Pvt. Louie Webb was born on May 17, 1923, in North Carolina to Lee Roy Webb & Bennie
Mae Cashion-Webb. With his three brothers, he grew up in Gastonia, North Carolina. After completing
two years of high school, he went to work.
On November 8, 1940, he joined the U.S. Army and did his basic training at Fort Bragg,
North Carolina. After completing basic training, he was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion at Ft.
Benning, Georgia. In the late summer of 1941, the battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, but did not
take part in the maneuvers taking place there. It is known that in September 1941, he had a two week
furlough home to see his family.
While Louie was there, the 192nd Tank Battalion - which had taken part in the maneuvers -
received orders to go overseas. The battalion was made up mainly of National Guardsmen, so those men, 29
years old or older, were released from federal service. Louie volunteered, or had his name drawn, to join
the battalion and was assigned to B Company as a cook.
The decision to send the 192nd overseas - 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 companies traveled west over different train routes to Ft. Mason in San Francisco,
California, where they were taken by ferried, on the
U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
, to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. At Fort McDowell, they were given physicals and inoculated by
the battalion's medical detachment. Those men found to have a minor medical condition were held
back 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. 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
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 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 they had to live in tents
along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield. 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
On December 1, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard it against
enemy paratroopers. Two members of each tank and half-track crew had to remain with them at all
On the morning of December 8, 1941, the members of B Company were informed of the Japanese attack on Clark
Field and ordered back to their tanks and half-tracks. At 8:30 A.M., the Army Air Corps took off and filled
the sky with American planes. At noon the planes landed and were parked in a straight line outside
the mess hall. About 12:45 in the afternoon as the tankers were eating lunch, planes approached the
airfield from the north. At first, the soldiers thought the planes were American. It was only when
bombs began exploding on the runways that they knew the planes were Japanese.
The 192nd remained at Clark Field for about a week before they were ordered to the barrio of Dau so it would
be near a road and railroad. For the next four months, the tankers held positions so that the other units
could disengage and form a defensive line.
The tank battalion received orders on December 21 that it was to proceed north to Lingayen
Gulf. Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas. When they reached
Rosario, there was only enough for one tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th
On December 23 and 24, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta, where the bridge they
were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed. The tankers made an end run to get south of river
and ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening but successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang
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 tankers were fell back toward Santo Tomas near
Cabanatuan on December 27th, and December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29.
The tankers were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27, and at San Isidro south of
Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29. On December 31/January 1, the tanks were stationed on both sides of
the Calumpit Bridge when they received conflicting orders, from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff, about whose
command they were under and to withdraw from the bridge. The defenders were attempting to stop the Japanese
advance down Route 5 which would allow the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan. General
Wainwright was unaware of the orders.
Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces
defending the bridges over the Pampanga River and about half the defenders withdrew. 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.
At 2:30 A.M., the night of January 5th/6th, the Japanese attacked at Remlus in force and
using smoke as cover. This attack was an attempt to destroy the tank battalions. At 5:00 A.M., the
Japanese withdrew having suffered heavy casualties.
The night of January 6/7 the tanks withdrew into the peninsula with the 192nd holding its
position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross the bridge, and then cover the
192nd's withdraw over the bridge. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan, before the
engineers blew up the bridge at 6:00 A.M.
The next day, the battalion was between Culo and Hermosa and assigned a road to enter
Bataan on which was worse than having no road. The half-tracks kept throwing their rubber tracks and
members of 17th Ordnance assigned to each battalion had to re-track them in dangerous situations. After
daylight, Japanese artillery fire was landing all around the tanks.
A composite tank company was formed, the next day, under the command of Capt. Donald
Haines, B Co., 192nd. Its job was to protect the East Coast Road north of Hermosa open and to stop Japanese
tanks attempting to use it to overrun the next defensive line that was forming. While in this position, the tanks
were under constant enemy artillery fire. The rest of the tanks were ordered to bivouac south of the
When word came that a bridge was going to be blow, all the tanks were ordered out of the
area, which included the composite company. This could have resulted in a catastrophe, but the Japanese did
not take advantage of the situation.
The tanks bivouacked south of the Pilar-Bagac Road and about two kilometers from the East
Coast Road. It had almost been one month since the tank crews had a rest and the tanks had maintenance work
done on them by 17th Ordnance. It was also on this day that the tank platoons were reduced to three tanks
per tank platoon. The men rested and the tanks received the required maintenance. Most of the tank
tracks had worn down to bare metal and the radial engines long past their 400 hour overhauls.
It was at this time the tank battalions received these orders which came from Gen.
"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."
The battalions were sent to cover the junctions of the Back Road and East Road with the
Abucay-Heicienda Road on January 25. While holding the position, the 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts,
fought its way to the position at 3:00 A.M. One platoon was sent to the front of the the column of trucks
which were loading the troops. The tanks provided heavy fire so that the infantry could withdraw and
inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese.
Later on January 25, both the 192nd and 194th held a defensive line on the
Bakanga-Cardre-BaniBani Roads until the withdraw was completed at midnight. They held the position until
the night of January 26/27, when they dropped back to a new defensive line roughly along the Pilar-Bagac
Roads. When ordered to withdraw to the new line, the 192nd found that the bridge at Balanga, that they were
suppose to use had been destroyed by enemy fire. To withdraw, they had to use secondary roads to get around
the barrio and tanks were still straggling in at noon.
The tank battalions, on January 28, 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, while the
battalion's half-tracks were used to patrol the roads. The Japanese later admitted that the tanks
guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.
Companies A & C were ordered to the west coast of Bataan while B Company - which was
held in reserve - and 17th Ordnance held the southern shore of Bataan. The tankers were awake all night and
attempted to sleep under the jungle canopy, during the day, which protected them from being spotted by Japanese
reconnaissance planes. During the night, they were kept busy with repeated threats both on and off
On one occasion, a member of the company, who had gotten frustrated by being awakened by
the planes, had his half-track pulled out onto the beach and took pot shots at the plane. He missed the
plane, but twenty minutes later, Japanese planes appeared over the location and dropped bombs that exploded in
the tree tops. Three members of the company were killed.
The tank battalions, on their own, took up the job of protecting the airfields at Cabcaban,
Bataan, and Mariveles, since Japanese paratroopers were known to be available. The tanks and half-tracks
were well hidden in the jungle around the airfields and different plans were in place to be used against Japanese
forces. There was only one major alert in March when 73 Japanese planes came over the area.
In February, the battalion took part in the Battle of the Pockets and sent in to wipe out
Japanese troops that had broken through the main defensive line and than were trapped behind the line after the
Filipino and American troops pushed the Japanese back. 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 a tank exited the pocket.
According to members of the battalion they resorted two ways to wipe out the Japanese.
The first method was to have three Filipino soldiers sit on the back of the tanks with
sacks of hand grenades. When the Japanese dove back into their foxholes, the tank would go over it and the
soldiers would drop three hand grenades into the foxhole. Since the ordnance was from World War I, one out
of three hand grenades would explode.
The second method was simple. The tank was parked with one track across the
foxhole. The driver spun the tank on one track. The tank dug into the dirt until the Japanese
soldiers were dead. It was also at this time that Gen. Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that a platoon
of tanks be sent to Corregidor. Wainwright declined to do this.
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. The number of operational tanks also became more critical with C Company, 194th - which was
attached to the 192nd - having only seven tanks left.
The tanks became a favorite target of the Japanese receiving fire on trails and while
hidden in the jungle where they 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. When General King saw that the situation was hopeless, he initiated surrender talks with
The Japanese lunched an all out attack on April 3 and broke through the main defensive
line. 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
It was at this time that Gen. King decided that further resistance was futile.
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
On April 9, just before 6:45 A.M., after receiving word that the forces on Bataan would be surrendered, Sgt.
Zenon Bardowski led his tanks to the coast of Bataan in an attempt to escape to Corregidor. When he was
told that there was no room for him or his men, on the barge, Bardowski re-positioned his Tommy-gun to make it
understood that he intended to make the trip. They were allowed on the boat.
It is not known what unit Louie was assigned to on Corregidor, but on May 6, when the
Japanese launched an all out attack on the island, the first tank to land was one of the tanks Louie's tank
platoon had left on the beach. The tankers had failed to disable the tanks.
After the Americans surrendered, they remained on Corregidor for two weeks. They were than
taken by barge a few hundred yards from the coast of Luzon. At that point, they were ordered to jump into
the water ans swim to shore. Once on shore, they were taken to a pier and used as laborers to repair it.
The men were then organized into detachments of 100 POWs. They were ordered to
march. Having heard the stories of the march out of Bataan from men who had escaped from it, they feared
they would be treated the same way. To their surprise, they were treated very well. They marched down
Dewey Boulevard to Bilibid Prison. After a short stay, they were taken to Cabanatuan by truck.
Louie was selected to go out on a work detail to Las Pinas on December 12, 1942. The
POWs built runways with picks and shovels. At six in the morning, the POWs had reveille and
"bongo," or count, at 6:15 in detachments of 100 men and than exercises. After this came
breakfast, which was a fish soup with rice. After breakfast, there was a second count of all POWs, which
included both healthy and sick, before the POWs marched a mile and half to the airfield.
After arriving at the airfield, they were counted again. They went to a tool shed and
received their tools; once again they were counted. At the end of the work day, the POWs were counted
again. When they arrived back at the school, they were counted again. Then, they would rush to the
showers, since there only six showers and toilets for over 500 POWs. They were fed dinner, another meal of
fish and rice and than counted one final time. Lights were turned out at 9:00 P.M.
The brutality shown to the POWs was severe. The first Japanese commander of the camp,
a Lt. Moto, was called the "White Angel" because he wore a spotless naval uniform. He was
commander of the camp for slightly over thirteen months. One day a POW collapsed while working on the
runway. Moto was told about the man and came out and ordered him to get up. When he couldn't four
other Americans were made to carry the man back to the Pasay School.
At the school, the Japanese guards gave the man a shower and straightened his clothes as
much as possible. The other Americans were ordered to the school. As they stood there, the White
Angel ordered an American captain to follow him behind the school. The POW was marched behind the school
and the other Americans heard two shots. The American officer told the men that the POW had said,
"Tell them I went down smiling." There, the White Angel shot the POW as the man smiled at
him. As the man lay on the ground, he shot him a second time. The American captain told the
other Americans what had happened. The White Angel told them that this was what going to happen to anyone
who would not work for the Japanese Empire.
Those men who became ill on the detail were sent to Bilibid. At some point Louie was
returned to Cabanatuan, where the medical records from the camp show that he was hospitalized in the camp's
hospital on April 1, 1943. Why he was hospitalized and when he was released were not recorded, but it is
known that he had beriberi while a POW. It was also at this time that his parents received a POW
card. On it he told them to continue to making sure the "allotment" was taken care of which he
had arranged with them before going overseas. Each month, his parents took $25.00 of his pay and used it to
buy a war bond.
In early October 1944, Louie's name appeared on a list of POWs being sent to
Japan. The POWs rode the train to Manila and march to the Port Area of Manila. There, they went to
The POWs were scheduled to sail on the
. While the POWs were on the dock waiting to board their ship, the
became ready to sail. Since the entire POW detachment assigned to the ship had not arrived, the Japanese
put Louie's POW detachment on the ship on October 1. The
, Louie's original ship, was later sunk by an American submarine on its way to Hong Kong. Only
nine POWs of 1803 on the ship survived the sinking.
The ship sailed but dropped anchor at the harbor's breakwater. It remained
there for three days and the temperatures in the hold rose to over 100 degrees causing some men to go
crazy. The Japanese threatened to kill the POWs if they didn't quiet the men. To do this, the
sane POWs strangled those out of their minds or hit them with canteens.
As part of a ten ship convoy it sailed again on October 4 and stopped at Cabcaban.
The next day, it was at San Fernando La Union, where the ships were joined by four more ships and five escorts.
The ships stayed close to the shoreline to prevent submarine attacks which failed since, on October 6, two of the
ships were sunk.
The ships were informed, on October 9th, that American carriers were seen near Formosa and
sailed for Hong Kong when it was informed American planes were in the area. During this part of the trip,
the ships ran into American submarines which sank two more ships. The
arrived at Hong Kong on October 11. While it was in port, American planes bombed the harbor on October
16. On October 21, the ship sailed for Takao, Formosa, arriving on October 24.
The Japanese decided that the surviving POWs on the ship were too ill to continue the voyage to
Japan, so they were disembarked on November 8th.
Louie was taken to Inrin Temporary Camp which had been opened for them. The POWs were given light work
In January 1945, the POWs were sent by train to Takao and boarded onto the
and put in a hold with hemp as it cargo. The POWs soon discovered that under the hemp were sacks of
sugar and skids with canned tomatoes, so they helped themselves to the canned tomatoes. The ship sailed on
the 25th and safely made it to Moji, Japan, on the 30th. When the POWs were disembarked, they were marched
to a schoolhouse, but were not allowed to enter. The Japanese made them strip of their clothes in the cold
since they were infested with lice and sprayed them. The next day, they formed 100 man detachments and
marched to the train depot, where they boarded a train and taken to
which had been opened for them. The POWs worked in lead and zinc mines and were housed in three barracks
and used as slave labor to mine lead and zinc in a mine owned by the Mitshbishi Mining Company.
Although the Japanese received Red Cross packages for the POWs, they were not given to the
POWs. Red Cross medicines and medicals supplies that would help the prisoners were not given to them.
The camp doctor was known to eat vitamin tablets from the packages in front of the POWs.
The sick POWs were forced to work in the mine when they were physically unable to work.
Those who reported for sick call had to line up in the hallway to the Japanese doctor's office and take off
all their clothes before they entered. While in line, they were often slapped in the face. The doctor
made the POWs stand at attention, bow, and follow orders given to them. Since this took so much time, most
of the POWs were never examined and had to work. Cold weather clothing and blankets from the Red Cross were
never given out to the POWs who had to sleep in the poorly heated barracks in the winter.
Of his time in the camp, he said
"Cold? It was bitter cold. We nearly froze to death."
When asked about heating facilities, he held out his two hands and said that was how much coal the POWs
received once a day for two small stoves for 150 men.
"Most of the time however, we could smuggle coal in from the mines in our pockets and stored away in
our clothing. Of course we slept with all our clothes on."
Louie returned to the Philippines for medical treatment and promoted to sergeant.
U.S.S. Joseph T. Dychman
, for San Francisco, arriving there on October 16, 1945. During his time in San Francisco, he received
treatment at Letterman General Hospital. Of his return home
, "They gave us a glorious welcome at San Francisco, and you do not know what it meant setting foot on
U.S. soil again. We had to wait a week or so at San Francisco until transportation was arranged. Lt.
Woodside, of Charlotte, was on the same train as me, and we talked a long while together on our trip across the
After giving a newspaper interview at his parents' home, he suffered an attack of kidney
colic and was taken by military ambulance to Camp Croft, South Carolina, hospital. He was discharged on
March 16, 1946, married Lillian Clanton in 1948, and became the father of a daughter. He worked as a
printer to support his family.
Louie Webb passed away in Gastonia, North Carolina, on August 19, 1984. The photo at the
top of this page was taken after the war.