Pvt. Merle Lloyd Miller
| Pvt. Merle L.
Miller was born on August 7, 1919, in Hooker,
Oklahoma, to John Miller and Living
Sellars-Miller. With his two sisters and
brother, he grew up and worked on the family's
farm in Hardesty Township, Texas County, Oklahoma.
Merle was inducted into the U.S. Army on March 24 , 1941, at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky for basic training. After basic training, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, where he was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion. The battalion had been sent to Camp Polk from Ft. Benning, Georgia, but did not take part in the maneuvers taking place at the base.
After the maneuvers, the 192nd Tank Battalion was informed that they were being sent overseas. Since the battalion was mostly National Guardsmen, those men 29 years or older were allowed to resign from federal service. Merle volunteered to replace a National Guardsman and was assigned to C Company.
The battalion traveled west over different train routes and arrived in San Francisco. They were taken by ferry to Angel Island where they given physicals and inoculated. Anyone who had a medical condition was replaced or held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.
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 2nd, and had a layover. The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands. They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th. 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 20th, 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 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 the Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers on December 1st to guard against paratroopers. Two members of each tank remained with their tank at all times. The morning of December 8th, the officers of the battalions met and were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier. The soldiers returned to the perimeter of Clark Airfield.
All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes. At noon, all the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch. At 12:45 planes approached the airfield from the north. The tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54 planes. When bombs began exploding, the men knew the planes were Japanese. After the attack the 192nd remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for almost two weeks. They were than sent to the Lingayen Gulf area where the Japanese had landed.
C Company was re-supplied and withdrew to Baluiag where the tanks encountered Japanese troops and ten tanks. It was at Baluiag that C Company's tanks won the first tank battle victory of World War II against enemy tanks. After the battle, C Company made its way south. When it entered Cabanatuan, it found the barrio filled with Japanese guns and other equipment. The tank company destroyed as much of the equipment as it could before proceeding south.
On December 31, 1941, the commanding officer of C Company sent out reconnaissance patrols north of the town of Baluiag. The patrols ran into Japanese patrols, which told the Americans that the Japanese were on their way. Knowing that the railroad bridge was the only way into the town and to cross the river, the company set up it's defenses in view of the bridge and the rice patty it crossed.
Early on the morning of the 31st, the Japanese began moving troops and across the bridge. The engineers came next and put down planking for tanks. A little before noon Japanese tanks began crossing the bridge.
Later that day, the Japanese had assembled a large number of troops in the rice field on the northern edge of the town. One platoon of tanks under the command of 2nd Lt. Marshall Kennady were to the southeast of the bridge. Lt. Gentry's tanks were to the south of the bridge in huts, while third platoon commanded by Capt Harold Collins was to the south on the road leading out of Baluiag. 2nd Lt. Everett Preston had been sent south to find a bridge to cross to attack the Japanese from behind.
Major Morley came riding in his jeep into Baluiag. He stopped in front of a hut and was spotted by the Japanese who had lookouts in the town's church's steeple. The guard became very excited so Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks positions, got into his jeep and drove off. Bill had told him that his tanks would hold their fire until he was safely out of the village.
When Gentry felt the Morley was out of danger, he ordered his tanks to open up on the Japanese tanks at the end of the bridge. The tanks then came smashing through the huts' walls and drove the Japanese in the direction of Lt. Marshall Kennady's tanks. Kennady had been radioed and was waiting.
Kennady's platoon held it's fire until the Japanese were in view of his platoon and then joined in the hunt. The Americans chased the tanks up and down the streets of the village, through buildings and under them. By the time Bill's unit was ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had knocked out at least eight enemy tanks.
The tankers withdrew to Calumpit Bridge after receiving orders from Provisional Tank Group. When they reached the bridge, they discovered it had been blown. Finding a crossing the tankers made it to the south side of the river. Knowing that the Japanese were close behind, the Americans took their positions in a harvested rice field and aimed their guns to fire a tracer shell through the harvested rice. This would cause the rice to ignite which would light the enemy troops.
The tanks were spaced about 100 yards apart. The Japanese crossing the river knew that the Americans were there because the tankers shouted at each other to make the Japanese believe troops were in front of them. The Japanese were within a few yards of the tanks when the tanks opened fire.
Lighting the rice stacks, the Americans opened up with small fire. They then used their .37 mm guns. The fighting was such a rout that the the tankers were using a .37 mm shell to kill one Japanese soldier.
The tank company was next sent to the barrio of Porac to aid the Filipino army which was having trouble with Japanese artillery fire. From a Filipino lieutenant, Gentry learned where the guns were and attacked. Before the Japanese withdrew, the tankers had knocked out three of the guns.
After this, the tanks withdrew to the Hermosa Bridge and held it on the north side until all the troops were across. The tanks then crossed to the south and destroyed the bridge which held the Japanese up for a few days. This was the beginning of the Battle of Bataan.
In addition to serving as a rear guard, the
tankers burnt everything that was being left
behind. They burnt warehouses, banks, and
businesses that would help the
When the POWs
were put into
a bull-pin. In
was a trench
that was used
as a toilet by
was alive with
POWs to sit in
the sun for
walked the last ten
miles to Camp
camp was an
training base which
was put into use by
the Japanese as a
There was only one
water spigot for the
The POWs had to
stand in line for
hours to get a
guards often turned
off the water
death rate among the
POWs rose to as many
as 50 POWs a
day. To lower
the death rate, the
Japanese opened a
new camp at
The POWs had to dig out volcanic rock which was used in the construction of runways. He did this work until August 1944. How the POWs did this was to sift the sand through a screen trapping the rocks. The rocks were used as base material for new runways for heavy bombers. When the rock ran out, the Japanese engineers told the POWs to use sand for the base material for the last half of the runway.
time a Japanese heavy bomber landed on the
runway it sped across the first half of the
runway. When it hit the second half of the
runway, the bomber's carriage suddenly sank out
of sight and the bomber flipped
over. The prisoners hid their
laughter to avoid being beaten.
The POWs were boarded onto the Noto Maru
on August 25th, and packed into one
hold. The ship sailed, as part of a
four ship convoy, on the 27th but dropped
anchor off Bataan. On its trip to
Formosa depth charges were dropped since
American submarines were believed to be in
the area of the ships. The ships
arrived at Takao, Formosa, on August
30th. The convoy sailed again on
August 31st and arrived at Moji, Japan,
Once at Moji, the POWs were broken into two
groups. After the Japanese disembarked
them from the ship, the POWs realized how
bad they smelled. Their smell was so
bad, that the Japanese civilians held their
noses as the POWs passed.
Merle remained in the camp until September
14, 1945, when the heard the news that the
war had ended. The POWs left the camp
and took over a train and forced engineer to
go to Tokyo where they contacted American