Marrs

 

Pvt. LD Marrs


    Pvt. LD Marrs was born on March 28, 1917, in Taylor, Texas, to William Clarence & Bertha Ellen Cornell Marrs.  His parents named him "LD".  He was known as "Red" to his family and friends.  With his four brothers and sister, he grew up and worked on the family farm,  On January 15, 1941 he was inducted into the at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. 
    He was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky for basic training.  After basic training he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana where he was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion.  It was during this time that he volunteered to join the 192nd Tank Battalion which had been ordered overseas.  LD replaced a National Guardsman who was either married or considered "too old" for overseas duty.
    LD was assigned to B Company and the tank of S/Sgt. Walter Mahr.  With LD in the crew, were Sgt. Ray Mason and Pvt. Quincey Humphries. 

    The decision for this move -  which had been made on August 15, 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.
    The battalion traveled west by train to San Francisco, California, and was taken by ferry to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island on the ferry the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe.  At Ft. McDowell, they were given physicals and inoculated for overseas duty.   Those men found to have a minor medical condition were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date, while other men were simply replaced.
    The 192nd 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.   The ship 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 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, the tankers were met by General Edward P.  King.  King welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed.  He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.  The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.  
    The tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field on December 1 to guard the airfield from enemy paratroopers.  At all times, two members of each tank crew remained with their tanks. 
The morning of December 8, 1941 LD and his battalion learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor just ten hours earlier.  All morning, as they stood guard, American planes filled the sky.  At 12:30 the planes landed and their pilots went to lunch. The planes were lined up in a straight line outside the mess hall.   B-17s, which had been loaded with bombs, sat on the runways awaiting orders to take off to bomb Formosa.
    At 12:45, the sky was again filled with planes, this time the planes were Japanese.  Bombs began exploding on the runways.  The wounded and dead were everywhere.  LD did and the other tankers could do little more than watch since their weapons were of no use against planes.  After the attack he witnessed the devastation caused by the attack.  The battalion remained at the airfield and the crews lived through several more air raids. 
    On December 21,  the tanks of B Company were ordered north to the Linganyen Gulf Area were the Japanese had begun landing troops.  The first tank battle of World War II involving American tanks took place the next day.

    The battalion was in the area of Urdaneta on December 23 and 24.   The bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of river.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening.  They successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
    On December 25, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27.

    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.  
    The tankers often found themselves performing the rile of rear guard to allow the infantry to disengage and withdraw.  It was in this role on December 29, 1941, that LD's tank had a track blown off it by the Japanese.  The crew was trapped in the tank.  The Japanese ordered them out of the tank.  LD, Pvt. Quincey Humphries, Sgt. Ray Mason, and S/Sgt. Walter Mahr came out of their tank expecting to be taken as Prisoners of War.  Instead, they were ordered to run by the Japanese.       
    The members as the tank crew ran toward their own lines.  The Japanese opened fire on them with a machine gun.  Sgt. Mason was killed instantly.  Mahr, Humphries, and LD were wounded but made it to the sugarcane field and hid.
    The next morning, American and Filipino troops retook the area.  S/Sgt. Mahr was found in the field and taken to a field hospital.  LD and Humphries were not found and listed as Missing in Action.      
    LD was not heard of again until other members of his battalion were sent to Bilibid Prison in Manila as Prisoners of War.  When they arrived, LD was already a POW there.
    During his time as a POW, LD was held at Bilibid Prison until sent out on a work detail.  He worked on the Port Area Detail at Manila from June 13, 1942 until July 17, 1944.  On this detail, the POWs loaded and unloaded ships for the Japanese.
    On July 17, 1944 LD boarded the Nissyo Maru.  This transport carried American POWs in its holds to Japan.  The ship sailed on July 17th and arrived at Takao, Formosa on July 27th.  It sailed the next day for Moji, Japan arriving there on August 3rd.     
    In Japan, LD was held at Kamioka Camp also known as Nagoya #1-B.  The camp was located in the mountains and received as much as 33 feet of snow during the winter.  The POWs, from this camp, were used as minors in zinc and lead mines.  His POW detachment was referred to as 2nd American Detachment since they were the second group of American POWs to arrive at the camp.
    The POW barracks were flimsy and built of wood  During the winter, to prevent them from collapsing, the POWs had to shovel the snow off the roofs.  The baracks were divided into small rooms meant to sleep 10 POWs; most were used by as many as 24 men who slept on straw mats for mattresses.  In the middle of the barracks was a pit surrounded by wood for heat.  Each day the POWs received a couple of handfuls of charcoal.
    Food for the POWs was poor.  Their daily meal consisted of rice and maize and one ounce of meat per POW.  About once a month, the POWs received 5 ounces of soy bean because they had worked hard.  Fish, vegetables, and meat were kept stored in a building and allowed to go bad instead of being given to the POWs.,
    As the end of the war grew closer, the beatings became more brutal, took place daily, and were more often collective.  The POWs were hit over their heads and all over their bodies with belts, sabers, ropes, and clubs.  One guard liked to burn the POWs around their navels creating the symbol of the rising sun.  They were also made to assume painful positions and stand out in inclement weather nude.  POWs were also tied to ladders, so the were slightly off the ground, and were beaten.
    Medical treatment was almost none existent, since a certain number of POWs were needed for work each day.  The sick, who could walk, were forced to work.  Those who refused were beaten and medical treatment was withheld from them.  In addition, the Japanese set a limit on the number of POWs who co and only the extremely ill were allowed to stay in camp.  The next day if a new man was too sick to work, one of the POWs who was too ill the day before had to go to work.  At the same time this was happening, the Japanese refused to give the POWs the medicine and medical supplies sent by the Red Cross.
     The Japanese treatment of the POWs was brutal.  If one POW broke a rule, all the POWs would be beaten, clubbed, or burned.  When the Japanese heard news of an air raid by the Americans, they selected eight or ten POWs and punished them.  Afterwards, they threw them into the guardhouse where the men were forgotten.  The POWs also learned that when the Japanese called them out in the middle of the night for an inspection, it meant that the Japanese had suffered another defeat and that the Americans were getting closer.
    The POWs slept 24 men to a room, that was meant for 10 men, in the barracks, and their beds were straw mats.  The blankets they received were not much protection against the cold.  The barracks were heated by coal burning stoves, but only two handfuls of coal were issued each day.  To prevent the buildings from collapsing in the winter, the POWs had to clear the roofs of snow each time it snowed.
    Since a certain number of POWs were needed for work each day, the sick, who could walk, were forced to work.  Those who refused were beaten.  In addition, the Japanese set a limit on the number of POWs who could be in the hospital at any time.  When a "new" sick POW was too sick to work, and "old" sick POW had to go to work.  At the same time, the Japanese refused to give the POWs the medicine and medical supplies sent by the Red Cross.
    The sick POWs were put on "light duty."  To the Japanese "light duty" was going up a mountain and hauling green muck.  As it turned out, this muck was contaminated and even the Japanese guards kept away from it.  The prisoners noticed that nothing would grow where the muck was dumped.  The prisoners worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and every two weeks they would get one day off.
    This detail was not bad during the summer because the old supervisor would allow two of the six prisoners to look for edible plants.  During the winter, the prisoners had to climb the mountain through snow that was four to five feet deep.  Since the Japanese did not issue the shes that were sent by the Red Cross, to protect their feet from frostbite, the POW's made socks from blackout curtains to put inside their canvas shoes.  The prisoners also were never warm.  They slept in pairs to share body heat and blankets.
    As the end of the war grew closer, the beatings became more brutal, took place daily, and were more often collective.  The POWs were hit over their heads and all over their bodies with belts, sabers, ropes, and clubs.  One guard liked to burn the POWs around their navels creating the symbol of the rising sun.  They were also made to assume painful positions and stand out in inclement weather nude.  POWs were also tied to ladders, so the were slightly off the ground, and were beaten.  The camp was close enough to Nagasaki the the POWs felt the ground shake from the atomic bomb.  On August 15, 1945, the POWs learned of the Japanese surrender from a newspaper purchased on the Black Market.  The prisoners wanted to celebrate, but the officers feared that if they did the Japanese would retaliate.  Several days later the prisoners took control of the camp and waited for American forces.
    LD was liberated on September 7, 1945, taken to Yokohama, and returned to the Philippines for medical treatment.   On the U.S.S. Yarmouth, he returned to the United States on October 8, 1945, at San Francisco.  When he returned home, he married Willa Rae Ware.  The couple had a son and a daughter.  LD remained in the military for another 26 years as a member of the U.S. Air Force.  He retired on June 30, 1965.  After he retired, he moved to Sherman, Texas.
    On July 15, 1993, LD Marrs passed away in Sherman, Texas.  He was buried in Section  P  Lot  217 in the Veterans Field of Honor at Cedar Lawn Memorial Park in Sherman, Texas.



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