Maj. Maynard Goldman Snell
    Major Maynard G. Snell was the son of Benjamin F. Snell & Mattie E. Goldman-Snell and was born in 1901.  It is known that he grew up, with his brother and sister, in Lampasas, Texas. 
    After high school, he attended Texas A&M College and earned a Bachelors of Science degree in 1921.  He next attended University of Missouri and received his masters degree in Veterinary Medicine.  Finally, he attended the Agricultural College of Iowa, Ames, Iowa, which is now Iowa State University, and received his Doctorate. 
    Snell became an assistant professor of animal husbandry and supervisor of research work on animal nutrition at Louisiana State University, and was a published author.  At the same time that he was teaching, he served in the Army Reserve and was called into the service on February 14, 1940, and reported for active duty on February 26, 1940. 

    At Fort Benning, Georgia, Snell attended Officers Training School, and upon completion of this program, he was sent to Camp Bowie, Texas.  It was from there that he was sent to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay to join his new unit the 192nd Tank Battalion which was being sent to the Philippine Islands.
The 192nd Tank Battalion had received orders for duty, in the Philippines, because of an event that happened during the summer of 1941.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots - whose plane was lower that the other planes - noticed something odd in the water.  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 to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island which had a large radio transmitter.  The squadron continued its flight plan and returned to Clark Field, where he reported what he had seen. 
    The next morning, when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat which was making its way to shore.  Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was poor, no ship was in the area 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 traveled west to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, and were ferried on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island, where the soldiers received medical examinations for the battalion's medical detachment. 
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S. A. T. 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.   The ship 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, another transport, the S. S. President 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. During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out that the unknown ship was from 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, they were greeted by Gen. Edward P.  King, who apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field.  He made sure that they had what they needed and that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner. 
Their dinner turned out to be a soupy stew  Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service. 
    Snell was promoted to major, upon arrival in the Philippines, and assigned to the Provisional Tank Group.  There, he was in charge of supplies.
    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 week of December 1st, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  
    Around 12:45 in the afternoon on December 8, 1941, as the tankers were getting lunch,  planes approached the airfield.  At first, the soldiers thought the planes were American.  It was only when bombs began exploding on the airfield that they knew the planes were Japanese.  The bombers were followed by fighters which strafed the area.

   Around December 15th, after the Provisional Tank Group Headquarters was moved to Manila, Snell stopped at Ft. Stostenburg where anything that could be used by the Japanese was being destroyed.  He stopped the destruction long enough to get five gallon cans loaded with high-octane gasoline and small arms ammunition put onto trucks to be used by the tanks and infantry.  PTG remained in Manila until December 23rd when it moved with the 194th north out of Manila.
During this time, Snell wrote a letter home and the envelope that the letter came in appeared to be homemade.  Although in this role he never saw action, he did have the job seeing that the tankers received the necessary food and other supplies so that they could continue to fight.
  During this time, Snell mentioned in a letter home that he had been assigned as a liaison officer to Gen. MacArthur's staff.  In the same letter, he mentioned that Lt. Willie Heard, another member of the 192nd and a law student at Louisiana State, was also with him in the Philippines.
    The night of December 26/27, the tank command post was established at Rancho Rosario
    In another letter written in February 1942, he told his parents:

    "The last two months have been quite an experience for us.  The Japs started their offensive on December 8th and have rapidly most of the island of Luzon, on which Manila is located.  What has happened in the rest of the island, I do not know.  I do know that a considerable portion of the news we hear over the radio is exaggerated.
    For example, after the first raid on Ft. Stotsenberg by the Japs, radio reported that the 192nd Tank Battalion had been wiped out.  As a matter of fact, that battalion's tanks had been hidden in the woods for the protection of Clark Field and their casualties were less than 0.02 per dent.  Jap bombings from the air were heavy and their forces were considerably larger than ours.  During the fighting that followed, casualties have naturally occurred but the estimates of the Jap losses have been as nine to one for the Americans."

    In another excerpt from the letter, he said:

    "With no more fighting that is going on at the present.  We could hold on indefinitely."

    Gen. Edward King facing the reality that only about 25% of his troops were healthy enough to fight and most likely would last one more day.  It was at this time that he decided to send his staff officers to negotiate terms of surrender since he wanted to avoid the slaughter of 6000 wounded and sick troops and 40000 civilians.  At 10:30, these orders were given, "You will make plans, to be communicated to company commanders only, and be prepared to destroy within one hour after receipt by radio, or other means, of the word 'CRASH', all tanks and combat vehicles, arms, ammunition, gas, and radios: reserving sufficient trucks to close to rear echelons as soon as accomplished."
On April 9, 1942, Snell became a Prisoner of War when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese. 
On April 10th, the Japanese arrived and ordered the HQ personnel onto the road.  The POWs learned quickly the treatment they would receive from the Japanese.  If a prisoner 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 guard determined that the man was exhausted and left him lay there.
    When the trial ended, the POWs had reached the main road, where the first thing the Japanese did was separated the officers from the enlisted men.  After this was done, the POWs were left in the sun for the rest of the day.  That night they were ordered north out of Bataan.  The march was difficult 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 soldier.
    The POWs made their way north against the flow of Japanese troops who were moving south.  At Limay on April 11th, they were put into a school yard and told that the officers would be driven to the POW camp.  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.  They were made to march as punishment for the gun being in the bag.  They reached Orani on April 12th at three in the morning. 
    At Orani, the POWs were put in a pen and ordered to lay down.  In the morning, the POWs realized that they had been laying in human waste. 
At noon, the POWs received their first food which was a meal of rice and salt.  Later in the day, other POWs arrived in Orani.  While they were there, one group that arrived was the enlisted members of the tank group.  They had walked the entire way to the barrio.
    At 6:30 that evening, POWs resumed the march but this part of the march was different.  The POWs were marched at a faster pace.  The guards also seemed to be nervous about something as the POWs made  their way to Hormosa, where, the road went from gravel to concrete.  The POWs found that this change of surface made the march easier.  When the POWs were allowed to sit down, those who attempted to lay down were jabbed with bayonets.
    The POWs continued the march.  For the first time in months, it began to rain which felt great.  At 4:30 PM on April 13th, they arrived at San Fernando.  The POWs were once again put into a pen.   In one corner was a slit trench which the POWs used as a toilet which was covered with flies.  At 4:00 in the morning, the Japanese woke the POWs and marched them to the train station where they were packed into small wooden boxcars.  The cars were known as "Forty or Eight" because each car could hold forty men or eight horses.  They rode the train to Capas arriving there at 9:00 AM.  There, the living disembarked from the cars.  When they did, the dead fell to the floors.  From Capas, the POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.  
    The camp was an unfinished Philippine Army training base that the Japanese put into use as a POW camp.  There was one water faucet for the entire camp.  Men literaally died for a drink.  The death rate in the camp reached as many as 55 men a day.  The death rate got so bad that the Japanese opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.
     It is not known if Snell was sent the camp when it opened or was sent there after returning from a work detail.  What is known is that after American troops landed in the Philippines, the Japanese began transferring large numbers of the remaining POWs to other parts of their empire. 
    In mid-October a list of names of POWs being transferred from the Philippines was posted at the camp.  On October 19th, six trucks arrived a the camp and spent the night.  The next morning, the POWs were fed corn cakes and rice for breakfast.  The POWs were inspected at 7:30 A.M. and received a cornbread and rice.
    The POWs were packed onto the six trucks so tightly that they could not sit down which made the ride unpleasant.  Most of the trucks had 50 men on them.
    It is not known when the trucks left the camp but at 11:00 A.M. as they made their way to Blibid Prison, the POWs saw two large formations of American planes on their way to bomb a Japanese fortification at Nichols Field and the Port Area of Manila.  It was the fifth or sixth day in a roll that the POWs had seen American planes.
    At noon, the POWs had lunch but could not get off the trucks.  If a man had to relieve himself, he had to make his way to the side of the truck and urinate or defecate over the side.  The trucks arrived at Bilibid at 4:00 P.M.
    On December 8th, the Japanese told the medical staff to put together a list of POWs who were healthy enough to be sent to Japan.  The morning of December 12th roll call was taken and Snell's name was on the list.  That evening he said his goodbyes to his friends.  At 4:00 A.M., on the 13th, the POWs were awakened and fed breakfast.  In addition, the POWs were told they would receive, cigarettes, soap, and salt. 

    The POWs were allowed to roam the prison until ordered to form ranks.  When the order was given, 1,619 POWs were marched down Luzon Boulevard to Pier 7 in Manila.  As they marched they noticed that the street cars were not running.  When they reached the harbor, they noticed many of the ships in the harbor were damaged from American attacks.
    On December 8, 1944, Maynard was selected to be sent to another part of the Japanese Empire.  On December 12, 1944, roll call was taken and the names of the men selected for transport to Japan were called.  At 4:00 a.m. the morning of December 13th, the other POWs were awakened and roll call was taken.  Afterwards, the POWs were allowed to roam the prison until they formed detached and were marched to Pier 7 in Manila.  Once there, the POWs were told to sit.  Many of the men laid down and slept until they were awakened to board the ship.  About 5:00 PM, the POWs were boarded onto the Oryoku Maru.
    The high ranking officers were the first put into the ship's afthold.  Being the first on meant that they would suffer many deaths.  Around the perimeter of the hold were two tiers of bunks for the POWs.  The heat was so bad that men soon began to pass out.  One survivor said, "The fist fights began when men 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. 
It was during the night of Wednesday, December 13, 1944, that Maj. Maynard G. Snell collapsed and died in the rear hold of the ship.  After his death, his body was stripped of its clothing and hoisted out of the hold and thrown into the sea.  His parents received a POW post card from him on January 29, 1945, not knowing their son was dead.
    Since Maj. Maynard G. Snell was lost at sea, his name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery at Manila.


Return to HQ Company