MoffittF

Capt. Fred Charles Moffitt


Born: 16 October 1903 - Salinas, California

Parents: William Moffitt & Jennie McKinney-Moffitt

Siblings: 1 brother

Home:1212 First Avenue - Alisal, California

Married: 11 March 1933 - Mamie Rose Fail

Occupation: mail carrier - U.S. Post Office

Enlisted:

     - California National Guard

        -  18 June 1924 - Salinas, California

            - rose in rank from Private to 1st Sergeant 

        -  31 March 1931 - commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant

            -  completed Officers' Tank Course - 1937

        - 12 February 1941 - 1st Lieutenant 

Inducted:

    - U.S. Army

        - 10 February 1941
Training: 

    - Fort Lewis, Washington

Units: 

    - 194th Tank Battalion

        - Commanding Officer - C Company
Note: On August 15, 1941, at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, the 194th received orders for duty in the Philippines because of an event that happened during the summer.  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.  By the time the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.  The next morning, by the time another squadron was sent to the area the next day, the buoys had been picked up by a fiching boat which was seen making its way toward shore.  Since communication between and Air Corps and Navy was poor, the boat was not intercepted.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines. 

Overseas Duty: 

    - Ship: S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
        - Boarded: Monday - 8 September 1941 - 3:00 P.M.
        - Sailed: 9:00 P.M. - same day
        - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Saturday - 13 September 1941 - 7:00 A.M.
        - Sailed: 5:00 P.M. - same day
            - escorted by the heavy cruiser - U.S.S. Astoria
                - smoke seen on horizon several times
                -  cruiser intercepted ships
        - Arrived: Manila - Friday - 26 September 1941
            - disembark ship - 3:00 P.M.
            - taken by bus to Fort Stostenburg
            - maintenance section with 17th ordnance remained behind to unload the tanks and attached turrets
                -27 September 1941 - job completed at 9:00 A.M.

Engagements: 

    - Battle of Luzon

        - 8 December 1941 - 6 January 1942
            - 8 December 1941
                - Clark Field bombed
                - 10 hours after Pearl Harbor
        - 13 December 1941
                - sent to southern Luzon
                - Japanese landing troops

        - 15 December 1941
            - holding Tagaytay Ridge

            - attempted to catch Fifth Columnist who were sending up flares at night

                - did this until Christmas Eve
            - reconnaissance parties sent out to Nusugbu, Balangas, and Batangas Bays
                - also into Lucena, Paglibo, and Lucban areas

        - 24 December 1941 - promoted: Captain

        - 25 December 1941
            - withdrew over Taal Lake Road to Santo Tomas and bivouacked near San Paolo
            - assisted in operations at Lucena-Pagbilao-Lucban area
                - Japanese landing troops at Mauban and Antimonan

    - 31 December 1941
        - rejoined battalion
        - covered withdrawal of Philippine Army Divisions south of Route 3
    - 2 January 1942
        - both tank battalions ordered to withdrawal to Lyac Junction
            - 194th withdrew there on Highway 7

    - 5 January 1942
        - C Company and A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, withdrew from Guagua-Poraline
            - moved into position between Sexmoan and Lubao

        - Moffitt led two tanks, two half-tracks, and four self-propelled mounts in ambush of Japanese

            - 1:50 A.M. - Japanese force of 750 to 800 men attempted to infiltrate
            - bright moonlight made them easy to see
            - tanks opened fire
            - Japanese lay down smoke which blew back into them
        - 3:00 A.M. - Japanese broke off engagement
            - suffered 50% casualties

        - prevented Japanese from cutting off retreat into Bataan

    - 6 January 1941
        - Remedios - established new line along dried creek bed

            - Japanese attempted another night attack

            - Moffitt's half-track hit landmine

                - T/5 William Hennessy lost right foot

                - Pvt. Walter Martella - wounded shielding Moffitt from shrapnel

                    - taken to field hospital - died
    - 6/7 January 1942
        - 194th, covered by 192nd, crosses Culis Creek into Bataan
        - both battalions bivouacked south of Aubucay-Hacienda Road
        - rations cut in half
        - 194th leapfrogged past 192nd enter Bataan
            - 192nd covered withdrawal

    - Battle of Bataan

        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942

            - January 1942
                - tank companies reduced to three tanks per platoon
       - 8 January 1942
            - composite tank company made up of tanks from the 192nd and 194th sent to protect
              East Coast Road north of Hermosa
                - their job was to keep the East Road open  north of Hermosa and prevent the
                  Japanese from driving into Bataan before the main battle line had been formed
            - remainder of tanks ordered to bivouac for night south of Aubucay-Hacienda Road
                - tankers had been fighting for a month without a rest
                - tanks also needed overdue maintenance
                - 17th Ordnance
            - all tank companies reduced to ten tanks
                - three per tank platoon
            - sent to reopen Moron Road so General Segunda's forces could withdraw
            - tanks knock out an anti-tank gun
            - two tanks disabled by landmines but recovered
            - mission abandoned
            - Gen. Segunda's troops escaped using beach but lost their heavy equipment
    - 12 January 1942
            - C Company, with D Company, 192nd, sent to Cadre Road
                - forward position with little alert time

Note: 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."
    - 13 January 1942
        - mines planted by ordnance prevented them from reaching Cadre Road
            - returned to battalion
    - 16 January 1942
        -  C Company sent to Bagac to reopen Moron Highway
            - highway had been cut by Japanese
            - Moron Highway, and Junction of Trail 162
                - tank platoon fired on by antitank gun
                    - tanks knock out gun
                    - cleared roadblock with support of infantry
    - 20 January 1942
        - Banibani Road -tanks sent in to save 31st Infantry command post
    - 24 January 1942
        - tanks order to Hacienda Road in support of troops
            - landmines planted by ordnance prevented them from reaching road
    - 26 January 1942
        - the battalion held a position a kilometer north of the Pilar-Bagac Road
            - four self-propelled mounts with the battalion
        - 9:45 A.M. - warned by Filipino a large Japanese force was coming
        - when the enemy appeared they opened up with all the battalion had  
        - 10:30 A.M. - Japanese withdrew after losing 500 of 1200 men
        - prevented new defensive line being formed from being breached
    - 28 January 1942
        - 194th tanks given beach duty protecting southern beaches

        - guarded coast from Limay to Cabcaben

        - half-tracks patrolled roads

            - maintained radio contact with on-shore and off-shore patrols
    - March 1942
        - two tanks were bogged down in mud
        - the tankers were working to get them out
        - Japanese Regiment entered the area
        - Lt. Col. Miller ordered tanks and artillery to fire at point blank range
             - Miller ran from tank to tank directing fire
             - wiped out Japanese regiment
        - food ration is also cut

    - 4 April 1942
        - Japanese launched major offensive
        - tanks sent into various sectors to stop Japanese advance

        - C Company sent to  support 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts
    - 7 April 1942
        - four tanks sent to support 45th Philippine Infantry and 75th Infantry, Philippine
           Scouts
            - one tank knocked out by anti-tank fire at junction of Trails 8 & 6

                - tank commander knocked out

                - private took command of tank
            - other tanks covered withdraw
        - 3rd Platoon sent up west coast road
            - near Mount Samat ran into heavy Japanese force
            - the tanks withdrew to Marivales

        - C Company attached to 192nd Tank Battalion
    - 8 April 1942
        - fighting on East Coast Road at Cabcaban

    - 9 April 1942
        - tankers received order "crash" at 6:45 A.M.
        - destroyed their equipment and tanks

        - 7:00 A.M. - order issued to cease all hostilities

Prisoner of War: 

    - 10 April 1942

        - Death March

        - received order to destroy equipment and report to kilometer marker 168.2.
            - Provisional Tank Group Headquarters
        - Japanese officers told Col. Ernest Miller to keep them there until ordered to move
    - 10 April 1942
            - 7:00 P.M. - started march from Provisional Tank Group headquarters
            - 3:00 A.M. - halted and rested for an hour
            - 4:00 A.M. - resume march
                - at times slipped on remains of dead who had been killed by Japanese shelling
    - 11 April 1942
        - 8:00 A.M. -reached Lamao
            - allowed to forage for food
        - 9:00 A.M. - resumed march
        - Noon - reached Limay and main road
            - officers, majors and up, separated from lower ranking officers and enlisted men
            - lower ranking officers and enlisted men joined main march
    - Death March
        - marched through Abucay and Samal
        -  reached Orani
            - herded into a fenced in area and ordered to lie down
            - in morning found they had been lying in human waste
            - latrine in one corner was crawling with maggots
        - form 100 men detachments
            - POWs marched at faster pace
            - fewer breaks
                - when given break, the POWs sat on road

        - At one point Moffitt witnessed two POWs, Lt. Col. Alf
              Uddenberg and Col. Frederick Ward jump off a bridge and
              commit suicide.
        - North of Hermosa the POWs reached pavement
            - made march easier
        - POWs given an hour rest on road
            - those who attempt to lay down are jabbed with bayonets
            - POWs march through Layac and Lurao
            - rains - POWs drank as much as they could
        - San Fernando
            - POWs put in groups of 200 to be fed
                - one POW sent to get a box of rice for each group
                - pottery jars of water given out the same way
        - POWs formed detachments of 100 men and marched to train station
            - POWs put into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane
                - each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men
                - 100 POWs packed into each car
                - POWs who died remained standing
        - Capas - dead fell to floor as living left boxcars
            - as POWs formed ranks, Filipinos threw sugarcane to POWs
            - also gave them water
            - POWs walked last 8 kilometers to Camp O'Donnell

POW Camps:

    - Philippine Islands:

        - Camp O'Donnell

            - unfinished Filipino training base
            - Japanese put camp into use as POW Camp
            - only one water spigot for entire camp
            - as many as 50 POWs died each day
            - Japanese opened new POW camp to lower death rate
 
 

        - Cabanatuan #1

            - selected for work detail to Davao, Mindanao
Hell Ship:

        - Interisland Steamer

            - Sailed: Manila - 1 July 1942

            - Arrived: Davao, Mindanao - 9 July 1942

        - Davao, Mindanao

            - POWs built runways
            - selected to be sent to Japan

Hell Ship:
    - Yashu Maru

        - POWs taken by truck to Lasang - 6 June 1944

            - hands tied and shoes removed to prevent escapes

            - POWs put in forward holds

                - remained in holds for six days
        - Sailed: 12 June 1944

            - ship dropped anchor off Zamboanga, Mindanao - 14 June 1944
        - Arrived: Cebu City - 17 June 1944

            - POWs disembark put in warehouse

        - Sailed: unnamed ship - 21 June 1944
            - POWs called ship "Singoto Maru"

        - Arrived:  Manila - 24 June 1944      
POW Camp:    

        - Bilibid Prison

            - POWs sent there from Davao
            - Admitted - 13 October 1944 - hospital ward

                - dengue fever
            - Discharged - 30 October 1944

Liberated:

    - 4 February 1945 - Bilibid Prison

        - 37th Infantry Division
    - weighed 90 pounds

Residence: Salinas, California
Monterey County Board Supervisor - 8 November 1950
    - served for four years

Died: 15 December 1969 - Salinas, California


 

 

 

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