Sparrow

 

Sgt. William David Sparrow Jr.


    Sgt. William D. Sparrow Jr. was the third of the four children of Gertrude Howser-Sparrow & Dr. William D. Sparrow Sr.  He was born on May 20, 1915, in Boyle County, Kentucky, and lived on Main Street in Burgin, Kentucky.  He attended college for two years before going to work as a guard at a state hospital.  Being the son of a doctor, he was known as "Doc" to his friends.

    Doc was a member of the Kentucky National Guard in Harrodsburg.  When he was called to federal duty on November 25, 1940, he was working as a guard at a state hospital.  The tank company was designated D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  After training for nearly a year at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Doc went on maneuvers in Louisiana.  After the maneuvers, he and the other members of the battalion learned that they were being sent overseas.
    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 at a lowere altitude, noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and noticed another in the distance.  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 which had a large radio transmitter. The island was hundred of miles away.  The squadron continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.  When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day. 
    The next day - another squadron was sent to the area and found that the buoys had been picked up. A fishing boat, carrying the buoys, was seen making its way to shore. Since communication was poor between the Air Corps and Navy, the boat escaped.  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 27.  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 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, the transport, S.S. President Calvin Coolidge.  Sunday night, November 9, 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 Date Line.  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.
    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, 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.          

    On December 1, the tank battalions were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  The 194th, with D Company, was assigned northern part of the airfield and the 192nd guarded the southern half.  Two members of each tank and half-track crew remained with their vehicles at all times.
    The morning of December 8, 1941, the tank crews were brought up to full strength at the perimeter of the airfield.  All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon the planes landed to be refueled and the pilots went to lunch.
    At 12:45, two formations totaling 54 planes approached the airfield from the north.  When bombs began exploding on the runways, they knew that planes were Japanese.  Being that their tanks could not fight planes, they watched as the Japanese destroyed 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.
    That night, most men slept under their tanks since it was safer than sleeping in their tents.  They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed.
    One of the results of the attack was that transfer of D Company, to the 194th, was never completed.  The company retained its designation of being part of the 192nd for both the Battle of Luzon and Bataan.
    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 December 13, the tankers were moved 80 kilometers from Clark Field to do reconnaissance and guard beaches.   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.
    On December 22, the companies were operating north of the Agno River and after the main bridge was bombed, on December 24/25, made an end tun to get south of the river and not be trapped by the Japanese.  The tanks held the south bank of the river from west of Carmen to the Carmen-Akcaka-Bautista Road with the 192nd holding the bank east of Carmen to Tayug (northeast of San Quintin).
     Christmas Day, the tankers spent in a coconut grove.  As it turned out, the coconuts were all they had to eat.  From Christmas to January 15, 1942, both day and night, all the tanks did was cover retreats of different infantry units.  The tanks were constantly bombed, shelled, and strafed.
    The tanks formed a new defensive held the Santa Ignacia-Gerona-Santo Tomas- San Jose line on December 26.  When they dropped back from the line, all the platoons withdrew, except one which provided cover, as the other platoons from the area.  One tank went across the line receiving fire and firing on the Japanese.
    At Bayambang, Lt. Petree's platoon lost a tank.  It was at this time that D Company, 192nd, lost all their tanks, except one, because the bridge they were suppose to cross had been destroyed.  The company commander, Lt. Jack Altman, could not bring himself to totally destroy the tanks, and the Japanese repaired them and used them on Bataan.  The sergeant of the one tank, that had not abandoned, found a place to ford the river a few hundred yards from the bridge.
    The tankers were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27, and at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29.  On January 1st, conflicting orders were received by the defenders who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5.  Doing this would allow 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 bridges over the Pampanga River.  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 2 to 4, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
    At 2:30 A.M., the night of January 5/6, the Japanese attacked at Remlus in force and using smoke as cover.  This attack was an attempt to destroy the tank battalions.  At 5:00 A.M., the Japanese withdrew having suffered heavy casualties.
    The night of January 6/7 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, before the engineers blew up the bridge at 6:00 A.M.  It was at this time that the tank companies were reduced to three tanks each.  This was done to provide tanks to D Company, while those crews still without tanks were used as replacements,
    At Gumain River, on January 5, D Company and C Company, 194th, were given the job to hold the south riverbank so that the other units could withdraw.  The tank companies formed a defensive line along the bank of the river.  When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts.  The tankers were able to hold up the Japanese.
    The night of January 6/7, the 194th, covered by the 192nd, crossed the bridge over the Culis Creek and entered Bataan.  This was the beginning of the Battle of Bataan.  At this time, the food rations were cut in half.
     A composite tank company was created on January 8 under the command of Capt. Donald Haines, B Company, 192nd, and sent to defend the Wast Coast Road north of Hermosa.  Its job was to keep the north road open and prevent the Japanese from driving down the road before a new battle line had been formed.  The Japanese never lunched an attack allowing the defensive line to be formed.  The tanks withdrew after they began receiving artillery fire.
    The remainder of the tanks were ordered to bivouac south of the Aubucay-Hacienda Road.  While there, the tank crews had their first break from action in nearly a month.  The tanks, which were long overdue for maintenance, were serviced by 17th Ordnance.  It was also at this time that tank platoons were reduced to ren tanks, with three tanks in each platoon.  This was done so that D Company, 192nd, would have tanks.
    The 194th was sent to reopen the Moron Road so that General Segunda's forces, which were trapped behind enemy lines, could withdraw.  Attempting to do this two tanks were knocked out by landmines planted by ordnance, but recovered, and a Japanese anti-tank gun was destroyed.  The mission was abandoned the next day.  Gen. Segunda's forces escaped but lost their heavy equipment.
    The next action the tanks saw was on the 20th when they were sent to relieve the 31st Infantry's command post.  On the 24th, the tanks were ordered to the Hacienda Road to support infantry, but again could not accomplish their mission because of landmines planted by ordnance.
    The 194th was holding a position a kilometer north of the Pilar-Bagac Road on January 26 with four self-propelled mounts.  At 9:45 A.M., a Filipino came down the road and warned the battalion that a large Japanese force was coming down the road.  When they appeared the tanks opened up on them. At 10:30, the Japanese withdrew having lost 500 of 1200 men.  This action prevented the new line of defense from being breached.
    On January 28, the tank battalions were given the job of guarding the beaches so that the Japanese couldn't land troops.  The 194th guarded the coastline from Limay to Cabcaban.  During the day, the tanks hid under the jungle canopy.  At bight they were pulled out onto the beaches.  The battalion's half-tracks had the job of paroling the roads. At all times, the tanks were in contact with on-shore and off-shore patrols.

    General Weaver also issued the following orders to the tank battalions around this time. "Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying in position and firing at visible enemy until further delay will jeopardize withdrawal.  If a tank is immobilized, it will be fought until the close approach of the enemy, then destroyed; the crew previously taking positions outside and continuing to fight with the salvaged and personal weapons. Considerations of personal safety and expediency will not interfere with accomplishing the greatest possible delay."
    For most of March, the situation Bataan was relatively quiet and the Japanese had been fought to a standstill.  On one occasion, two tanks had gotten stuck in the mud, and the crews were working to free them.  While they were doing this, a Japanese regiment entered the area.  Lt. Colonel Ernest Miller ordered his tanks to fire on the Japanese at point blank range.  He also ran from tank to tank directing the crew's fire.  The Japanese were wiped out.
    Having brought in combat harden troops from Singapore, the Japanese lunched a major offensive on April 4th.  The tanks were sent to various sectors in an attempt to stop the advance.  On the 6th, four tanks were sent to support the 45th Philippine Infantry, Philippine Scouts. One tank was knocked out from anti-tank fire at the junctions of Trails 6 & 8, and the other tanks withdrew.  On April 8, the 194th was fighting on the East Coast Road at Cabcaban.

    It was at this time the tank battalions received these orders which came from Gen. Weaver, "Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying in position and firing at visible enemy until further delay will jeopardize withdrawal.  If a tank is immobilized, it will be fought until the close approach of the enemy, then destroyed; the crew previously taking positions outside and continuing to fight with the salvaged and personal weapons. Considerations of personal safety and expediency will not interfere with accomplishing the greatest possible delay."
    When the order was given, the tankers circled their tanks, fired an armor piercing shell into the engine of the tank in front, opened up the gasoline cocks in the crew compartment, and drop hand grenades into each tank.   Doc and other members of the company decided that they would attempt to escape to Corregidor.

     When Doc reached the island, he learned that they could not leave.  Doc was put on beach defense and given a gun.  He was sent to Skipper Hill which faced Bataan.  He was now attached to the Fourth Marine Division.

    Each evening a chow wagon was sent down to the soldiers.  To get to them, the chow truck had to cross an open field.  Since the Japanese were using observation balloons on Bataan, as soon as the truck made it to the field it came under fire.  The attacks got so bad that this method of feeding the soldiers was abandoned.

    One day, Doc and Lawson were sent out to get food.  When they began crossing the field, shells began landing around them.  In front of them was a member of the 31st Infantry.  As he ran, he was hit by a shrapnel from a shell which decapitated him.

     Doc and Lawson did not let the man lie in the field.  They dragged his body to a bunker and sat it up.  They then picked up his head and placed it on his lap and left him leaning on the bunker.

    As time went on, the soldiers could not go for food.  Instead, Doc and Lawson went to the Malinta Tunnel to get it.  While in the tunnel, they heard small arms fire.  The two did not think anything of it.  To them, it was a normal thing just  a little heavier then normal.

    Doc and Lawson were told that the Japanese had landed on the island the night before.  The two men stated that they had just come from outside and had not seen any Japanese.  They looked out the mouth of the tunnel and saw Japanese marching by fours toward them.

    Japanese tanks approached the tunnel at the same time, and snipers were also near the tunnel's mouth.  When a man attempted to get out, he was dead within eight or ten steps.  In spite of these odds, the two soldiers decided that they would make a break for it.

    Just as Doc and Lawson were about to make their way out of the tunnel, they heard of the surrender.  They remained in the tunnel and destroyed their guns.  The two men did get out of the tunnel and made their way to Queen's Tunnel.

    In this tunnel, the two found canned food.  They opened cans of peaches, sweet corn and cream.  They ate as much as they could.  While they were eating, the Japanese arrived.  Doc and the others stood up at attention.  The Japanese spoke English and wanted food.  In particular, they wanted canned Pineapple.

    Within a few minutes, the tunnel was full of Japanese.  Unlike the first Japanese, these soldiers took anything the Americans had.  They took their watches, money and wallets.  They also began to beat the Americans.

    There was an old American civilian who had a pocket watch on a gold chain with a large fob on it.  A Japanese soldier motioned to him to take it off.  He refused.  The soldier kicked him in the stomach and hit him in the face with the butt of his rifle and then took the watch.  The other Americans could little but watch.  After the beating, they comforted him as he cried.

     Doc and the other Prisoners of War were taken to what was known as the 92nd Garage on Corregidor's shore.  There, they lived in make shift barracks to keep dry since it was the rainy season.  The POWs scavenged for rice and sugar.  He and the other men went three days without water.

    Doc and Lawson volunteered for the water detail.  To get the water they went to the Malinta Tunnel to get water from a faucet.  On their way to the tunnel, a little Japanese guard picked on a big Marine.  While they were in the tunnel getting water, the Marine said to them that things were going to change on the way back.

    On the detail, were three guards.  One in front, one in the middle, and one at the back of the detail.  When they got to a cliff and were making their way along it, the Marine picked up the guard and threw him off it.  Neither of the other guards saw what had happened and never made an issue of it.

    About a week later, Doc and many of the POWs left Corregidor.  They were boarded onto small boats and taken to a larger one.  This boat took them to an area near Manila.  There, they were made to jump off the boat into the water.

    Doc and the other prisoners swam to shore.  Once on shore, they formed formation and were marched to Bilibid Prison.  He remained in the prison for a week when the Japanese moved the prisoners.

    The prisoners were taken to a train station and boarded onto train cars.  75 to 80 men were put into each car.  From Manila, the POWs were taken to Cabanatuan.  Once there, they lived in an old school house.  The next morning the POWs were marched to Cabanatuan Camp #3.
    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.

    The Japanese began to transfer POWs to other areas of their empire.  Doc volunteered to go to Japan on the first ship.  With him on the ship were Elzie Anness, Skip Rue, Morgan French and Marcus Lawson of D Company.  There were also other members of his battalion on the ship with whom he had become friends with at Ft. Knox.

    On November 7, 1942, the Nagato Maru sailed, as part of a three ship convoy, for Japan, from Pier 7 in Manila.  Many of the POWs came down with dysentery and seventeen died.  On the ship were Japanese soldiers returning to Japan.  The first few days they spent much of their time getting drunk.

    If the soldiers had to relieve themselves, they urinated into the ship's holds onto the POWs.  If they had to vomit, they did the same.  Since there was not a great deal of room to move, the POWs could do little to escape the urine and vomit.
    At one point the hatch covers were put on the holds.  The POWs had no idea why this had been done.  When they felt the vibrations of exploding depth charges, they knew submarines were in the area.

     The ship arrived at Toku, Formosa, on November 11 and anchored for three days.  It sailed but went to the Pescadores Islands, due to a storm, and dropped anchor.  It remained there for several days before it sailed for and arrived at Keelung, Formosa, on November 18.  On the 20th, the ship sailed again, this time for Moji, Japan.
     The ship arrived at Moji on November 24 and the POWs disembarked.   There the POWs were deloused, showered, fed, and issued new clothing.  In Doc's case, he was boarded onto a train and taken to Tanagawa #4-B.  In the camp, they were put to work building a dry-dock.  The POWs loaded mine cars which they pushed on trestle over the ocean.  They then dumped the cars into the ocean.

     At first, the Japanese expected them to load and dump twenty cars a day, but as time went on and the prisoners grew weaker, they could only manage five or six cars each day.  As their work decreased the number of beatings by the Japanese increased.

    Doc remained in the camp until the detail was broken up.  The Japanese sent Doc and the other prisoners were sent to a graphite factory.  Across from the factory, there was a airfield and behind it was a oil refinery.  The camp was surrounded by 27 smoke stacks.  What amazed Marcus was that the POW Camp was never hit by the American bombers.

    Doc, Morgan French and Lawson were selected for a work detail to Osaka #5.  There, they once again worked as stevedores unloading ships.  The POWs at this camp lived in a two story building that had been the customs house.  It had been condemned because it was to close to the docks and could be hit during an air raid.
    The prisoners stole food for themselves to supplement their meager rations.  An average meal for the POWs was soybean and rice.  The POWs carried 100 pound burlap sacks of soybeans.  To get extra food, the POWs would tear holes into the bags and drop beans into their pockets.  The pockets had holes to allow the beans to fall down their legs and settle in pouches around their ankles.  This prevented the Japanese from finding them when they searched the POWs when they returned to camp. 
    Yukinaga Kimura, a guard, would use a club, that looked like a baseball bat, to beat the POWs.  He used it any time he believed a POW had disobeyed an order.  Sometimes, he forced the POWs to drop their pants and beat them until they were black and blue and began to bleed.  Most of the time, he beat them on the head and body and on one occasion broke a prisoner's ear drum.   One civilian member of the camp medical staff slapped POWs who reported themselves as being sick and unable to work.  The beatings were so common that the POWs could not recall them all.

    One day the Japanese expected the POWs to unload a ship loaded with bombs.  The POWs refused on the basis that the bombs would be used against other Americans.  To get the prisoners to work, the Japanese brought in the "baseball brigade."  The POWs were beaten with bats, but they still refused to unload the bombs, so the Japanese did it themselves.
    The Japanese also appropriated items from the Red Cross packages for their own use.  This included canned meats, canned fruit, canned soup, cheese, and cigarettes.  Clothing and blankets also meant for the POWs were used by the Japanese guards.

     One night, Doc and the other POWs heard American planes approaching the docks. They also heard the bombs as they came down.  The bombing lasted three hours.  The next day the POWs could see that almost the entire town had burnt down.
    In late 1944, the POWs saw their first B-29s.  On March 13, 1945, Osaka was hit hard by the B-29s.  The next day when the POWs took their places for roll call, every POW who was number 29 in his detachment was beaten.  This happened five of six times in the next several months.

    Weeks later, the POWs were taking a break on the dock.  Suddenly, they saw three Navy Hellcats approaching.  The POWs ran to a warehouse that had been bombed out.  Each plane dropped three bombs.  About five minutes later, sixty more Hellcats came over the docks and bombed and strafed the area.  Any ships in the port were attacked and bombed.

    During the attack the POWs' barracks were hit.  After the attack the POWs slept on concrete until the Japanese moved them to a building across from a textile mill.  Most of the workers in the textile mill were women and children. 
    In the building was a kiln.  Some of the POWs were put to work on it.  Every morning, a B-29 would fly over doing reconnaissance.  One morning the air raid siren went off, but the POWs ignored it.  They thought it was another reconnaissance flight.  The plane dropped a blockbuster in the middle of the textile mill killing many women and children.

    The prisoners knew that the Americans were getting closer from the civilian newspapers.  One day the POWs were working, suddenly the guards stopped them and told them that it was too hot to work.  The POWs knew something was up because this story just did not sound right.  Some of the POWs said that the war had to be over because it had never been too hot to work before.

    The next morning the POWs got up again and were told that they did not have to work that day.  It was on this day that some of the prisoners heard a Japanese radio broadcast that said the Japanese were attempting to negotiate for peace.

    The Japanese then came around and gave each prisoner a cigarette ration.  The POWs had not seen cigarettes in months.  Next, the Japanese gave the POWs new split toe shoes and new POW uniforms.

    At this time Lawson was sick in bed with a 106 degree fever.  Doc Sparrow went to see him and got him out of bed.  The two friends went into the town to trade the shoes and clothes for Saki.  They then got drunk.

    Knowing that the war was over, Doc and the other POWs moved to a building with nicer quarters.  The POWs also painted a big "POW" on the roof of a building.  American planes dropped food, medicine and clothing to them, but no Americans appeared at the camp on September 5, 1945.

    When the POWs were finally liberated, they were returned to the Philippines.  Doc remained there until it was determined that he was healthy enough to return home.  Doc sailed on the U.S.S. General R. L. Howze, on September 23, 1945, and arrived, in San Francisco, on October 16, 1945.  It was almost four years, to the day, since he had left, from there, for the Philippines.  When he was ashore, he placed a long distance phone call to his parents before going to Letterman General Hospital for additional medical treatment.  On October 27, 1945, he returned home for the first time in three and one half years.  He was discharged from the army on  February 5, 1946.  Doc returned home to Harrodsburg.
    William "Doc" Sparrow never recovered from his time as a POW and was in and out of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky.  On May 1, 1952, Doc was admitted to the VA Hospital and passed away on  May 5, 1952, in Lexington.  He was buried in Spring Hill Cemetery in Harrodsburg on May 9, 1952.

    It should be mentioned that William D. Sparrow Jr. grave did not have a headstone was until 1961, when his sister got a military headstone for the grave.


 

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