LongH

 


Sgt. Hubert H. Long


    Sgt. Hubert H. Long was born in Missouri in 1917.  He lived in Buchanan County and married in 1940.  He was married to Vernelle and was the father of one son.  The family resided at 920 Edmond Street in Saint Joseph, Missouri.  At some point, he enlisted in the Missouri National Guard.

    On February 10, 1941, Herbert was inducted into the U. S. Army at Saint Joseph, Missouri.  He was sent to Ft. Lewis, Washington, where his company was designated, B Company, 194th Tank Battalion.  He was later transferred to Headquarters Company.

    The battalion was taking part in maneuvers when orders came that it was being sent overseas, so the battalion withdrew from the maneuvers and returned to Ft. Lewis.  By this time, B Company had been detached from the battalion. 

    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 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, hudred of miles away, that had a large radio transmitter.  The squadron continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles before returning to Clark Field.  By the time the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day about the buoys.
    By the time another squadron was sent to the area the next day, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat that was seen making its way toward shore.  Since, communication between the Air Corps and Navy were poor, the boat was not intercepted.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
    In September 1941, the 194th was sent to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California, and ferried on the U.S.A.T General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. MacDowell on Angel Island where they received physicals and inoculations from the battalion's medical detachment.  Those men with medical conditions were replaced.
    The tankers boarded the S.S. President Calvin Coolidge on September 8 at 3:00 P.M. and sailed at 9:00 P.M. for the Philippine Islands.  To get the tanks to fit in the ship's holds, the turrets had serial numbers spray painted on them and were removed from the tanks.  They arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Saturday, September 13 at 7:00 A.M., and most of the soldiers were allowed off ship to see the island but had to be back on board before the ship sailed at 5:00 P.M.
    After leaving Hawaii, the ship took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  It was at this time that it was joined by a heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Astoria, and an unknown destroyer that were its escorts.  During this part of the trip, on several occasions, smoke was seen on the horizon, and the Astoria took off in the direction of the smoke.  Each time it was found that the smoke was from a ship belonging to a friendly country.
    The ships crossed the International Dateline on Tuesday, September 16, and the date changed to Thursday, September 18.  They entered Manila Bay at 7:00 A.M. and reached Manila several hours later.  The soldiers disembarked at 3:00 P.M., and were driven on buses to Clark Field.  The maintenance section of the battalion and members of 17th Ordnance remained at the dock to unload the battalion's tanks and reattach the turrets.
    The tanks were sent to the perimeter of Clark Field on December 1st with the 194th guarding the north end of the airfield.  The southern end of the airfield was protected by the 192nd Tank Battalion, which head arrived in the Philippines in late November. At all time two members of each tank and half-track remained with their vehicles and received their meals from food trucks.

    On December 8, 1941, just ten hours after Pearl Harbor, Herbert lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield.  He would spend the next four months attempting to keep the tanks of his battalion supplied.

    During the attack the members of HQ Company took cover in ditches since they had few weapons that could be used against planes.  The attack lasted for about 45 minutes.  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 battalion was sent to the barrio of San Jaoaquin on the Malolus Road and moved to an area just south of San Joaquin near the Calumpit Bridge on December 12th.  It would receive 15 Bren Gun carriers that were used to test the ground to see if it could support the weight of a tank.  The battalion moved again to west and north of Rosario and was operating in north of the Agno River the night of December 22/23.
    The tank battalions formed the Santa Ignacia-Gerona-Santo Tomas defensive line the night of December 26/27.  They were holding a new line at the Bamban River the night of December 29/30 and were at the Calumpit Bridge the next night.
On January 5th, they were at Lyac Junction and dropped back to Remedios were a new defensive line was formed.
    The night of January 6/7, the 194th withdrew over a bridge on the Culis Creek covered by the 192nd Tank Battalion, and entered Bataan.  The 192nd crossed the bridge before it was destroyed and entered Bataan.
    The tank battalions were covering the East Coast Road on January 8th.  It was at this time that the tank platoons were reduced to three tanks each and HQ Company with the 17th Ordnance Company were able to do long overdue maintenance on the tanks.
    The tanks continued to cover withdraws for the rest of January and February.  In March, HQ Company was recovering two tanks that had been bogged down  in the mud when the Japanese entered the area.   Lt. Col. Miller ordered the tanks to fire at point blank range and ran from tank to tank directing the fire.
    On April 4th, the Japanese lunched an all out offensive at 3:00 P.M., and the tanks were sent to various sectors in an attempt to stop the advance.  When it became apparent to Gen. Edward King that the situation was hopeless, he sent staff officers to negotiate the surrender of Bataan on April 8th.
    The evening of April 8, 1942, the tankers were informed that Bataan would be surrendered the next morning.  At 6:45, the morning of April 9th, the order crash was given and anything of military value was destroyed.  It was on April 9th that Herbert became a Prisoner of War.  The company remained in its bivouac for two days until Japanese ordered them to move on April 11th.

    Hubert started the march at Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan and made his way to San Fernando.  There, the POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars that were used to haul sugarcane.  The cars could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese packed 100 men into each car.  At Capas, the POWs climbed out of the cars and walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army Base that the Japanese put into use as a POW camp on April 1, 1942.  They believed the camp could hold 15,000 to 20,000 POWs.  When the POWs arrived at the camp, they were searched and anyone found with Japanese money were separated from the other POWs and sent to the guardhouse.  These POWs were accused of looting the bodies of dead Japanese soldiers.  Over several days, gunshots were heard coming from southeast of the camp as they were executed.
    The Japanese also took away any extra clothing that the POWs carried with them and refused to return it.  Since there was no water to wash their clothing, the POWs threw away soiled clothing and stripped the dead of their clothing.  Few of the POWs in the camp hospital had clothing.
    There was only one water faucet for the entire camp and men stood in line from 2 to 8 hours waiting for a drink.  The Japanese guard in charge of the spigot would turn it off, for no reason, and the next man in line would have to wait up to four hours for it to be turned on again. Water for cooking food had to be hauled three miles to the camp. Mess kits could not be cleaned.
    Since most of the POWs had dysentery, the slit trenches overflowed which resulted in flies being everywhere in the camp including the camp kitchen and in the food.  The camp hospital had no water, soap, or disinfectant which also caused diseases to spread.  When the ranking American doctor presented a letter with the medicines and medical supplies they needed to treat the sick, the camp commander, Captain Yoshio Tsuneyoshi, told him never to write another letter.  He also said that the only thing he wanted to know about the POWs were their names and serial numbers after they died.
    The  Archbishop of Manila sent a truck full of medical supplies to the camp, but the Japanese refused to let it into the camp.  When a representative of the Philippine Red Cross told a Japanese lieutenant that they could set up an 150 bed hospital for the POWs, he was slapped in the face by the lieutenant.  Medicines sent to the camp by the Red Cross were confiscated by the Japanese for their own use.
    The POWs called the hospital "Zero Ward" because most of the men who entered it never came out alive.  The Japanese were so afarid of contracting an illness that they put a barbed wire fence up around it.  The POWs in the hospital lay elbow to elbow on the floor and operations were performed with knives from mess kits.  Only one medic, out of every six assigned to treat the sick, was healthy enough to perform his duties.
    Each morning, the POWs walked around the camp and collected the bodies of the dead and placed them under the hospital building.  To clean the ground, the POWs moved the bodies, scrapped the ground,  put down lime to sterilize the ground, moved the bodies back, and repeated the process where the bodies had been.  It took two to three days to bury a man after he died.
    Any POW, if he could walk, went out on a work detail for the day such as the one collected wood for the POW kitchen.  Some POWs went out on work details which lasted for months to get out of the camp.  The worse detail a man could be put on was the burial detail.  On this detail, two POWs carried a dead man to the camp cemetery.  Once there, they put the body in a grave and held the body down with a pole, since the water table was high, and covered it with dirt.  The next morning, when the burials resumed, the dead were often sitting up or had been dug up by wild dogs. The Japanese finally acknowledged that they had to do something to lower the death rate, so they opened a new POW camp.
    On June 1, the POWs formed detachments of 100 men and were marched to Capas, where they were put into steel boxcars.  Each car had two Japanese guards.  During the trip at Calumpit, the train was switched onto a track that took it to Cabanatuan.  When the POWs left the cars, they were herded into a schoolyard where they were fed cooked rice and onions soup.  They were marched to the new camp which was a former Philippine Army Base and had been the home of the 91st Philippine Army Division's home.
    In the camp the Japanese instituted the "Blood Brother" rule.  If one man escaped the other nine men in his group would be executed.  POWs caught trying to escape were beaten.  Those who did escape and were caught, were tortured before being executed.  It is not known if any POW successfully escaped from the camp.
    The POWs were sent out on work details to cut wood for the POW kitchens.  While on these details they 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.  Meals on a daily basis consisted of 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, and sweet potato or corn.

    He remained at Cabanatuan until October 1944, when his name was posted for transport to Japan.  This was done because U. S. Forces were approaching the Philippines, and the Japanese did not want them to be liberated.

    When Hubert's group of POWs arrived at the Port Area of Manila early October 1944, they were boarded onto the Arisan Maru.  They had been scheduled to be boarded onto the Hokusen Maru, but since one of the POW detachments in his group had not arrived on time, the Japanese switched groups and put another group of POWs on Hubert's ship so it could sail. 

    The POWs were packed into the ship's number one hold.  Along the sides of the hold were shelves that served as bunks that were so close together that a man could not lift himself up while laying down, while those standing had no room to lie down. The latrines for the prisoners were eight five gallon cans.  Since the POWs were packed into the hold so tightly, many of the POWs could not get near the cans, so the floor of the hold was covered with human waste.

    The ship sailed on October 10th but took a southerly route away from Formosa.  It arrived at a cove off Palawan Island where it dropped anchor.  This resulted in the ship missing an air attack by American planes on Manila.  During their time off Palawan, the POWs managed to hot wire the hold's ventilation system into the ship's lighting system.  The Japanese had removed the light bulbs, but they had not turned off the power.  For two days the POWs had fresh air.  The power was turned off when the Japanese found out what the POWs had done.
    When the POWs began developing heat blisters, the Japanese moved men to the second hold.  During the move, one man attempted to escape but was shot.  While in the cove, the ship came under attack from American planes which were returning from a attack on Palawan.

    The Arisan Maru returned to the Manila on October 20th, where it became part of a twelve ship convoy bound for Formosa.  On October 21st, the convoy left Manila and entered the South China Sea.  The Japanese refused to mark POW ships with "red crosses" to indicate they were carrying POWs.  This made the ships targets for submarines.  In addition, the American military had cracked the Japanese code, but did not inform the crews of submarines that the ships were carrying POWs.  This was done to protect the secret that the code had bee broken.

    According to the survivors of the Arisan Maru, on Tuesday, October 24, 1944, around 5:00 pm, POWs were on deck preparing the meal for those in the ship's two holds.  The ship was, off the coast of China, in the Bashi Channel.
   The POWs on deck watched as the Japanese ran to the bow of the ship and watched a torpedo from an American submarine pass in front of the ship.  The Japanese next ran to the stern of the ship and watched a second torpedo pass behind the ship.  There was a sudden jar which was caused by the ship being hit by two torpedoes amidships.  The ship stopped dead in the water.  It is believed that the submarine that fired the torpedoes was the U. S. S Snook.
    The guards went after the POWs who cooking dinner and began beating them with their guns and forcing them into the second hold.  Once they were in the hold the Japanese cut the rope ladders and slammed down the hatch cover before abandoning the ship.
    POWs in the first hold managed to make their way onto the deck and reattached the rope ladders and dropped them into the holds.  The surviving POWs made their way onto the deck.  On the ship's deck an American major spoke to the POWs, he said, "Boys, we're in a hellva a jam - but we've been in jams before.  Remember just one thing: We're American soldiers.  Let's play it that way to the very end of the script."  Right after he spoke, a chaplain said to them, "Oh Lord, if it be thy will to take us now, give us the strength to be men."
    According to surviving POWs, the ship stayed afloat for hours but got lower in the water.  At one point, the stern of the ship began going under which caused the ship to split in half but the halves remained afloat.  It was about this time that about 35 POWs swam to the nearest Japanese ship.  When the Japanese realized that they were POWs, they pushed them underwater with poles and drowned them or hit them with clubs.  Those POWs who could not swim raided the food lockers for a last meal.  These men wanted to die with full stomachs.  Other POWs took to the water with anything that would float. 
    Three men managed to get into a lifeboat that had been abandoned by the Japanese.  But since the sea was rough and they had no paddles, they could not maneuver the boat.  According to the men as the night went on, the cries for help became fewer until there was silence.  The next morning, they rescued two more POWs.

    Sgt. Hubert H. Long lost his life when the Arisan Maru was torpedoed in the South China Sea.  Of the 1803 POWs on the ship, only nine survived the sinking.  Eight of the men survived the war.  Since he was lost at sea, Sgt, Hubert H. Long's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.


 

 


 

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