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
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 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 9th, 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. 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 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 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 20 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 1, 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 15, 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 23 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. On January 1, conflicting orders, about who was in command, were received by the defenders who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5 and allowing the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan. General Wainwright was unaware of the orders, since they came from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff.
Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridge over the Pampanga River about withdrawing from the bridge with half of the defenders withdrawing. Due to the efforts of the Self Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were halted. From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
At 2:30 A.M., on January 6, the Japanese attacked at Remlus in force using smoke which was an attempt by the Japanese to destroy the tank battalions. That night the tanks withdrew into the peninsula with the 192nd holding its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross the bridge, and then cover the 192nd's withdraw over the bridge. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
The night of January 7, the tank battalions were covering the withdrawal of all troops around Hermosa. Around 6:00 A.M., before the bridge had been destroyed by the engineers, the 192nd crossed the bridge.
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 10, 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 11, 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 and the dead fell to the floors. From Capas, the POWs walked the last miles to Camp O'Donnell.
The camp 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. The Japanese finally acknowledge that they had to do something, so the opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.
On June 1, 1942, the POWs formed detachments of 100 men each and were marched to Capas. There, the were put in steel boxcars with two Japanese guards. At Calumpit, the train was switched onto another line which took it to Cabanatuan. The POWs disembarked and were taken to a schoolyard where they were fed cooked rice and onion soup. From there, they were marched to Cabanatuan which had been the headquarters of the 91st Philippine Army Division and was known as Camp Panagaian. The transfer of POWs was completed on June 4.
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.
In mid-October a list of names of POWs being transferred from the Philippines was posted at the camp. On October 19, 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 Bilibid 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 8, 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 12 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 13, 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 aft hold. 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. They learned of his death on July 2 6, 1945 , in a message from the war department.
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