Mulholland

Pvt. Orrie Theodore Mulholland


     Pvt. Orrie T. Mulholland was born in Chicago, Illinois, on September 5, 1917.  He was one of four sons of David J. Mulholland and Martha Roegner-Mulholland.  His one brother died as an infant.  In 1923, when Orrie was six, his mother died.  His father, attempting to earn a living, placed his three surviving sons in the Illinois Masonic Orphans Home.  The home was located at 441 South Ninth Avenue in LaGrange, Illinois.  Orrie attended Cossitt Grammar School and Lyons Township High School.  After high school, he took agriculture classes through Michigan State University.

    In November of 1940, Orrie enlisted in the Illinois National Guard.  The federal government had established a draft and he wanted to get his one year of military service completed so that he could get a job full time.  In November of 1940, the 33rd Tank Company of the Illinois National Guard was called into federal service and sent by train to Fort Knox, Kentucky.  It was at this time that the company became Company B of the 192nd Tank Battalion.  

    During this training, Orrie trained as a tank driver.  He also learned to operate the other equipment used by the battalion.  In the late summer of 1941, Orrie took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to remain behind at Camp Polk.  None of the members of the battalion had any idea why they were there.  On the side of a hill, the members learned they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM.  Within hours, many men had figured out they were being sent to the Philippine Islands.  After receiving 51 new M-3 tanks, the 192nd Tank Battalion was sent to the Philippine Islands.
    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 minor health issues were held on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Some men were simply replaced.
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. 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. 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, the tankers were met by Colonel Edward P. 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 live in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.  King remained with the battalion until they received their Thanksgiving Dinner which was a stew.  After they had received their dinner, the general went to have his.
    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 morning of December 8th, the officers of the battalions met and were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier.  The 192nd letter companies were brought up to full strength at 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.

    The tank battalion received orders on December 21st 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 23rd and 24th, 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 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 December 31st/January 1st,  the tanks were stationed on both sides of the Calumpit Bridge when they received conflicting orders, from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff, about whose command they were under and to withdraw from the bridge.  The defenders were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5 which would allow the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan.  General Wainwright was unaware of the orders.
    Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River and about half the defenders withdrew.  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 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.

    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.

    For Orrie, two of the  worst things about combat was diving for the foxholes during the frequent bombings by Japanese planes.  The other was the way his tank shook when the bombing was taking place.  The other members of his crew were Sgt. James Griffin and Pvt. Joseph Wisniowski.
    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, while the battalion's half-tracks were used to patrol the roads.  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.
    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 number of operational tanks also became more critical with C Company, 194th - which was attached to the 192nd - having only seven tanks left.
   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 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 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.
   

    When the Filipino and American Forces on Bataan were surrendered to the Japanese on April 9, 1942, Orrie became a Prisoner of War.  He took part in the death march and felt the endless walking, the hot sun, the lack of water and food all combined to make this one terrible experience. 

    As a POW he was first held at Camp O'Donnell.  Conditions in the camp were so bad that Orrie volunteered to go out on a work detail.

    The work detail's job was to collect scrap metal for the Japanese.  Most of this metal was cars and trucks destroyed by the Americans as they fell back into Bataan.  Since these vehicles could not run on their own, the Americans tied them together with ropes behind a working vehicle.  Then each man drove a vehicle to San Fernando and left them in a large park.  From there, the vehicles were taken to Manila.

    While on this detail, Orrie became ill with malaria.  He also had a sprained ankle.  He was sent to Pampanga and put in a Filipino hospital.  The patients in the hospital were mostly Filipino, Lawrence was one of a number of Americans in the hospital.  The patients were treated well and got all the water they wanted and three meals a day.  There was very little medicine to treat the patients.

    After being released, Orrie was sent to Cabanatuan.  On July 14, 1942, after arriving in the camp, he was hospitalized because he had diphtheria.  It is not known when he was discharged.
    On September 20, 1943, Orrie was sent to Manila and boarded the Taga Maru, The ship sailed for Formosa and stopped at Takao.  It next sailed for Japan arriving at Moji on October 5, 1943.  From Moji Orrie was sent to Himaji, Japan.  He was assigned to Hirohata, which was also known as Osaka 12-B, about thirty miles from Osaka.

     As a prisoner in Japan, Orrie shoveled coal and ore from ships for the Seitetsu Steel Mills.  He also worked in a tailor shop repairing clothes on a sewing machine, since he had been trained to do this at the orphanage in LaGrange, Illinois.  The POWs loaded and unloaded cargo and ore from ships, 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.  If they were caught stealing, they were severely punished.
    During his time in the camp, the POWs were beaten by Cpl. Kitero Ishida with belts, ropes, clubs, and fists. In addition he forced water down the nostrils of the POWs and submerged them in cold water.  The reason this took place was the POWs stole rice while unloading a ship. Ishida was sentenced to a year in prison after the war.  The guards in the camp also stole from the POWs food and Red Cross packages.
    When a POW broke a camp rule, they were often soaked in water and forced to stand nude in the cold.  The guards also stole food and other items from the Red Cross packages, as well as, the clothing and shoes meant for the POWs.

    The prisoners knew how the war was going through rumors.  Finally, in September of 1945, the Japanese commander of the camp announced to the American prisoners that the war was over and that they were free.  On September 9, 1945, Orrie and the other POWs were liberated.  Orrie returned to the United States in October of 1945 and was promoted to staff sergeant.  He married, Corrine Melkus, on June 18, 1948, and become the father of two children.

    Orrie worked for the City of Chicago in its Forestry Department.  When he retired, he moved to Arizona.  Many of the photos in the B Company portion of our website were given to us by Orrie Mulholland.

    Orrie T. Muholland passed away on February 19, 2004, in Scottsdale, Arizona.  He was buried at National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in Phoenix.


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