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 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.
    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.
    Traveling west from Camp Polk, the 192nd made its way to San Francisco.  They were taken by ferry to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  On the island, they were given physicals and  inoculations before being sent to the Philippine Islands.

    The battalion sailed, on the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott, from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2, and had a layover.  The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands.  They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4, for Guam.  When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water.  The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day. About 8:00 in the morning on November 20, the ships arrived at Manila Bay.  After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked.  Most of the battalion boarded trucks and rode to Ft. Stotsenburg north of Manila.
    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 POWs, from this camp, were used as minors in zinc and lead mines.      The POW diet in the camp was cooked rice.  Every two weeks they would receive three ounces of fish.  Once a month each man received one once of meat, and every three weeks, if they were being rewarded for working hard, they received five ounces of soy beans.  The Japanese did not treat the sick or injured well and withheld medicine from the POWs even though it was in the Red Cross packages.  Most of the POWs never received one letter, from home, while in the camp.
     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 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.  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.  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 and slept in pairs to share body heat and blankets.
    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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