McKnight
 
Pvt. Thomas William McKnight
Born: 16 June 1918 - Pennsylvania
Parents: Thomas & Mary McKnight
Siblings: 2 sisters, 1 brother
Hometown: Epping, New Hampshire
Residence: West Chester, Pennsylvania
Inducted:
    - U.S. Army
        - 14 February 1941 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Trained:
    - Fort Knox, Kentucky
Units:
    - 19th Ordnance Battalion
        - trained alongside the 192nd Tank Battalion at Ft. Knox
        - taught how to maintain 57 vehicles in use by the Army
        - learned to repair and maintain guns
        - August 1941 - took part in maneuvers in Arkansas
            - A Company received orders to return to Ft. Knox
    - 17th Ordnance Company
        - 17 August 1941 - company created from A Company of 19th Ordnance
            - received orders for overseas duty the same day
Note:  The decision for this move - which had been made on August 15, 1941, at Ft. Knox, Kentucky - 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.
Overseas Duty:
    - traveled by train to Ft. Mason, San Francisco, California
        - Arrived: Thursday, 5 September 1941
        - ferried to Ft. McDowell, Angel Island on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
            - given physicals and inoculations
            - men with medical conditions replaced
    - removed turrets from tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion
    - S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
        - Boarded: San Francisco, California - Monday - 8 September 1941
        - Sailed: 9:00 P.M.
        - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Saturday 13 September 1941 - 7:00 A.M.
            - soldiers given shore leave for the day
        - Sailed: 5:00 P.M.
            - escorted by the heavy cruiser, U.S.S. Astoria, and an unknown destroyer
                - smoke seen on horizon several times
                -  cruiser intercepted ships
        - 16 September 1941 - crossed International Dateline
            - date became Thursday - 18 September 1941
        - Arrived: Manila, Philippine Islands - Friday - 26 September 1941
        - Disembarked:
            - 17th Ordnance remained behind to unload tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion
                - reattached turrets to tanks
                - worked in shifts
                - slept on ship that night
        - finished attaching turrets at 9:00 A.M. the next day
        - rode bus to Ft. Stotsenburg                 
        - serviced tanks of Provisional Tank Group
Stationed:
    - Ft. Stotsenburg, Philippine Islands
        - lived in tents until barracks completed - 15 November 1941
            - 8 December 1942 - lived through Japanese attack on Clark Field
                - company went to a bamboo thicket where they could disperse vehicles
                    - company set up bivouac
                        - set up machine shop trucks, half-tracks, and trucks
                - received orders to return to Ft. Stotsenburg
       - 12:45 P.M. - Japanese attacked
           - Japanese wipe out Army Air Corps
           - dead and wounded were everywhere
Engagements:
    - Battle of Luzon
        - 8 December 1942 - 6 January 1942
    - Battle of Bataan
        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942
            - serviced tanks of the 192nd & 194th Tank Battalions
            - headquartered in an abandoned ordnance depot building
Prisoner of War
    - 9 April 1942
        - Death March
            - POWs started march at Mariveles on the southern tip of Bataan
            - ran past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor
                - American artillery returned fire
            - San Fernando - POWs packed into small wooden boxcars

                - each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men
                - Japanese packed 100 POWs into each boxcar
                - POWs who died remained standing
            - Capas - POWs leave boxcars - dead fall out of cars
            - POWs walked last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell
POW Camps:
    - Philippines:
        - Camp O'Donnell
        - Camp O'Donnell
            - 1 April 1942 - unfinished Filipino training base Japanese put into use as a POW camp
                - Japanese believed the camp could hold 15,000 to 20,000 POWs
            - POWs searched upon arrival at camp
                - those found with Japanese money were accused of looting
                - sent to guardhouse
                - over several days, gun shots heard southeast of the camp
                    - POWs who had money on them had been executed
            - Japanese took away any extra clothing from POWs as they entered the camp and refused to return it
                - since no water was available for wash clothing, the POWs threw soiled clothing away
                - clothing was taken from dead
                - few of the POWs in the camp hospital had clothing
            - POWs were not allowed to bathe
            - only one water spigot for entire camp
                - POWs waited 2 hours to 8 hours to get a drink
                    - water frequently turned off by Japanese guards and next man in line waited as long as 4 hours for
                      water to be turned on again
                    - mess kits could not be cleaned
                - POWs had to carry water 3 miles from a river to cook their meals
                - second water spigot installed a week after POWs arrived
            - slit trenches overflowed since many of the POWs had dysentery
                - flies were everywhere including in camp kitchens and food
            - camp hospital had no water, soap, or disinfectant
            - the senior POW doctor wrote a list of medicines he wanted to treat the sick and was told by the camp
              commandant, Capt. Yoshio Tsuneyoshi, never to write another letter
                - Tsuneyoshi said that all he wanted to know about the American POWs was their names and numbers
                  when they died
                - refused to allow a truckload of medicine sent by the Archbishop of Manila into the camp
                - 95% of the medicine sent by Philippine Red Cross was taken by the Japanese for their own use
            - POWs in camp hospital lay on floor elbow to elbow
            - operations on POWs were performed with mess kit knives
            - only one medic out of six assigned to care for 50 sick POWs, in the hospital, was well enough to work
            - as many as 50 POWs died each day
                - each morning dead were found everywhere in the camp and stacked up under the hospital
                - ground under hospital was scrapped and cover with lime to clean it
                - the dead were moved to this area and the section where they had laid was scrapped and cover with lime
                - usually not buried for two or three days
            - work details: if a POW could walk, he was sent out on a work detail
                - POWs on burial detail often had dysentery and malaria
        - Japanese opened new POW camp to lower death rate
            - 1 June 1942 - POWs formed detachments of 100 men
                - POWs marched out gate and marched toward Capas
                    - Filipino people gave POWs small bundles of food
                        - the guards did not stop them
                - At Capas, the POWs were put into steel boxcars and rode them to Manila
                - train stopped at Calumpit and switched onto the line to Cabanatuan
                    - POWs disembark train at 6:00 P.M. and put into a school yard
                    - fed rice and onion soup      
        - Cabanatuan #1
            - Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
            - "Blood Brother" rule implemented
                - if one POW in the group of 10 escaped, the other nine would be killed
            - work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens, plant rice, and farm
                - when POWs lined up, it was a common practice for Japanese guards, after the POWs lined up, to kick
                  the POWs in their shins with their hobnailed boots
                - if the guards on the detail decided the POW wasn't doing what he should be doing, he was beaten
                - many POWs on details were able to smuggle in medicine, food, and tobacco into the camp
            - men who attempted to escape and caught were executed
            - daily POW meal - 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
Hell Ship:
    - Clyde Maru
        - Sailed: Manila - 23 July 1943
        - Arrived: Santa Cruz, Philippine Islands - same day
            - manganese ore loaded onto ship
        - Sailed: 26 July 1943
            - 100 POWs allowed on deck at a time - 6:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.
        - Arrived: Takao, Formosa - 28 July 1943
        - Sailed: 5 August 1943 - 8:00 A.M.
            - part of a seven ship convoy
        - Arrived: Moji, Japan - 9 August 1943
        - Disembarked: 8 August 1943
            - marched to train station
            - boarded train - departed 8:00 A.M.
                - two day train trip
        - Arrived: Omuta, Japan - 7:30 P.M.
POW Camp:
    - Japan
        - Fukuoka #17
            - one of first POWs sent to camp
            - Work: POWs used as slave labor in coal mine
Liberated:
    - September 1945
        - returned to Philippine Islands
Promoted: Private First Class

Transport:
    - U.S.S. Joseph T. Dychman
        - Sailed: Manila - not known
        - Arrived: San Francisco - 16 October 1945
            - sent to Letterman General Hospital

Discharged: 9 April 1946
Reenlisted: 22 September 1950
Discharged: 21 July 1951
Rank: Staff Sergeant
Married: Barbara McDevit
Died:
    - 9 May 1991 - Boston, Massachusetts
Buried:
    - Massachusetts National Cemetery - Bourne, Massachusetts
        - Section:  12   Site:  861

 


Next

 


Returned to 17th Ordnance