| 2nd Lt. Leroy A. Scoville was born in Evansville, Wisconsin, on November 30, 1915. He was the son of Alvie J. Scoville & Verena M. Huset-Scoville and grew up at 464 South Madison Street. As a child, he attended school in Evansville and was a 1933 graduate of Evansville High School and was known as "Scoops" to his friends. After high school, he worked as a salesman in a store. |
Leroy joined the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Tank Company headquartered in an armory in Janesville, Wisconsin, on September 23, 1940. He did this because the selective service act was about to take effect and he wanted to get his one year of military service over. On November 25, 1940, the tank company was called to federal service and left Janesville on November 28. When he arrived at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Leroy held the rank of private.
Joining three other National Guard tank companies, the 32nd Tank Company of the Wisconsin National Guard became A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, when the battalion was formed at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in November, 1940.
In January 1941, Headquarter Company was formed by taking men from the letter companies of the battalion. LeRoy was assigned to the company as a clerk. During the next ten months of training, Leroy rose to the rank of corporal.
In the late summer of 1941, the 192nd went on maneuvers in Louisiana. After the maneuvers the battalion was informed it would not be returning to Ft. Knox. The members of the battalion were gathered on a side of a hill for a meeting. At this meeting, Leroy the members of the battalion learned that they were being sent overseas. Those considered to be "too old" were given the chance to resign from active duty.
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 Dateline. 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 Gen. Edward P. King, who apologized that they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield. He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own. 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. The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea. They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance. The last week in November, they were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field and assigned was position. Two members of the each tank crew had to remain with the tank at all times.
On December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. They remained there off and on for several days. At all times, two crew members remained with the tanks.
On December 8, 1941, ten hours after Pearl Harbor was attacked, Leroy lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field. As tankers sat at their tanks, the sky above them was filled with American planes. At noon, the planes landed and two crew members were allowed to go to a food truck to get lunch.
The tankers who manning their tanks watched as two formations of planes approached the airfield from the north. They counted the formations were made up of 54 planes. Many believed the planes were American until they saw what looked like raindrops falling from the planes. When the raindrops began exploding on the runways, the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese.
Sometime after the attack, the company was sent to the Barrio of Dau so it would be close to a highway and railroad. From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River. There, the tanks, with A Company, 194th held the position.
On December 23 and 24, the company was in the area of Urdaneta. It was there, that the tankers lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write. After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get south of Agno River after the main bridge had been destroyed. 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 25, 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 27.
A Company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga. It was there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt. William Reed. The company returned to the 192nd on January 8, 1942.
On January 28, the tank battalions 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. The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.
A Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese Marines 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 had left 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.
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.
During the next four months, Leroy and the other members of A Company fought to slow the Japanese advance. Doing this meant that A Company often found itself as the rear guard of the retreating Filipino and American forces. It was during the Battle for Bataan that Leroy wrote this letter to his parents:
Dear Mom and Dad and all,
How is everything back in America's fairyland, I mean dairy-land? I'll bet you had begun to think for sure that I had forgotten all about you. The truth of the matter is that we had been just a little bit too busy taking care of these little yellow devils from across the ocean.
I figure that before this thing is over though they will begin to think they have more than just a little bit to take care of. We have already taken care of a lot of them and with the Philippines really begin to click and now the ... we need, I believe we can blow the whistle most anytime and we will start a touchdown march that will make the Japs look like termites in reverse.
I have quite a bit of film and have taken a few pictures of our fellows and the scenery around; just the nicer things, because there are really a lot of nice things to see around here; the mountains the sun shining on them, the moonlight and ocean all go together to make up some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever scene.
I have written you on several occasions and I certainly hope you have received the letters so you will not be too much concerned or worried for my safety. They have sent in a request for my promotion to Second Lt., but it has not come through.
We have been eating and living pretty well. Food is limited but we have enough to keep us going fairly well. Cigarettes are scarce as heck but we even get few of those occasionally. We have seen a lot of action and have been in a lot of close situations but God has smiled favorably in our direction because we're still a-kicking. I thank him often for the grace that has accompanied me in this whole life.
I am in the rear echelon right now but am in reserve capacity to assist in any operation were I might be needed. Herb Durner is with me. I have seen Robert Hubbard a few times. He has been bothered with some kind of infection on his hands and arms but seems to be getting along quite well. Each day we hope for assistance from the states and have complete faith that it will soon come.
Is everyone well? I wish I could hear from you, a letter or wire or anything. Do you still have my car? I hope so. If not though it is O.K. That is not very important to me now. I pray for your good health and for faith to carry us through the experience. Some day we shall be together again and that will be an experience to be thankful for.
There is not a great deal to say or attempt to say except that we are still well. We live in the woods and have learned the numerous ways of preparing beds and all types of things for protection. Have faith. Pray for me as I pray for you and I know that he will take care of us. Should be time to eat soon. I have made an allotment to the bank. If you should need the money I want you to feel welcome to use it in any way.
Please write and tell me about all the folks, those at the store, and our relatives and friends. I presume mail is very difficult to get through. Anyway, Bye now and God bless you all.
In another letter he wrote:
January 19, 1942
Dear Mom and Dad and all;
Things have been really popping this past month and that is for sure. We have been all over this darned island scrapping with these cussed little Japs. I presume you are more than worried about me even as I am considerably concerned about your welfare and health and all. So far I have been fortunate. I have placed my complete faith in God and I know in my heart that nothing on this earth can guarantee me safety.
I have read my New Testament constantly and have found some wonderful promises there and some wonderful examples of other people before me that have had to endure as difficult time as we are now experiencing and God helped them. I am not positive, but I think I have seen a few signs that must have been from Him and I know He must be with me because I am never as worried in a situation now as I was when the war first started.
It would be useless and foolish to try to tell you here of our experiences as we will be censored so we will dwell upon the nicer things as connected with this business.
Naturally there has been a great deal of destruction and we have been greatly out numbered. Nevertheless, we have received many compliments from the higher authority upon our work and I know with some white troops to assist assist and work with the Philipinos we will be able to rid this Island of the pests from Japan. We are in a rest-camp now and it is a much appreciated rest. We have plenty to eat, a good place to bathe and are now getting plenty of sleep. We have been very fortunate this far. We had ___ ___ ___ and there have been a few injuries. No deaths in our company as yet - among the enlisted men, with one possible exception which we are not sure of. Our greatest loss which you probably know about was the death of Captain Walter Write. He was most important to us and I am sure that his presence throughout the past month would have given us an entirely different picture of this campaign. We also lost a fine ___ ___ ___. But rumor is he was picked up by medics and now has been evacuated to Australia. God willing I hope this is true for he was a wonderful individual. I cabled you shortly after the war began! I hope you received it.
Hubbard, Durner, Ken Hatlevig and Kubly are well. Trebs was in the hospital for a while with some shrapnel in his leg but should be out by now.
The Jap planes are pretty active today but I expect they will hum a different tune when the U. S. starts marching the other way.
I always wonder if God would make me undergo some great trial for my sins and determining my worth to his Kingdom. I hope and pray with all my heart he shall not find me lacking in any respect. I read the 23rd Psalm, the 91st Psalm a lot and also the 14th chapter of John. I have found so many comforting things there and am really beginning to find out how little I knew about some of the things in my Testament.
I sincerely hope this finds you all well. This is a big job of course but at a time like this no one must shirk responsibility and every one must do their best to get this thing over with and help make this a pleasant world.
May God bless you all and keep you constantly under His care. Some day, some where we will be together again and may God bless the day and grant that wherever it may be that it shall be to His glory. With all my love and best wishes forever.
Your Loving Son
On March 12, 1942, during the Battle of Bataan, Leroy met with the commanding officer of A Company and received a battlefield commission as a second lieutenant. With the commission, came a transfer to C Company. He would remain with C Company until the surrender.
Leroy suffered from sores that covered his hands and arms. It was believed this illness was a result of the poor diet that the defenders of Bataan had.
On April 9, 1942, at 6:45 .M., the tankers heard the order "crash." Most of the tank crews circled their tanks and fired an armor piercing shell into another tanks engine. dropped hand grenades into the tanks.
The company made its way to Mariveles were Leroy started what has become known as the Bataan Death March. From the southern tip of Bataan, the soldiers made there way north to San Fernando. They received little food and no water. Men who fell often were killed by the guards. Those who ran to the artesian wells that poured water onto the road were shot. Leroy continued the march until he reached San Fernando.
At San Fernando, the POWs were put into a bull pin. The concrete was covered with human waste, which indicated it had been used by other POWs. They were ordered to sit down and left in the sun all day. Later that day the POWs were ordered to form detachments of 100 men. They were marched to a train station and packed into boxcars.
The boxcars were known as "forty or eight" because the cars could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese put 100 men in each car. Those who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas. From there, the POWs walked the last miles to Camp O'Donnell which was an unfinished Filipino training base that was pressed 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 added.
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. When the Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medical supplies to the camp, Tsuneyoshi refused to allow the truck into the camp. When the Japanese Red Cross sent medical supplies to the camp the Japanese took 95% of the supplies for their own use.
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.
It was while a POW at Camp O'Donnell that Leroy was credited with saving the life of Sgt. Lewis Wallisch who was in the camp hospital. Knowing that if Wallisch stayed in the hospital he would most likely die, Leroy convinced Wallisch to go out on a work detail with him. So the Japanese would think Wallisch was healthy enough to work, Leroy helped him walk out of the camp.
On the work detail, Leroy and the other POWs recovered disabled vehicles as scrap metal. Since the cars and trucks did not run, the POWs would tie them together with rope and tow them behind an operational vehicle. Each man, would steer one of the vehicles that was tied together by rope.
While on the scrap metal detail Leroy became ill and sent to Cabanatuan #1 and was put in the camp hospital immediately after arriving in the camp. According to medical records from the camp hospital, he was tested for tuberculosis on June 6. The results were negative, but no date of discharge was given.
The camp was actually three camps. Camp 1 was where the men who captured on Bataan and taken part in the death march where held. Camp 2 did not have an adequate water supply and was closed. It later reopened and housed Naval POWs. Camp 3 was where those men captured when Corregidor surrender were taken. In addition, men from Bataan who had been hospitalized when the surrender came were sent to the camp. Camp 3 was later consolidated into Camp 1.
Once in the camp, the POWs were allowed to run the camp. The Japanese only entered if they had an issue they wanted to deal with. To prevent escapes, the POWs set up a detail that patrolled the fence of the camp. The reason this was done was that those who did escape and were caught, were tortured before being executed, while the other POWs were made to watch. It is believed that no POW successfully escaped from the camp.
In the camp, the Japanese instituted the "Blood Brother" rule. If one man escaped the other nine men in his group would be executed. POWs caught trying to escape were beaten. Those who did escape and were caught, were tortured before being executed. It is not known if any POW successfully escaped from the camp.
The barracks in the camp were built to house 50 POWs, but most had between 60 to 120 POWs in them. The POWs slept on bamboo slats, without mattresses, bedding, or mosquito netting. Many quickly became ill. The POWs were assigned to barracks which meant that the members of their group lived together, went out on work details together, and would be executed together since they were Blood Brothers.
The POWs were sent out on work details one was to cut wood for the POW kitchens. The two major details were the farm detail and the airfield detail which lasted for years. A typical day on any detail lasted from 7:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. The POWs on the farm detail would have to go to a shed each morning to get tools. As they left the shed, the Japanese guards thought it was great fun to hit them over their heads.
The detail was under the command of "Big Speedo" who spoke very little English. When he wanted the POWs to work faster, he told the POWs "speedo." Although he was known to have a temper, the POWs thought he was fair. Another guard was "Little Speedo" who was smaller and also used "speedo" when he wanted the POWs to work faster. The POWs also felt he was pretty fair in his treatment of them. "Smiley" was another guard who always had a smile on his face but could not be trusted. He was the meanest of the guards and beat men up for no reason. He liked to hit the POWs with the club. Any prisoner who he believed was not working hard enough got knocked over with it. Any prisoner who he believed was not working hard enough got knocked over with it. Each morning, after arriving at the farm, the POWs went into a tool shed to get their tools. As they left the shed, the guards hit them on their heads.
Other POWs worked in rice paddies. While working in the fields, the favorite punishment given to the men in the rice paddies was to have their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on by a guard to drive their faces deeper into the mud. Returning from a detail the POWs bought, or were given, medicine, food, and tobacco, which they somehow managed to get into the camp even though they were searched when they returned.
Rice was the main food given to the POWs fed to them as "lugow" which meant "wet rice." During their time in the camp, they received few vegetables and almost no fruit. Once in awhile, they received bread.
The camp hospital was known as "Zero Ward" because it was missed by the Japanese when they counted barracks. The sickest POWs were sent there to die. The Japanese put a fence up around the building to protect themselves, and they would not go into the building. There were two rolls of wooden platforms around the perimeter of the building. The sickest POWs were put on the lower platform which had holes cut into it so the they could relieve themselves. Most of those who entered the ward died.
The POWs had the job of burying the dead. To do this, they worked in teams of four men. Each team carried a litter of four to six dead men to the cemetery where they were buried in graves containing 15 to 20 bodies. The death was still 9 POWs a day into December until Red Cross Packages were given out at Christmas. In addition, changes were made in the latrines which help slow the spread of disease.
He spent another two and one half years in the camp and lived in Barracks #9, Group II, Company VII. From what is known, he was well liked by the men. He was known to always have a smile on his face. His men knew that if they heard him singing, he was in a good mood. At some point, during his time in the camp, Leroy contracted malaria.
During this time, Leroy worked in one of the camp's kitchens which was a desirable job since the POWs doing it got extra food. Leroy's job was to collect wood to be used for cooking. It was also while he was held as a POW at Cabanatuan that Scoops and Jacques Merrifield of B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, became best friends. The two men became bunk mates. What this meant is that they would keep watch over each others possessions while the other man worked.
With two other officers from the battalion, Leroy and Merrifield grew vegetables to supplement their regular meals. To do this, the men scrounged plant seeds from wherever they could get them. The extra food helped Leroy to maintain his health.
On September 25, 1944, Leroy and his friend, Jack Merrifield, were sent to Bilibid Prison. There was an inspections and the POWs received a breakfast of a piece of cornbread and rice. They were loaded onto six trucks with 50 men put on each one which made the ride uncomfortable. They were packed so tightly, they had to stand.
At 11:00 A.M. on their way to the prison, the POWs saw to large formations of American planes which was the fifth or sixth straight day they had seen American planes. The trucks stopped and the POWs were fed, but they were not allowed off the trucks. The POWs made their way to the side of the truck to urinate. They arrived at Bilibid at 4:00 P.M.
The prison served as the clearinghouse for prisoners being sent to Japan or other occupied countries. During their time at Bilibid, Leroy, Harvey Riedeman, and Jack would get together and talk. In the evening after roll call, their favorite place to get together was on top of an air raid shelter. Two or three times during the evening Japanese guards would chase them away. After the guards left, the three men would get back together.
On December 12, 1944, the POWs heard rumors that a detail was being sent out. On December 13, the POWs whose names were posted were awakened at 4:00 A.M. At 7:30, roll call was started and took until 9:00 A.M. to finish. The POWs names appeared on a roster. They went through what was a farce of an inspection. They were told cigarettes, soap, and salt would be issued. The POWs were also told that they would also receive a meal to eat and one to take with them.
The prisoners were allowed to roam the compound until they were told to fall-in at 11:30 A.M of December 14. At that time, they were organized into detachments of 100 men, fed a meal, and marched to Pier 7 in Manila which was about two miles away. During the march down Luzon Boulevard, the POWs saw that the street cars had stopped running and many things were in disrepair.
The Americans saw that the American bombers were doing a job on the Japanese transports. There were at least forty wrecked ships in the bay. When the POWs reached Pier 7, it too was in disarray. There were three ships docked at the pier. One was a old run down ship, the other two were large and in good shape. They soon discovered one of the two nicer ships was their ship.
It was at this time that Leroy was allowed to sit down. At 5:00 P.M., the other POWs boarded the Oryoku Maru for transport to Japan. The high ranking officers were the first put into the ship's afthold. Being the first on meant that they would suffer many deaths. Leroy was put into the ship's rear hold with his friend Jack Merrifield. 800 POWs were put in the hold and were then fed fish and barley. The sides of the hold had two tiers of bunks that went around its diameter. The POWs near the hatch used anything they could find to fan the air to the POWs further away from it. The heat was so bad that men soon began to pass out. One survivor said, "The fist fights began when men began to pass out. We knew that only the front men in bay would be able to get enough air." The POWs who were closer to the hold's hatch used anything they could find to fan air toward those further away from it.
The ship left Manila at 8:00 P.M. but spent most of the night in Manila Bay. At 10:00 P.M., the Japanese interpreter threatened to have the guards fire into the holds unless the POWs stopped screaming. Some of the POWs fell silent because they were exhausted, and others because they had died. One major of the 26th Cavalry stated the man next to him had lost his mind. Recalling the conversation he had with the man he said, "Worst was the man who had gone mad but would not sit still. One kept pestering me, pushing a mess kit against my chest, saying, 'Have some of this chow? It's good.' I smelled of it, it was not chow. 'All right' he said, 'If you don't want it. I'm going to eat it.' And a little later I heard him eating it , right beside me."
About 3:30 AM, it sailed as part of the MATA-37 a convoy bound for Takao, Formosa. The ships sailed without any lights. By the swells in the water, the POWs could tell that the ship was in open water. The cries for air began as the men lost discipline, so the Japanese threatened to cover the holds and cut off all air. When the Japanese sent down fried rice, cabbage, and fried seaweed, those further back from the opening got nothing.
The POWs received their first meal at dawn. Meals on the ship consisted of a little rice, fish, some water, and three fourths of a cup of water was shared by 20 POWs. It was 8:00 A.M., off the coast of Luzon, and the POWs had just finished eating breakfast when they heard the sound of guns. At first, they thought the gun crews were just drilling, because they had not heard any planes. It was only when the first bomb hit in the water and the ship shook that they knew it was not a drill.
At first it seemed that most of the planes were attacking the other ships in the convoy. Commander Frank Bridgit, had made his way to the top of the ladder into the hold and sat down. He gave the POWs a play by play of the planes attacking, "I can see two planes going for a freighter off our starboard side. Now two more are detached from the formation. I think they may be coming for us."
The POWs heard the change in the sound of the planes' engines as they began their dives toward the ships in the convoy. Several more bombs hit the water near the ship causing it to rock Explosions were taking place all around the ship. In an attempt to protect themselves, the POWs piled baggage in front of them. Bullets from the planes were ricocheted in the hold causing many casualties. .
Lt. Col. Elvin Barr of the 60th Coast Artillery came up to Maj, John Fowler of the 26th Cavalry on the cargo deck and said, "There's a hole knocked in the bulkheads down there. Between 30 and 40 men have already died down there." Barr would never reach Japan. The attack by 30 to 50 planes lasted for about 20 to 30 minutes. When the planes were ran out of bombs they strafed. Afterwards, the planes flew off, returning to their carrier, and there was a lull of about 20 to 30 minutes before the next squadron of planes appeared over the ships and resumed the attack. This pattern repeated itself over and over during the day.
In the hold, the POWs concluded that the attacking planes were concentrating on the bridge of the ship. They noted that the planes had taken out all the anti-aircraft guns leaving only .30 caliber machine guns to defend the ship.
At 4:30 in the afternoon, the ship went through the worse attack on it. It was hit at least three times by bombs on its bridge and stern. Most of the POWs, who were wounded, were wounded by ricocheting bullets and shrapnel from exploding bombs. During the attack Chaplain Cummings, a Catholic priest, led the POWs in the Our Father. As they prayed, the bombs that exploded near the ship sent torrents of water over the ship.
Bullets from the planes hit the metal plates, of the haul, at an angle that prevented most of them from penetrating the haul. Somewhere on the ship a fire started, but it was put out after several hours. The POWs lived through seven or eight attacks before sunset. Overall, six bombs hit the ship. One hit the stern of the ship killing many POWs.
At dusk the ship raised anchor and headed east. It turned south and turned again this time heading west. The next turn it made was north. It headed in this direction for a good amount of time before dropping anchor at about 8:00 P.M. The POWs figured out that they had just sailed in a circle. What had happened is that the ship's had been hit during the attack and the ship could not be steered.
Sometime after midnight, the POWs heard the sound of the Japanese civilians being evacuated from the ship. During the night, the POW medics were ordered onto the deck to treat the Japanese wounded. One medic recalled that the dead, dying, and wounded were everywhere.
The ship reached Subic Bay at 2:30 in the morning and steamed closer to the beach where its anchor was dropped. At 4:00 A.M., the POWs were told that they would disembark at daybreak at a pier. The moaning and muttering of POWs who were losing their minds kept the POWs up all night. That night 25 POWs died in the hold.
It was December 15 and the POWs sat in the ship's holds for hours after dawn. The first 35 POWs were taken out of the hold and went into the water. At 8:00 A.M. as the other POWs waited, the sound of A Japanese guard yelled into the hold at the POWs, "All go home; speedo!" He shouted that the wounded would be the first to be evacuated. Suddenly, he looked up and shouted, "Planes, many planes!" As the POWs were abandoning ship the planes returned and continued the attack. The ship bounced in the water from the explosions. Chief Boatswain Clarence M. Taylor who was in the water said, "I saw the whole thing. A bomb fall, hit near the stern hatch, and debris go flying up in the air."
In the hold the POWs crowded together. Chips of rust fell on them from the ceiling. After the raid, they took care of the wounded before the next attack started. A Catholic priest, Fr. John Duffy, began praying, "Father forgive them. They know not what they do."
The Japanese guards and interpreter had abandoned ship, but the ship's captain remained on board. He told the POWs in his limited English that they needed to get off the ship to safety. The POWs made their way over the side and into the water. As they swam to shore, the Japanese fired at them, with machine guns, to prevent them from escaping.
Four of the planes flew low over the water above the POWs. The POWs waved frantically at the planes so they would not be strafed. The planes banked and flew lower over the POWs. This time the pilots dipped their wings to show that they knew the men in the water were Americans. About a half hour later, the ship began to really burn and the bodies of the dead could be seen on the decks.
The Japanese sent out a motorboat with a machine gun and snipers on it. The POWs attempting to escape were hunted down and shot. It is believed as many as 30 men died in the water.
There was no real beach, so the POWs climbed up on a seawall and found the the Japanese Naval Landing Party had set up a machine gun and had just laid flat to rest when the gun opened up on them. Those who came ashore were warned to stay in the water, but only did so when one man climbed up on the seawall and was wounded. There were also Japanese snipers in wait to shoot anyone who attempted to escape.
The POWs were gathered together and marched to the tennis court at Olongapo Naval Station which was about 500 yards from the beach. There, they were herded onto a tennis court. The Japanese packed 1300 of the POWs on the court with 100 wounded POWs taking up a great amount of room at one end. They could barely sit down and only lay down by lying partially on another man. During this time, the POWs were not fed but did receive water.
While the POWs were at Olongapo, a Japanese officer, Lt. Junsaburo Toshio, told the ranking American officer, Lt. Col. E. Carl Engelhart, that those too badly wounded to continue the trip would be returned to Bilibid. Fifteen men were selected and loaded onto a truck. They were taken into the mountains and never seen again. They were executed and buried at a cemetery.
The POWs remained on the tennis court for nine days. During their time of the courts, American planes attacked the area around them. The men watched as the fighter bombers came in vertically releasing bombs as they pulled out of their dives. On several occasions, the planes dove right at the POWs, dropped their bombs, and pulled out. The bombs drifted over the POWs and landed away from them exploding on contact.
Since the POWs had no place to hide, they watched and enjoyed the show. They believed that the pilots knew they were Americans but had no way of knowing if this was true. But what is known is that not one bomb was dropped on them even though they could be seen from the planes.
The evening of December 16, the Japanese brought 50 kilo bags of rice for the POWs. About half of the rice had fallen out of the bags because of holes. Each POW was given three spoons of raw rice, and a quarter of a spoon of salt.
At about 8:00 AM on the morning of December 22, 22 trucks arrived at the tennis court. Rumors flew on where they were going to be taken. At about 4:00 PM, a Taiwanese guard told the POWs, in broken English,"No go Cabanatuan. Go Manila; maybe Bilibid." The guard knew as little as the POWs.
Later on December 22, the POWs were taken by truck to San Fernando, Pampanga, arriving there about four or five in the afternoon. Once there, they were put in a movie theater. Since it was dark, the POWs saw it as a dungeon.
During their time at San Fernando, Pampanga, the POWs lived through several air raids. The reason for the air raids was the barrio was military headquarters for the area. Most of the civilians had been moved out of the barrio. Many of the Americans began to believe they had been taken there so that they would be killed by their own countrymen.
December 23, at about 10:00 PM, the Japanese interpreter came and spoke to the ranking American officer about moving the POWs. The Japanese loaded the seriously ill POWs into a truck. Those remaining behind believed they were taken to Bilibid. The remaining POWs were moved to a trade school building in the barrio.
After 10:00 AM on December 24, the POWs were taken to the train station. The POWs saw that the station had been hit by bombings and that the cars they were to board had bullet holes in them from strafing. 180 to 200 were packed into steel boxcars with four guards also in the cars. The doors of the boxcars were kept closed and the heat in the cars was terrible. Ten to fifteen POWs rode on the roofs of the cars along with two guards. The guards told these POWs that it was okay to wave to the American planes.
On December 25, the POWs disembarked at San Fernando, La Union, at 2:00 AM and disembarked. They walked two kilometers to a school yard on the southern outskirts of the barrio. From December 25 until the 26. The POWs were held in a school house. The morning of December 26, the POWs were marched to a beach. During this time the prisoners were allowed one handful of rice and a canteen of water. The heat from the sun was so bad that men drank seawater. Many of those men died. The ships made the journey to Formosa safely arriving on December 31, 1945, and dropped anchor in the harbor at about 11:30 A.M. On January 6th, the POWs on the Brazil Maru were transferred to Enoura Maru. The coal in the forward hold was emptied, and 500 POWs were put into the hold. Leroy and Merrifield were two of these men.
On January 9, 1945, as the ship sat in the harbor, it also came under attack by American planes. During the attack, the POWs watched two bombs fall toward the ship. They could do nothing but watch to see where the bombs would hit. One bomb exploded outside the bow of the ship blowing a hole in it. The other fell through the open hatch in the hold that Leroy and Merrifield were in on the ship. Merrifield was on the other end of the hold and was not wounded when it exploded, but Leroy was near the hatch opening.
Leroy's right leg and foot were torn to pieces by the bomb. He was cared for by medics, but since they had almost no medical supplies, there was not much they could do for him. With the other surviving POWs, Leroy was placed on the Brazil Maru.
It was on this ship that 2nd Lt. Leroy A. Scoville died of his wounds the morning of Wednesday, January 24, 1945. Before he died, he asked Robert Boehm, of A Company, to give his parents his last possession. He had lost everything else in the sinking of the Oryoku Maru. According to Jack Merrifield, LeRoy Scoville died at sea, and his remains were thrown overboard.
Since his remains were lost at sea, the name of 2nd Lt. Leroy A. Scoville appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.