T/Sgt. Ernest G. Walsh was born on May 7, 1919, in Janesville, Wisconsin, to Arthur M. Walsh & Florence
Dickson-Walsh. With his three brothers, he grew up at 514 South Third Street and attended grade school and
graduated from Janesville High School in 1938.
With his brother, Stanley, Ernest joined the the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Division
Tank Company, in the fall of 1939, and was called to federal service when the company was federalized in November
1940. He trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky and was transferred to
Headquarters Company when the company was created in January 1941.
In the fall of 1941, he then participated in maneuvers in Louisiana from September 1
through 30. HQ Company did not actively take part in the maneuvers but had the job of maintaining the tanks
and keeping them running. After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of
returning to Ft. Knox. On the side of a hill, the men were informed that they were being sent overseas.
Those men who were married or 29 years old, or older, were allowed to resign from federal service. He was
given a leave home to say goodbye to his fiends and family.
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.
The battalion traveled west over different train routes and arrived at Ft. Mason in San
Francisco and were ferried, on the
U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Angel Island where they given physicals and inoculated by the
battalion's medical detachment. Anyone who had a medical condition was replaced or held back and
scheduled to rejoin the battalion 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 2nd 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. 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.
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, they were greeted by Gen. Edward P. King, who apologized that the men had to
live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field, the truth was that he had only learned of their
arrival days earlier. He made sure that they had what they needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner before he
went to have his own dinner. 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 of tents.
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, while they prepared 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.
On December 8, 1941, Ernest lived the Japanese attack on Clark Field which successfully
destroyed the Army-Air Corp. The member of HQ Company watched, from their bivouac, since they had no
other place to go. Although they attempted to fight back, many of the weapons available to them were useless
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.
As a member of Headquarters Company, Ernest was not involved in combat, but worked to keep
the tankers supplied with food, gasoline and ammunition for the tanks. He did this until the Filipino and
American forces were surrendered to the Japanese on April 9, 1942.
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
The Japanese lunched an all out attack on April 3. 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.
It was at this time 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 6000 troops who sick or wounded and 40000 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
The evening of April 8, 1942, Capt. Fred Bruni, HQ'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."
On April 11, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's
encampment. Donald was now a Prisoner of War. A Japanese officer ordered the company, with their
possessions, out onto the road that ran in front of their encampment. Once on the road, the soldiers were
ordered to kneel along the sides of the road with their possessions in front of them. As they knelt, the
Japanese soldiers, who were passing them, went through their possessions and took whatever they wanted from the
Americans. They remained along the sides of the road for hours.
HQ Company finally boarded trucks and drove to just outside of Mariveles. From there,
they walked to Mariveles Airfield and 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.
As they prepared to die, a car pulled up and a Japanese officer got out of the car and
spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail. After talking to the sergeant, he got back in the car and
drove off. The sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
Later in the day, the POWs were order to move and taken to a school yard in Mariveles and
ordered to sit. Behind them were Japanese artillery pieces. The guns were firing on Corregidor and
Ft. Drum. When the two American strongholds began returning fire, the prisoners found themselves in the
line of fire and shells began landing around them. Five POWs who hid in an old brick building were killed
when it took a direct hit. When the barrage ended, three if the four Japanese guns had been destroyed.
It was from this school yard that the POWs began the death march. The first five
miles of the march was uphill. They made their way north from Mariveles to San Fernando. During the
march men who had fell were shot and bayoneted where they fell.
When they reached San Fernando, the POWs were put in a bull pen which had been created
by putting barbwire around a school yard. They were left there for hours sitting in the sun. At some
point, the Japanese ordered them to form 100 men detachments. When this was done, they were marched to the
At San Fernando, the POWs were packed into small wooden
boxcars known as "Forty or
Eights." The cars could hold forty men of eight horses, but the Japanese packed 100 men into each car and
closed the doors. Those POWs who died in the cars did not fall to the floors until the living left the cars
at Capas. From Caps, the POWs walked the last miles to Camp O'Donnell which 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
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.
It was while he was at Camp O'Donnell, that Ernest developed dysentery. In
addition, he was already suffering from malaria. Ernest was diagnosed as being "too ill" to move
to the new camp, so he remained at Camp O'Donnell. According to records kept by the medical staff, he
died on Thursday, June 4, 1942, at the age of 23. The official cause of death was dysentery and
malaria. He was buried in Grave M-4 with nine other POWs. The exact location of where was in the
grave was indicated in records kept at the cemetery by the chaplains.
After the war, the remains of T/Sgt. Ernest G. Walsh were identified in June 1947 and
returned to Janesville. On Saturday, July 31, 1948, he was buried at Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery in
Janesville. Lloyd Ricter and Lester Buggs, of A Company, served as two of his pallbearers.
Today, T/Sgt. Ernest G. Walsh lies next to his brother,
Stanley, who also died while a Japanese Prisoner of War.