Sgt. Winfield James Thompson
Born: 5 October 1914 - Browns Valley, Minnesota
Parents: Jacob Thompson & Jennie Wanna-Thompson
Siblings: 4 sisters, 8 brothers
    - member of Sisseton Wahpetah Oyate
Home: Veblen, South Dakota
    - family moved to Veblen when he was a teenager
Enlisted:
    - U.S. Army
        - 9 April 1941
Training:
    - Fort Lewis, Washington
Unit:
    - HQ Company, 194th Tank Battalion
Note: 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.
Overseas Duty:
    - 4 September  1941 -
        - battalion traveled by train to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California
    - Arrived: 7:30 A.M. - 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
    - Ship: S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
        - Boarded: Monday - 8 September 1941 - 3:00 P.M.
        - Sailed: 9:00 P.M. - same day
        - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Saturday - 13 September 1941 - 7:00 A.M.
        - Sailed: 5:00 P.M. - same day
            - escorted by the heavy cruiser - U.S.S. Astoria
                - smoke seen on horizon several times
                -  cruiser intercepted ships
        - Arrived: Manila - Friday - 26 September 1941
            - disembark ship - 3:00 P.M.
            - taken by bus to Fort Stostenburg
            - maintenance section with 17th ordnance remained behind to unload the tanks and attached turrets
                -27 September 1941 - job completed at 9:00 A.M.
Stationed:
    - Ft. Stotsenburg, Philippine Islands
        - lived in tents until barracks completed - 15 November 1941
        - 1 December 1941
            - tanks ordered to perimeter of Clark Field
            - 194th guarded north end of airfield with 192nd guarding south portion
            - two crew members of each tank and half-track remained with vehicle at all times
                - meals served by food trucks
            - those not assigned to a tank or half-track remained at command post
Engagements:
    - Battle of Luzon
        - 8 December 1941 - 6 January 1942
            - The morning of December 8th, December 7th in the United States, the tankers
              were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield.
            - 12:45 P.M. - the airfield was bombed destroying the Army Air Corps
                - tankers were receiving lunch from food trucks when attack came
            - HQ Company members remained in 194th command area
                - could do little more than take cover during attack
            - As HQ Company watched the wounded and dying carried to hospital on anything that
              would carry them
                  - most had missing arms or legs
                  - when hospital ran out of room, wounded put under the hospital
            - Next day, members of company walked around airfield and saw the dead laying
              everywhere
            - 10 December 1941
                - battalion sent to Mabalcat
                    - C Company was sent to Southern Luzon to support troops
            - 12 December 1941
                - moved to new bivouac south to San Fernando near Calumpit Bridge
                    - arrived 6:00 A.M.
            - 14 December 1941
                - A Co. & D Co., 192nd moved to just north of Muntinlupa
            - 15 December 1941
                - received 15 Bren gun carriers
                - turned some over to 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts
                - Bren gun carriers used to test ground to see if it could support tanks
            - 22 December 1941
                - sent to Rosario
                    - west and north of the of barrio
                    - ordered out of the 71st Division Commander
                        - said they would hinder the cavalry's operation
            - 22/23 December 1941
                - operating north of Agno River
                - main bridge at Carmen bombed
            - 24 December 1941
                - operating in Hacienda Road area
            - 26/27 December 1941
                - ordered to withdraw - 7:00 A.M.
                    - Lt. Costigan's platoon forced its way through way through Carmen
                        - lost two tanks
                            - one tank belonged to company commander - Captain Edward Burke
                                - believed dead, but was actually captured
                            - one tank crew rescued
                - new line Santa Ignacia-Gerona-Santo Tomas-San Jose
                - rest of battalion made a dash out
                    - lost one tank at Bayambang
                    - another tank went across front receiving fire and firing on Japanese
                - Lt. Petree's platoon fought its way out and across Agno River
                - D Company, 192nd, lost all its tanks except one
                    - the tank commander found a crossing
                    - Japanese would use tanks later on Bataan
            - 28 December 1941
                - Tarlec Line
                    - most of battalion withdrew from line that night
            - 29/30 December 1941
                - new line at Bamban River established
                - tank battalions held line until ordered to withdraw
            - 30/31 December 1941
                    - tank battalions held Calumpit Bridge
                    - covering withdraw of Philippine Divisions south on Rt. 3, San Fernando
            - 2 January 1942
                - both tank battalions ordered to withdrawal to Lyac Junction
                - 194th withdrew there on Highway 7
            - 5 January 1942
                - C Company and A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, withdrew from Guagua-Poraline
                  Line and moved into position between Sexmoan and Lubao
                - 1:50 A.M. - Japanese attempted to infiltrate
                    - bright moonlight made them easy to see
                    - tanks opened fire
                    - Japanese lay down smoke which blew back into them
                - 3:00 A.M. - Japanese broke off engagement
                     - suffered 50% casualties
                - Remedios - established new line along dried creek bed  
            - 6/7 January 1942
                - 194th, covered by 192nd, crosses Culis Creek into Bataan
                - both battalions bivouacked south of Aubucay-Hacienda Road
                - rations cut in half
    - Battle of Bataan
        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942
             - HQ Company serviced tanks and supplied crews with ammunition, gas, and
               food
            - January 1942
                - tank companies reduced to three tanks per platoon
    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."
           - 8 January 1942
                - composite tank company made up of tanks from the 192nd and 194th sent to
                  protect
                  East Coast Road north of Hermosa
                    - their job was to keep the East Road open  north of Hermosa and prevent the
                      Japanese from driving into Bataan before the main battle line had been formed
                - remainder of tanks ordered to bivouac for night south of Aubucay-Hacienda Road
                    - tankers had been fighting for a month without a rest
                    - tanks also needed overdue maintenance
                    - 17th Ordnance
                - all tank companies reduced to ten tanks
                - three per tank platoon
                - sent to reopen Moron Road so General Segunda's forces could withdraw
                - tanks knock out an anti-tank gun
                - two tanks disabled by landmines but recovered
                - mission abandoned
                - Gen. Segunda's troops escaped using beach but lost their heavy equipment
            - 12 January 1942
                - C Company, with D Company, 192nd, sent to Cadre Road
                    - forward position with little alert time
            - 13 January 1942
                - mines planted by ordnance prevented them from reaching Cadre Road
                - returned to battalion
            - 16 January 1942
                -  C Company sent to Bagac to reopen Moron Highway
                    - highway had been cut by Japanese
                    - Moron Highway, and Junction of Trail 162
                        - tank platoon fired on by antitank gun
                            - tanks knock out gun
                            - cleared roadblock with support of infantry
            - 20 January 1942
                - Banibani Road -tanks sent in to save 31st Infantry command post
            - 24 January 1942
                - tanks order to Hacienda Road in support of troops
                     - landmines planted by ordnance prevented them from reaching road
            - 26 January 1942
                - the battalion held a position a kilometer north of the Pilar-Bagac Road
                    - four self-propelled mounts with the battalion
                - 9:45 A.M. - warned by Filipino a large Japanese force was coming
                    - when the enemy appeared they opened up with all the battalion had
                - 10:30 A.M. - Japanese withdrew after losing 500 of 1200 men
                - prevented new defensive line being formed from being breached
            - 28 January 1942
                - 194th tanks given beach duty protecting southern beaches
                - guarded coast from Limay to Cabcaben
                - half-tracks patrolled roads
                    - maintained radio contact with on-shore and off-shore patrols
            - March 1942
                - two tanks were bogged down in mud
                - the tankers were working to get them out
                - Japanese Regiment entered the area
                - Lt. Col. Miller ordered tanks and artillery to fire at point blank range
                    - Miller ran from tank to tank directing fire
                - wiped out Japanese regiment
                - gasoline rations cut to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles except the tanks
                - Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that one platoon of tanks be sent to Corregidor
                    - Wainwright rejected idea
        - 4 April 1942
            - Japanese launched major offensive
            - tanks sent into various sectors to stop Japanese advance
        - 6 April 1942
            - four tanks sent to support 45th Philippine Infantry and 75th Infantry, Philippine Scouts
                - one tank knocked out by anti-tank fire at junction of Trails 8 & 6
                - other tanks covered withdraw
            - 3rd Platoon sent up west coast road
                - near Mount Samat ran into heavy Japanese force
                - the tanks withdrew to Marivales
        - 8 April 1942
            - at Cabcaban Airfield
            - Gen. Edward P. King
                - determined only 25% of his troops were healthy enough to fight
                    - would last one more day
                - feared that the 6000 troops who were hospitalized and 40000 Filipino civilians would be slaughtered
                - 10:30 P.M. - sent staff officers to meet with Japanese and negotiate surrender terms
Note:  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." 
            - 11:40 P.M. - ammunition dumps blown up
        - 9 April 1942
            - 7:00 A.M. - Bataan surrendered
Prisoner of War:
    - 9 April 1942
        - received order to destroy equipment and report to kilometer marker 168.2.
            - Provisional Tank Group Headquarters
        - Japanese officers told Col. Ernest Miller to keep them there until ordered to move
    - 10 April 1942
            - 7:00 P.M. - started march from Provisional Tank Group headquarters
            - 3:00 A.M. - halted and rested for an hour
            - 4:00 A.M. - resume march
    - 11 April 1942
        - 8:00 A.M. -reached Lamao
            - allowed to forage for food
        - 9:00 A.M. - resumed march
        - Noon - reached Limay and main road
            - officers separated from enlisted men
        - 4:00 P.M put on trucks
            - officers arrived at Balanga
            - Japanese find handgun in field bag of an officer
                - he was clubbed and bayoneted
                - because of this they were not fed
        - Dusk - officers ordered to form ranks and marched
            - marched through Abucay and Samal
    - 12 April 1942
        - 3:00 A.M. - reached Orani
            - herded into a fenced in area and ordered to lie down
            - in morning found they had been lying in human waste
            - latrine in one corner was crawling with maggots
        - Noon - fed rice and salt
            - first meal
        - Afternoon - enlisted men rejoin officers
        - 6:30 P.M. - ordered to form 100 men detachments
            - POWs marched at faster pace
            - fewer breaks
                - when given break, the POWs sat on road
        - North of Hermosa the POWs reached pavement
            - made march easier
    - 13 April 1942
        - 2:00 A.M. - POWs given an hour rest on road
            - those who attempt to lay down are jabbed with bayonets
            - POWs march through Layac and Lurao
            - rains - POWs drank as much as they could
        - 4:30 P.M. - reached San Fernando
            - POWs put in groups of 200 to be fed
                - one POW sent to get a box of rice for each group
                - pottery jars of water given out the same way
    - 14 April 1942
        - 4:00 A.M. - POWs awakened
            - formed detachments of 100 men and marched to train station
            - POWs put into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane
                - each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men
                - 100 POWs packed into each car
                - POWs who died remained standing
        - 9:00 A.M. - Capas - dead fell to floor as living left boxcars
            - as POWs formed ranks, Filipinos threw sugarcane to POWs
            - also gave them water
            - POWs walked last 8 kilometers to Camp O'Donnell
POW Camps:
    - Philippines:
        - Camp O'Donnell
            - unfinished Filipino training base
            - Japanese put camp into use as POW Camp
            - only one water spigot for entire camp
            - as many as 50 POWs died each day
            - volunteered to go out on work detail to get out of camp

        - Balanga Detail - Balanga, Philippine Islands
             - POWs recovered disabled vehicles as scrap metal
             - tied the non-operational cars and trucks together with ropes
             - disabled vehicles were tied to an operating vehicle

                 - each car or truck had a driver that drove each one to San Fernando
             - detail lasted 6 May 1942 - 31 August 1942
        - Cabanatuan
            - camp opened to lower death rate among POWs
            - hospitalized - Wednesday - 9 September 1942 - malaria & avitaminosis -
                vitamin deficiency
                - discharged - no date given
            - hospitalized - Saturday - 9 January 1943 - Ward 14
                - discharged - no date given
            - hospitalized - Friday - 26 February 1943 - Ward 5
                - discharged - no date given
            - hospitalized - Monday - 22 March 1943 - Ward 5
                - discharged - no date given
            - July 1944 - selected for transport to Japan
            - 15 July 1944
                - 25 to 30 trucks arrived at camp to transport POWs to Manila 
                - POWs left at 8:00 P.M.
        - Bilibid Prison
            - arrived at 2:00 A.M. - 16 July 1944
            - the only food the POWs received was rotten sweet potatoes

Hell Ship:
    - Nissyo Maru
        - Friday - 17 July 1944 - POWs left prison at 7:00 A.M.
        - Boarded ship: same day
            - Japanese attempted to put all the POWs in one hold
            - when they couldn't, they put 900 POWs in the forward hold
            - 600 POWs held in rear hold
        - Sailed: Manila - same day
            - dropped anchor at breakwater until 23 July 1944
            - POWs were not fed or given water for over a day and a half after being put in
              the ship's hold
            - POWs fed rice and vegetables twice a day and received two canteen cups of
               water each day
            - 23 July 1944 - 8:00 A.M. - ship moved to area off Corregidor and dropped
              anchor
        - Sailed: Monday - 24 July 1944 - as part of a convoy
            - some POWs cut the throats of other POWs and drank their blood
            - convoy attacked by American submarines
                - four of the thirteen ships in the convoy were sunk
                - a torpedo hit the ship but did not explode
        - Arrived: Takao, Formosa - Friday - 28 July 1944 - 9:00 A.M.
        - Sailed: same day - 7:00 P.M.
        - 30 July 1944 -  2 August 1944 - sailed through storm
        - Arrived: Moji, Japan - Thursday night - 3 August 1944 - midnight
            - POWs issued new clothing
        - Disembarked: 4 August 1944 - 8:00 A.M.
            - POWs disembarked and taken to movie theater
                - sat in the dark
                - later divided into 200 men detachments and sent to different POW camps
            - taken by train to POW camps along train lines
            - POWs arrived at Fukuoka Train Station
                 - POWs walked three miles to Fukuoka #23
                 - Arrived: Saturday - 5 August 1944 - 2:00 A.M. 
POW Camps:
    - Japan
        - Fukuoka #23
            - camp consisted of a mess hall, hospital, six unheated barracks on top of a hill
            - ten foot high wooden fence surrounded camp
            - POWs slept in 15 X 15 foot bays in the barracks
                - six POWs shared a bay
            - POWs worked in coal mine
            - POWs worked in two shifts                
                - A Group worked in mine during the day
                - B Group worked in mine at night
                    - every ten days the groups would swap shifts
                    - POWs were marched to the mine where they were turned over to civilian
                      supervisors
                        - the civilians treated the POWs worse than the Japanese Army guards
                    - the POWs quickly realized that the harder they worked the more coal the
                      Japanese wanted from them
                    - the POWs and Japanese reached an agreement on how many coal cars the
                      POWs had to fill  each day
                    - only good thing about working in the mine was the temperature was 70
                      degrees during the winter
                - the longer the POWs were in the camp the less food they received     
                    - from the reduction in rations, the POWs knew the Japanese were losing the
                      war  
Liberated:
     - 15 August 1945
         - POWs who worked nights told those who worked the day shift the war was over
         - many of the POWs refused to believe it even though they saw the Japanese
           civilians crying
         - it was only after the work bell did not ring the next morning that they knew
           the war was over
     - 16 August 1945 - 10:00 A.M. - camp commandant told POWs they did not
        have to work, but they could not leave the camp
     - 24 August 1945
          - Japanese gave POWs canvas and paint and told them to make large "POW"
             letters on roofs of buildings
     - 28 August 1945 - two 55 gallon drums of food and clothing dropped to the POWs
          - planes returned almost daily and dropped food
     - 15 September 1945 - Americans entered camp
          - POWs processed and boarded trucks provided by the Japanese
          - taken to train station and rode a train to Nagasaki
              - saw the damage done by the atomic bomb
              - POWs deloused and given new clothes
              - boarded U.S.S. Marathon and taken to Okinawa
              - from Okinawa they were flown to Manila
        - sailed for United States after Winfield was declared healthy
Discharged: 3 May 1946
Married:
    - Virginia Redday
        - 20 October 1946 - Sisseton, South Dakota
Children:
    - 5 daughters, 2 sons
Occupation: farmer
Died:
    - 6 November 2009
        - car accident with friend
            - survived accident but died from injuries on helicopter flight to hospital in Fargo, North  Dakota
Buried:
    - Saint Matthew's Cemetery - Veblen, South Dakota

 

 


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