Marston

Pvt. Wallace Raymond Marston


     Pvt. Wallace R. Marston was born in Dunedin, Florida, to Harry & Eloise Marston on December 23, 1923.  With his sister and brother, he attended Dunedin Grade School and Dunedin Junior High School.  At the age of twelve, he moved out of the house because of his parent's arguing.  

    On September 6, 1940, at the age of sixteen, Wallace joined the United States Army.  To join, he bulked up on bananas since he was five pounds under the minimum weight limit.  He became a member of the 2nd Armored Division, and did his basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia.  He went to radio operator school at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, for three months and was trained as a low speed radio operator.  In June 1941, he was transferred to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and became a member of the 753rd Tank Battalion.  Although the battalion was at Camp Polk, the 753rd did not take part in the Louisiana maneuvers of 1941.  It was there that Wallace volunteered, or had his name drawn, to become a member of Company B, 192 Tank Battalion in October 1941.  The battalion had been ordered overseas, and those men 29 years old or older were allowed to resign from federal service.
    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, 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 that a large radio transmitter. The island was hundred of miles away.  The squadron continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles before returning to Clark Field.  When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.
    The and the next day, another squadron was sent to the area and found that the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat that was seen making its way to shore.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines
    From Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over four different train routes.  Arriving in San Francisco, the soldiers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, the soldiers were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases. Those with health issues were released from service and replaced.
    After the companies were brought up to strength with replacements, the battalion was equipped with new tanks and half-tracks with came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.  The battalion traveled over different train routes to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California, where they were taken by the ferry, the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe to Angel Island.   At Ft. McDowell, on the island, they received physicals and inoculations.  Men found with minor medical conditions were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  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 King, who 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.  King made sure that they were fed Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own.
    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.
    On Monday, December 1, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard it against paratroopers.  The 194th Tank Battalion was assigned the northern half of the airfield while the 192nd protected the southern half.  At all times, two crew members had two remain with their tank or half-track and received their meals from food trucks.  HQ Company made sure that the companies had what they needed.
    The morning of December 8, 1941, just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the tankers were ordered the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  All morning long as they sat on their tanks, they watched as American planes filled the sky.  At noon, the planes landed.      
    As the tankers were having lunch, 54 planes approached the airfield from the north.    When bombs began exploding on the runways, the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.  Since they had few weapons that could be used against Japanese, they could do is watch.

    Wallace was a member of the tank crew of Lt. Daniel J. Byars.  Sgt. Robert Bronge was the tank driver, and  Zenon "Bud" Bardowski was the gunner.  The other members of his tank crew called him, "The Kid,' because of his age.  As a member of this crew, Wallace saw the action against the Japanese at the Lingayen Gulf as the tanks covered the retreat of Filipino troops down to the Bataan Peninsula.  
    The tank battalion received orders on December 21 that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.   Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas.  When they reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
    On December 23 and 24, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta.   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.  It was also on December 27, that his parents received a telegram from him saying that he was okay.  On January 1, conflicting orders were received by the defenders who were attempting to hold a bridge so that the Southern Luzon Forces could withdraw into Bataan.  The units were also attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5.  About half the defenders had withdrawn when Wainwright countermanded the orders.  The orders 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.
    During the withdraw into the peninsula, the company crossed over the last bridge which was mined and about to be blown.  The 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it and then cover the 192nd's withdraw. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
    Over the next several months, the battalion fought battle after battle with tanks that were not designed for jungle warfare.  The tank battalions , on January 28, were given the job of protecting the beaches.  The 192nd was assigned the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.    
    B 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 tankers slept upwind of their tanks.    

    Later, Wallace became a member of Sgt. Zenon Bardowski's tank crew when Bardowski was given his own tank.  The defensive line set up by the tanks would hold until Bataan was surrendered

    When Bataan surrendered on April 9, 1942, Wallace took part in the death march starting at Mariveles at the very southern end of the Bataan Peninsula.  What Wallace remembered about the march was the that there was no food or water and that the POW's marched for five or six days under a blistering sun.  He saw men bayoneted or shot for just trying to get a drink of water.  He also witnessed men being bayoneted or shot because they could not keep up with the column.  But, the most inhuman act of brutality Wallace witnessed was a young Filipino boy being bayoneted for trying to hand out bananas to the prisoners.  To Wallace, the boy looked as if he was ten or twelve years old.

    At San Fernando, Wallace and the other Prisoners of War were packed into railroad box cars like sardines.  The prisoners disembarked the cars at Capas and marched the final miles 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 Japanese lieutenant.
    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 Brothers.
    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 "speedo."  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 "speedo" 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 died.
    On August 2, 1942, he was admitted to the camp hospital because of illness.  The records kept by the medical staff do not show what illness he had or when he was discharged.  His parents learned he was a POW on April 20, 1943, and received a POW postcard from him on August 16.  They received a second postcard on September 22.  He remained at Cabanatuan until September 20, 1943, when he was sent to Japan on the Taga Maru. The ship arrived at Taihoku, Formosa, on September 22, and sailed on the 26th.  It arrived at Moji, Japan, on October 5 and the POWs disembarked the ship.  As they left the ship, they were given a chip of wood with a color on it which determined what camp the man would be sent to.  After a train ride, the POWs arrived at the camp on October 6.

    In Japan, he was held at Hirohata which was also known as Osaka 12-B and was about thirty miles from Osaka.  His POW number was 2089.  There he worked on various details at the Japan Iron Works Company.  In the camp, the POWs were housed in two 50' by 100' wooden barracks that were not insulated.  240 POWs lived in each barracks and slept on straw mats places on two rows of platforms in the barracks.  The bottom platform was sixteen feet above the floor.  They received their meals from a camp kitchen which was a small wooden structure.  Ten POWs were assigned to the kitchen and cook the meals in thirteen cauldrons.  An additional 30 POWs were assigned to maintaining the camp.
    The POWs at Hirohata, which was also known as Osaka #12-B, were used as slave laborers in the Japan Iron Works which was a few miles from the camp.  Regardless of weather, the POWs marched to the mill.  They loaded pig iron on ships and trains and unloaded ore.  They loaded and unloaded coal cars at the mills, worked in the machine shops, worked at the blast furnaces, and cleaned the slag from the furnaces.  Working with coal without eye protection resulted in Dannie having vision problems.  If the POWs were caught stealing, they were severely punished.
    During his time in the camp, POWs were beaten with belts, ropes, clubs, and fists.  In addition, the POWs had water forced down the nostrils, they were submerged in cold water and afterwards forced to stand nude in the cold.  Men also had their heads put into a trough and when they attempted to take their heads out of the water were hit in the back of their heads with a club.  One guard drilled the POWs and beat them if they missed a step even though the orders were being given in Japanese.  Making the POWs kneel appears to have been a common practice in the camp.  40 POWs were made to kneel for eight hours, while on another occasion, every POW in the camp, during mustard, was made to kneel for five hours.  Another sixteen POWs - who were accused of steal rice - were lined up, with their hands behind their heads, and each was slapped in the face with a large, double up, belt.
   The guards also stole food assigned to the POWs and canned meat and fruit, cigarettes, and other items from the POWs' Red Cross packages.  They also stole the Red Cross clothing and shoes sent for the POWs.
    The camp hospital was always filled with 50 POWs who were too ill to work.  An American doctor was in charge of the hospital but was at the mercy of a Japanese corpsman, who frequently changed his diagnosis sending POWs with fevers to work.  He also refused to issue medicine to the sick.

    The prisoners knew that the war was over when American planes began buzzing the camp on August 23, 1945.  A large "PW" had been painted on the roof  of one of the buildings.  The Japanese had received orders from Tokyo to mark all POW camps just days before the surrender on September 2, 1945.  The POWs were freed by American Liberation Forces on September 9, 1945.

    After being liberated by American troops, the former POWs were put on a train and taken on a 24 hour trip to Yokohama, Japan.  At the harbor, on September 12, they were put on American ships and then took a ten day trip back to the Philippines.

    Once in the Philippines, they were housed in a tent city and signed affidavits as to their service records since they had been destroyed when the Philippines fell.  At the camp, there was an attempt to reunite the original outfits, but some of the units were almost wiped out.  A week later, on September 23, 1945, the men were placed on the U.S.S. General R. L. Howze bound for the United States.

    The morning of October 16, 1945, at 3:00 A.M., someone spotted the lights of San Francisco.  Men ran to the rails and stayed there as a harbor boat helped the ship dock at the pier.  Wallace remembered that there were pretty girls waiting at the dock and a band playing, "San Francisco."  There wasn't one dry eye on the deck of the ship.  Wallace thought to himself that, in October of 1945, he had returned back to the place where his four year journey had started in October 1941.  He was discharged, from the army, on June 9, 1946.  In August 1946, Wallace was asked to provide a deposition, for the war crimes trials, about his time at Hirohata POW Camp.  

    Wallace R. Marston returned to Florida, married Hallie V. James on March 9, 1946 and divorced in 1949.  He remarried within a year and became the father of a son in December 1950.  Wallace Marston developed Alzheimer's Disease and passed away in Crystal River, Florida, on April 21, 2008, and was buried at Dunedin Cemetery, Dunedin, Florida.






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