Simpson_J

 


Sgt. Judson David Simpson


    Sgt. Judson D. Simpson was born in March 7, 1921, in Washington County, Kentucky.  He was one of the six children of George & Catherine Simpson and worked on his family's farm.  Judson joined the Kentucky National Guard and was called to federal duty when his tank company was federalized on November 25, 1940.  His company was renamed D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.

    After training at Fort Knox and taking part in maneuvers in Louisiana, Judson and other members of his company learned that they were being sent overseas.  Those men 29 years old  or older were given the chance to resign from federal service.  They were replaced by men from the 753rd Tank Battalion.  Men were also given leaves home to say goodbye to their families and friends.
    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 lower than the other planes, noticed something odd in the water.  He took his plane down and identified a buoy, with a flag, in the water and saw another in the distance.  He came upon more flagged buoys that lined up - in a straight line - for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island, hudred of miles to the northwest, which had a large radio transmitter.  The squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field.  When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.
    The next day - when a when planes were sent to the area - the buoys had been picked up and a fishing boat was seen making its way toward shore.  Since communication between the planes and Navy was poor, nothing was done to intercept the boat.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
    The battalion's new tanks came from the 753rd Tank Battalion and were loaded onto flat cars, on different trains.  The soldiers also cosmolined anything that they thought would rust.  Over different train routes, the companies were sent to San Francisco, California, where they were ferried, by the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, they were given physicals by the battalion's medical detachment and men found with minor medical conditions were held on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Other men were simply replaced.

    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Gen. 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.   They 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, the transport, 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.  He made sure that they had Thanksgiving Dinner before he left to have his own dinner.
    The members of the battalion pitched the tents in an open field halfway between the Clark Field Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg.  The tents were set up in two rows and five men were assigned to each tent.  There were two supply tents and meals were provided by food trucks stationed at the end of the rows of tents. 
    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.
  A little over two weeks later, he lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield.

    On December 19, 1941, Judson wrote a letter home to his parents.

 

    " Dearest Mother and all;

 

             I am getting along just fine. I hope you received my telegram. Don't worry about me because I will make out  all right. How is everything around home and how are the children getting along? This will be the first Christmas that I have been missed at home since I can remember.

 

                                                                                          Love to all,

                                                                                    Your son, Judson"

 

    On December 13th, the tankers were moved 80 kilometers to do reconnaissance and guard beaches.  They remained there until December 23rd, when they were sent 100 kilometers north to Rosario to assist the 26th U. S. Cavalry because the defensive lines had broken.
    The companies were moved again on the 12th to south of San Fernando near the  Calumpit Bridge arriving there at 6:00 A.M.  On the 15th, the battalion received 15 Bren gun carriers but turned some over to the 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts.  These were used to test the ground to see if it could support tanks.
    What is known about his time fighting the Japanese is that during the withdrawal into Bataan Judson's tank crew, with the crews of seventeen other tanks,  found themselves on the wrong side of the Agno River.  They had been ordered there by General Wainwright.  The only problem was that the only way in was the only way out.  They soon found themselves surrounded by the Japanese.

    All the bridges had been blown so he had his tank driver, Roy Goodpaster, attempt to find a crossing.  While attempting to find the crossing, Goodpaster determined that he could not find a suitable place to cross.  He began to climb out of the tank when Judson asked him what he was doing. Roy stated that he attended to destroy the tank after abandoning it.

    Judson pulled out his service revolver and put it to Goodpaster's head.  He told Goodpaster to get the tank across the river.  Goodpaster found a crossing and saved the tank.  For his actions, Judson received the Silver Star.

    What else is known about Judson is that on January 26, 1942, he was wounded in action.  He was awarded the Purple Heart.

    In February 1942, he wrote a second short letter to his family.  In it he said:

 

        "I do not know when you will get this. You all know the conditions. So the mail will get a little later. I guess dad is getting ready raise another crop.  Sure would like to be there to help him.  There is a lot I could write about, but you know how it is.  I hope to see you soon.  Be sure to answer.

                                                                        

                                                                                       Love to all,

                                                                                     Your son, Judson"

 

    It is not known when Judson returned to D Company and if he saw any further action.  What is known is he escaped to Corregidor when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.  He arrived on the island and volunteered to go to Ft. Drum.  He remained there until Corregidor was surrendered, and he was sent to Cabanatuan.
    It is not known what he did in the camp while he was thre.  But in late September, the Japanese attempted to get the POWs to volunteer to go to Japan.  When this did not work, they selected POWs to go.  Judson was one of these POWs.
    800 POWs gathered at 2:00 A.M. on October 6th, and were given rice coffee, lugow rice, and a big rice ball.  After eating and packing their kits, the POWs marched out of the camp at 2:30 A.M. and received two buns as they marched through the gate to the barrio of Cabanatuan which they reached at 6:00 A.M.  There, 50 men were boarded onto each of the small wooden boxcars waiting for them at about 9:00 A.M.  The trip to Manila lasted until 4:00 P.M. and because of the heat in the cars, many POWs passed out.
    From the train station, the men were marched to pier 5 in the Port Area of Manila.  Some of the Filipinos flashed the "V" for victory sign as they made their war to the pier.  The detachment arrived at 5:00 P.M and were tired and hungry and were put in a warehouse on the pier.  The Japanese fed them rice and salted fish and let them eat as much as they wanted.  They also were allowed to wash.
    Before boarding the ship on October 7th, the prisoners were divided into two groups. One group was placed in the holds while the other group remained on deck.  The conditions on the ship, for those in the holds, were indescribable, and those POWs those on deck were better off.  This situation was made worse by the fact that for the first two weeks of the voyage the prisoners were not fed, which resulted in many of the POWs dying during the trip.
    The ship did not sail until the next day at 10:00 A.M. and passed the ruins of Corregidor at noon.  In addition, there were sick Japanese and soldiers on the ship.  That night some POWs slept in the holds, but a large number slept on the deck.  Each day, the POWs were given three small loaves of bread for meals - which equaled one American loaf of bread - which most ate in one meal, but the men rationed their water.  The ship was at sea, when torpedoes fired at by an American submarine but the torpedoes missed the ship.  The ship fired a couple of shots where it thought the sub was, but these also missed.  A while later, the ship passed a mine that had been laid by the submarine.  The POWs were fed bags of buns biscuits, with some candy, and received water daily.
    The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on October 12th. and were bathed on the dock.   They sailed again on October 16th at 7:30 A.M. but returned to Takao at 10:30 P.M. the same day because of a storm.  At this time, the POWs were receiving two bags of hardtack and a meal of rice and soup each day.  The ship sailed again on October 18th and arrived at the Pescadores Islands at 5:00 P.M., where it remained anchored off the islands for several days.  During this time two POWs died, and their bodies were thrown into the sea.
    The ship sailed again on October 28th and returned to Takao the same day.  The next day, the POWs were taken ashore and bathed with seawater at the same time the ship was cleaned.  They were again put into the holds and the ship sailed again on October 30th and arrived at Makou, Pescadores Islands.  The ship sailed on October 31st, as part of a seven ship convoy.
    During this part of the voyage, it rode out a typhoon for five days on its way to Fusan, Korea.  On November 5th, one of the ships was sunk by an American submarine and the other ships scattered.  The Tottori Maru arrived at Fusan on November 7th, but the POWs did not disembark until November 8th.  Most of the POWs were disembarked, but 400 men remained on the ship since they were going to Japan.  Those too ill to travel remained at Fusan until they were healthier.  Those who died were cremated and had their ashed placed in small white wooden boxes and sent to Mukden.

    1300 POW's got off the ship and were issued new clothes and fur-lined overcoats.  The POWs were taken to the train station and sent on a two day train trip north to Mukden, Manchria.  There, they worked in a sawmill or a machine shop.
When they first got there, they lived in dugouts and were later moved to a two story barracks.  Each enlisted POW received two thin blankets to cover themselves with at night.  The officers got one blanket and a mattress.  Meals were the same everyday.  For breakfast they had cornmeal mush and a bun.  Lunch was maize and beans, and dinner was beans and a bun.
    Since they were underfed, the POWs trapped wild dogs to supplement their meals of soy beans which usually came in the form of soup.  They continued to trap dogs until, while marching to work, they saw one eating a dead Chinese.   
    The POWs worked either at a machine shop or a saw mill from 7:30 A.M. until 5:30 or 6:00 P.M. each day.  The machine shop never produced anything that was useful to the Japanese.   Each morning, the POWs were marched three miles to the shop where they worked manufacturing weapons for the Japanese.  To prevent the production of  weapons, they committed acts of sabotage like pouring sand into the machine oiling holes.  The Japanese usually blamed these acts of sabotage on the Chinese in the plant because they believed the Americans were not smart enough to commit the sabotage.
    The POWs were forced out into the cold and snow and made to strip when the Japanese searched for contraband cigarettes that the prisoners had bought from the Chinese while working in the factories.   They were made to stand in the snow barefooted while the Japanese searched all 700 POWs.
    Punishment was given for any infraction.  Two POWs were knocked out and kicked in the ribs for violating a camp rule.  At other times, the camp's food ration was cut in half because the Japanese believed a POW was not working as hard as he should have been, or someone had been caught smoking in an unauthorized area.  They would also withhold Red Cross packages.  On one occasion, Lt Murado ordered the prisoners to remove their shoes.  After they had, he hit each man in the face with his shoes.
    In the spring of 1943, four Americans escaped and made their way to the Russian border.  Chinese villagers turned them over to the Japanese.  The men were returned to the camp and placed in cells for several months before they were taken to a cemetery and shot.

    He remained in the camp until he was liberated by the Russian Army in September 1945.  He and other POWs were transported to Darien, China, and taken by transport to the Philippines.  After receiving medical treatment, he boarded the U.S.S.Tryon and arrived at San Francisco on October 24, 1945, which was almost four years to the day that he had sailed for the Philippines from the city.  After arriving, he was taken to Letterman General Hospital.

    Judson remained in the army and returned to Japan before serving in Korea.   He was married and the father of one son.  He was discharged on August 8, 1957, as a Master Sergeant. 
    Judson D. Simpson passed away on November 19, 1980, from a heart attack, at his residence, in Jasper, Alabama.  He was buried at Pisgah Baptist Church & Cemetery, Sipsey, Alabama.


 

Return to D Company

Next