Schweinsberg

Pvt. Frederick George Schweinsberg


      

     Pvt. Frederick G. Schweinsberg was born in Forest Park, Illinois, on August 5, 1918, to Alfred Schweinsberg and Louise Lipke-Schweinsberg.  With his brother and two sisters, he lived at 443 Marengo Avenue in Forest Park and attended Grant-White Elementary School and Proviso Township High School.   Frederick worked as a salesman for the A. B. Schweinsberg Real Estate Company, which was his family's business.

     Frederick joined the Illinois National Guard, and in November 1940, he entered the regular army when the Maywood Tank Company was called into federal service as B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  The tank company left Maywood, on November 28th, and trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  It is not known what his specific job was with the company.
    In January 1941, he a member of the Headquarters Company when the company was created in with men from the four letter companies of the battalion.  In the late summer of 1941, Frederick took part in maneuvers in Louisiana from September 1 through 30.  HQ Company's job was to make sure that the tanks were running.

   After the maneuvers, the 192nd was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft. Knox.  On a hillside, the entire battalion was informed that their tour of duty had been extended from one to six years.  Men who were married or over 29 years old, or older, were released from military service.  Most of the remaining men were given leaves to return home and take care of any unfinished business and say their goodbyes. 
    The reason for this move was an event that took place in the summer of 1941.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower altitude - noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another in the distance.  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 that a large radio transmitter.  The island was hundred of miles away.  The squadron continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles before returning to Clark Field.  When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.
    The next day, another squadron was sent to the area and found that the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat that was seen making its way to shore.  Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was poor, the boat escaped.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
    After the companies were brought up to strength with replacements, the battalion was equipped with new tanks and half-tracks with came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.  The battalion traveled over different train routes to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California, where they were taken by the ferry, the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe to Angel Island.   At Ft. McDowell, on the island, they received physicals and inoculations.  Men found with minor medical conditions were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Other men were simply replaced.  

    The 192nd boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27.  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 2 and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
    On Wednesday, November 5, 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. President Calvin Coolidge.  Sunday night, November 9, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11.  During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line.  On Saturday, November 15, 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 16, 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 20, 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, they were greeted by Colonel Edward King apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field.  The fact was that he learned of their arrival days earlier.  He made sure that they had what they needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner.  Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
   
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons which had been greased to protect them from rust while at sea.  They also loaded ammunition belts, did tank maintenance, and prepared to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.

    On Monday, December 1, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard it against paratroopers.  The 194th Tank Battalion was assigned the northern half of the airfield while the 192nd protected the southern half.  At all times, two crew members had two remain with their tank or half-track and received their meals from food trucks.  HQ Company made sure that the companies had what they needed.
   
The morning of December 8, 1941, just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the tankers were ordered the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  All morning long as they sat on their tanks, they watched as American planes filled the sky.  At noon, the planes landed.       
    As the tankers were having lunch, 54 planes approached the airfield from the north.   
When bombs began exploding on the runways, the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.  Since they had few weapons that could be used against Japanese, they could do is watch.
    On December 21, the 192nd was sent to Lingayen Gulf in an attempt to stop the Japanese from landing troops.
  Being in a non-combatant position, Bert remained behind working to ensure that communications with the tanks was maintained and giving orders to the radiomen. 
    The evening of April 8, 1942, Capt. Fred Bruni, HQ's commanding officer, gave his men the news of the surrender.  While informing the members of the company of the surrender, he waved his arm toward the tanks and told the men that they would no longer need them.  As he spoke, his voice choked.  He turned away from the men for a moment, and when he turned back he continued.  He next told the sergeants what they should do to disable the tanks.  During the announcement, Bruni emphasized that they all were to surrender together.   He told the soldiers to destroy their weapons and any supplies that could be used by the Japanese.  The only thing they were told not to destroy were the company's trucks.  The men waited in their bivouac until ordered to move.  Somehow, Bruni had found enough bread and pineapple juice for what he called, "Their last supper."
   
On April 11, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment.  A Japanese officer ordered the company, with their possessions, out onto the road that ran in front of their encampment.  Once on the road, the soldiers were ordered to kneel along the sides of the road with their possessions in front of them.  As they knelt, the Japanese soldiers, who were passing them, went through their possessions and took whatever they wanted from the Americans.  They remained along the sides of the road for hours.           
    The company finally boarded their trucks and drove to just outside of Mariveles, where they were ordered by the Japanese out of their trucks.  From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and were ordered to sit.  As they sat, the POWs noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming across from them.  They soon realized that this was a firing squad and the Japanese were going to kill them.

    As they sat watching and waiting to see what the Japanese intended to do, a Japanese officer pulled up in a car in front of the soldiers.  He got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail.  The officer got back in the car and drove off.  The sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
    
    Later in the day, the POWs were order to move to a schoolyard in Mariveles.  
The POWs were left sitting in the sun for hours.  The Japanese did not feed them or give them water.  Behind the POWs were four Japanese artillery pieces which were firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum which had not surrendered. Shells from these two American forts began landing among the POWs who could do little to protect themselves since they had no place to hide.  Some POWs were killed by incoming American shells.  One group that tried to hide in a small brick building died when it took a direct hit.  The American guns did succeed in knocking out three of the four Japanese guns.           

    At one point, the POWs were given a rest to be fed.  When rain began to fall, the Japanese canceled the meal and forced the prisoners to march again.  It is not known when if the POWs were fed.  It was at Cabcaben that Pvt. Frederick Schweinsberg died on the Death March on April 12, 1942.  He was 23 years old.  The Japanese allowed the other members of his company to bury at the cemetery there. In the pocket of his shirt, they placed a picture of him.

    It should be noted that, after the war, a U.S. Remains Recovery Team recovered the remains of a private, from B Company, at the cemetery at Cabcaben on September 22, 1948.  The POW's remains were identified as X-835  They were renumbered as X-4691.  Since only one member of B Company died at Cabcaben, the recovered remains should have been those of Pvt. Frederick G. Schweinsberg.  Although the recovery team found the picture with the remains, they believed they could not positively identify the remains, so the remains were reburied at the new American Military Cemetery at Manila as an "Unknown," in Plot 2, Row 12, Grave 2401. 

    Since his remains were not positively identified, Pvt. Frederick G. Schweinsberg's name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery at Manila.


 

 


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