Yankey_L

 


Pvt. Lucian F. Yankey


    Pvt. Lucian F. Yankey was born on January 3, 1914, in Boyle County, Kentucky, to John Yankey and Martha Lula Roney-Yankey.   His mother died the day after she gave birth to him.  He had three sisters and one brother.  Being unable to care for him, his father gave him to his grandmother, Annie Roney, so she could care for him.  His father passed away in 1923. 
    Lucian grew up in the Fourmile/Lone Jack area, in Bell County, and later resided in Perryville, Kentucky.  He left school after the eighth grade and later worked as a truck driver.  He was working as an ambulance driver when the draft act was enacted. 
    In 1940, knowing it was just a matter of time before he would be drafted into the Army, he joined the Kentucky National Guard's tank company in Harrodsburg to fulfill his one year of military service.  The company had received notice in September 1940 that it was being federalized as D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.
    On November 28, 1940, the company reported to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for what was suppose to be one year of military service.  What training he received during this time is not known, but it is known that the battalion members did attend various armor schools.
    In the late summer of 1941, the tank battalion was sent to Louisiana to take part in maneuvers.  HQ company did not actively take part in the maneuvers but made sure the letter companies had the supplies they needed.  It was after the maneuvers that the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft. Knox.  None of the soldiers had any idea why they were remaining at the base.
    On the side of a hill, the battalion was informed that their time in the Army had been extended from one to five years.  They also learned they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM.  Within hours, most men had figured out that "PLUM" stood for Philippines, Luzon, Manila.  Men 29 years old, or older, were given the opportunity to resign from military service.
    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 lower than the other planes, noticed something odd in the water.  He took his plane down and identified a buoy, with a flag, in the water and saw another in the distance.  He came upon more flagged buoys that lined up - in a straight line - for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island, hudred of miles to the northwest, which had a large radio transmitter.  The squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field.  When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.
    The next day - when a when planes were sent to the area - the buoys had been picked up and a fishing boat was seen making its way toward shore.  Since communication between the planes and Navy was poor, nothing was done to intercept the boat.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
    Traveling west over the southern train route through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and up the west coast, the battalion arrived in San Francisco, California, and ferried to Angel Island on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
When they got near Alcatraz, a soldier on the boat said to them, "I'd rather be here than go where you all are going. On the island, the tankers were immunized and given physicals by the battalion's medical detachment.  Men found to have treatable medical conditions 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. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27th.  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 5th, 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 9th, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th.  During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line.  On Saturday, November 15th, 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 20th, 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, the tankers were met by Gen. Edward P. King, who welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed.  He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to live in tents.  The fact was he hadn't learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.  After making sure they had Thanksgiving Dinner, he left to have his own dinner.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons which had been covered in the grease to protect them against rust while at sea.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts and prepared to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.

    On Monday, December 1st, 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. 

    The morning of December 8th, the company commander, Capt Fred Bruni, told them to listen up because what he was saying was the truth.  He again told them that Pearl Harbor had been bombed, and they were given guns and told to clean them.  As they did this, they still believed that they had started maneuvers.  It was around noon that this belief was blown away. 
    All morning long, American planes filled the sky.  At noon, every plane landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45, most of the members of HQ Company had just finished eating, when 54 planes approached the airfield from the north.  As the soldiers watched, they believed the planes were American until what they described as "raindrops" appeared to fall from the planes.  When bombs began exploding around them, the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.  The members of HQ Company could do little more than watch the attack and seek shelters since they had no weapons to be used against planes.
    For the next four months, HQ Company worked to keep the tank companies operational.
  On December 13th, the tankers were moved 80 kilometers to do reconnaissance and guard beaches.  They remained there until December 23rd, when they were sent 100 kilometers north to Rosario to assist the 26th U. S. Cavalry because the defensive lines had broken.
    The companies were moved again on the 12th to south of San Fernando near the  Calumpit Bridge arriving there at 6:00 A.M.  On the 15th, the battalion received 15 Bren gun carriers but turned some over to the 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts.  These were used to test the ground to see if it could support tanks.
    On December 22nd, the companies were operating north of the Agno River and after the main bridge was bombed, on December 24/25, made an end tun to get south of the river and not be trapped by the Japanese.  The tanks held the south bank of the river from west of Carmen to the Carmen-Akcaka-Bautista Road with the 192nd holding the bank east of Carmen to Tayug (northeast of San Quintin).
     Christmas Day, the tankers spent in a coconut grove.  As it turned out, the coconuts were all they had to eat.  From Christmas to January 15, 1942, both day and night, all the tanks did was cover retreats of different infantry units.  The tanks were constantly bombed, shelled, and strafed.
    The tanks formed a new defensive held the Santa Ignacia-Gerona-Santo Tomas- San Jose line on December 26th.  When they dropped back from the line, all the platoons withdrew, except one which provided cover, as the other platoons from the area.  One tank went across the line receiving fire and firing on the Japanese.
    At Bayambang, Lt. Petree's platoon lost a tank.  It was at this time that D Company, 192nd, lost all their tanks, except one, because the bridge they were suppose to cross had been destroyed.  The company commander, Lt. Jack Altman, could not bring himself to totally destroy the tanks, and the Japanese repaired them and used them on Bataan.  The sergeant of the one tank, that had not abandoned, found a place to ford the river a few hundred yards from the bridge.
    The tankers were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th.  On January 1st, conflicting orders were received by the defenders who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5.  Doing this would allow the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan.  General Wainwright was unaware of the orders since they came from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff.
    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 2nd to 4th, 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 6th/7th 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.  It was at this time that the tank companies were reduced to three tanks each.  This was done to provide tanks to D Company,
    At Gumain River, on January 5th, D Company and C Company, 194th, were given the job to hold the south riverbank so that the other units could withdraw.  The tank companies formed a defensive line along the 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 tankers were able to hold up the Japanese.   
    The night of January 6/7, the 194th, covered by the 192nd, crossed the bridge over the Culis Creek and entered Bataan.  This was the beginning of the Battle of Bataan.  At this time, the food rations were cut in half.
    General Weaver also issued the following orders to the tank battalions around this time, "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 composite tank company was created on January 8th under the command of Capt. Donald Haines, B Company, 192nd, and sent to defend the Wast Coast Road north of Hermosa.  Its job was to keep the north road open and prevent the Japanese from driving down the road before a new battle line had been formed.  The Japanese never lunched an attack allowing the defensive line to be formed.  The tanks withdrew after they began receiving artillery fire.
    The remainder of the tanks were ordered to bivouac south of the Aubucay-Hacienda Road.  While there, the tank crews had their first break from action in nearly a month.  The tanks, which were long overdue for maintenance, were serviced by 17th Ordnance.  It was also at this time that tank platoons were reduced to ren tanks, with three tanks in each platoon.  This was done so that D Company, 192nd, would have tanks.
    The 194th was sent to reopen the Moron Road so that General Segunda's forces, which were trapped behind enemy lines, could withdraw.  Attempting to do this two tanks were knocked out by landmines planted by ordnance, but recovered, and a Japanese anti-tank gun was destroyed.  The mission was abandoned the next day.  Gen. Segunda's forces escaped but lost their heavy equipment.
    The next action the tanks saw was on the 20th when they were sent to relieve the 31st Infantry's command post.  On the 24th, the tanks were ordered to the Hacienda Road to support infantry, but again could not accomplish their mission because of landmines planted by ordnance.
    The 194th was holding a position a kilometer north of the Pilar-Bagac Road on January 26th with four self-propelled mounts.  At 9:45 A.M., a Filipino came down the road and warned the battalion that a large Japanese force was coming down the road.  When they appeared the tanks opened up on them. At 10:30, the Japanese withdrew having lost 500 of 1200 men.  This action prevented the new line of defense from being breached.
    On January 28th, the tank battalions were given the job of guarding the beaches so that the Japanese couldn't land troops.  The 194th guarded the coastline from Limay to Cabcaban.  During the day, the tanks hid under the jungle canopy.  At bight they were pulled out onto the beaches.  The battalion's half-tracks had the job of patroling the roads. At all times, the tanks were in contact with on-shore and off-shore patrols.
    For most of March, the situation Bataan was relatively quiet and the Japanese had been fought to a standstill.  On one occasion, two tanks had gotten stuck in the mud, and the crews were working to free them.  While they were doing this, a Japanese regiment entered the area.  Lt. Colonel Ernest Miller ordered his tanks to fire on the Japanese at point blank range.  He also ran from tank to tank directing the crew's fire.  The Japanese were wiped out.
    Having brought in combat harden troops from Singapore, the Japanese lunched a major offensive on April 4th.  The tanks were sent to various sectors in an attempt to stop the advance.  On the 6th, four tanks were sent to support the 45th Philippine Infantry, Philippine Scouts. One tank was knocked out from anti-tank fire at the junctions of Trails 6 & 8, and the other tanks withdrew.  On April 8th, the 194th was fighting on the East Coast Road at Cabcaban.
    The Japanese lunched an all out attack on April 4 against the defenders.  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.
    On April 7, 1942, the Japanese broke through the east side of the main defensive line on Bataan.  C Company was pulled out of their position along the west side of the line.  They were ordered to reinforce the eastern portion of the line.  Traveling south to Mariveles, the tankers started up the eastern road but were unable to reach their assigned area due to the roads being blocked by retreating Filipino and American forces.
   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 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 accomplished."    
    The evening of April 8, 1942, Capt. Fred Bruni 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.  He also told them that from this point on, it was each man for himself.  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."
  Bruni told his men that from this point on it was each man for himself.  Most of the company remained in their bivouac for two days while others attempted to escape to Corregidor.
   

    The first contact HQ Company had with the Japanese was when a Japanese officer and soldiers entered their bivouac.  They were now Prisoners of War and ordered out onto the road that ran past their encampment.  Once on the road, they were made to kneel on both sides of the road with their possessions in front of them.  As they knelt, the Japanese soldiers passing them took whatever they wanted from the Americans.  They remained along the sides of the road for half of the day.

    When the soldiers were ordered to move, they boarded trucks and drove to just outside of Mariveles
, ordered out of their trucks, and walked to Mariveles Airfield and sat and waited.  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.      
   
Sitting, watching, and waiting, the POWs wondered what the Japanese intended to do to them.  It was at that time that a Japanese officer pulled up in a car in front of the soldiers.  He got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail.  The officer got back in the car and drove off, while the sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.  
    Later in the day, Grover's group of POWs was moved to a school yard in Mariveles. The POWs were left sitting in the sun for hours without being fed or given water.  Behind the POWs were four Japanese artillery pieces which began firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum which had not surrendered.  Shells from these two American forts began landing among the POW who could do little since they had no place to hide.  Some POWs were killed by incoming American shells.  One group that tried to hide in a small brick building died when it took a direct hit.  The American guns did succeed in knocking out three of the four Japanese guns.  

    The POWs were ordered to move again and had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march.  During the march, the POWs received no water and little food.  It took the members of HQ Company six days to reach San Fernando.  Once there, the POWs were put into a bull pen that had a fence around it.  In one corner was a slit trench to be used as a toilet by the POWs.  The surface of the trench moved since it was covered in maggots.  The POWs had enough room to sit, but they could not lie down.  

    During their time in the bull pen, the POWs watched the Japanese bury three POWs.  Two of the men were still alive.  When one man attempted to climb out of the grave, he was hit in the head with a shovel and buried.  At some point, the Japanese ordered the men to form ranks.  They were marched in detachments of 100 men to the train station.  

    At the train station, the POWs were put into a small wooden boxcars known as "forty or eights" because they could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese packed 100 men into each car and closed the doors.  Those who died remained standing, since they could not fall to the cars' floors, until the living climbed out of the cars.  From Capas, Grover walked the last miles to Camp O' Donnell.
  

    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base that the Japanese pressed into service as a Prisoner of War camp.  It turned out to be a death trap with as many as fifty POWs dying each day.  There was only one working water faucet for the entire camp and men stood in line for days waiting for a drink.  Disease spread quickly since there were no medicines to treat the sick.  Many POWs went out on work details to get out of the camp.  

    The dead, at Camp O'Donnell, were taken to the camp cemetery and buried in shallow graves.  The reason for this was that the water table was high and the POWs could not dig deep graves.  Once a body was put in the ground, it was held down with a pole until it was covered by earth.  The next day, the POWs on the detail found wild dogs had dug up the bodies or the bodies were sitting up in the graves.  
    To get out of the camp, Lucian volunteered to go out on a work detail, to Tarlec Provence, which left the camp in early June 1942.  About 100 POWs went to the Barrio of Carangian, Talec Provence, to rebuild a bridge that had been destroyed by a massive flood on the Tarlec River.
    The POWs were housed in a small house in Carangain which did not have room for 100 men. The Japanese did not issue the POWs blankets and some had to sleep on the floor.  One of the few good things about the detail is that the POWs had enough clean drinking water.
    The POWs worked side by side with Filipino civilians which was another good thing about the detail since it allowed the Filipinos to smuggle cigarettes, food, and medicines to the POWs.  When the Japanese caught a Filipino doing this, the person was beaten.
    The Japanese commanding officer on the detail was Capt. Yukesaki - who was later tried for war crimes -  required thePOWs to work even if they were sick or weak from disease.  If he believed they were not working as hard as they could, they were beaten with sticks, other objects, and fists.  Ironically, the POWs felt their treatment on the detail was better than the treatment they received on other details.
  The detail ended in early August, and Lucian was sent to Bilibid Prison near Manila.  
    Not very long after arriving at Bilibid, he and other POWs were marched to the Port Area of Manila and boarded onto the Nagara Maru.  The ship sailed on August 12, 1942, and arrived at Takao, Formosa, on August 14th.  The POWs disembarked the ship and boarded onto the Suzuya Maru which sailed late on August 16th and arrived at Keelung, Formosa, on August 17th.
    Lucian remained on Formosa for over two years.  During his time on the island, he was first held at Karenko Camp where the POWs worked on a farm and herded sheep.  The food they grew went to the Japanese. 
    In June 1943, he was transferred to Shirakawa Camp where, once again, the POWs were expected to farm.  They also were expected to raise cattle.  Again, most, if not all, of the food was consumed by the Japanese.
   
   
    While Lucian was a POW at Shirakawa, he wrote a letter to his grandmother.  In it he said:
   



     "Dear Mama,
          I am in good health and hope you all are as good.  Tell all my friends 'Hello' and take care of yourself. 
         When I return, I will see that you are made happy and comfortable.  I am hoping and praying to return to
         you soon, so don't worry, Mother dea, and take care of yourself, and we will be together again as I am being
         well taken care of.

                                                                                                                   Lucian Yankey

                                                                                                                   Pvt. U.S. Army"

    Yankey also made a radio broadcast that was picked up in a shortwave radio broadcast by a radio operator in Dayton, Ohio.  On the broadcast he said:


"Hello mother, getting along fine and happy.  Am being treated O.K.  How is everything at home.  Love, your son."

    In 1945, Lucian was taken by a series of inter-island steamers to Fusan, Korea.  From there, he was transported to Mukden, Manchuria, where he remained to the end of the war until he was liberated by the Russian Army.  He was sent to Darien, China, and returned to the Philippine Islands.  After receiving medical treatment and being fatten up, Lucian returned to the United States on the U.S.S. Joseph T. Dychman, arriving on October 16, 1945, at San Francisco.   There, he was sent to Letterman General Hospital.  He later returned to Perryville, Kentucky.
    Lucian never married and lived with his grandmother.  After the war, he was in and out of the hospital suffering from the effects of being a POW.  He also had a problem with drinking. 
    Lucian Yankey passed away on May 28, 1967, in Perryville and was buried in Hillcrest Cemetery.


 

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