Capt Arthur J Root was
born to Oscar Root & Margaret
Sharpe-Root on August 24, 1917, in Brainerd,
Minnesota. He attended local schools and
graduated from Washington High School in
Brainerd in 1936. On May 24, 1939, he
married Harriet Alice Eide. The couple
resided with his parents at 220 Southwest 5th
Street. He worked as a salesman in a
On June 10,
1936, he had joined the Minnesota National Guard
in Brainerd. His company was federalized
in November 1940, and he was promoted to 2nd
Lieutenant on February 10, 1941, as the company
was leaving for Fort Lewis, Washington.
The tank company was now A Company, 194th Tank
Battalion. At Ft. Lewis he trained with
his tank company, as a tank platoon commander,
for a little over six months.
On August 15, 1941, the 194th
received orders, from Ft. Knox, Kentucky, 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 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
traveled by train to Ft. Mason, in San
Francisco, and were ferried on the U.S.A.T.
General Frank M. Coxe, to Angel Island,
Arthur and the other members of the battalion
received physicals and inoculated for duty
in the Philippine Islands. Those
determined to be too old for overseas duty were
reassigned. Replacements joined the
battalion at this point.
On September 8,
1941, the battalion sailed for the Philippine
Islands at 9:00 P.M. on the S.S. President
Calvin Cooledge and at 7:00
AM on Sunday, September 13th, arrived at
Honolulu, Hawaii. The tankers were allowed
ashore but had to report back in the
afternoon. The ship sailed again at 5:00
PM. and took a southerly route away from the
major shipping lanes and was joined by the heavy
cruiser the U.S.S. Astoria. During
this part of the trip, the cruiser took off,
several times, to intercept ships when smoke was
spotted on the horizon. Each time it
turned out the ship was from a friendly country.
The 194th arrived in
the Philippines on September 26th. After
entering Manila Bay, the ranking officers met
with a boarding party and decided the 194th and
17th Ordnance would be taken by bus to Ft.
Stotsenburg, about 60 miles north of
Manila. The maintenance section of the
battalion remained behind to unload tanks.
Since the commanding officer of the
instillation, General Edward King had not
received advanced warning of the arrival
of the units, the tankers found themselves
living in tents along the main road between Ft.
Stotsenburg and Clark Airfield. At some
point, he became the commanding officer of A
For over two months,
the battalion trained at Ft. Stotsenburg
awaiting for additional training to take place
with the arrival of the 192nd Tank
Battalion. The M-3 tanks that they now had
were totally new to the tankers, so training in
them would be beneficial. The training
they would receive was not what they
expected. It is known that the 194th were
allowed to simulate deployment against an
invasion force in early November 1941.
Arthur and the other tankers engaged
the Japanese in battle after battle.
Often, the tanks were the last unit to disengage
from the enemy. Meals for the crews
consisted of two meals a day. The longer
they held out, their food rations were cut
further. It is known that on December 24,
1941, he was promoted to 1st
Lieutenant, and that he was promoted to
Captain on February 11, 1942. At some
point he wrote home and said:
is one of the warmest winters I have ever
spent. Everything seems strange but
don't worry any. We got plenty to eat and
satisfied with everything.
Send me all the news from home."
Arthur was able to send a
telegram home on April 4, 1942. In it he
said, "Everything OK, I am
well, eating well. Love, Arthur." When Bataan was surrendered to
the Japanese, he became a Prisoner of War.
The POWs were ordered to the bivouac of the
Provisional Tank Group. It was from there
that they were marched to join the main column
of POWs on the march out of Bataan.
On April 10th, the Japanese
arrived and ordered the HQ personnel onto the
road. They quickly stripped the POWs of
their watches, pens, and sun-glasses. They
were taken to a trail and found that walking on
the gravel trail was difficult. They
immediately witnessed "Japanese Discipline"
toward their own troops. The Japanese
apparently were marching for hours, and if a man
fell, he was kicked in his stomach and hit in
the head with a rifle butt. If he still
did not get up, the Japanese determined that the
man was exhausted and left him alone.
The trial the POWs were on
ended when they reached the main road. The
first thing the Japanese did was to separate the
officers from the enlisted men and counted
them. The POWs were left in the sun for
the rest of the day wondering what was going to
happen. That night they were ordered north
which was difficult, on the rocky road, in the
dark since they could not see where they were
walking. Whenever they slipped, they knew
they had stepped on the remains of a dead
The POWs made their way north
against the flow of Japanese horse artillery and
trucks that was moving south. At times,
they would slip on something wet and slippery
which were the remains of a man killed by
Japanese artillery the day before. When
dawn came, the walking became easier but as the
sun rose it became hotter and they POWs began to
feel the effects of thirst. It was
then that the POWs saw a group of Filipinos
being marched by the Japanese. They
realized that they had been hungry, but the
Filipinos had been starving.
When the men crossed the
Lamao River, they smelled the sweet smell of
death. The Japanese had heavily bombed the area
causing many casualties and many of the dead lay
partially in the river. The air corps POWs
in front of them ran to the river and
drank. Many would later die from dysentery
at Camp O'Donnell.
At Limay on April 11th, the
officers with the tank of major or above, were
put into a school yard. The officers were
told that they would be driven the rest of the
march. At 4:00 AM, the officers were put
into trucks for an unknown destination.
They were taken to Balanga, disembarked, and
ordered to put their field bags in front of them
for inspection. During the inspection, one
officer was found to have an automatic gun in
his bag. As punishment the POWs were not
fed. They set in a paddy all day and were
ordered to move near sunset as punishment for
the gun being in the bag. They reached
Orani on April 12th at three in the morning.
At Orani, the officers were
put into a bull pen where they were ordered to
lay down. In the morning, the POWs
realized that they had been lying in the human
waste of POWs who had already used the
bullpen. At noon, they received their
first food. It was a meal of rice and
salt. Later in the day, other enlisted
POWs arrived in Orani. One group was the
enlisted members of the tank group who had
walked the entire way to the barrio.
At 6:30 or 7:00 that evening,
they resumed the march and were marched at a
faster pace. The guards also seemed to be
nervous about something. The POWs made
their way to just north of Hormosa. where the
road went from gravel to concrete, and the
change of surface made the march easier.
When the POWs were allowed to sit down, those
who attempted to lay down were jabbed with
The POWs continued the march
and for the first time in months it began to
rain which felt great and many men attempted to
get drinks. At 4:30 PM on April 13th, they
arrived at San Fernando. The POWs put into
a pen and remained there the rest of the day.
At 4:00 in the morning, the
Japanese woke the POWs and marched them to the
train station. They were packed into small
wooden boxcars known as "forty or eights."
They were called this since each car could hold
forty men or eight horses. The Japanese
packed 100 men into each car and shut the
doors. The heat in the cars was unbearable
and many POWs died. They could not fall to
the floors since there was no room for them to
fall. The POWs rode the train to Capas
arriving there at 9:00 AM. There, the
living disembarked from the cars and the dead
fell to the floors. The POWs walked the
last eight kilometers to Camp O'Donnell.
The camp was
an unfinished Filipino Army Training Base.
The Japanese pressed the camp into use as a POW
camp on April 1, 1942. When they arrived
at the camp, the Japanese confiscated any extra
clothing that the POWs had and refused to return
it to them. They searched the POWs and if
a man was found to have Japanese money on them,
they were taken to the guardhouse. Over
the next several days, gunshots were heard to
the southeast of the camp. These POWs had
been executed for looting.
There was only one water
faucet in the camp, and the prisoners stood in
line from two to eight hours waiting for a
drink. The Japanese guards at the faucet
would turn it off for no reason and the next man
in line would stand as long as four hours
waiting for it to be turned on again. This
situation improved when a second faucet was
There was no water for
washing clothes, so the POWs would throw out
their clothing when it had been soiled. In
addition, water for cooking had to be carried
three miles from a river to the camp and mess
kits could not be washed. The slit
trenches in the camp were inadequate and were
soon overflowing since most of the POWs had
dysentery. The result was that flies were
everywhere in the camp including the POW
kitchens and in the food.
The camp hospital had no
soap, water, or disinfectant. When the
ranking American doctor at the camp wrote a
letter to the camp commandant, Capt. Yohio
Tsuneyoshi, asking for medical supplies, he was
told never to write another letter.
The Archbishop of Manila
sent a truckload of medical supplies to the
camp, the Japanese commandant refused to allow
the truck into the camp. When the Japanese
Red Cross sent medical supplies the camp the
Japanese took 95% of the supplies for their own
The POWs in the camp
hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow and
only one of the six medic assigned to care for
50 sick POWs was healthy enough to care for
them. When a representative of the
Philippine Red Cross stated they could supply a
150 bed hospital for the camp, he was slapped in
the face by a Japanese lieutenant.
Each morning, the bodies
of the dead were found all over the camp and
were carried to the hospital and placed
underneath it. The bodies lay there for
two or three days before they were buried in the
camp cemetery by other POWs who were suffering
from dysentery and/or malaria. To clean
the ground under the hospital, the ground was
scraped and lime was spread over it. The
bodies of the dead were placed in the area, and
the area they had been laying was scrapped and
lime was spread over it.
Work details were sent
out on a daily basis. Each day, the
American doctors gave a list of names to the
Japanese of the POWs who were healthier enough
to work. If the quota of POWs needed to
work could not be met, the Japanese put those
POWs who were sick, but could walk, to
work. The death rate among the POWs
reached 50 men dying a day.
To get out of
the camp, Arthur was sent out on a work a large
work detail that left the camp. Another
officer on the etail was Capt. Clinton Quinlen
also of the 194th Tank Battalion. The POWs
on the detail were under the command of Lt. Col.
Ted Wickord of the 192nd Tank Battalion.
work detail ended, Arthur was sent to
Cabanatuan. It was in the camp that his
wife was notified that he was a POW on May
27, 1943. It
is known that on Monday, August 23, 1943, Arthur
was admitted into the camp hospital. The
report kept by the hospital staff did not indicate
why he was admitted or when he was
discharged. On October 14, 1944, a list was
posted in the camp with the names of the POWs who
were being transferred to Bilibid Prison outside
Manila. Arthur's name was on it.
Arthur was at Bilibid when on
December 12, 1944, the POWs heard rumors that a
detail was being sent out. The POWs went
through what was a farce of an inspection.
They were told cigarettes, soap, and salt would be
issued. The POWs were told they would
receive a meal to eat and one to take with
them. The Japanese stated that the POWs
would leave by 7:00 A.M., so the lights were left
on all night. At 4:00 A.M., the POWs were
By 8:00 A.M., the POWs were
lined up and roll call was taken of the men
selected to be transported to Japan. The
POWs were allowed to roam the prison until they
were told to "fall-in." The men were fed a
meal and then marched to Pier 7 in Manila.
During the march down Dewey Boulevard, the POWs
saw that the street cars had stopped running and
many things were in disrepair.
At the port area, the POWs saw
that the American planes were doing a job on
Japanese transports. There were at least 40
wrecked ships in the bay. When the POWs
reached Pier 7, there were three ships
docked. One was a run-down ship, the other
two were large and in good shape. The POWs
soon discovered that one of the two larger ships
The POWs were allowed to
sit. Many fell asleep and slept to around
3:45. About 5:00 P.M., the POWs were
boarded onto the Oryoku Maru for
transport to Korea. It is not known in
which hold Frank was put in. The sides of
the holds had two tiers of bunks that went
around the diameter. It is known that 700
POWs were put in aft hold, 600 POWs were put in
forward hold, and 300 POWs were put in the
amidships hold. The POWs near the hatch
used anything they could find to fan the air to
the POWs further away from it.
ship left Manila on December 14th, at about
3:30 AM, as part of the MATA-37 a convoy bound
for Takao, Formosa. By the swells in the
water, the POWs could tell that the ship was
in open water.
The POWs received their
first meal at about 3:30 that afternoon.
Meals of the ship consisted of a little rice,
fish, and water. Three fourths of a cup
of water was shared by twenty POWs. The
prisoners had just eaten when they the sound
of guns. At first, they thought that the
sound was just the gun crews drilling since
they did not hear planes. It was only
when the first bomb hit that they knew it was
not drill. The waves caused by the bombs
exploding rocked the ship.
The POWs heard the change in
the planes' engines sound as they began their
dive toward the ships in the convoy.
Explosions were taking place all around the
POWs. Bullets from the planes
ricocheted in to the hold causing many
casualties. In all, the POWs would have
to sweat out five air raids. The one
result of the raid was no evening meal.
four-thirty in the afternoon, the ship
experienced its worse attack. The ship was
hit at least three times, by bombs, on on its
bridge and stern. Most of the POWs wounded
were hit by bullets ricocheting off the interior
haul or by shrapnel from the explosions.
Most of the bullets hit the metal plates at an
angle that prevented them from piercing
it. Bombs that exploded near the ship sent
turrets of water over it. Somewhere on the
ship a fire started but was put out after
After the first air raid, the
ship was left alone by "playing possum" in the
water. The fighters went after the other
ships in the convoy. The moaning and
muttering of men who were losing their minds
kept the POWs up all night. That night 25
POWs died in the hold. The ship reached
Subic Bay at 2:30 in the morning. It was a
suitable landing place.
time after midnight, the POWs heard noise on
deck as women and children were
unloaded. During the night, the medics
in the ship's holds were ordered out on deck
to treat the Japanese wounded. One of
the medics recalled the dead, dying, and
wounded were everywhere.
The ship steamed in closer
to the beach and its anchor was dropped.
The POWs were told that at 7:00 A.M. on
December 15th, they would be disembarked from
the ship. The POWs sat in the hold hours
after daybreak when the sound of planes was
heard. When the attack on the ship
resumed it came in waves. When the attack resumed, the ship
bounced in the water from the
explosions. The POWs in the holds
lived through seventeen attacks from
American planes before sunset.
Overall, six bombs hit the ship.
One hit the stern of the ship killing
many. Bullets from the planes
ricocheted into the hold killing POWs.
POWs lived through three more attacks on
the ship. The POWs noted that the
attack was heavier then the day before.
At 8:00 AM, a Japanese
guard yelled to the POWs, "All go home;
also shouted that the wounded would be the
first to be evacuated. The pilots had
no idea that the ship was carrying
In the hold the POWs
crowded together. Chips of rust fell
on them from the ceiling. About a half
hour after the initial attack, the ship's
stern really started to burn. After
the raid, they took care of the wounded
before the next attack started. A
Catholic priest, Fr. Duffy, began praying, "Father
forgive them. They know not what
The POWs made their
way to the deck and went over the
side. To prevent any POWs from
escaping, the Japanese fired on them
with machine-guns. It is not
known exactly when Capt. Arthur J.
Root died. He may have died in
one of the ship's holds, or he may
have died after reaching shore.
Arthur J. Root's remains were not
recovered. His name appears on
the Tablets of the Missing at the
American Military Cemetery at
Manila. His family would
officially receive word of his death
on July 24, 1945.
It should be mentioned that one
of the effects of Arthur's death was that his
mother suffered so badly from grief at the loss
of her only child. She ended up in a