SouthFE

 


Cpl. Frank Earl South


    Cpl. Frank E. South was the son of Robert B. South and Allie N. Cornell-South and was born on December 6, 1918, in Watauga County, North Carolina.  He had one sister and two brothers.  It is known his sister died before her tenth birthday.  It is known that his parents divorced and his mother remarried.
    Frank was raised in Watauga County, North Carolina, and graduated high school.  Frank moved first to Montana and next to Brainerd, Minnesota, where he worked as a bell hop at a hotel.  It was in Brainerd that he joined the National Guard.   At some point his parents divorced. 

    On February 10, 1941, his tank company was federalized as A Company, 194th Tank Battalion.  He and the other National Guardsmen were sent to Fort Lewis, Washington.  There, they were joined by B Company from Saint Joseph, Missouri, and C Company from Salinas, California.  They spent the next six months training.  It was at that time that Frank was assigned to HQ Company when it was created.
    On August 15, 1941, the 194th received orders, from Ft. Knox, Kentucky, for duty in the Philippines because of an event that happened during the summer.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a buoy in the water.  He came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island, with a large radio transmitter, hundred of miles away.  The squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field.  By the time the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.
    The next morning, another squadron was sent to the area and found that the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat which was seen making its way toward shore.  Since communication between and Air Corps and Navy was poor, the boat was not intercepted.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.

    On September 4, 1941, the 194th, without B Company, was sent to Ft.Mason, north of San Francisco, by train and arrived at 7:30 A.M. on the 5th.  From there, they were ferried, on the U.S.A.T. Frank M. Coxe to Ft. MacDowell on Angel Island where they were inoculated.  Those men with medical conditions were replaced.

    When the patrol landed it was dusk and too late for anything to be done that night.  The next morning when a patrol was sent up, they buoys had been picked up at night and a fishing boat was seen quickly heading to shore with its hold covered by a tarpaulin.  Since there was no way to communicate with the Navy, nothing could be done to intercept the fishing boat.
    The  battalion boarded a transport bound onto the S.S. President Calvin Cooledge and sailed at 9:00 P.M. for the Philippine Islands on September 8th.  The ship arrived at 7:00 A.M. on September 13 at Honolulu, Hawaii.  The soldiers were given four hour passes ashore.  At 5:00   this part of the trip that it was joined by the heavy cruiser the U.S.S. Astoria and an unknown destroyer. 
    Several times during this part of the voyage, the Astoria took off in the direction of smoke which was seen on the horizon.  Each time the ship was from a friendly country.  The ships crossed the International Dateline on Tuesday, September 16, and the date became Thursday, September 18.  The ships entered Manila Bay at 7:00 A.M. and the soldiers were disembarked at 3:00 P.M. and were taken by bus to Ft. Stostenburg.  The maintenance section of the battalion remained at the pier and, with the 17th Ordnance Company, unloaded the tanks and reattached their turrets.

    On December 1, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  Two members of each tank and half-track crew remained with their vehicles at all times and received their meals from food truck
    The morning of December 8, 1941, just ten hours after Pearl Harbor, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guar against Japanese paratroopers.  All morning they watched as the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45, the Japanese bombed the airfield destroying the American Army Air Corps.

    When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield.  The soldiers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and anything that could carry the wounded was in use.  When the hospital filled, they watched the medics place the wounded under the building.  Many of these men had their arms and legs missing.
    The 194th was sent to Mabalcat December 10, and it was at this time that C Company was sent to southern Luzon where the Japanese were landing.  On the 12, the A and D Company, 192nd, were sent to a new bivouac south of San Fernando and arrived at 6:00 A.M.  They received Bren gun carriers on the 15 and used them to test the ground to see if it could support the weight of a tank.
    Around December 22nd, his tank platoon was ordered north, to Rosario, to slow the advancing Japanese who had landed troops at Lingayen Gulf.  On December 25th,  Harold's tank platoon had taken positions west of Carmen.  When they began taking fire from a strong Japanese force, he ordered the tanks to open fire with their machine guns.  Realizing that they had a very good chance of being cut off, he ordered his tanks to withdraw through Carmen the evening of December 26.
    While the tanks approached the barrio, the tanks came under heavy fire from the Japanese who had occupied the barrio.  The tanks ran into a road block and smashed their way through it firing their guns losing two tanks.  The crews were picked up by other tanks.  The tanks then made a sharp turn and continued their withdraw from Carmen.  The Japanese fired on them the entire time, until they got out of range.  In the dark, Costigan's platoon passed the Provisional Tank Group's Headquarters in the dark without knowing it.  When Harold reported to Gen. Weaver about what had happened, he was chastised by the general.  Weaver ordered him to get back into his tank and return to his previous position.  
    The battalions were holding the Tarlec Line on December 28th and withdrew to form the Bamban Line the night of the 29/30 which they held until they were ordered to +withdraw.  On January 2 the battalions withdrew to Layac Junction with the 194th using highway 7.  The 194th, covered by the 192nd, withdrew across the Culis Creek into Bataan.  After the 192nd crossed the bridge, it was blown starting the Battle of Bataan.
    In January 1942, the tank companies were reduced to three tanks in each platoon.  This was done so that D Company, 192nd, attached to the 194th, would have tanks.  The company had abandoned its tanks after the bridge they were scheduled to use had been destroyed by the engineers before they had crossed.
    On January 20, A Company was sent to save the command post of the 31st Infantry.  On the 24, they supported the troops along the Hacienda Road, but they could not reach the objective because of landmines that had been planted by ordnance.
    The battalion held a position a kilometer north of the Pilar-Bagac Road with foour self propelled mounts.  At 9:45 A.M., a Filipino warned the tankers that a large force of Japanese were on there way.  When they appeared the battalion, and self propelled mounts,  opened up with everything they had.  The Japanese broke off the attack, at 10:30 A.M., after losing 500 of their 1200 men.
    On January 28, the tank battalions were given beach duty with the 194th assigned the coast from Limay to Cacaben.  The half-tracks were used to patrol the roads.
    In March, two of the 194th was attempting to free two tanks that were stuck in the mud.  As the tankers worked to get them out, Japanese Regiment entered the area.  Lt. Col. Miller ordered the tanks to fire at point blank range and ran from tank to tank directing fire.  When they stopped firing, they had wiped out the regiment.
    Gen Weaver also suggested to Gen Wainwright that a platoon of tanks be sent to Corregidor.  This idea was rejected by Wainwright.  It was also at this time that gasoline for most vehicles, except tanks, was caught to 15 gallons a day.
    The Japanese brought fresh troops to Bataan since the Americans and Filipinos with the help of tropical illnesses had fought the Japanese to a standstill.  On April 4, the Japanese launched a major offensive.  In an attempt to stop them, the tanks were sent into various sectors.  It was also at this time that tanks became the favorite targets of Japanese planes an artillery.
    The tanks were fighting on the East Coast Road at Cabcaban when General King determined that the situation was hopeless and sent his staff officers to meet with the Japanese command.  Only 25% of his troops were healthy enough to fight, and he estimated they would last one more day.  In addition, he had 6,000 soldiers sick or wounded and feared that if the battle continued, 40,000 civilians with the defenders would be slaughtered.

    Tank battalion commanders received this order, "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."           
    Early in the mornng of April 9, 1942, he and the other tankers received the order "crash" which meant they were to destroy their tanks.  The next morning, Bataan was officially surrendered to the Japanese.
    When Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese, Frank became a Prisoner of War.  Japanese officers appeared on April 10, and ordered the Americans to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.
    On April 10, the POWs started the march out of Bataan.  They made their way north against the flow of Japanese horse artillery and trucks that was moving south.  At times, they would slip on something wet and slippery which were the remains of a man killed by Japanese artillery the day before.  When dawn came, the walking became easier but as the sun rose it became hotter and they POWs began to feel the effects of thirst.   It was then that the POWs saw a group of Filipinos being marched by the Japanese.  They realized that they had been hungry, but the Filipinos had been starving.
    When the men crossed the Lamao River, they smelled the sweet smell of death. The Japanese had heavily bombed the area causing many casualties and many of the dead lay partially in the river.  The air corps POWs in front of them ran to the river and drank.  Many would later die from dysentery at Camp O'Donnell.
    At Limay, the officers with the tank of lieutenant colonel or above, were put into a school yard.  The officers were told that they would be driven the rest of the march.  At 4:00 AM, the officers were put into trucks and 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 as punishment for the gun being in the bag.  They reached Orani on April 12 at three in the morning.
    At Orani, the officers were put into a bull pen where they were ordered to lay down.  In the morning, the POWs realized that they had been lying in the human waste of POWs who had already used the bullpen.  At noon, they received their first food.  It was a meal of rice and salt.  Later in the day, other enlisted POWs arrived in Orani.  One group was the enlisted members of the tank group who had walked the entire way to the barrio.
    They resumed the march and were marched at a faster pace, and the guards also seemed to be nervous about something.  They made their way to  north of Hormosa, where the road went from gravel to concrete, and the 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 and for the first time in months it began to rain which felt great and many men attempted to get drinks.  They arrived at San Fernando and put into a pen and remained there the rest of the day.
    The POWs were organized into detachments of 100 men and marched to the train station in San Fernando.  They were packed into small wooden boxcars known as "forty or eights."  They were called this since each car could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese packed 100 men into each car and shut the doors.  The heat in the cars was unbearable and many POWs died.  They could not fall to the floors since there was no room for them to fall.  The POWs 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.  The POWs walked the last eight kilometers to Camp O'Donnell.

    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino military camp that the Japanese put into use as a POW camp on April 1, 1942.  The Japanese estimated that the camp could hold from 15,000 to 20,000 POWs.  When the men arrived at the camp they were searched and those found to have any Japanese items on them were separated from the other POWs and accused of looting the bodies of dead Japanese soldiers.  They were taken to the guardhouse and held there until they were taken to as area southeast of the camp and shot.

    The other POWs had any extra clothing taken away from them and the Japanese did not return it to them.  Since there was no water available for washing clothes, since the POWs could not bathe and their clothing became soiled, they threw it away.  They also stripped the dead of their clothing before they were buried.  Most of those who were ill and in the camp hospital had little to no clothing.  In addition, there was no water to wash the mess kits.

    The only water in the camp came from one spigot which the Japanese guards would arbitrarily turn off.  If it was turned off, the next man in line for a drink could wait as long as 4 hours for it to be turned on again.  The average wait for one drink of water was from 2 to 8 hours.  For cooking rice, the water was carried from a river located 3 miles from the camp.  The Japanese installed a second water spigot which made things better.

    The POW bathrooms were slit trenches which quickly overflowed since most of the POWs had dysentery or diarrhea.  Flies from the latrines where everywhere in the camp including the kitchens and on the food which caused disease to spread.
    The camp hospital had no soap or disinfectant.  When senior ranking American doctor wrote a letter to the Japanese commandant of the camp, Captain Yoshio Tsuneyoshi, stating the medical supplies he needed, he was told never to write another letter, and that the only thing that he wanted from the hospital were the names and serial numbers of the dead.
    When a representative of the Philippine Red Cross offered a 150 bed hospital for the POWs in the camp, a Japanese second lieutenant slapped him in the face.  When the Catholic Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medicine to the camp, the Japanese turned the truck away.  Medicine sent by the Philippine Red Cross was appropriated by the Japanese for use on their troops.  The medical staff at the hospital did surgery with mess kit knives since their were no medical supplies.  For every six medics assigned to work in the hospital, only one man was healthy enough to perform all his duties.

    The death rate in the camp rose to 50 men dying each day.  Each morning, the POWs collected the bodies of the dead, which were found all around the camp and carried them to the camp hospital.  There, the bodies were placed under the hospital awaiting burial which usually took two to three days.  To clean the dirt under the hospital, the POWs moved the dead, scrapped the ground and spread lime on the soil.  They moved the bodies back into the area and repeated the process where the bodies had lain while they were cleaning the other area.
    A burial detail worked daily to bury the dead.  Two POWs carried a body, in a sling to the camp cemetery and placed it in a shallow grave.  The graves were shallow because the water table was high, and as they dug the graves, the graves would quickly start to fill with water.  To hold the body down in the grave a POW used a pole while the other men threw dirt on the body. 
    Daily work details left the camp to cut fire wood for the POW kitchen and to perform other duties for the Japanese.  Long term work details also were sent out, and many of the POWs volunteered to go out on them so that they could escape the camp. 
    The Japanese finally acknowledged that they had to do something, so the opened a new camp at Cabanatuan.  The morning of June 1, the POWs formed detachments of 100 men and marched out of the camp to Capas.  As the POWs marched, the Filipinos gave them small bundles of food.  The Japanese guards did not stop the Filipinos.  At Capas, the POWs were put in steel boxcars and rode the train to Calumpit, where it was switched to the track to Cabanatuan.   

    The POWs disembarked the train and were put into a school yard where they were fed cooked rice and onion soup.  Afterwards, they marched to Cabanatuan POW Camp.  The new camp had been the home of the 91st Philippine Army and was previously known as Camp Panagaian. 
    The camp was actually three separate camps.  Camp #1 was were those men who had been POWs at Camp O'Donnell were sent.  Camp #2 was four miles away from Camp 1, and because of its water problem closed quickly.  It was later reopened and house Naval POWs.  Camp #3 was six miles from Camp 2 and later housed the POW from Corregidor, from the hospitals on Bataan, and those who had been at Camp 2.  These POWs were generally in better shape then the men who had taken part in the march.  Frank was assigned to Barracks 10 at 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.
    It is known that on July 12, Frank was admitted to the camp hospital suffering from dysentery.  It is not known how long he spent in the hospital and when he was discharged.  It is known that while he was in the camp, his family, on August 14, 1943, officially was informed that he was a POW. 

    In late 1944, when it became apparent to the Japanese that the invasion of the Philippines was near, most of the POWs on this detail were sent to the Port Area of Manila.  The Japanese were attempting to send the healthy POWs to Japan, and other countries, to work as slave labor and prevent them from being liberated by advancing American forces.
    In early October 1944, 1775 POWs were marched to the Port Area of Manila.  When his POW group arrived at the pier, the ship they where scheduled to sail on, the Hokusen Maru, was ready to sail, but some of the POWs in the detachment had not arrived at the pier.  Another POW detachment, scheduled to sail on the Arisan Maru, had completely arrived, but their ship was not ready to sail.  It was at that time that the Japanese made the decision that they switch POW detachments so the Hokusen Maru could sail.
    On October 10, the POWs boarded the Arisan Maru and 1775 prisoners were crammed into the first hold of the Arisan Maru which could hold 400 men.  They were packed in so tightly that they could not move.  Those POWs who had lain down in the wooden bunks along the haul could not sit up because the bunks were so close together.  Eight large cans served as the washroom facilities for the POWs.
    Later in the day on October 11, the ship set sail but took a southerly route away from Formosa.  The ship anchored in a cove off Palawan Island where it remained for ten days.  The Japanese covered the hatch with a tarp so during the night, the POWs were in total darkness.  Within the first 48 hours, five POWs had died.  Being in the cove resulted in the ship missing an air raid by American planes, but the ship was attacked once by American planes while there.
    Each day, each POW was given three ounces of water and two half mess kits of raw rice.  Although the Japanese had removed the lights in the hold, they had not turned off the power to the lights.  Some of the prisoners were able to hot-wire the ship's blowers into the light power lines.  This allowed fresh air into the hold, until the power was disconnected, two days later, when the Japanese discovered what had been done.
    After this was done, the POWs began to develop heat blisters.  The Japanese realized that if they did not do something many of the POWs would die.  To prevent this, they opened the ship's number two hold and transferred 600 POWs into it.  At this point, one POW was shot while attempting to escape.
    The Arisan Maru returned to Manila on October 20, where it joined a twelve ship convoy.  On October 21, the convoy left Manila and entered the South China Sea.  The Japanese refused to mark POW ships with red crosses to indicate they were carrying POWs making them targets for American submarines.  In addition, U.S. military intelligence was reading the Japanese messages as fast as the Japanese.  To protect this secret, they did not tell the submarine crews that ships were carrying POWs which made the ships targets for the submarines.  The POWs in the hold became so desperate that they prayed for the ship to be hit by torpedoes.
    According to the survivors of the Arisan Maru, on Tuesday, October 24, 1944, about 5:00 pm, some of the POWs were on deck preparing dinner for the POWs in the ship's two holds.  The ship was, off the coast of China, in the Bashi Channel.  Suddenly, sirens and other alarms were heard.  The men inside the holds knew this meant that American submarines had been spotted and began to chant for the submarines to sink the ship.
    The waves were high since a storm had just passed.  At about 5:50 P.M., as the POWs watched, the Japanese ran to the bow of the ship and a torpedo passed in front of the ship.  Moments later, the Japanese ran to the ship's stern and watched as a second torpedo passed behind the ship.  There was a sudden jar and the ship stopped dead in the water.  It had been hit by two torpedoes amidships in its third hold where there were no POWs, but it still killed some POWs.  It is believed that the submarine that fired the torpedoes was the U.S.S. Snook.
    The Japanese guards took their guns and used them as clubs on the POWs who were on deck.  To escape, the POWs dove back into the holds.  After they were in the holds, the Japanese cut the rope ladders and put the hatch covers on the holds, but they did not tie them down.  They then abandoned the ship.
    Some of the POWs from the first hold climbed out and reattached the ladders and dropped them to the men in the holds.  The POWs left the holds but made no attempt to abandon ship.  On the ship's deck an American major spoke to the POWs, he said, "Boys, we're in a hellva a jam - but we've been in jams before.  Remember just one thing: We're American soldiers.  Let's play it that way to the very end of the script."  Right after he spoke, a chaplain said to them, "Oh Lord, if it be thy will to take us now, give us the strength to be men."  The ship sank lower into the water.
    According to surviving POWs, the ship stayed afloat for hours but got lower in the water.  At one point, the stern of the ship began going under which caused the ship to split in half but the halves remained afloat.  It was about this time that about 35 POWs swam to the nearest Japanese ship.  When the Japanese realized that they were POWs, they pushed them underwater with poles and drowned them or hit them with clubs.  Those POWs who could not swim raided the food lockers for a last meal, because they wanted to die with full stomachs.  Other POWs took to the water with anything that would float.  
    Three POWs found an abandoned life boat and managed to climb in but found it had no oars.  With the rough seas, they could not maneuver it to help other POWs.  According to the survivors, the Arisan Maru and sank sometime after dark on Tuesday, October 24, 1944.  The men in the boat heard cries for help, which became fewer and fewer, until there was silence.  The next day they picked up two more survivors.  Four other men were picked up by a Japanese ship and taken to Formosa.
    Cpl. Frank E. Smith's family learned of his death on June 22, 1945, from the War Department.
  Since he was lost at sea, Cpl. Frank E. South's name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.   


 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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