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, by the time another squadron was sent to the area the next day, 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.

    In September 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 7th  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 13th at Honolulu, Hawaii.  The soldiers were given four hour passes ashore.  At 5:00 P.M., the ship sailed again but headed south away from the main shipping lanes.  It was during this part of the trip that it was joined by the heavy cruiser the U.S.S. Astoria
    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 entered Manila Bay at 7:00 A.M. and the soldiers were disembarked at 3:00 P.M.  They were taken by bus to Ft. Stostenburg.

    On December 1st, 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 10th, and it was at this time that C Company was sent to southern Luzon where the Japanese were landing.  On the 12th, 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 15th 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 26th.
    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 29th/30th which they held until they were ordered to +withdraw.  On January 2nd 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 20th, A Company was sent to save the command post of the 31st Infantry.  On the 24th, 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 28th, 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 4th, 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.
    Somewhere between 6:30 and 6:45 in the morning the tankers received the order "bash" and destroyed their tanks.  The tanks were circled and an armor piercing shell was fired into the engines of each tank.  Afterwards, the gasoline cocks were opened in the crew
    The evening of April 8, 1942, he and the other tankers received the order "bash" 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.
The POWs were ordered to the bivouac of the Provisional Tank Group.  It was from there that they were marched to join the main column of POWs on the march out of Bataan.
    On April 10th, the Japanese arrived and ordered the HQ personnel onto the road.  They quickly stripped the POWs of their watches, pens, and sun-glasses.  They were taken to a trail and found that walking on the gravel trail was difficult.  They immediately witnessed "Japanese Discipline" toward their own troops.  The Japanese apparently were marching for hours, and if a man 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 determined that the man was exhausted and left him alone.
    The trial the POWs were on ended when they reached the main road.  The first thing the Japanese did was to separate the officers from the enlisted men and counted them.  The Prisoners of War were then left in the sun for the rest of the day wondering what was going to happen.  That night they were ordered north which was difficult, on the rocky road, 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 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 on April 11th, 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 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 as punishment for the gun being in the bag.  They reached Orani on April 12th 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.
    At 6:30 or 7:00 that evening, 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.  At 4:30 PM on April 13th, they arrived at San Fernando.  The POWs put into a pen and remained there the rest of the day.
    At 4:00 in the morning, the Japanese woke the POWs and marched them to the train station.  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.  There was only one water spigot for 12,000 POWs in the camp.  Men stood in line for days for a drink of water. Many died while waiting for a drink.  Disease ran wild in the camp causing as many as 50 men to die each day.

    It is not known if Frank went out on a work detail, but it is known that he was also held Cabanatuan prison camp when the new camp opened in May 1942.  During his time in the camp,  Frank was assigned to Barracks 10.  On July 12th, Frank was admitted to the camp hospital suffering from dysentery.  It is not known how long he spent in the hospital.

    It is not known if Frank remained at Cabanatuan or if he was sent out to another camp to do work.  While he was in the camp, his family officially informed that he was a POW on April 14, 1943.  What is known is that he was still in the Philippine Islands in late 1944.  In early October 1944, Frank was one of nearly 1800 POWs marched to the Port Area of Manila.  The POWs were scheduled to sail on the Hokusen Maru, but since a gourp of POWs in his detachment had not arrived, another detachment of POWs were put on the ship so that it could sail.   

    On October 10th at Pier 7, Frank's POW detachment were boarded onto the Arisan Maru and forced into the ship's number two hold.  The ship sailed, but instead of heading north to Formosa, it sailed south.  For the next ten days the ship hid from American planes in a cove off the Island of Palawan.   

    For ten days, the other prisoners were held in the ship's holds while the Japanese formed a convoy.  During this time, the POWs discovered that the Japanese had removed the light bulbs from the hold but had not turned off the power.  The POWs managed to wire the hold's ventilation system into its lighting system, and for two days they had fresh air.  When the Japanese discovered what they had done, they turned off the power.

    On October 20th, the ship returned to Manila.  On October 21st, 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.  This made the ships targets for American submarines.

    According to the survivors of the Arisan Maru, on October 24, 1944, near dinner time, POWs were on deck preparing the meal for those in the ship's two holds.  The ship was, off the coast of China, in the Bashi Channel.  As the POWs watched, the Japanese on deck ran to the stern of the ship.  A torpedo passed behind the ship.  Moments later, the Japanese ran to the stem of the ship.  Another torpedo passed in front of the ship.  The next two torpedo hit the ship's center.  The ship stopped dead in the water.  It is believed that the submarine that fired the torpedoes was the U.S.S. Snook.

    The Japanese guards chased the POWs who were on deck back into the holds.  They then put the hatch covers in place, but did not tie them down.  As the Japanese abandoned ship, they cut the rope ladders into the ship's holds.  Some of the POWs in the second hold were able to climb out and reattached and lowered a ladder to those in the first hold.  They also dropped ropes down to the POWs in both holds.

    The ship sunk slowly into the water.  At some point, the ship broke in two.  Many of the POWs attempted to escape the ship by clinging to rafts, hatch covers, flotsam and jetsam.  Those who could not swim raided the ship's galley and ate until their stomachs were full.  They wanted to die with full stomachs.  Most of the POWs survived the attack but died because the Japanese refused to rescue  them.  The Japanese destroyers in the convoy deliberately pulled away from the POWs as they attempted to reach them.  The sailors on the other ships pushed the POWs away with poles while the ships picked up the Japanese survivors.

    According to the survivors of the sinking, as the evening went on, fewer and fewer cries for help were heard.  Then, all there was was silence.

    Cpl. Frank E. South lost his life when the Arisan Maru was torpedoed in the South China Sea on Tuesday, October 24, 1944.  Of the 1803 POWs on the ship, only nine survived the sinking.  Only eight of these POWs lived to see the end of the war.
    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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