Marksberry

 


Pfc. Marvin Marksberry


    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 son.  

    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 replaced.
    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 strafed.
    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 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 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 4, 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 accomplished."          
    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.
    It was at this time that Gen. King knowing that the situation was hopeless sent officers to negotiate terms of surrender.  The tanks were instructed that they would hear the order "crash" on their radios, or that it would be given to them verbally.
    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 10th, 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 11th, 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 to be sitting up graves or dug up by wild dogs.
    The Japanese realized that they had to do something, so they opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.  It is not known if he 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 Fukuoka #3.  The POWs in the camp were used as slave labor at the Yawata Steel Mills where the POWs shoveled iron ore and rebuild the ovens.  The POWs 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.  Many of the products 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.  Those POWs further from the tunnel took cover in two air raid shelters.
    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.  The sick POWs were required to work even if it meant they could possibly die from doing it.
     Three days a month, the POWs were allowed to exchange their worn out clothing for new clothing, but a Japanese guard beat POWs attempting to exchange their clothing.  The POWs went without clothing to avoid the beating.  This resulted in men developing pneumonia.  Some of these POWs died.
    The POWs were beaten daily with fists and sticks, and the guards often required them to stand at attention, in the cold, while standing water.  During the winter, they often had water thrown on them.  There were two brigs in the camp which had as many as 20 POWs in them at a time. 
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.


 

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