Polakowski
Pvt. Marion John Polakowski
Born: 6 October 1918 - Hamtramck, Michigan
Parents: John & Angeline Polakowski
Siblings: 1 sister, 3 brothers
Nickname: "Mike"
Home: 2658 Trowbridge Avenue - Hamtramck, Michigan
Education: Hamtramck High School
Occupation: die maker's helper - automobile plant
Enlisted:
    - U.S. Army
        - 1941
Units:
    - 19th Ordnance Battalion
        - learned to maintain 567 different vehicles used by the Army
        - maintained and repaired weapons used by a tank battalion
        - August 1941 - battalion takes part in maneuvers in Arkansas
            - A company ordered back to Ft. Knox
    - 17th Ordnance Company
        - 17 August 1941 - A Company reorganized as 17th Ordnance Company
Note: On August 15, 1941, 17th Ordnance 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, another squadron was sent to the area and found that the buoys had been picked up by a fishing 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:
    -  1 September  1941 -
        - company traveled by train to San Francisco, California
    - Arrived: 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

        - spent most of their time preparing equipment for shipment to the Philippines
        - removed turrets from tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion
            - spray painted tank's serial number on turret so that it could be attached to correct tank
    - 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 - 9:00 A.M.
            - soldiers given shore leave for the day
        - Sailed: same day - 5:00 P.M.
           - took southerly route away from main shipping lanes
           - joined by heavy cruiser, U.S.S. Astoria, and an unknown destroyer
           - on several occasions cruiser intercepted ships when smoke was seen on the horizon
        - Tuesday - 16 August 1941 - crossed International Dateline
            - date changed to - Thursday - 18 August 1941

        - Arrived: Manila, Philippine Islands - Friday - 26 September 1941
        - Disembark: 3:00 P.M.
            - 17th Ordnance remained behind to unload the tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion
                - reattached the turrets to the tanks.
        - rode bus to Ft. Stotsenburg
        - lived in tents at Ft. Stotsenburg
           -barracks completed - 15 November 1941

Engagements:
    - Battle of Luzon
       - 8 December 1942 - 6 January 1942
          - 8 December 1941
              - during Japanese attack on Clark Field, the members of the company took cover since they had no weapons that could be used
                against planes
           - 17th Ordnance was in the general area where the two tank battalions where located
    - Battle of Bataan
       - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942
           - company headquartered in an abandoned ordnance depot building
           - parents received letter from him dated March 1942
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
            - 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
                    - to bury the dead, the POWs held the body down with a pole while it was covered with dirt
                    - the next day when they returned, the bodies often were sitting up in the graves or had been dug up by
                      wild dogs
        - 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
            - original name - Camp Panagaian
            - Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
                - put into use by Japanese as a POW camp
                - actually three camps
                    - Camp 1: POWs from Camp O'Donnell sent there in attempt to lower death rate
                    - Camp 2:  two miles away
                        - all POWs moved from there because of a lack of water
                        - later used for Naval POWs
                    - Camp 3: six miles from Camp 2
                        - POWs from Corregidor and from hospitals sent there
                            - POWs from Camps 1 & 3 consolidated into one camp
                - "Blood Brother" rule implemented
                    - if one POW in the group of 10 escaped, the other nine would be killed
                - POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
                - Barracks:
                    - each barracks held 50 men
                        - often held between 60 and 120 men
                        - slept on bamboo slats without mattresses, covers, and mosquito netting
                            - diseases spread easily
                        - no showers
            - Morning Roll Call:
                - stood at attention
                    - frequently beaten over their heads for no reason
                - when POWs lined up for roll call, it was a common practice for Japanese guards, after the POWs lined up, to kick the POWs in
                  their shins with their hobnailed boots because they didn't like the way the POWs looked
            - Work Details:
                - Work Day: 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
                - work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens, plant rice, and farm
                    - they also were frequently hit with a pick handle, for no reason, as they counted off
                - POWs on the rice planting detail were punished by having their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on their heads to drive
                  them deeper into the mud
                - the POWs had to go into a shed to get the tools, as they came out, they were hit on their heads
                - 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
            - to prevent escapes, the POWs set up patrols along the camp's fence
            - men who attempted to escape and caught were executed after being beaten
                - the other POWs were forced to watch the beatings
            - daily POW meal - 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
                - most of the food the POWs grew went to the Japanese
        - Camp Hospital:
            - 30 Wards
                - each ward could hold 40 men
                    - frequently had 100 men in each
               - two tiers of bunks
                   - sickest POWs on bottom tier
               - each POW had a 2 foot by 6 foot area to lie in
            - Zero Ward
              - given name because it had been missed when counting wards
              - became ward where those who were going to die were sent
              - fenced off from other wards
                  - Japanese guards would not go near it
                  - POWs sent there had little to no chance of surviving
                  - medical staff had little to no medicine to treat sick
                  - many deaths from disease caused by malnutrition

Note: 30 January 1943 - parents learned he was a POW
Hell Ship:
    - Taga Maru (also known as Coral Maru)
        - Sailed: Manila - 20 September 1943
        - Arrived: Takao, Formosa - 23 September 1943
        - Sailed: Unknown
        - Arrived: Moji, Japan - 5 October 1943

POW Camp:
    - Japan
        - Hirohata Camp
            - Work: POWs worked at Seitetsu Steel Mills
                - POWs worked on docks, in blast furnaces, clearing slag
Liberated: 4 September 1945
    - returned to the Philippine Islands
Transport:
    - U.S.S. Tryon
        - Sailed: not known
        - Arrived: San Francisco, California - 24 October 1945
            - taken to Letterman General Hospital, San Francesco
        - returned to Michigan
Promoted: Staff Sergeant
Note:
    - 9 April 46
        - noon - took part in ceremony, on steps of the Detroit City Hall, to eat rice and fish on anniversary of surrender
            - this was their daily meal as POWs
            - doing this fulfilled a vow he and others made as POWs
Married: Eleanore
Children: 2 daughters, 2 sons
Occupation: Tool & Die Maker - Ford Motor Company
    - Retired after 40 years
Died: 7 May 2013 - Royal Oak, Michigan
Buried: Mount Olivet Cemetery - Detroit Michigan

 

 

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