Pvt. Marvin Dexter Taylor
Pvt. Marvin D. Taylor was born on February 21, 1923, in Graves County,
Kentucky, to Raymond Taylor and Nora Cox-Taylor. With his one sister and two brothers, he grew up in
Palmore, Kentucky. Marvin left high school after one year and worked as a sheet metal worker.
A draft act was passed in 1940 and Marvin knowing that it was just a matter of time until he would be drafted, enlisted in the Kentucky National Guard to fulfill his one year of military service. The tank had received orders that it would be federalized as D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.
The tank company was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, on November 28, 1940, where they joined three other National Tank companies to form the battalion. It is not known what specialized training he received during his time at the base, but it is known that he was transferred to Headquaters Company when it was formed in January 1941.
A typical day started at 6:15 A.M. with reveille, but most of the soldiers were already up so they could wash, dress, and be on time for assembly. Breakfast was from 7 to 8 A.M. which was followed buy calisthenics from 8 to 8:30. After this, the remainder of the morning dealt with .30 and .50 caliber machine guns, pistols, map reading, care of personal equipment, military courtesy, and training in military tactics.
At 11:30, the tankers got ready for lunch, which was from noon to 1:00 P.M., when they went back to work by attending the various schools. At 4:30, the tankers day ended and retreat was at 5:00 P.M. followed by evening meal at 5:30. The day ended at 9:00 P.M. with lights out, but they did not have to be in bed until 10:00 P.M. when taps was played.
In the late summer of 1941, the tank battalion was sent to Louisiana to take part in maneuvers. HQ company did not actively take part in the maneuvers but made sure the letter companies had the supplies they needed and their tanks were maintained. It was after the maneuvers that the battalion was ordered to report to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft. Knox. None of the soldiers had any idea why they were being sent to the base.
On the side of a hill, the battalion was informed that their time in the Army had been extended from one to five years. They also learned they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM. Within hours, most had figured out that PLUM stood for Philippines, Luzon, Manila. Men 29 years old, or older, were given the opportunity to resign from military service. Replacements for these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.
The decision for this move - which had been made in August 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.
Receiving a ten day pass home, Emerson said goodbye to his wife, Genevive Manthey-Rex, and baby. He returned to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and prepared for shipment overseas.
From Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over four different train routes to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California. Arriving there, the soldiers were ferried, on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, the soldiers were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases by the battalion's medical detachment. Those with major health issues were replaced, while those with minor health issues were held on the island and scheduled to rejoin the company at a later date.
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. The ship arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2 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, another transport, the 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 Dateline. 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. During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon. The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke. It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly country.During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon. The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke. It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly countr
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 Gen. 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. After making sure that they had their Thanksgiving Dinner, he went and had his own dinner.
For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons which had been greased to prevent them from rusting while at sea. They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts and preparing to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.
On Monday, December 1, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers. The 194th Tank Battalion guarded the northern half of the airfield, while the 192nd guarded the southern half. At all times, two members of every tank and half-track crew remained with their vehicles. Meals were brought to them by food trucks.
The morning of December 8, the all the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field. During the night, word had been received about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier. Most of the members of HQ Company remained behind in the battalion's bivouac.
All morning long, American planes filled the sky. At noon, every plane landed, to be refueled, and the pilots went to lunch. At 12:45 - as the members of HQ Company were eating lunch - 54 planes approached the airfield from the north. The men believed the planes were American until what they described as "raindrops" appeared to fall from the planes. When bombs began exploding around them, the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese. The members of HQ Company could do little more than watch the attack and seek shelter since they had few weapons to use against planes.
For the next four months, HQ Company worked to keep the tank companies operational. In March, the amount of gasoline was reduced to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles except the tanks. This would later be dropped to ten gallons a day. At the same time, food rations were cut in half again. Also at this time, Gen. Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that a platoon of tanks be sent to Corregidor.
The Japanese lunched an all out attack on April 4. On April 7, the 57th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, supported by tanks, attempted to restore the line, but Japanese infiltrators prevented this from happening. During this action, one tank was knocked out but the remaining tanks successfully withdrew. C Company, 194th, which was attached to the 192nd, had only seven tanks left.
The tanks became a favorite target of the Japanese receiving fire on trails and while hidden in the jungle. and could not fight back. The situation was so bad that other troops avoided being near the tanks, and the 26th Cavalry turned down a tank company's offer of assistance in a counter-attack.
On April 4, the Japanese launched an all out attack. The evening of April 8, Gen. Edward P. King decided that further resistance was futile, since approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to fight, and he estimated they would last one more day. In addition, he had over 6,000 troops who sick or wounded and 40,000 civilians who he feared would be massacred. At 10:30 that night, he sent his staff officers to negotiate surrender terms. At 11;40, the ammunition dumps were blown up.
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."
The evening of April 8, 1942, Capt. Fred Bruni, HQ Company's commanding officer, gave his men the news of the surrender. While informing the members of the company of the surrender, he waved his arm toward the tanks and told the men that they would no longer need them. As he spoke, his voice choked. He turned away from the men for a moment, and when he turned back he continued. He next told the sergeants what they should do to disable the tanks. During the announcement, Bruni emphasized that they all were to surrender together. He told the soldiers to destroy their weapons and any supplies that could be used by the Japanese. The only thing they were told not to destroy were the company's trucks. The men waited in their bivouac until ordered to move. Somehow, Bruni had found enough bread and pineapple juice for what he called , "Their last supper."
The soldiers proceeded to pile up their guns and ammunition and set the pile on fire. Most of the soldiers stayed in their bivouac and waited for orders. A number attempted to reach Corregidor. At the same time that they were sad, they were also kind of excited and wondered what was going to happen to them.
The first contact HQ Company had with the Japanese was when a Japanese officer and soldiers entered their bivouac. They ordered the Americans to go to the road that ran past their encampment. Once on the road, they were made to kneel on both sides of the road with their possessions in front of them. As they knelt, the Japanese soldiers passing them took whatever they wanted from the Americans. They remained kneeling for hours.
When the soldiers were ordered to move, they boarded their trucks and drove to an area just outside of Mariveles. From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and were ordered to sit. As they sat, the POWs noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming across from them. They soon realized that this was a firing squad and the Japanese were going to kill them.
Sitting, watching, and waiting, the POWs wondered what the Japanese intended to do. It was at that time that a Japanese officer pulled up in a car in front of the soldiers, got out of the car, and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail. The officer got back in the car and drove off. As he drove away, the sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
Later in the day, Marvin's group of POWs was moved to a school yard in Mariveles where they were left sitting in the sun for hours without food or water. Behind the POWs were four Japanese artillery pieces which began firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum which had not surrendered. Shells from these two American forts began landing among the POWs who could do little since they had no place to hide. Some POWs were killed by the incoming American shells. One group of POWs, that tried to hide in a small brick building, died when it took a direct hit. The American guns did succeed in knocking out three of the four Japanese guns.
The POWs were ordered to move again and had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march. During the march, the POWs received no water and little food. It took the members of HQ Company six days to reach San Fernando. Once there, the POWs were put into a bull pen that had a fence around it. In one corner was a slit trench to be used as a toilet by the POWs. The surface of the trench moved since it was covered in maggots. The POWs had enough room to sit, but they could not lie down.
During their time in the bull pen, the POWs watched the Japanese bury three POWs. Two of the men were still alive. When one of the men attempted to climb out of the grave, he was hit in the head with a shovel and buried. At some point, the Japanese ordered the men to form ranks. They were marched in detachments of 100 men to the train station.
At the train station, the POWs were put into a small wooden boxcars known as "forty or eights," because each car could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 men into each car and closed the doors. Those who died remained standing, since they had no place to fall, until the living climbed out of the cars at Capas. From there, Marvin walked the last miles to Camp O' Donnell.
The camp was an unfinished Filipino training base that was pressed into use as a POW camp on April 1, 1942. The Japanese estimated that the camp could hold 15, 000 to 20,000 POWs. When they arrived at the camp, the Japanese confiscated any extra clothing that the POWs had and refused to return it to them. They searched the POWs and if a man was found to have Japanese money on them, they were taken to the guardhouse. Over the next several days, gunshots were heard to the southeast of the camp. These POWs had been executed for looting.
There was only one water faucet in the camp, and the prisoners stood in line from two to eight hours waiting for a drink. The Japanese guards at the faucet would turn it off for no reason and the next man in line would stand as long as four hours waiting for it to be turned on again. This situation improved when a second faucet was added.
There was no water for washing clothes, so the POWs would throw out their clothing when it had been soiled. In addition, water for cooking had to be carried three miles from a river to the camp and mess kits could not be washed. The slit trenches in the camp were inadequate and were soon overflowing since most of the POWs had dysentery. The result was that flies were everywhere in the camp including the POW kitchens and in the food.
The camp hospital had no soap, water, or disinfectant. When the ranking American doctor at the camp wrote a letter to the camp commandant, Capt. Yohio Tsuneyoshi, asking for medical supplies, he was told never to write another letter. When the Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medical supplies to the camp, Tsuneyoshi refused to allow the truck into the camp. When the Japanese Red Cross sent medical supplies to the camp the Japanese took 95% of the supplies for their own use.
The POWs in the camp hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow and only one of the six medic assigned to care for 50 sick POWs was healthy enough to care for them. When a representative of the Philippine Red Cross stated they could supply a 150 bed hospital for the camp, he was slapped in the face by a Japanese lieutenant.
Each morning, the bodies of the dead were found all over the camp and were carried to the hospital and placed underneath it. The bodies lay there for two or three days before they were buried in the camp cemetery by other POWs who were suffering from dysentery and/or malaria. To clean the ground under the hospital, the ground was scraped and lime was spread over it. The bodies of the dead were placed in the area, and the area they had been laying was scrapped and lime was spread over it.
Work details were sent out on a daily basis. Each day, the American doctors gave a list of names to the Japanese of the POWs who were healthier enough to work. If the quota of POWs needed to work could not be met, the Japanese put those POWs who were sick, but could walk, to work. The death rate among the POWs reached 50 men dying a day. The Japanese finally acknowledge that they had to do something, so the opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.
On June 1, 1942, the POWs formed detachments of 100 men each and were marched to Capas. There, the were put in steel boxcars with two Japanese guards. At Calumpit, the train was switched onto another line which took it to Cabanatuan. The POWs disembarked and were taken to a schoolyard where they were fed cooked rice and onion soup. From there, they were marched to Cabanatuan which had been the headquarters of the 91st Philippine Army Division and was known as Camp Panagaian. The transfer of POWs was completed on June 4.
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 camp hospital consisted of 30 wards that could hold 40 men each, but it was more common for them to have 100 men in them. Each man had approximately an area of 2 feet by 6 feet to lie in. The sickest POWs were put in "Zero Ward," which was called this because it was missed by the Japanese when they counted barracks. The Japanese put a fence up around the building to protect themselves and would not go into the area. 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.
On June 13, Marvin was sent to Bilibid Prison because he had been selected to work on Manila Port Area Detail. The POWs on this detail were used as stevedores on the Manila docks.
When the detail started the POWs were housed in a warehouse that had poor ventilation, poor washroom facilities, and no hospital. In October 1942, the POWs were moved to the Port Terminal Building. The POWs were worked hard and many days the POWs worked 24 hours a day. The Japanese officer negotiated with the ranking American officers and the food, medical care, and living conditions improved. The POWs still attempted to commit acts of sabotage so the war materials were useless to the Japanese.
It was while Marvin was on the detail that he was allowed to make a shortwave broadcast. He said: "Dear Dad: Hoping everyone is well at home. My health is good. I am hoping to see you soon. Lonnie and I are still together. Your loving son, Marvin Taylor, Philippine Military Prison Camp #11." Lonnie in the message was Pvt. Lonnie Gray who was also from Harrodsburg.
In July 1944, the work detail was ended and most of the POWs, including Marvin, were boarded onto the Nissyo Maru on July 11. The ship moved into the harbor on the 17th but dropped anchor off the breakwater and sat for a week. The haul of the ship became hot from the sun raising the temperature inside the hold. In addition, the smell from human waste was unbelievable.
On July 24, the ship sailed as part of a convoy which was attacked, the July 26, by three American submarines. During the night, there was a huge explosion and the POWs could see the flames shoot over the hatch since the hold was not covered. The remaining ships arrived at Takao, Formosa, on July 27. After an overnight stay, the ships sailed the next day arriving at Moji, Japan, on August 3. The POWs were disembarked on a pier, formed into detachments, and marched to the train station.
The POWs were transported to Kamioka POW Camp which was also known as Nagoya #1-B. The living conditions in the camp were poor with 24 men living in a barracks meant for ten. The POW diet in the camp was cooked rice. Every two weeks they would receive three ounces of fish. Once a month each man received one once of meat, and every three weeks, if they were being rewarded for working hard, they received five ounces of soy beans.
The POWs slept 24 men to a barracks, and their beds were straw mats. The blankets they received were not much protection against the cold. The barracks were heated by coal burning stoves, but only two handfuls of coal were issued each day. To prevent the buildings from collapsing in the winter, the POWs had to clear the roofs of snow each time it snowed.
When the Japanese heard war news of an air raid by the Americans, they selected eight or ten POWs and punished them. Afterwards, they threw them into the guardhouse where the men were forgotten for days. The POWs also learned that when the Japanese called them out in the middle of the night for an inspection, it meant that the Japanese had suffered another defeat and that the Americans were getting closer.
The camp supplied laborers to a lead mine owned by the Mitsui Mining Company. The POWs were under the supervision of civilians who used rubber hoses to hit them. The beatings often lasted for hours. If a POW was hurt while working, he had to remain at work until the end of the shift. During the winter, the prisoners had to climb the mountain through snow that was four to five feet deep. Since the Japanese did not issue the shoes that were sent by the Red Cross, to protect their feet from frostbite, the POW's made socks from blackout curtains to put inside their canvas shoes.
Since a certain number of POWs were needed for work each day, the sick, who could walk, were forced to work. Those who refused were beaten. In addition, the Japanese set a limit on the number of POWs who could be in the hospital at any time. The Japanese did not treat the sick or injured well and withheld medicine from the POWs even though it was in the Red Cross packages. Most of the POWs never received one letter, from home, while in the camp.
The sick POWs were put on "light duty." To the Japanese "light duty" was going up a mountain and hauling green muck. As it turned out, this muck was contaminated and even the Japanese guards kept away from it. The prisoners noticed that nothing would grow where the muck was dumped. The prisoners worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Every two weeks they would get one day off. This detail was not bad during the summer because the old man who was the supervisor would allow two of the six prisoners to look for edible plants.
In the winter, the POWs received two handfuls of coal each day to burn the small stove in the center of the barracks. The buildings were built so poorly that the snow had to be removed from the roofs so that they would not collapse. The prisoners also were never warm and slept in pairs to share body heat and blankets. The latrines were dug by the POWs who also had to build a barrier around the latrine.
The Japanese treatment of the POWs was brutal. If one POW broke a rule, all the POWs would be beaten, clubbed, or burned on their hands, necks, and abdomen. When the Japanese heard news of an air raid by the Americans, they selected eight or ten POWs and punished them. Afterwards, they threw them into the guardhouse where the men were forgotten about for days. The POWs also learned that when the Japanese called them out in the middle of the night for an inspection, it meant that the Japanese had suffered another defeat and that the Americans were getting closer.
The camp was sixty miles from Nagaski. When the atomic bomb was dropped, the camp shook. The day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the Japanese were angry and made the POWs do close drill before going off to work. The POWs had no idea why this was done. When they got to the mine, they noticed a guard in the tower. The guard was a "spotter" looking for American bombers. The following day, the guards were gone and had left their guns, without bolts, behind. The POWs learned of the Japanese surrender from a newspaper they bought on the Black Market. The POWs broke into the supply hut and ate the first good meal they had in three and one half years.
On August 15, 1945, the POWs learned of the Japanese surrender from a newspaper purchased on the Black Market. The prisoners wanted to celebrate, but the officers feared that if they did the Japanese would retaliate.
On September 7, 1945, the POWs were liberated and taken to Yokohama; from there they were returned to the Philippines for medical treatment. His family received word he had been freed on September 27. After being liberated Marvin was promoted to corporal. His physical condition must have been good, since he was sent home on the U.S.S. Yarmouth, which arrived at San Francisco on October 8, 1945, and received additional medical treatment. Afterwards, he returned home and married Irene Virginia Taylor .
Marvin re-enlisted in the military February 7, 1946, and was promoted to Staff Sergeant and assigned to work in the U.S. Army Recruiting Service. With his wife, he resided at 640 Adams in Memphis, Tennessee. According to his death certificate, S/Sgt. Marvin D. Taylor died from a self-inflicted gun shot wound on August 27, 1947, at home in Memphis. It would seem that his time as a POW took its toll on him. S/Sgt. Marvin D. Taylor was buried at Grapevine Christian Church Cemetery in Harrodsburg, Kentucky.
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