Pfc. Marvin Marksberry was one of six sons born to Lillie & James Marksberry. He
was born on April 21, 1919, and raised in Grant County, Kentucky. He was the couple's third oldest
Like many young men of the day, Marvin only had a grammar school education before he went
to work as a farmer.
He was drafted into the U. S. Army and was inducted
on March 3, 1941, at Fort Thomas, Kentucky
Marvin was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he was assigned to 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 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.
After training for eight months he participated in maneuvers in Louisiana from
September 1, through 30, 1941. After the maneuvers, the 192nd, was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana,
instead of returning to Ft. Knox.
On the side of a hill at Camp Polk, 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.
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. The 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.
The decision for this move - which had been made in August 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.
Traveling west over four different train routes, the battalion arrived in San
Francisco, California, where they were ferried, by 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 bu 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
The 192nd was boarded onto the
U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27. 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. They arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2 and
had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
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
U.S.S. Louisville, 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 Date Line. 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 20
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 12, to an area south of San Fernando near the
Calumpit Bridge arriving there at 6:00 A.M. On December 13, the tankers were moved 80 kilometers from
Clark Field to do reconnaissance and guard beaches. On the 15, 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, and D Company, were 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
The tanks formed a new defensive held the Santa Ignacia-Gerona-Santo Tomas- San Jose
line on December 26. 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 1, 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, over the Culis
Creek, 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 replacements,
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.
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 breached.
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.
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."
The 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
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 second method was simple. The tank was parked with one track
across the foxhole. The driver spun the tank on one track. The tank dug into the dirt until
the Japanese soldiers were dead.
The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.
On April 3, 1942, the Japanese launched an attack supported by
artillery and aircraft. A large force of Japanese troops came over Mount Samat and descended down the
south face of the volcano. This attack wiped out two divisions of defenders and left a large area of the
defensive line open to the Japanese. When General King saw that the situation was hopeless, he initiated
surrender talks with the Japanese.
It was at this time that Gen. King decided that further resistance was futile.
Approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to fight, and he estimated they would last one more day.
In addition, he had over 6000 troops who were sick or wounded and 40000 civilians who he feared would be
massacred. At 10:30 that night, he sent his staff officers to negotiate surrender terms.
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
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 4. The tanks were sent to various sectors in an attempt to stop the advance. On
the 6, 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 8th,
the 194th was fighting on the East Coast Road at Cabcaban.
On April 7, 1942, the Japanese broke through the east side of the main defensive line
on Bataan. It was the evening of April 8 that Gen. Edward P. King decided that further resistance was
futile, since approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to fight, and he estimated they would last one
more day. In addition, he had over 6,000 troops who sick or wounded and 40,000 civilians who he feared
would be massacred. At 10:30 that night, he sent his staff officers to negotiate surrender terms.
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 O'Donnell.
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.
The camp was an unfinished Filipino training base which the Japanese
pressed the camp into use as a POW camp on April 1, 1942. When they arrived at the camp, the Japanese
confiscated any extra clothing that the POWs had and refused to return it to them. They searched the POWs
and if a man was found to have Japanese money on them, they were taken to the guardhouse. Over the next
several days, gunshots were heard to the southeast of the camp. These POWs had been executed for looting.
There was only one water faucet in the camp, and the prisoners stood in line from two
to eight hours waiting for a drink. The Japanese guards at the faucet would turn it off for no reason and
the next man in line would stand as long as four hours waiting for it to be turned on again. This
situation improved when a second faucet was added.
There was no water for washing clothes, so the POWs would throw out their clothing
when it had been soiled. In addition, water for cooking had to be carried three miles from a river to the
camp and mess kits could not be washed. The slit trenches in the camp were inadequate and were soon
overflowing since most of the POWs had dysentery. The result was that flies were everywhere in the camp
including the POW kitchens and in the food.
The camp hospital had no soap, water, or disinfectant. When the ranking American
doctor at the camp wrote a letter to the camp commandant, Capt. Yohio Tsuneyoshi, asking for medical supplies,
he was told never to write another letter. When the Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medical
supplies to the camp, Tsuneyoshi refused to allow the truck into the camp. When the Japanese Red Cross
sent medical supplies to the camp the Japanese took 95% of the supplies for their own use.
The POWs in the camp hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow and only one of the six
medic assigned to care for 50 sick POWs was healthy enough to care for them. When a representative of the
Philippine Red Cross stated they could supply a 150 bed hospital for the camp, he was slapped in the face by a
Each morning, the bodies of the dead were found all over the camp and were carried to
the hospital and placed underneath it. The bodies lay there for two or three days before they were buried
in the camp cemetery by other POWs who were suffering from dysentery and/or malaria. To clean the ground
under the hospital, the ground was scraped and lime was spread over it. The bodies of the dead were
placed in the area, and the area they had been laying was scrapped and lime was spread over it.
Work details were sent out on a daily basis. Each day, the American doctors gave
a list of names to the Japanese of the POWs who were healthier enough to work. If the quota of POWs
needed to work could not be met, the Japanese put those POWs who were sick, but could walk, to work. The
death rate among the POWs reached 50 men dying a day. The Japanese finally acknowledge that they had to
do something, so the opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.
On June 1, 1942, the POWs formed detachments of 100 men each and were marched to
Capas. There, the were put in steel boxcars with two Japanese guards. At Calumpit, the train was
switched onto another line which took it to Cabanatuan. The POWs disembarked and were taken to a
schoolyard where they were fed cooked rice and onion soup. From there, they were marched to Cabanatuan
which had been the headquarters of the 91st Philippine Army Division and was known as Camp Panagaian.
The camp was actually three camps. Camp 1 was where the men who captured on
Bataan and taken part in the death march where held. Camp 2 did not have an adequate water supply and was
closed. It later reopened and housed Naval POWs. Camp 3 was where those men captured when
Corregidor surrender were taken. In addition, men from Bataan who had been hospitalized when the
surrender came were sent to the camp. Camp 3 was later consolidated into Camp 1.
Once in the camp, the POWs were allowed to run the camp. The Japanese only
entered if they had an issue they wanted to deal with. To prevent escapes, the POWs set up a detail that
patrolled the fence of the camp. The reason this was done was that those who did escape and were caught,
were tortured before being executed, while the other POWs were made to watch. It is believed that no POW
successfully escaped from the camp.
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 barracks in the camp were built to house 50 POWs, but most had between 60 to 120
POWs in them. The POWs slept on bamboo slats, without mattresses, bedding, or mosquito netting.
Many quickly became ill. The POWs were assigned to barracks which meant that the members of their group
lived together, went out on work details together, and would be executed together since they were Blood
The POWs were sent out on work details one was to cut wood for the POW kitchens.
The two major details were the farm detail and the airfield detail which lasted for years. A typical day
on any detail lasted from 7:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. The POWs on the farm detail would have to go to
a shed each morning to get tools. As they left the shed, the Japanese guards thought it was great fun to
hit them over their heads.
The detail was under the command of "Big Speedo" who spoke very little English.
When he wanted the POWs to work faster, he told the POWs
Although he was known to have a temper, the POWs thought he was fair. Another guard was
"Little Speedo" who was smaller and also used
when he wanted the POWs to work faster. The POWs also felt he was pretty fair in his treatment of
them. "Smiley" was another guard who always had a smile on his face but could not be trusted. He
was the meanest of the guards and beat men up for no reason.A typical day on any detail lasted from 7:00 A.M.
until 5:00 P.M.
Rice was the main food given to the POWs fed to them as "lugow" which meant "wet
rice." During their time in the camp, they received few vegetables and almost no fruit. Once in
awhile, they received bread.
The camp hospital was known as "Zero Ward" because it was missed by the Japanese when
they counted barracks. The sickest POWs were sent there to die. The Japanese put a fence up around
the building to protect themselves, and they would not go into the building. There were two rolls of
wooden platforms around the perimeter of the building. The sickest POWs were put on the lower platform
which had holes cut into it so the they could relieve themselves. Most of those who entered the ward
The POWs had the job of burying the dead. To do this, they worked in teams of
four men. Each team carried a litter of four to six dead men to the cemetery where they were buried in
graves containing 15 to 20 bodies.
It is not known if Marvin remained in the camp or went out on a work detail while in
the camp. On July 23, 1943, Marvin was taken to the Port Area of Manila and boarded onto the
Clyde Maru for a 15 day trip to Japan. He arrived there at Moji on August 7, 1943.
In Japan, Marvin was held at
where the POWs worked at the Yawata Steel Mills doing manual labor shoveling iron ore and rebuilding the
ovens. The POWs also were sent into the ovens to clean out the debris. Since the ovens were hot,
because the Japanese would not let them cool off, the POWs worked faster on this detail. Hand grenades
and shell casings from the mill helped the Japanese war effort. If an air raid took place while the POWs
were at the mill, they were put into railway cars and the train was pulled into a tunnel. The POWs worked
from 8:00 A.M. until 4:00 P.M., and received a half hour lunch.
The barracks that the POWs lived in were always cold since the Japanese heated them on
a minimal basis and infested with fleas, lice, and bedbugs. Along both sides of the barracks were two tiers of
bunks. The bottom bunk was six inches from the floor and the top tier was six feet from the floor.
The POWs slept on these on straw mattresses.
Food for the POWs consisted of a main dish of rice, wheat, wheat flour, corn, and,
Kaoliang, a millet. Breakfast and supper consisted of millet and daikon a radish. The POWs carried bento
boxes of millet to work to have for lunch. To supplement their diets, the POWs in the camp hunted rats at
night for meat. On two occasions, the Japanese gave the POWs rotten meat After cooking it, the POWs
Although medical supplies for the POWs were sent to the camp by the Red Cross, the
Japanese commandant would not give the American medical staff the medicine that was in the packages. Any
surgery in the camp had to be performed with crude medical tools even though the Red Cross had sent the proper
surgical tools. To meet quotas for workers, the sick POWs were required to work even if it meant they
could possibly die from doing it. The Japanese camp doctor made the sick stand out in the cold for
hours. He beat them and allowed the guards to beat them.
All POWs who died were reported to have died in the camp hospital.
Three days a month, the POWs were allowed to exchange their worn out clothing for new clothing, but
a Japanese guard, in charge of the exchange, beat POWs attempting to exchange their clothing or shoes.
The POWs went without clothing and shoes to avoid the beatings resulting in men developing pneumonia and dying.
The POWs were beaten daily with fists and sticks for violating camp rules, and the
guards often required them to stand at attention, in the cold, while standing water. In one incident an
entire barracks was slapped in the face, by the guards, because some POWs had smoked in the barracks.
During the winter, POWs who were being punished often had water thrown on them. A group of about 60 POWs
were made to crawl on their hands and knees, while carrying other POWs, on their backs. As they crawled,
they were hit with bamboo sticks, belts, and rifle butts. There were two brigs in the camp which had as
many as 20 POWs in them at a time.
Another incident involved an American soldier who traded with the Japanese. The war
was almost over and Japan was about to surrender. The soldier traded for roasted beans. As it
turned out, the beans had been tainted with arsenic. The soldier died the next day. After going
through all he had suffered, the soldier died when freedom was almost his.
The Yawata Steel Mills were the primary target for the second atomic bomb, but since
the sky was extremely overcast, the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. This time, they saw Japanese
workers facing in the direction of radio speakers with their heads bowed. The Americans thought that the
emperor had passed away. The truth was that the second atomic bomb had been dropped on Nagasaki, and the
emperor was announcing Japan's surrender. An American ensign, who could read and speak Japanese, saw a
newspaper with the announcement of the surrender. He was the first person to inform his fellow POWs that
the war was over. They were then told the same news by a Japanese officer.
Marvin remained in the camp until he was liberated, in September 1945, and was
promoted to corporal. After being returned to the Philippines, for medical care, he boarded the
U.S.S. Marine Shark which arrived at Seattle, Washington, on November 1, 1945.
Marvin returned to Kentucky and later resided in Lexington. He passed
away in May 23, 1981, and was buried in Keefer Cemetery in Corinth, Grant County, Kentucky.