StephensonMG

 


Pvt. Mayo Gadish Stephenson


Born: 26 October 1921 - Texas
Father: Charles Stephenson & Phoebe May McMahon-Stephenson
Siblings: 5 brothers, 1 sister
Hometown: De Ridder, Louisiana

Home: Harris County, Texas
    - living in Texas when inducted

Inducted:

    - U.S. Army 

        - Camp Shelby - Mississippi

Units: 

    - 753rd Tank Battalion

        - volunteered to replace a National Guardsman who was released

           from federal service 

    - 192nd Tank Battalion

Training: 

    - Fort Knox, Kentucky

    - Camp Polk, Louisiana

Overseas Duty:
    - battalion travels by train, over four different train routes to San Francisco, California

    - taken to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay by the ferry, U.S.A.T. Gen. Frank M. Coxe
    - October 25 & 26 - physicals given by battalion's medical detachment
        - some men released
        - others held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date
        - replacements filled these positions
       - U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott
        - Sailed: San Francisco - Monday - 27 October 1941
        - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Sunday - 2 November 1941
            - remained in Hawaii until other ships in convoy arrived
        - Sailed: Wednesday - 5 November 1941
            - took southern route away from main shipping lanes
            - joined by the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and the transport, S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
                - smoke seen on horizon
                - Louisville revved its engines, its bow came out of water, and it intercepted the ship
                    - ship was from a neutral country
        - Sunday - 9 November 1941 - crossed International Dateline
            - soldiers woke up on Tuesday - 11 November 1941
        - Arrived: Guam - Sunday 16 November 1941
            - ship loaded with water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables
        - Sailed: next day
            - passed Japanese held island in total blackout
        -Arrived: Thursday - 20 November 1941 - Manila Bay - 7:00 A.M.
            - soldiers disembark ship three hours after arrival
            - boarded buses for Ft. Stotsenburg
            - maintenance section remained behind to unload tanks from ship
Stationed:
        - Ft. Stotsenburg
            - Colonel Edward P. King met the soldiers when they arrived
            - apologized to soldiers about living conditions

            - Thanksgiving Dinner was a stew slapped into mess kits
            - lived in tents along main road between fort and Clark Airfield
            - made sure they all had Thanksgiving Dinner before he had his dinner         

Engagements:

    - Battle of Luzon 

        - 8 December 1941 - 6 January 1942
                   - 8 December 1941 - 6 January 1942
            - 12:45 P.M. - 8 December 1941 - lived through Japanese attack on Clark Airfield
            - HQ Company took cover in bivouac

    - Battle of Bataan

        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942

Prisoner of War: 

     - 9 April 1942 - Filipino and American forces surrendered to Japanese

        - HQ Company remained in bivouac for two days before Japanese made contact with
          them

     - 11 April 1942 - company ordered out on road that ran past their bivouac

         - the members of the company were ordered to kneel along both sides of the road

         - passing Japanese troops took whatever they wanted from the Americans possessions

         - Hq Company drove trucks to Mariveles at southern tip of Bataan

        - ordered out of the trucks and into a field

        - Japanese formed a firing squad to kill them

        - a Japanese officer drove up in a jeep and stops execution from happening

    - Death March

        - Mariveles - POWs start march at southern tip of Bataan

         - POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor

        - American artillery on Corregidor returned fire

        - San Fernando -POWs put into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane

            - each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men

            -  Japanese packed 100 POWs into each boxcar

            - POWs who died remained standing

            - Capas - POWs left boxcars - dead POWs fell to the floor

            - POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell 

POW Camps: 

     - Philippine Islands: 

        - Camp O'Donnell
            - 1 April 1942 - unfinished Filipino training base Japanese put into use as a POW camp
                - Japanese believed the camp could hold 15,000 to 20,000 POWs
            - POWs searched upon arrival at camp
                - those found with Japanese money were accused of looting
                - sent to guardhouse
                - over several days, gun shots heard southeast of the camp
                    - POWs who had money on them had been executed
            - Japanese took away any extra clothing from POWs as they entered the camp and refused to return it
                - since no water was available for wash clothing, the POWs threw soiled clothing away
                - clothing was taken from dead
                - few of the POWs in the camp hospital had clothing
            - POWs were not allowed to bathe
            - only one water spigot for entire camp
                - POWs waited 2 hours to 8 hours to get a drink
                    - water frequently turned off by Japanese guards and next man in line waited as long as 4 hours for water to be turned on again
                    - mess kits could not be cleaned
                - POWs had to carry water 3 miles from a river to cook their meals
                - second water spigot installed a week after POWs arrived
            - slit trenches overflowed since many of the POWs had dysentery
                - flies were everywhere including in camp kitchens and food
            - camp hospital had no water, soap, or disinfectant
            - the senior POW doctor wrote a list of medicines he wanted to treat the sick and was told by the camp commandant, Capt. Yoshio
              Tsuneyoshi, never to write another letter
                - Tsuneyoshi said that all he wanted to know about the American POWs was their names and numbers when they died
                - refused to allow a truckload of medicine sent by the Archbishop of Manila into the camp
                - 95% of the medicine sent by Philippine Red Cross was taken by the Japanese for their own use
            - POWs in camp hospital lay on floor elbow to elbow
            - operations on POWs were performed with mess kit knives
            - only one medic out of six assigned to care for 50 sick POWs, in the hospital, was well enough to work
            - as many as 50 POWs died each day
                - each morning dead were found everywhere in the camp and stacked up under the hospital
                - ground under hospital was scrapped and cover with lime to clean it
                - the dead were moved to this area and the section where they had laid was scrapped and cover with lime
                - usually not buried for two or three days
            - work details: if a POW could walk, he was sent out on a work detail
                - POWs on burial detail often had dysentery and malaria
        - Japanese opened new POW camp to lower death rate
            - 1 June 1942 - POWs formed detachments of 100 men
                - POWs marched out gate and marched toward Capas
                    - Filipino people gave POWs small bundles of food
                        - the guards did not stop them
                - At Capas, the POWs were put into steel boxcars and rode them to Manila
                - train stopped at Calumpit and switched onto the line to Cabanatuan
                    - POWs disembark train at 6:00 P.M. and put into a school yard
                    - fed rice and onion soup   
               - 4 June 1942 - transfer of POWs completed
                   - only sick POWs remained at Camp O'Donnell
        - Cabanatuan
            - original name - Camp Panagaian
                - Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
                    - put into use by Japanese as a POW camp
                - actually three camps
                    - Camp 1: POWs from Camp O'Donnell sent there in attempt to lower death rate
                    - Camp 2:  two miles away
                        - all POWs moved from there because of a lack of water
                        - later used for Naval POWs
                    - Camp 3: six miles from Camp 2
                        - POWs from Corregidor and from hospitals sent there
                        - camp created to keep Corregidor POWs separated from Bataan POWs
                        - Corregidor POWs were in better shape
                            - January 1943 - POWs from Camp 3 consolidated into Camp 1
        - Camp Administration:
            - the Japanese left POWs to run the camp on their own
                - Japanese entered camp when they had a reason
                - POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
                    - Note: men who attempted to escape were recaptured
                    - Japanese beat them for days
                    - executed them
            - Blood Brother Rule
                - POWs put into groups of ten
                    - if one escaped the others would be executed
                    - housed in same barracks
                    - worked on details together
            - Barracks:
                - each barracks held 50 men
                    - often held between 60 and 120 men
                    - slept on bamboo slats without mattresses, covers, and mosquito netting
                        - diseases spread easily
                    - no showers
            - Morning Roll Call:
                - stood at attention
                    - frequently beaten over their heads for no reason
                - when POWs lined up for roll call, it was a common practice for Japanese guards, after the POWs lined up, to kick the POWs in
                  their shins with their hobnailed boots because they didn't like the way the POWs lined up
            - Work Details:
                - Two main details
                    - the farm and airfield
                        - farm detail
                            - POWs cleared land and grew comotes, cassava, taro, sesame, and various greens
                            - Japanese took what was grown
                    - Guards:
                        - Big Speedo - spoke little English
                            - in charge of detail
                            - fair in treatment of POWs
                            - spoke little English
                                - to get POWs to work faster said, "speedo"
                        - Little Speedo
                            - also used "speedo" when he wanted POWs to work faster
                            - fair in treatment of POWs
                        - Smiley
                            - always smiling
                            - could not be trusted
                            - meanest of guards
            - Airfield Detail:
                - Japanese built an airfield for fighters
                    - POWs cut grass, removed dirt, and leveled ground
                        - at first moved dirt in wheel barrows
                        - later pushed mining cars
                   - Guards:
                        - Air Raid
                            - in charge
                            - usually fair but unpredictable
                                - had to watch him
                        - Donald Duck
                            - always talking
                            - sounded like the cartoon character
                            - unpredictable - beat POWs
                            - POWs told him that Donald Duck was a big American movie star
                                - at some point, he saw a Donald Duck cartoon
                                - POWs stayed away from him when he came back to camp
                - Work Day: 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
                    - worked 6 days a week
                        - had Sunday off
            - Other Details:
                - work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens and plant rice
                    - they also were frequently hit with a pick handle, for no reason, as they counted off
                - POWs on the rice planting detail were punished by having their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on
                - the POWs had to go into a shed to get the tools, as they came out, they were hit on their heads
                - if the guards on the detail decided the POW wasn't doing what he should be doing, he was beaten
                - many POWs on details were able to smuggle in medicine, food, and tobacco into the camp
            - daily POW meal
                - 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
                - rice was main staple, few vegetables or fruits
        - Camp Hospital:
            - 30 Wards
                - each ward could hold 40 men
                    - frequently had 100 men in each
               - two tiers of bunks
                   - sickest POWs on bottom tier
               - each POW had a 2 foot by 6 foot area to lie in
            - Zero Ward
                - given name because it had been missed when counting wards
                - became ward where those who were going to die were sent
                - fenced off from other wards
                    - Japanese guards would not go near it
                    - POWs sent there had little to no chance of surviving
                    - medical staff had little to no medicine to treat sick
                    - many deaths from disease caused by malnutrition
        - Burial Detail:
            - POWs worked in teams of four men to bury dead
                - carried as many as six dead POWs in slings to cemetery
                - buried in graves that contained 16 to 18 bodies
            - hospitalized - 10 July 1942 - tested for tuberculosis
                - discharged - no date given

        - Pasay School Detail

            - POWs built runways with picks and shovels

            - the detail was a death detail

            - POWs housed at Pasay School
            - to build runway the POWs had to remove hills with picks and shovels

            - ashes of dead taken to Bilibid in small boxes

                - POWs from detail would not talk about the detail

                - it was only when sick began being sent to Bilibid that the POWs there learned what was

                  going on, on the detail
            - detail ended when first American planes - 27 August 1944        
Hell Ship:

    - Hokusen Maru

        - Boarded: 21 September 1944

            - 500 POWs put in one hold
            - moved to buoy and dropped anchor
                - POWs start  going insane from heat in holds
               - Japanese threaten to shoot POWs unless they are silenced
               -POWs kill insane
        - Sailed: Manila - 4 October 1944

            - 18 ship convoy
            - stopped at Cabcaban, Philippine Islands
            - stopped 5 October 1944 - San Fernando, La Union, Philippine Islands
                - joined convoy
            - 6 October 1944 - convoy attacked by submarines
                - two ships sunk
            - 9 October 1944 - airplane scare - convoy broke up
                - sailed for Hong Kong
                - ran into wolf pack - ship sunk
        - Arrived: Hong Kong - 11 October 1944
            - attacked by American planes while in port
        - Sailed: 21 October 1944
        - Arrived: Takao, Formosa - 24 October 1944
        - Disembark: 8 November 1944
            - POWs in such bad shape that Japanese decided to leave them on Formosa
POW Camp:

    - Formosa: 

        - Toroku Camp
            - POWs were in poor condition

            - Japanese did not make them do hard labor

            - POWs did light farming and gardening
Hell Ship:

    - Enoshima Maru

        - Departed: Formosa - 25 January 1945
            - ship was also carrying hemp
            - underneath was sugar and cans of tomatoes
            - POWs stole canned tomatoes

        - Arrived: Japan - 30 January 1945
            - POWs put in schoolhouse
            - forced to remove clothing in the cold because they were so louse infested
            - deloused

    - Japan: 

        - Maribara #10-B - 15 May 1945 

            - Work: steel mills and warehouse
            - also worked to drain lake

            - second camp commandant treated POWs better
                - rations increased near end of war
                - POWs also issued shoes and Japanese uniforms
                - when the Japanese gave them beer, they knew the war was over

Liberated:

    - 19 August 1945 - learned of surrender

        - POWs roamed area near camp
    - 1 September 1945

        - 7:30 P.M.
            - Mayo and seven other POWs left camp to find American troops

            - 300 mile ride to Tokyo on Japanese troop train
    - 2 September 1945 - taken to Imperial Hotel by U.S. Troops
        - spent night there
    - 3 September 1945 - sent to Yokahama
        - reported to U.S. Forces

Promoted: Corporal
    - flown to Hickam Field - Hawaii
    - flown to Hamilton Field north of San Francisco

Discharged: 15 August 1946
Occupation: truck driver
Never married
Residence: 822 West 31st Street - Houston, Texas

Died: Sunday - 4 September 1949 -  Liberty, Texas
    - cause of death - heart attack
    - found dead along highway 90 in Denton, Texas

Buried: Beauregard Cemetery, DeRidder, Louisiana


 

 

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