy tanks.       
    After this battle, C Company made its way south.  When it entered Cabanatuan, it found the barrio filled with Japanese guns and other equipment.  The tank company destroyed as much of the equipment as it could before proceeding south.

    On December 31, 1941,  Company was sent out reconnaissance patrols north of the town of Baluiag.  The patrols ran into Japanese patrols, which told the Americans that the Japanese were on their way.  Knowing that the railroad bridge was the only way into the town and to cross the river, Lt. Gentry set up his defenses in view of the bridge and the rice patty it crossed. 

    Early on the morning of the 31st, the Japanese began moving troops and across the bridge.  The engineers came next and put down planking for tanks.  A little before noon Japanese tanks began crossing the bridge.  

    Later that day, the Japanese had assembled a large number of troops in the rice field on the northern edge of the town.  One platoon of tanks under the command of 2nd Lt. Marshall Kennady were to the southeast of the bridge.   Gentry's tanks were to the south of the bridge in huts, while third platoon commanded by Capt Harold Collins was to the south on the road leading out of Baluiag2nd Lt. Everett Preston had been sent south to find a bridge to cross to attack the Japanese from behind.  

    Major Morley came riding in his jeep into Baluiag.  He stopped in front of a hut and was spotted by the Japanese who had lookouts in the town's church's steeple.  The guard became very excited so Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks positions, got into his jeep and drove off.  Bill had told him that his tanks would hold their fire until he was safely out of the village.

    When Gentry felt the Morley was out of danger, he ordered his tanks to open up on the Japanese tanks at the end of the bridge.  The tanks then came smashing through the huts' walls and drove the Japanese in the direction of Lt. Marshall Kennady's tanks.  Kennady had been radioed and was waiting.

    Kennady's platoon held its fire until the Japanese were in view of his platoon and then joined in the hunt.  The Americans chased the tanks up and down the streets of the village, through buildings and under them.  By the time Bill's unit was ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had knocked out at least eight enemy tanks. 

    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.
   
Over the next several months, the battalion fought battle after battle with tanks that were not designed for jungle warfare.  The tank battalions, on January 28th, were given the job of protecting the beaches.  The 192nd was assigned the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.  
   
C Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line.  The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time to replace a tank in the pocket.  Another tank did not enter the pocket until a tank exited the pocket.
   
To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used.  The first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank.  As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually exploded.
    The other method to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole.  The driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around and grinding its way down into the foxhole.  The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.   
 
   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.
    At 6:45 in the morning of April 9, 1942, C Company received the order "crash" and destroyed their tanks.  They had received orders from General King's staff that all Filipino and American Forces on Bataan were to surrender to the Japanese.  After they had destroyed their tanks, they waited to see what would happen when the Japanese appeared.  When they made contact, the Prisoners of War were ordered to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  From this barrio, Elwin began the death march.

    On the march, Elwin made his way to San Fernando.  During this time, he received little food and ever less water.  At San Fernando, Elwin and the other POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars that were used to haul sugarcane.  One hundred men were put into each car.  When the train arrived at Capas, the living climbed out of the cars as the bodies of the dead fell to the ground.  From Capas, Elwin walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.  

    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino military camp.  The housing was inadequate and there was only one water faucet for 12,000 POWs.  Men died standing in line for a drink.  

    It was while Elwin was at Camp O'Donnell, that he became ill with dysentery.  According to U. S. Army records, Pvt. Elwin Cornelius Jones died of dysentery on Sunday, May 9, 1942.  He was buried in the camp cemetery in Section D, Row 6, Grave 5.

    After the war, another member of C Company visited the Jones family in Caledonia.  According to family members, this soldier told them how Elwin really died.  He told the family that Elwin and him had been selected to go out on a work detail.  Elwin was sick from dysentery that he could hardly stand.  An aggravated Japanese guard, believing Elwin was faking illness, so that he would not have to work, came up to him and killed him.

   After the war, Elwin's remains were returned to his family.  In April 1949, he was buried in Caledonia Cemetery in Caledonia, Ohio. 


 

 

 

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