WilsonFT


Pfc. Frank Thomas Wilson


Born: 25 October 1908 - Oklahoma

Mother: James P. Wilson & Alice B. Porter-Wilson

Siblings: 1 brother

Home: Mailbox 35, U.S. Highway 101 - Salinas, California

Married: Eileen Wilson

Occupation: worked in family's landscaping business

Enlisted: California National Guard

    - 2 June 1940

Inducted:

    - U.S. Army

        - 10 February 1941 - Salinas Army Airfield

Training: 

    - Fort Lewis, Washington
        - C Company, 194th Tank Battalion

Note: On August 15, 1941, 17th Ordnance received orders 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, another squadron was sent to the area and found that 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, and an unknown destroyer
                - smoke seen on horizon several times
                -  cruiser intercepted ships

        - Tuesday - 16 August 1941 - crossed International Dateline
            - date changed to - Thursday - 18 August 1941
        - 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
            - Clark Field - lived through attack on airfield
                - after attack 194th sent to a bivouac three kilometers north of Clark Field
                    - from there they were sent to Barrio of San Joaquin on the Malolus Road
        - 12 December 1941
            - moved to new bivouac south to San Fernando near Calumpit Bridge
                - arrived 6:00 A.M.
            - C Company ordered to Southern Luzon
        - 15 December 1941
            - C Company holding Tagaytay Bridge - South Luzon
            - spent most of time chasing down Fifth Columnists
        - 24 December 1941
                - company moved over Taal Road to Santo Tomas
                    - bivouacked near San Paolo
        -25 December 1941
            - sent to assist in operations around Lucena, Paglibo, and Lucban
        - 26/27 December 1941
            - defended in Southern Luzon near Lucban
            - supported Philippine Army
        - 29/30 December 1941
            - new line at Bamban River established
            - tank battalions held line until ordered to withdraw
        - 30 December 1941
                - covered withdraw of Philippine Divisions
                - it was around this time that the company rejoined the battalion
        - 2 January 1942
            - both tank battalions ordered to withdrawal to Lyac Junction
            - 194th withdrew there on Highway 7
        - 5 January 1942
            - rejoined rest of 194th at Guagua
            - took position on the road between Sasmuan and Lubao with five SPMs
            - ambushed a Japanese force of 750 to 800 attempting to cut the highway
            - Japanese lost half their force
            - Labao was burning when tanks left area
        - 6 January1942
            - Remedios new defensive line established along dry creek bed
                - 1:50 A.M. - Japanese attempted to infiltrate line
                    - bright moon made them easy to see
                    - tanks opened up on them
                    - Japanese laid down smoke which blew back into them   
                - 3:00 A.M.
                    - Japanese broke off attack        
        - 6/7 January 1942 - tank battalions withdraw across bridge at Culis Creek at night
                - 194th withdraw across bridge covered by 192nd
                - bridge destroyed after 192nd crossed bridge      
   - Battle of Bataan
        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942
            - January 1942
                - tank companies reduced to three tanks per platoon
        - 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 - Bagac
            - sent to open Moron Road so General Segunda's forces could move south
            - at the Moron Road and Road Junction 59 the tanks moved forward knocking out an anti-tank gun
            - two tanks were lost to landmines but towed out
                - mission abandoned
                - Segunda's forces escaped along beach losing its heavy equipment
        - 20 January 1942
            -west of Bani Bani Road - tanks were sent to save the 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
            - battalion holding a position a kilometer north of Pilar-Bagac Road
                - four SPMs 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
                    - estimated they lost 500 of 1800 men
                - 10:30 A.M. - Japanese withdrew from area
                    - 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
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."
            - 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

                - at some point Frank was sent to the hospital
        - April 1942
             - Hospital #2 - Cabcaben, Bataan
                - Reason not known

Prisoner of War: 

    - 9 April 1942
 
    - Bataan surrendered
    - 10 April 1942

        - in hospital when Bataan was surrendere

    - Cabcaben POW Camp
        - in hospital when Bataan was surrendered
        - 19 May 1942 - name listed on roster of POWs in camp
            - POWs used as a human shield by Japanese
            - Japanese had set up artillery next to hospital
                - fired on Ft. Drum and Corregidor
                - islands returned fire
                - Gen. Johnathan Wainwright gave order for American forts to stop firing
        - Bilibid Prison
            - sent there after Corregidor surrendered
            - sent to Cabanatuan #3
                - POWs who were hospitalized when surrender came were sent there
                - when Camp #3 was closed sent to Camp #1

        - Cabanatuan
            - original name - Camp Panagaian
                - Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
                    - put into use by Japanese as a POW camp
                - actually three camps
                    - Camp 1: POWs from Camp O'Donnell sent there in attempt to lower death rate
                    - Camp 2:  two miles away
                        - all POWs moved from there because of a lack of water
                        - later used for Naval POWs
                    - Camp 3: six miles from Camp 2
                        - POWs from Corregidor and from hospitals sent there
                        - camp created to keep Corregidor POWs separated from Bataan POWs
                        - Corregidor POWs were in better shape
                            - POWs from Camp 3 consolidated into Camp 1
        - Camp Administration:
            - the Japanese left POWs to run the camp on their own
                - Japanese entered camp when they had a reason
                - POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
                    - Note: men who attempted to escape were recaptured
                    - Japanese beat them for days
                    - executed them
        - Barracks:
            - each barracks held 50 men
                - often held between 60 and 120 men
                - slept on bamboo slats without mattresses, covers, and mosquito netting
                    - diseases spread easily
                - no showers
        - Morning Roll Call:
            - stood at attention
                - frequently beaten over their heads for no reason
            - when POWs lined up for roll call, it was a common practice for Japanese guards, after the POWs lined up, to kick the POWs in
              their shins with their hobnailed boots because they didn't like the way the POWs lined up
        - Work Details:
            - Two main details
                - the farm and airfield
                    - farm detail
                        - POWs cleared land and grew comotes, cassava, taro, sesame, and various greens
                        - Japanese took what was grown
                - Guards:
                    - Big Speedo - spoke little English
                        - in charge of detail
                        - fair in treatment of POWs
                        - spoke little English
                            - to get POWs to work faster said, "speedo"
                    - Little Speedo
                        - also used "speedo" when he wanted POWs to work faster
                        - fair in treatment of POWs
                    - Smiley
                        - always smiling
                        - could not be trusted
                        - meanest of guards
        - Airfield Detail:
            - Japanese built an airfield for fighters
                - POWs cut grass, removed dirt, and leveled ground
                    - at first moved dirt in wheel barrows
                    - later pushed mining cars
                   - Guards:
                       - Air Raid
                           - in charge
                           - usually fair but unpredictable
                               - had to watch him
                       - Donald Duck
                           - always talking
                           - sounded like the cartoon character
                           - unpredictable - beat POWs
                           - POWs told him that Donald Duck was a big American movie star
                               - at some point, he saw a Donald Duck cartoon
                               - POWs stayed away from him when he came back to camp
                - Work Day: 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
                    - worked 6 days a week
                        - had Sunday off
        - Other Details:
            - work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens and plant rice
                - they also were frequently hit with a pick handle, for no reason, as they counted off
                - POWs on the rice planting detail were punished by having their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on
                  - the POWs had to go into a shed to get the tools, as they came out, they were hit on their heads
                  - if the guards on the detail decided the POW wasn't doing what he should be doing, he was beaten
                  - many POWs on details were able to smuggle in medicine, food, and tobacco into the camp
        - Meals:
            - 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
            - rice was main staple, few vegetables or fruits
        - Camp Hospital:
            - 30 Wards
                - each ward could hold 40 men
                    - frequently had 100 men in each
               - two tiers of bunks
                   - sickest POWs on bottom tier
               - each POW had a 2 foot by 6 foot area to lie in
            - Zero Ward
                - given name because it had been missed when counting wards
                - became ward where those who were going to die were sent
                - fenced off from other wards
                    - Japanese guards would not go near it
                    - POWs sent there had little to no chance of surviving
                    - medical staff had little to no medicine to treat sick
                    - many deaths from disease caused by malnutrition
              - with his brother-in-law, Victor Gosney, when he died

                  - at that time, Frank was married to Gosney's sister

              - hospitalized - 1942  - exact date not known - malaria

              - 1945 - POWs who remained in camp were considered

                "too ill" to be sent to Japan
        - Burial Detail:
            - POWs worked in teams of four men to bury dead
                - carried as many as six dead POWs in slings to cemetery
                - buried in graves that contained 16 to 20 bodies

Liberated:

    - 31 January 1945 - U.S. Army Rangers
        - After he was liberated he spoke to NBC Radio, he said, "The chow is swell. This bully beef
          and hash spuds taste like chicken and dumplings compared to the Japanese 'breakfast of
          champions'."

Married: Glenna R. Row - 19 November 1950

Occupation: Repairman

Died: 25 April 1957

Buried: Garden of Memories - Salinas, California


 

 

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