Swain

 


T/5 Edward J. Swain


Born: April 1916 - Genesee County, New York

Hometown:  Darien, New York

Parents: Robert Swain & Ethel Hart-Swain

Siblings: 1 sister, 2 brothers

Enlisted: 13 February 1941 - Buffalo, New York
Stationed: Fort Knox, Kentucky

Unit:
    - 19th Ordnance Battalion
        - trained alongside the 192nd Tank Battalion
        - learned to repair 57 vehicles used by the Army

        - job - machinist
        - August 1941 - took part in maneuvers in Arkansas
            - A Company ordered back to Ft. Knox
    - 17th Ordnance Company
       - 17 August 1941 - A Company designated 17th Ordnance Company
            - received orders overseas on same day

Note: The decision for this move - which had been made on August 15, 1941 - was the result of an event that took place in the summer of 1941.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines, when one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower altitude, noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another in the distance.  He came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island which was hundred of miles away.  The island had a large radio transmitter.  The squadron continued its flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.
     When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.  The next day, when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat - with a tarp on its deck - which was seen making its way to shore.  Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was difficult, the boat escaped.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
Overseas Duty:
        - traveled by train to Ft. Mason, San Francisco, California
            - arrived: Thursday, 5 September 1941
        - ferried to Ft. McDowell, Angel Island on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
            - given physicals and inoculations
            - men with medical conditions replaced
        - removed turrets from tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion

    - S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
        - Boarded: San Francisco, California - Monday - 8 September 1941
        - Sailed: 9:00 P.M.
        - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Saturday - 13 September 1941 - 9:00 A.M.
            - soldiers given shore leave for the day
        - Sailed: same day - 5:00 P.M.

            - escorted by the heavy cruiser, U.S.S. Astoria, and an unknown destroyer
                - smoke seen on horizon several times
                -  cruiser intercepted ships

        - Tuesday - 16 September 1941 - crossed International Dateline

            - date became - Thursday - 18 September 1941
        - Arrived: Manila, Philippine Islands - Friday - 26 September 1941
        - Disembark: 3:00 P.M.
            - 17th Ordnance remained behind to unload the tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion
                - reattached the turrets to the tanks.
        - rode bus to Ft. Stotsenburg
        - lived in tents at Ft. Stotsenburg
           -barracks completed - 15 November 1941

Engagements:

    - Battle of Luzon

        - 8 December 1942 - 6 January 1942

    - Battle of Bataan

        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942
            - serviced tanks of the 192nd & 194th Tank Battalions

Prisoner of War:

    - 9 April 1941

        - Death March

            - started march at Mariveles on the southern tip of Bataan
            - POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor
                - American Artillery returned fire
                    - knocked out three Japanese guns
            - San Fernando - POWs put into small wooden
boxcars
               
- each car could hold eight horses or forty men
                - Japanese packed 100 POWs into each boxcar
                - POWs who died remained standing
            - Capas - POWs leave boxcars - dead fall out of cars
                - walked 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
                    - to bury the dead, the POWs held the body down with a pole while it was covered with dirt
                    - the next day when they returned, the bodies often were sitting up in the graves or had been dug up by wild dogs

Died:

     - 1 May 1942 - dysentery

         - first member of 17th Ordnance to die in a POW Camp

Buried:

    - Camp O'Donnell Cemetery

Reburied:

     - American Military Cemetery - Manila, Philippine Island
         - Plot:  A   Row:  4   Grave:  118





 

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