Pvt. Hugh J. Leonard was born on December 31, 1915, in Mercer County, Kentucky, to Bessie
E. Walston-Leonard and Jackson H. Leonard and was one of the couple's three sons. With his brothers, he
grew up in Perryville, Kentucky. Like many young men of his time, he enlisted in the Kentucky National
Guard to earn earn some extra money to help his family.
On November 28, 1940, Hugh's tank company was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky for a year of
training and designated D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. 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 tactics.
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.
At the end of August 1941, the battalion was sent to Louisiana to take part in maneuvers
from September 1 through 30. It was after the maneuvers, they were ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana,
where, on the side of a hill, the battalion learned that they were being sent overseas as part of Operation
PLUM. Within hours, many of the soldiers had figured out that "PLUM" was an acronym for
Philippines, Luzon, Manila.
The reason for this move was an event that took place in 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 for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island, with a large radio
transmitter, hundred of miles away. The squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and
then returned to Clark Field. When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day, and the next
day, when 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.
It was at this time, men 29 years, or older, were given the opportunity to resign from
federal service. Those who did were replaced with men from the 753rd Tank Battalion. This battalion
had been sent to the fort, but it had not taken part in the maneuvers. The M3 "Stuart" tanks from
the battalion were also given to the 192nd and loaded onto flat cars.
Traveling west over different train routes, the battalion arrived in San Francisco,
California, and ferried, on the
U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, the tankers were immunized and given physicals by the
battalion's medical detachment. Men found to have treatable medical conditions were held back and
scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
The battalion sailed, on the
U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott
, from San Francisco, on Monday, October 27 for Hawaii arriving at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2, and had a
layover. During the trip to Hawaii, many of the soldiers came down with seasickness. After
recovering, they drilled, broke down machine guns, cleaned weapons, and did KP. After arriving at Hawaii,
most received passes and allowed to explore the islands. They sailed again on Wednesday, November 5, for
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
, 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 tanks.
At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. 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 spent much of their time removing cosmoline from
their weapons and loading ammunition belts. After arriving in the Philippines the paperwork began to be
processed to transfer D Company to the 194th Tank Battalion. Doing this meant that both battalions would
have three letter companies. With the start of the war, the transfer never was completed.
After arriving in the Philippines, the process was begun to transfer D Company to the 194th
Tank Battalion, which had left for the Philippines minus one company. B Company, of the 194th, was sent to
Alaska while the remaining companies were sent to the Philippines. The medical clerk for the192nd spent
weeks organizing records to be handed over to the 194th.
On December 1, the tank battalions were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard
against Japanese paratroopers. The 194th, with D Company, was assigned northern part of the airfield and
the 192nd guarded the southern half. Two members of each tank and half-track crew remained with their
vehicles at all times and were fed from food trucks.
The morning of December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,
the company was brought up to full strength at the perimeter of Clark Field. All morning long, the sky was
filled with American planes. At noon the planes landed, to be refueled, and the pilots went to lunch.
The planes were lined up in a straight line in front of the mess hall.
At 12:45, two formations totaling 54 planes approached the airfield from the north.
When bombs began exploding on the runways, the tankers knew that planes were Japanese. Being that their
tanks could not fight planes, they watched as the Japanese destroyed the American Army Air Corps.
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.
That night, most men slept under their tanks since it was safer than sleeping in their
tents. They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed.
One of the results of the attack was that transfer of D Company, to the 194th, was never
completed. The company retained its designation of being part of the 192nd for both the Battle of Luzon and
Bataan, and was listed on the Presidential Unit Citations awarded to the 192nd.
The 194th was sent, the night of the 12th, to an area south of San Fernando near the
Calumpit Bridge arriving there at 6:00 A.M. On December 13th, the tankers were moved 80 kilometers from
Clark Field to do reconnaissance and guard beaches. On the 15th, the battalion received 15 Bren gun
carriers but turned some over to the 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts. These were used to test the ground to
see if it could support tanks.
The 194th, with D Company, was sent to the area around the Lingayen Gulf in support of the
192nd. The company was near a mountain, so many of the tankers climbed to the top, where they found troops,
ammunition, and guns. The soldiers were just sitting there watching the Japanese ships in the gulf, since
they had received orders not to fire.
The tankers walked down the mountain and waited. They received orders to drop back
from the mountain and let the Japanese occupy it. They watched as the Japanese brought their equipment to
the top of the mountain. The Americans finally received orders to launch a counterattack which failed.
On December 22, the companies were operating north of the Agno River and after the main
bridge was bombed, on December 24/25, made an end tun to get south of the river and not be trapped by the
Japanese. The tanks held the south bank of the river from west of Carmen to the Carmen-Akcaka-Bautista Road
with the 192nd holding the bank east of Carmen to Tayug (northeast of San Quintin).
Christmas Day, the tankers spent in a coconut grove. As it turned out, the coconuts
were all they had to eat. From Christmas to January 15, 1942, both day and night, all the tanks did was
cover retreats of different infantry units. The tanks were constantly bombed, shelled, and strafed.
The tanks formed a new defensive held the Santa Ignacia-Gerona-Santo Tomas- San Jose line
on December 26th. When they dropped back from the line, all the platoons withdrew, except one which
provided cover, as the other platoons from the area. One tank went across the line receiving fire and
firing on the Japanese.
At Bayambang, Lt. Petree's platoon lost a tank. It was at this time that D
Company, 192nd, lost all their tanks, except one, because the bridge they were suppose to cross had been
destroyed. The company commander, Lt. Jack Altman, could not bring himself to totally destroy the tanks,
and the Japanese repaired them and used them on Bataan. The sergeant of the one tank, that had not
abandoned, found a place to ford the river a few hundred yards from the bridge.
The tankers were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27, and at San Isidro south of
Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29. On January 1st, 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 of staff.
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 escape.
At 2:30 A.M., the night of January 5/6, the Japanese attacked at Remlus in force and using
smoke as cover. This attack was an attempt to destroy the tank battalions. At 5:00 A.M., the Japanese
withdrew having suffered heavy casualties.
The night of January 6/7 the tanks withdrew into the peninsula with the 192nd holding its
position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross the bridge, and then cover the
192nd's withdraw over the bridge. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan, before the
engineers blew up the bridge at 6:00 A.M. It was at this time that the tank companies were reduced to three
tanks each. This was done to provide tanks to D Company, while those crews still without tanks were used as
At Gumain River, on January 5, D Company and C Company, 194th, were given the job to hold
the south riverbank so that the other units could withdraw. The tank companies formed a defensive line
along the bank of the river. When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since
they were wearing white t-shirts. The tankers were able to hold up the Japanese.
The night of January 6/7, the 194th, covered by the 192nd, crossed the bridge over the
Culis Creek and entered Bataan. This was the beginning of the Battle of Bataan. At this time, the
food rations were cut in half.
General Weaver also issued the following orders to the tank battalions around this time
: "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."
A composite tank company was created on January 8 under the command of Capt. Donald
Haines, B Company, 192nd, and sent to defend the Wast Coast Road north of Hermosa. Its job was to keep the
north road open and prevent the Japanese from driving down the road before a new battle line had been
formed. The Japanese never lunched an attack allowing the defensive line to be formed. The tanks
withdrew after they began receiving artillery fire.
The remainder of the tanks were ordered to bivouac south of the Aubucay-Hacienda
Road. While there, the tank crews had their first break from action in nearly a month. The tanks,
which were long overdue for maintenance, were serviced by 17th Ordnance. It was also at this time that tank
platoons were reduced to ren tanks, with three tanks in each platoon. This was done so that D Company,
192nd, would have tanks.
The 194th was sent to reopen the Moron Road so that General Segunda's forces, which
were trapped behind enemy lines, could withdraw. Attempting to do this two tanks were knocked out by
landmines planted by ordnance, but recovered, and a Japanese anti-tank gun was destroyed. The mission was
abandoned the next day. Gen. Segunda's forces escaped but lost their heavy equipment.
The next action the tanks saw was on the 20th when they were sent to relieve the 31st
Infantry's command post. On the 24th, the tanks were ordered to the Hacienda Road to support infantry,
but again could not accomplish their mission because of landmines planted by ordnance.
The 194th was holding a position a kilometer north of the Pilar-Bagac Road on January 26
with four self-propelled mounts. At 9:45 A.M., a Filipino came down the road and warned the battalion that
a large Japanese force was coming down the road. When they appeared the tanks opened up on them. At 10:30,
the Japanese withdrew having lost 500 of 1200 men. This action prevented the new line of defense from being
On January 28, the tank battalions were given the job of guarding the beaches so that the
Japanese couldn't land troops. The 194th guarded the coastline from Limay to Cabcaban. During the
day, the tanks hid under the jungle canopy. At bight they were pulled out onto the beaches. The
battalion's half-tracks had the job of patrolling the roads. At all times, the tanks were in contact with
on-shore and off-shore patrols.
For most of March, the situation Bataan was relatively quiet and the Japanese had been
fought to a standstill. On one occasion, two tanks had gotten stuck in the mud, and the crews were working
to free them. While they were doing this, a Japanese regiment entered the area. Lt. Colonel Ernest
Miller ordered his tanks to fire on the Japanese at point blank range. He also ran from tank to tank
directing the crew's fire. The Japanese were wiped out. On March 21, the last major battle was
fought by the tanks.
Having brought in combat harden troops from Singapore, the Japanese lunched a major
offensive on April 3. The tanks were sent to various sectors in an attempt to stop the advance. On
the 6th, four tanks were sent to support the 45th Philippine Infantry, Philippine Scouts. One tank was knocked
out from anti-tank fire at the junctions of Trails 6 & 8, and the other tanks withdrew. On April 8, the
194th was fighting on the East Coast Road at Cabcaban.
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
When the order was given, the tankers circled their tanks, each crew fired an armor
piercing shell into the engine of the tank in front of their tank, they opened the gasoline cocks, in the crew
compartment, and dropped hand grenades into each tank. Later in the war, the Japanese dragged the tanks out
of the jungle to be sent to Japan as scrap metal.
When Bataan was 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.
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
At Limay on April 11, 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 they joined the main column of
POWs being marched out of Bataan and they began to witness the abuse of POWs. The lower ranking officers
and enlisted men walked to Balanga and 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 there the rest of the day.
At some point marched the POWs were marched to the train station. 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 base that the Japanese pressed into use
as a POW camp. There was only one water faucet for the entire camp and men stood in line for a drink for
days. Conditions in the camp were so bad that as many as fifty men died each day. The burial detail
worked continuously to bury the dead. Since the water table was high, they could only dig shallow graves
which quickly filled with water. Poles were used to hold the bodies down until they were covered with
dirt. The next morning, when the burials resumed, the dead were often found sitting up in the graves or dug
up by wild dogs.
The Japanese opened a new camp to at Cabanatuan in an attempt to relieve the conditions at
Camp O'Donnell. Hugh was sent to this camp when it opened. On July 1, 1942, he was selected to go
out on a work detail to Davao, Mindanao.
Hugh was taken to Manila to the Port Area of Manila for transport. The POWs boarded the Interisland
Steamer which sailed for Davao, Mindanao, arriving there on July 9th. The POWs were taken to a camp about 36
miles from Manila.
At the camp, the POWs were housed in eight barracks that were about 148 feet long and about 16 feet
wide. A four foot wide aisle ran down the center of each barracks. In each barracks, were eighteen
bays. Twelve POWs shared a bay. 216 POWs lived in each barracks. Four cages were later put in a
bay. Each cage held two POWs.
The camp discipline was poor, and the American commanding officer changed frequently. The junior
officers refused to take orders from the senior officers. Soon, the enlisted men spoke anyway they wanted
to, to the officers. The situation improved because all majority of POWs realized that discipline was
needed to survive.
At first, the work details were not guarded. The POWs plowed, planted, and harvested the crops,
while the sick POWs made baskets. In April 1943, the POWs working conditions varied. Those working
the rice fields received the worst treatment and were beaten for not meeting quotas. Many of the
misunderstandings between the POWs and guards, were the result of a translator who could not be trusted to tell
On June 6, 1944, some of the POWs were sent to Manila, while the remainder of the men
remained on the island until August 19, 1944. Several weeks earlier, the POWs had seen their first
American plane in two and one half years. The plane flew over the airfield they were working at and
dropped four bombs at the far end of the runway.
Over the next two weeks the atmosphere at the airfield changed. The Japanese posted
guards with bayonets on their rifles by the POW barracks as air raids became daily. The Japanese
camouflaged the airfield and hid their planes in revetments. The POWs heard rumors that the Americans had
landed at Palau.
During this time, the POWs rations were cut to a single cup of rice a day. The POWs
were now so hungry that they raided the Japanese garbage pile for remnants of vegetables. Many ate the
weeds that grew inside the camp until it was bare.
Air raids soon were nightly events, and the Japanese planes flying out of the airfield were
loaded with bombs and carried extra gasoline tanks. Finally, all work on the airfield was stopped and
the POWs were lined up by fours. The outside men had rope tied to their wrists to prevent escape.
They were marched shoe-less to the Tabunco Pier and arrived at noon. They were packed into the two
holds of the
. 400 POWs were in the first hold while the remaining 350 POWs were put in the second hold. In
addition, several tons of Japanese baggage was packed into the hold. Around six that evening, the ship
As the ship made its way north it swayed in the waves, and many of the prisoners became
seasick. They retched when they tried to throw up since there was no food in their stomachs.
The next day, the POWs heard the sound of a plane, and an American plane flew over the ship. Moments
later bombs exploded near the ship. The sound of machine gun fire was heard by the POWs. The
Japanese tied down the hatch covers cutting off the air. Over the next three days, there were several
more alerts. Each time the hatch covers were battened down leaving the POWs in darkness.
On August 24, the ship arrived in Zamboanga where it waited for ten days until the
arrived. The POWs were not allowed out of the holds, so the conditions in the ship's holds were
terrible. The holds were hot and steamy and the floors were covered with human waste. In addition,
the longer the POWs were in the holds the stench became worse. During this time, the POWs were finally
allowed on deck and sprayed with salt water to lean them.
On September 4, the POWs were transferred onto the
. 250 POWs were put iu the ship's smaller hold, while the 500 POWs were its larger hold.
That night, bombs from American planes landed alongside of the ship rocking an shaking it. The POWs prayed
for the ship would be hit.
It should be noted that the United States had intercepted the order from Japanese command
sending the Shinyo Maru to Zamboanga. Someone misinterpreted the order as saying the ship would be
transporting "750 military personnel" instead of "750 military prisoners" to Manila.
U.S.S. Paddle was sent to the area to intercept the ship. Pfc. Victor
Mapes talked about being in the ship's hold
, "I was down in the hold with 750 other Americans. They had us stripped down to
G-strings. We'd left 22 days before from the southern Philippines -- Davao."
On September 4, the POWs were transferred onto the
. 250 POWs were put in the ship's smaller hold while 500 POWs were put into its larger
hold. That night, bombs from American planes landed alongside of the ship rocking and shaking
it. The POWs prayed for the ship would be hit.
The ship sailed on September 5 at 2:00 A.M. Before the ship sailed, the hatch covers
were secured so that the POWs could not lift them from below. The ship headed north in a zigzag pattern in
an attempt to avoid submarines. The ship was now part of a convoy designated as C-076. U.S.
submarines began to pick off the ships one at a time.
The POWs were no longer allowed on deck. Their lips and throats were covered with
dust from cement that had previously been hauled by the ship. For the next two days the ship made good
time. It was at this time that the Japanese guards threatened to kill the POWs if the ship came under
attack by American planes. Since the POWs had not heard any air raid alerts, they assumed that they were
At 4:37 p.m., on September 7, 1944, the
spotted the convoy off the west coast of Mindanao at Sindangan Point. It fired two torpedoes at the
ship. The first torpedo hit the ship in its main hold killing many POWs. Moments later, a second
torpedo hit the ship. There was a gaping hole in the ship's side. Those POWs still alive saw the
bodies of the dead floating in the water as the hold filled with water. Some POWs were blown out of the
hold through the hole during the explosion.
Sgt. Onnie Clem, U.S.M.C., recalled what it was like when the torpedoes hit.
"I was just flying, just twisting and turning....I couldn't couldn't see
anything but these billowy forms like pillows. I thought I was dead....I was underwater in the hold and
these pillows were the bodies of other guys in there, some dead, some trying to get out."
Pfc. Mapes recalled the event
"The Jap freighter Number 83 -- was ripped apart by the Sub's torpedo."
The surviving POWs found that the hatch cover had been blown off the hold by the
explosion. As the water level rose, they were able to climb out. Seven Japanese officers were on the
bridge with rifles. As the POWs emerged from the hold, they picked them off. The lucky POWs made it
through their fire and dove into the water.
The POWs in the smaller hold were also wounded from the torpedo hits. But, the
hold remained dry. Many of these POWs also were able to make it onto the deck and attempted to swim to
shore. It was believed that only 250 POWs made it into the water and that the remaining 500 died on the
According to the POWs in the water, the
began to capsize on its port side. There was a tremendous crushing sound and the ship seemed to bend
upward in the middle. The ship split in two and sunk into the sea.
Japanese seaplanes dropped depth charges in an attempt to sink the American
submarine. When they spotted the POWs in the water, they strafed them. They stopped strafing when
they realized that there were Japanese in the water too. The good thing about the depth charges was that
they kept sharks away from the POWs.
A Japanese tanker that had been hit by torpedoes spilled oil and gasoline into the
water. The ship ran aground. The Japanese quickly set up machine guns and fired on the POWs.
Boats from the other ships in the convoy attempted to hunt down the POWs swimming in the water cruising in and
out of the debris field hunting and shooting the swimming Americans. If they found a man, they shot
him. One officer recalled seeing a young soldier struggling in the water and asked him if he could
swim. The soldier replied
, "No sir, not very well."
The officer began to say
, " Don't worry, well make it somehow,"
but before he could finish, a shot rang out the young soldier's head fell into the water. There was
a bullet hole in his head. What saved many lives was that with dusk it became harder for the Japanese to
Pfc. Mapes recalled
, "The men began swimming toward shore three miles away --- like a herd of
sheep. The Japs from the other ships in the convoy were cutting them to pieces. I figured that the only
way to survive was to break away from the bunch and swim to the opposite side."
The Japanese announced to the Americans that if they surrendered that they would be treated
with compassion, and about 30 men gave up after hearing this. Sgt. Denver R. Rose was one of the 30
men. He recalled
, "They tied our hands behind us and took us to another prison ship. They roped us together and
stood us in a line along the rail. They then started shooting us one at a time.
"Using his sword a Jap cut the rope to lose the first man in line. He was
taken to the stern of the boat and shot in the back. He fell into the water.
"Meanwhile, I found the frayed end of a steel cable by feeling with the fingers
behind my back and rubbed the ropes across the sharp edges until I got free. I decided I just as soon be
shot trying to get away as the other way, so I made a break for it. I ran to the front of the ship and
slipped down into the anchor hole After awhile, I heard shooting again, so I let myself down into
Rose was the only man, of the 30 POWs, not to be executed.
Of the 750 POWs who were boarded onto the ship, 82 POWs escaped and made it to shore.
One man died on shore, while the
remaining POWs were rescued by Filipino guerillas and later returned to U.S.
Forces in October 1944. Pvt. Hugh Leonard was not one of these men.
It is not known if Hugh died when the
was hit by the two torpedoes, or if he was shot while attempting to escape the ship. What is known is
that Pvt. Hugh Leonard died in the sinking of the
the evening of Thursday, September 7, 1944.
Since Pvt. Hugh J. Leonard was lost at sea, his name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the
American Military Cemetery outside Manila.
It should be noted that on the Tablets, it shows that Hugh was a member of the 194th Tank
Battalion. Although D Company was attached to the 194th, it was never officially transferred to the
battalion and remained part of the 192nd Tank Battalion throughout the Battle of Luzon and the Battle of