|Pvt. Francis Ignatius
| Pvt. Francis I.
McGurie was born on April 26, 1917, in Tooele
County, Utah, to Bartholomew McGuire and Mary
Duffy-McGuire. With his brother and sister, he
grew up at 20 Glenwood Avenue in Tooele City,
Utah. It is known that his father was an
engineer for the Tooele Valley Railroad which
provided railroad service to a copper smelter.
Francis was a worker at the copper smelter owned by the Anaconda Copper Company when he was drafted into the U.S. Army while living in Nevada. He was inducted on March 19, 1941, at Salt Lake City and sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training. In the late summer of 1941, he was sent to camp Polk, Louisiana, where he was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion.
His tank battalion did not take part in the maneuvers that were being held at Camp Polk while they were there. After the maneuvers, the 192nd Tank Battalion, which had taken part in maneuvers, was informed that it was being sent overseas. Since the battalion was mainly made up of National Guardsmen, those men who were 29 years old or older, were given the chance to resign from federal service. Francis either volunteered to replace a National Guardsman or had his name drawn. He was assigned to B Company and to the tank of Zenon Bardowski.
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 noticed something odd. He took his plane down and identified a buoy in the water. 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, with a large radio transmitter, hundred of miles away. The squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field. When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day, and the next day, when a Navy ship was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
The battalion's new tanks came from the 753rd Tank Battalion and were loaded onto flat cars, on different trains. The soldiers also cosmolined anything that they thought would rust. Over different train routes, the companies were sent to 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, they were given physicals by the battalion's medical detachment and men found with minor medical conditions were held on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
The soldiers boarded the U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27th. 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 2nd and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
On Wednesday, November 5th, 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 9th, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th. During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line. On Saturday, November 15th, 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 16th, 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 20th, 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 Colonel 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 20th 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 worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons. The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea. They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance as they prepared to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.
The tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field on December 1st to guard against enemy paratroopers. Two crew members of each tank or half-track had to remain with them at all times.
On December 8th, December 7th in the United States, Francis lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield just ten hours after Pearl Harbor. That morning news of the attack on Pearl Harbor reached the Philippines. The tankers were issued orders to guard the perimeter of the airfield against Japanese paratroopers. All morning, the sky was filled with American planes. At 12 noon, the planes landed.
Around 12:45, the tankers watched as planes approached the airfield from the north. Fifty-four planes were counted by the tankers. At first, they believed the planes were American. Then, they watched as little silver droplets fell from the planes. It was only when explosions took place on the runways that the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.
The tankers did not have weapons to fight the planes, but two of the half-tracks had been rigged with .50 caliber machine guns on rings that could rotate. Zenon Bardowski shot down a Zero from one of the half-tracks during the attack.
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. They lived through two more attacks on December 10th and 13th.
The tankers would remain at Clark Field until they were sent north to support the 26th U.S. Cavalry at Lingayen Gulf on December 21st. The job they found themselves in again and again was that of holding a position so that the other troops could disengage from fighting the Japanese.
On December 25th, 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 27th.
The tankers were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th. On January 1st, conflicting orders were received by the defenders who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5. The orders were issued by Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff and called for them to withdraw into Bataan. Doing this would trap the Southern Luzon Forces before they could withdraw Bataan. General Wainwright, who was in command, was unaware of the orders.
At 2:30 A.M., the night of January 5th/6th, 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 6th/7th 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, 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.
The next day, the battalion was between Culo and Hermosa and assigned a road to enter Bataan on which was worse than having no road. The half-tracks kept throwing their rubber tracks and members of 17th Ordnance assigned to each battalion had to re-track them in dangerous situations. After daylight, Japanese artillery fire was landing all around the tanks.
A composite tank company was formed, the next day, under the command of Capt. Donald Haines, B Co., 192nd. Its job was to protect the East Coast Road north of Hermosa open and to stop Japanese tanks attempting to use it to overrun the next defensive line that was forming. While in this position, the tanks were under constant enemy artillery fire. The rest of the tanks were ordered to bivouac south of the Abucay-Hacienda Road.
When word came that a bridge was going to be blow, all the tanks were ordered out of the area, which included the composite company. This could have resulted in a catastrophe, but the Japanese did not take advantage of the situation.
The tanks bivouacked south of the Pilar-Bagac Road and about two kilometers from the East Coast Road. It had almost been one month since the tank crews had a rest and the tanks had maintenance work done on them by 17th Ordnance. It was also on this day that the tank platoons were reduced to three tanks per tank platoon. The men rested and the tanks received the required maintenance. Most of the tank tracks had worn down to bare metal and the radial engines long past their 400 hour overhauls.
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 battalions were sent to cover the junctions of the Back Road and East Road with the Abucay-Heicienda Road on January 25th. While holding the position, the 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, fought its way to the position at 3:00 A.M. One platoon was sent to the front of the the column of trucks which were loading the troops. The tanks provided heavy fire so that the infantry could withdraw and inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese.
Later on January 25th, both the 192nd and 194th held a defensive line on the Bakanga-Cardre-BaniBani Roads until the withdraw was completed at midnight. They held the position until the night of January 26th/27th, when they dropped back to a new defensive line roughly along the Pilar-Bagac Roads. When ordered to withdraw to the new line, the 192nd found that the bridge at Balanga, that they were suppose to use had been destroyed by enemy fire. To withdraw, they had to use secondary roads to get around the barrio and tanks were still straggling in at noon.
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 28th, 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.
Companies A & C were ordered to the west coast of Bataan while B Company - which was held in reserve - and 17th Ordnance held the southern shore of Bataan. The tankers were awake all night and attempted to sleep under the jungle canopy, during the day, which protected them from being spotted by Japanese reconnaissance planes. During the night, they were kept busy with repeated threats both on and off shore.
On one occasion, a member of the company, who had gotten frustrated by being awakened by the planes, had his half-track pulled out onto the beach and took pot shots at the plane. He missed the plane, but twenty minutes later, Japanese planes appeared over the location and dropped bombs that exploded in the tree tops. Three members of the company were killed.
The tank battalions, on their own, took up the job of protecting the airfields at Cabcaban, Bataan, and Mariveles, since Japanese paratroopers were known to be available. The tanks and half-tracks were well hidden in the jungle around the airfields and different plans were in place to be used against Japanese forces. There was only one major alert in March when 73 Japanese planes came over.
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. After this, the tankers slept upwind of their tanks.
During the Battle of Bataan, B Company was assigned to guard the east coast of Bataan against a possible Japanese invasion.
The morning of February 3rd, after being up all night guarding the beach, the members of B Company were attempting to get some sleep. Each day, a Japanese reconnaissance plane known as "Photo Joe" flew over attempting to locate the tanks. Walter Cigoi, tired of being awakened by the plane had his driver pull his half-track onto the beach and took a potshot at the plane. He missed.
About twenty minutes later, Japanese dive bombers appeared and bombed and strafed the area. During the attack, three members of B Company were killed and Francis was wounded. He was taken to a field hospital by other members of his company.
In March, the amount of gasoline was reduced to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles except the tanks. This would later be dropped to ten gallons a day. At the same time, food rations were cut in half again. Also at this time, Gen. Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that a platoon of tanks be sent to Corregidor.
The Japanese lunched an all out attack on April 3rd. On April 7th, the 57th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, supported by tanks, attempted to restore the line, but Japanese infiltrators prevented this from happening. During this action, one tank was knocked out but the remaining tanks successfully withdrew. The situation on operational tanks also became critical, with C Company, 194th, which was attached to the 192nd, having only seven tanks left.
At this time, the tanks became a favorite target of the Japanese receiving fire on trails and while hidden in the jungle. where they could not fight back. The situation was so bad that other troops avoided being near the tanks, and the 26th Cavalry, P.S. turned down a tank company's offer of assistance in a counter-attack. When General King saw that the situation was hopeless, he initiated surrender talks with the Japanese.
The morning of April 9th, at 6:45, the tankers received the order "crash." This was their order to destroy their tanks and guns. The next morning, they made their way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan. Francis was now a Prisoner of War.
On the march, the POWs received little food and no water. Artesian wells flowed across the road, but if the POWs attempted to get water from the wells, they were killed. The first few miles, leaving Mariveles, were uphill, since many of the POWs were sick, this made the march worse. At one point, the POWs ran past Japanese artillery which was firing at Corregidor which had not surrendered. Shells from the American guns landed among the POWs.
The POWs made their way to San Fernando. At the train station, the POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars that were used to haul sugarcane. The cars were known as "forty or eights," since the cars could each hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car and shut the doors. Those men who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas. The dead fell to the floors of the cars as the living climbed out.
From Capas, the POWs walked the last miles to Camp O'Donnell which was an unfinished Filipino Army Base. There was only one water faucet for the POWs, and men died standing in line for a drink. Since they had little to no medicine, as many as 50 POWs died each day. Those assigned to the burial detail buried the dead as fast as they could. In the morning, when they returned to the cemetery with more dead, they found that wild dogs had dug up the bodies or that they were sitting up in the graves. The situation got so bad that the Japanese opened a new camp at Cabanatuan.
After being sent to Cabanatuan, Francis was selected to go out on a work detail to Palawan Island. The POWs sent to the island built an airfield with picks and shovels. They also received brutal treatment at the hands of the Japanese guards, and the men were beaten with pick handles. They were and kicked and slapped on a daily basis, and prisoners who attempted to escape were executed.
At some point, Francis became ill with malaria and was sent to Bilibid Prison in Manila on August 22, 1944, where he was admitted to the hospital ward. As it turned out, Francis was lucky to have been sent to Bilibid, because those POWs who remained on Palawan Island were later burned to death by the Japanese on December 15, 1944.
Francis was held at Bilibid until September 30, 1944, when he had been selected for transport to Japan and taken to the Port Area of Manila. On October 1st, Francis and other POWs were boarded onto the Hokusen Maru.
It should be noted that Francis's POW Detachment was scheduled to sail on the Arisan Maru, but since the Hokusen Maru was ready to sail and the detachment of POWs scheduled to sail on the ship had not completely arrived, the Japanese switched the POW detachments. As it turned out, the Arisan Maru was sunk by an American submarine resulting in the death of all but nine of the POWs on the ship.
The POWs boarded the Hokusen Maru, on October 1st, and were put in one hold. On October 3rd, the ship sailed but dropped anchor at the harbor's breakwater. It remained there for three days and the temperatures in the hold rose to over 100 degrees causing some men to go crazy. The Japanese threatened to kill the POWs if they didn't quiet the men, so the sane POWs strangled those out of their minds or hit them with canteens.
As part of a ten ship convoy it sailed again on October 4th and stopped at Cabcaban. The next day, it was at San Fernando, La Union, where the ships were joined by four more ships and five escorts. The ships stayed close to the shoreline to prevent submarine attacks which failed since, on October 6th, two of the ships were sunk by torpedoes.
The ships were informed, on October 9th, that American carriers were seen near Formosa and that American planes were in the area. The decision was made for the ships to head for Hong Kong. During this part of the trip, the ships ran into American submarines which sank two more ships. The Hokusen Maru arrived at Hong Kong on October 11th. While in port, American planes bombed the harbor on October 16th which caused the ship to rock. On October 21st, the ship sailed for Takao, Formosa, arriving on October 24th.
The POWs remained in the ship's hold until November 8th when they were disembarked. On Formosa, McGuire was held at Heito Camp because the Japanese were too hard pressed for ships to send them on to Japan. He was in the camp from November 9, 1944, until January 24, 1945. Francis was in a group of 110 Americans to arrive at the camp from Luzon. Upon arrival, the POWs were made to stand in line. The camp commander, 1st Lieutenant Tamaki, went down the line and searched the POWs and their possessions. The next day, the POWs met and noted that Tamaki had taken all the medicine and first aid equipment from them.
After remaining in the camp for five days, the POWs were put to work. Francis was put into a work group with four other POWs. The POW groups were given the job of loading ballast stones into boxcars. The POWs were expected to load three boxcars a day, with each boxcar holding ten tons of ballast. To do this job, the POWs loaded a basket called a "punki' with stone. The POWs were clearing a dry river bed so that sugarcane could be planted. Those POWs "too ill" to do this worked in the camp farm.
At the end of a work day as the POWs returned to the camp, on different occasions, Francis and the other POWs witnessed men pulled out of line for not working hard enough and dragged to a water trough and thrown into it. The guards held the POW underwater. The POWs never witnessed the entire event since they had to go to their barracks. But they knew, from talking to the men who were punished, that when the Japanese were done using the trough, the man was marched to the guardhouse.
From their barracks, they could hear the man's screams. They learned from their talks that once the POW was inside the guardhouse the POW was beaten by Lt. Tamaki. Tamaki hit the POW, with a bamboo cane, on his back, shoulders, and legs. After two or three days, the POW was released from the guardhouse.
A short time after arriving at Heito, ten Americans died from severe headaches or "brain fever." The British doctor could not do anything for the men who came down with the fever since he had no medicine. Lt. Tamaki called both the American and British POWs together and had a talk with them. He asked if any of the POWs had a fever. About fifty or sixty POWs raised their hands. Lt. Tamaki told the POWs that the camp had a large cemetery with a lot of room in it and that he was going to work hard to fill the cemetery. Two of Francis's friends, Sgt. John Morine, from Port Clinton, Ohio, and T/4 Ralph Madison, from Janesville, Wisconsin, died from the fever and were buried in the camp cemetery.
On one occasion, a Japanese colonel, who was in charge of making sure that the POWs were fed well, came to the camp. When he visited the POWs rations were increased. He would tell them how lucky they were to be Japanese POWs and mentioned meals of ducks, geese, pigs, and vegetables. All these vegetables and animals were raised in the camp but the POWs were never fed them. After the colonel left the camp, the POWs rations were reduced to 450 grams of rice and one potato a day. The pigs being raised in the camp were fed better than the POWs.
The POWs were boarded onto the Enoshima Maru on January 25, 1945, at Keelung, Formosa, and he finally arrived in Japan in February 1945, where he was sent to Naruo Camp, also known as Osaka #8, where the POWs worked in a graphite factory manufacturing electric graphite rods. The graphite would produce ulcers on the POWs which would grow in size the longer they worked in the factory. Francis remained in the camp until it was closed on May 29, 1945, after the area was bombed by American B-29s. From there he was sent to Nagoya #9.
The camp opened on May 29, 1945, and the POWs arrived the same day. A ten foot high fence encircled the camp where they lived in two barracks which had dirt floors. The barracks had 100 feet long and 24 feet wide, with two tiers of platforms around the perimeter of each building. The POWs were given straw mats to sleep on, on the platforms. A 8 foot wide aisle ran down the center of the barracks.
There was no real hospital building and one end a 42 foot by 24 foot area at the end of a barracks was used for this purpose. There was room for 20 POWs, but everyday, there were as many as 100 sick POWs. The hospital was manned by an American doctor, who was a dentist, four American medics, and one Japanese medic. Once a month, each POW received a two inch square piece of soap. All medical records were destroyed on August 16, 1945.
Men would wear out from being overworked and underfed. Then pneumonia took over and the men died in a couple of days. Their bodies would be put in a four by four by two foot box. It had handles that allowed it to be carried. A Buddhist priest from the village walked ahead of the procession in his white and gold robes. When the remains were returned to the camp, they were in a four by four by twelve inch box. The man's name and serial number were on the box. The box was kept by the camp commandant in his office.
Being that the Japanese had a quota of POWs they needed to work on the details each day, those suffering from diarrhea or dysentery were not considered sick. The sick were beaten with shovels to get them to do work that they were too sick to do. They also had their meal rations reduced.
The meals of the POWs were primarily wheat, rice, and soybeans with some vegetables like onions and daikon a Japanese beet. They had fish, either fried or in a soup, every ten days. Their food was performed by six POWs who also prepared the POWs lunches that they took with them to work.
Most of the POWs walked three quarters of a mile and worked on the docks loading and unloading coal, rice, and beans. While working they received a hour lunch and two half hour rest periods. A work day started about 7:30 A.M. and ended at 4:30 P.M. When there was a lot of work, POWs returned and worked fro 7:00 P.M. until midnight. Another 100 POWs worked in the camp garden.
Clothing for the POWs came from the Japanese. Many wore Japanese Army uniforms and getas which were traditional Japanese footwear. While working the POWs wore straw shoes, hats, and raincoats for inclement weather. If the POW still had his GI shoes, the Japanese provided leather for repairs.
Collective punishment was a common occurrence in the camp and involved stealing rice or beans. When one POW broke a camp rule, all the POWs were punished. On one occasion, for 7 days, the POWs were denied coal, in the middle of winter, because someone had broken a rule. 15 POWs were accused of stealing rice from sacks that they were unloading from a ship. Once they returned to the camp, they were forced to kneel for from an 1½ to 5 hours to get them to confess. Six of the fifteen men confessed and the others were fed and sent to their barracks.
When the camp commandant left the camp at 8:30 that evening, all the POWs were called from the barracks by the second in command and ordered to stand at attention. They were then beaten with pick axe handles, rope, that was about 3 inches thick and five feet long, clubs, and farrison belts across the buttocks, face, and legs. Kicking was also a frequent method of punishment.
When the POWs passed out, they were either thrown into a large tub of water, with their hands and feet bound, or they had water poured on them until they revived. They once again had to stand at attention as the beating continued for a total of 3 hours. One POW counted that he received 150 blows to his face and 20 on his buttocks.
The Japanese denied the POWs food, clothing, shoes, and other items sent to the camp by the Red Cross. Instead of giving these things to the POWs, the Japanese pilfered the items for their own use. The guards were seen wearing shoes sent by the Red Cross for the POWs.
Francis remained in the camp until he was liberated on September 5, 1945. After liberation, he was returned to the Philippines for medical treatment and promoted to sergeant.
Francis returned to the United States on the U.S. Storm King at San Francisco on October 15, 1945, and was hospitalized at Letterman General Hospital, in San Francisco, and Bushnell General Hospital in Brigham, Utah. He was discharged from the Army on November 27, 1945, as a staff sergeant. He would later live at 3010 North 13th Street in Grand Junction, Colorado, where he died on October 23, 2001.