S/Sgt. Jesse E. Tubbs was born on
August 19, 1917
Canada, to Peter "Bert" A. Tubbs & Clara L. Hamms-Tubbs, who were Americans living in Canada.
The family moved to Janesville, Wisconsin, where Jesse, his sister, and his three brothers lived at 228 East Racine
Street. He attended local schools and graduated from Janesville High School in 1937.
Jesse joined the Wisconsin National Guard's tank company in Janesville sometime in the late
1930s. One reason he joined was that his cousin of
was a member of the National Guard. The company was called to federal service in September 1941, and given
the designation of A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. The company left for Fort Knox, Kentucky, on November 28,
1940, by train, arriving there later the same day.
At Ft. Knox, the company trained for nearly a year learning to use the various equipment of the
tank battalion. Members also attended schools for the various jobs within the battalion.
A typical day for the soldiers started in 6:15 with reveille, but most of the soldiers were up
before this since they wanted to wash and dress. Breakfast was from 7:00 to 8:00 A.M., followed by calisthenics
at 8:00 to 8:30. Afterwards, the tankers went to various schools within the company. The classes
consisted of .30 and .50 caliber machine guns, pistol, map reading, care of personal equipment, military courtesy,
and training in tactics.
At 11:30 the soldiers stopped what they were doing and cleaned up for mess which was from noon
to 1:00 P.M. Afterwards, they attended the various schools which they had been assigned to on January 13th,
such as: mechanics, tank driving, radio operating. At 4:30, the soldiers called it a day and returned to their
barracks and put on dress uniforms and at five held retreat and followed by dinner at 5:30. After dinner, they
were off duty and lights were out at 9:00 P.M., but they did not have to turn in until 10:00 when Taps was
In late August, the battalion was informed it would take part in maneuvers in Louisiana from September 1st through
30th. During the maneuvers the battalion performed exceptionally well, and after the maneuvers, instead of
returning to Ft. Knox, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana. None of the members had any idea why
they were being kept there.
On the side of a hill, the battalion members were informed that they were being sent overseas.
Those members of the battalion who were 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal
service. Most of the soldiers received leaves home to say their goodbyes.
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 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 that a large radio transmitter. The island was hundred of miles
away. The squadron continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles before returning 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
by a fishing boat that was seen making its way to shore. Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was
poor, the boat escaped. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in
After the companies were brought up to strength with replacements, the battalion was equipped
with new tanks and half-tracks with came from the 753rd Tank Battalion. The battalion traveled over different
train routes to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California, where they were taken by the ferry, the
U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
to Angel Island. At Ft. McDowell, on the island, they received physicals and inoculations from the
battalion's medical detachment. Men found with minor medical conditions were held back and scheduled to
rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
The company traveled by train to San Francisco, California, and was taken, by ferry, to Ft.
McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they received inoculations and physicals from the battalion's
medical detachment. Those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained
behind on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Some 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 t
he 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
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.
When they arrived at Guam
on Sunday, November 16th
, 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, they were greeted by Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized that they had to live in tents along the
main road between the fort and Clark Field. He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner, which was
stew thrown on their mess kits, before he went to have his own.
Ironically, November 20 was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released
from federal service.
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
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons. The grease was put on
the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea. They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance
as they prepared to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.
On December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against
Japanese paratroopers. They remained there off and on for several days. At all times, two crew members
remained with the tanks and received their meals from food trucks.
Ten hours after Pearl Harbor was attacked, on December 8th, Leroy lived through the Japanese
attack on Clark Field. As tankers sat at their tanks, at 8:30 A.M., the sky above them was filled with
American planes. At noon, the planes landed, to be refueled, and the were lined up the planes in a straight
line outside the mess hall. The pilots went to lunch. At the same time, two tank crew members were allowed to
go to a food truck to get lunch.
The tankers who from their tanks watched as two formations of planes approached the airfield
from the north. They counted the formations were made up of 54 planes. Many believed the planes were
American until they saw what looked like raindrops falling from the planes. When the raindrops began
exploding on the runways, the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese.
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.
Sometime after the attack, the company was sent to the Barrio of Dau so it would be close to
a highway and railroad. From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south
of the Agno River. There, the tanks, with A Company, 194th held the position.
On December 23 and 24, the company was in the area of Urdaneta, where the tankers lost the company commander,
Capt. Walter Write. After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get south of Agno River after the
main bridge had been destroyed. As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening but
successfully crossed the river in the Bayambang Province.
On December 25, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from
Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held
the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27.
The 192nd and part of the 194th fell back to a line from on the night of December 27 and
28. From there they fell back to the south bank of the BamBan River which they were suppose to hold for as
long as possible
A Company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga. It was there that they lost a
tank platoon commander, Lt. William Read.
On a road east of Zaragoza, on December 30, the company was bivouacked for the night and posted sentries.
The sentries heard a noise on the road and woke the other tankers who grabbed Tommy-guns and manned the tanks'
machine guns. As they watched, a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac. When the last
bicycle passed the tanks, the tankers opened up on them. When they stopped firing, they had completely wiped
out the bicycle battalion. To leave the area, the tankers drove their tanks over the bodies.
At the Gumain River, the night of December 31st to the morning of January 1, the tank
companies formed a defensive line along the south 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 Japanese were taking heavy
casualties, so they attempted to use smoke to cover their advance, but the wind blew the smoke into the
Japanese. When the Japanese broke off the attack, they had suffered fifty percent casualties.
At Guagua, A Company, with units from the 11th Division, Philippine Army, attempted to make a
counterattack against the Japanese. Somehow, the tanks were mistaken, by the Filipinos to be Japanese.
The 11th Division accurately used mortars on them. The result was the loss of three tanks.
On January 1, the tanks of the 194th were holding the Calumpit Bridge allowing the Southern
Luzon Forces to cross the bridge toward Bataan. General Wainwright was attempting to hold the main Japanese
force coming down Route 5 to prevent the troops from being cut off. General MacArthur's chief of staff
gave conflicting orders involving whose command the defenders were under which caused confusion. Gen.
Wainwright was not aware these orders had been given.
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.
It was also in
January 1942, that the food ration was cut in half. It was not too long after this was done that malaria,
dysentery, and dengue fever began hitting the soldiers.
The company returned to the command of the 192nd on January 8, 1942.
While American and Filipino forces were withdrawing from the Pilar-Bigac Line, the battalion prevented the
Japanese from overrunning the position and cutting off the withdrawing troops. The morning of January 27, a
new battle line had been formed and all units were suppose to be beyond it. That morning, the tanks were
still holding their position six hours after they were suppose to have withdrawn. While holding the position,
the tanks, with self-propelled mounts, ambushed, at point blank range, three Japanese units causing 50 percent
On January 28, the tank battalions were given the job of protecting the beaches. The 192nd was assigned
the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast. The Japanese later admitted that the
tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.
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."
A Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese troops who had
been trapped behind the main defensive line. The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time to replace a tank
in the pocket. Another tank did not enter the pocket until the tank, which had been relieved, had left the
To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used. The first was to have three
Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank. As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos
dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole. Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually
The other method to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the
foxhole. The driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around and grinding its way down
into the foxhole. It was for their performance during this battle that the 192nd Tank Battalion would receive
one of its Distinguished Unit Citations.
On March 2nd or 3rd, during "The Battle of the Points." The tanks had been sent in
to wipe out two pockets of Japanese soldiers who had been landed behind the main defensive line. The Japanese
were soon cut off. When the Japanese attempted to land reinforcements, they landed them at the wrong place
creating another pocket.
The soldiers were hungry and began to eat everything they could get their hands on to
eat. The Carabao were tough but if they were cooked long enough they could be eaten. They also began to
eat horse meat provided by the 26th U. S. Cavalry. To make things worse, the soldiers' rations were cut
in half again on March 1, 1942. This meant that they only ate two meals a day.
The Japanese also were dropping surrender leaflets with a scantly clad blond on them.
The Japanese would have been more successful at getting the Americans to surrender if the picture had been
hamburger, since the men were so hungry that they most likely would have surrendered for a good meal.
The company's last bivouac area was about twelve kilometers north of Marivales and
looking out on the China Sea. By this point, the tankers knew that there was no help on the way. Many
had listened to Secretary of War Harry L. Stimson on short wave. When asked about the Philippines, he
, "There are times when men must die."
The soldiers cursed in response because they knew that the Philippines had already been lost.
On April 3, 1942, the Japanese launched an attack supported by artillery and aircraft.
A large force of Japanese troops came over Mount Samat and descended down the south face of the volcano. This
attack wiped out two divisions of defenders and left a large area of the defensive line open to the
It was the evening of April 8 that 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.
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
He and the other members of A Company made their way to Mariveles at Bataan's southern
tip. It was from this barrio that Jim took part in what he referred to as "the march".
The Americans were marched in groups of 100 with guns on them at all times. Each group
was assigned six Japanese guards who would be changed at regular intervals. During the 60 mile march, the
Americans were seldom allowed to stop and were not fed until the fifth day. Those who stopped or dropped out
were bayoneted or left to die.
The POWs made their way north from Mariveles. The first five miles of the march were
uphill which was difficult for sick underfed me who received little food and water. At one point, the members
of the company had to run past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor. When they reached San Fernando, they
were put into a bull pen. In one corner of the bull pen was a trench the POWs were suppose to use as a
washroom. The surface of the trench was alive with maggots. How long they remained in the bull pen is
The Japanese ordered the POWs to form ranks of 100 men. They were marched to the train
stationed and packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane. Each car could hold forty men or eight
horses, but the Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car and closed the doors. Those who died remained standing
since there was no place for them to fall. At Capas, the living left the cars and the dead fell to the
floors. The POWs 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. 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
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
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
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
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 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.
It is known from medical records kept at the camp, that Jesse was admitted to the camp
hospital on Wednesday, July 8, 1942, suffering from dysentery and anemia and assigned to Barracks 4 in the hospital
area of the camp. The Philippine Red Cross came to the camp with medical supplies for the POWs, but the
Japanese refused to allow the POWs to receive the medicine.
Camp records indicate that S/Sgt. Jesse E. Tubbs died of dysentery, malaria, and heart failure on Tuesday,
November 10, 1942, at approximately 6:00 P.M., and was buried in the camp cemetery and buried in Grave 214.
After the war, the remains of S/Sgt. Jesse E. Tubbs were positively identified by the U.S.
Remains Recovery Team. At the request of his family, he was buried at the new American Military Cemetery, at
Manila, in Plot H, Row 16, Grave 124.