Allen, Pvt. Clarence L.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Allencl 1

Pvt. Clarence L. Allen was born on August 31, 1919, in Lyon County, Kentucky, to Alton D. Allen and Leena Landkin-Allen. With his sister and brother, he grew up in Kuttawa, Kentucky, living on RFD #2. He left school after finishing grammar school and worked as a farmhand before joining the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The Selective Service Act took effect on October 16, 1940, and he registered for the draft and named his sister, Ethel Hunter, as his contact person. Clarence was drafted and reported to Louisville, Kentucky, where he was inducted into the U.S. Army on January 22, 1941. He was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training. While in basic training, he was assigned to D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. This was done since the tank company had originally been a Kentucky National Guard Tank Company from Harrodsburg.

Basic training for the selectees was rushed and finished in seven weeks. During week 1, the soldiers did infantry drilling; week 2, manual arms and marching to music; week 3, machine gun training; week 4, was pistol usage; week 5, M1 rifle firing; week 6, was training with gas masks, gas attacks, pitching tents, and hikes; week 7 was spent learning the weapons, firing each one, learning the parts of the weapons and their functions, field stripping and caring for weapons, and the cleaning of weapons. All the training was done with the 69th Tank Regiment of the First Armored Division under the supervision of officers and enlisted men from the 192nd.

In late March 1941, the 192nd was moved to new barracks at Wilson Road and Seventh Avenue at Ft. Knox. The barracks had bathing and washing facilities in them and a day room. The new kitchens had larger gas ranges, automatic gas heaters, large pantries, and mess halls. One reason for this move was the men from selective service were permanently joining 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 from 8:00 to 8:30. Afterward, 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 13, 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 played.

On June 14th and 16th, the battalion was divided into four detachments composed of men from different companies. Available information shows that C and D Companies, part of Hq Company and part of the Medical Detachment left on June 14th, while A and B Companies, and the other halves of Hq Company and the Medical Detachment left the fort on June 16th. These were tactical maneuvers – under the command of the commanders of each of the letter companies. The three-day tactical road marches were to Harrodsburg, Kentucky, and back. The purpose of the maneuvers was to give the men practice at loading, unloading, and setting up administrative camps to prepare them for the Louisiana maneuvers. 

Each tank company traveled with 20 tanks, 20 motorcycles, 7 armored scout cars, 5 jeeps, 12 peeps (later called jeeps), 20 large 2½ ton trucks (these carried the battalion’s garages for vehicle repair), 5, 1½ ton trucks (which included the companies’ kitchens), and 1 ambulance. The detachments traveled through Bardstown and Springfield before arriving at Harrodsburg at 2:30 P.M. where they set up their bivouac at the fairgrounds. The next morning, they moved to Herrington Lake east of Danville, where the men swam, boated and fished. The battalion returned to Ft. Knox through Lebanon, New Haven and Hodgenville, Kentucky. At Hodgenville, the men were allowed to visit the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln.

From September 1 through 30, the battalion was sent to Louisiana to take part in maneuvers. The entire battalion was loaded onto trucks and sent in a convoy to Louisiana while the tanks and wheeled vehicles were sent by train.

During the maneuvers that tanks held defensive positions and usually were held in reserve by the higher headquarters. For the first time, the tanks were used to counter-attack and in support of infantry. Many of the men felt that the tanks were finally being used like they should be used and not as “mobile pillboxes.” 

Instead of returning to Ft. Knox, the battalion received orders to report to Camp Polk. None of the members of the battalion had any idea why this had been done. On the side of a hill, the tankers learned that instead of being released from federal service they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM. Within hours, many of the men knew that PLUM stood for the Philippines, Luzon, Manila. Men 29 years old or older, or married, were allowed to resign from federal service, and replacements for the men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion. The 192nd also received the battalion’s tanks and half-tracks.

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 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 a 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. When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.

The next day another squadron of planes was sent to the area and followed the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat which was seen making its way toward shore carrying the buoys under a tarp. Since communication between the Navy and Air Corps was poor, the boat escaped. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.

The battalion was sent west, over four different train routes, to San Francisco, California. This was done so that people who saw the trains would not assume the United States was preparing for war. Arriving in San Francisco, the battalion was ferried. on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Angel Island. On the island, they were given physicals and inoculated by the battalion’s medical detachment. Some men were held back at the island, for minor medical reasons, and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other 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 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 U.S.S. Louisville and, the transport, 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 11th. During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Dateline.  It was also at this time the convoy stopped at Wake Island so the B-17 ground crews could disembark.

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, but two other intercepted ships were Japanese freighters carrying scrap metal to Japan.

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 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, they were greeted by Colonel 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 – a stew thrown into their mess kits – 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 ragged World War I tents in an open field halfway between the Clark Field Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg. They 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.

The area was near the end of a runway used by B-17s for takeoffs. The planes flew over the tents at about 100 feet blowing dirt everywhere and the noise was unbelievable. At night, they heard the sounds of planes flying over the airfield which turned out to be Japanese reconnaissance planes. In addition, the khaki uniforms they had been issued also turned out to be a heavy material which made them uncomfortable to wear in the tropical heat. 

For the next seventeen days, the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons. It was at this time the work began to transfer D Company to the 194th Tank Battalion. The transfer was never completed and the company remained a company of the 192nd. The tankers also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts. The plan was for the 192nd, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers. At one point, the tankers were sent to the perimeter of Clark Airfield and simulated guarding it against Japanese paratroopers.

After the attack, D Company was ordered to Mabalac on the Delores Road. They remained there until December 10. They were next sent to Calumpit to look for paratroopers. While there, they guarded a huge bridge against saboteurs. On December 13, the tankers were moved 80 kilometers to do reconnaissance and guard beaches. They remained there until December 23, when they were sent 100 kilometers north to Rosario to assist the 26th U. S. Cavalry because the defensive lines had broken.

Christmas Day was for Clarence, and the other 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.

At Gumain River, on January 5, D Company and C Company of the 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 tankers were next assigned to guarding the Bataan and Cabcaben Airfields. They also guarded against beach landings and paratroopers. They would continue this duty until April 7. On April 8, the tankers were sent Trail 10 and Mount Samat. The lines had broken. They fought there until receiving the news of the surrender.

The tankers were next assigned to guarding the Bataan and Cabcaben airfields. They also guarded against beach landings and paratroopers. They would continue this duty until April 7. On April 8, the tankers were sent Trail 10 and Mount Samat. The lines had broken. They fought there until receiving the news of the surrender.

At 6:45 on the morning of April 9, the tankers received the order “crash” on their radios. They circled their tanks, fired an armor-piercing round into each tank’s engine, opened the gasoline cocks inside the tanks, and dropped hand grenades into each crew compartment setting the tanks on fire. Some of the members of the D Company took off for the hills but were picked up later. Others safely made it to Corregidor.

Clarence was hospitalized when the surrender took place. His name appears on a roster of POWs being held at Cabcaben, in May 1942, and transferred by the Japanese from the hospital to either Bilibid or Cabanatuan #3, which housed the POWs captured on Corregidor and who were hospitalized when the surrender came. At some point, the POWs from Camp #3 were transferred to Camp #1 which was where the POWs captured on Bataan had been held.

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.

Meals on a daily basis consisted of 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, and sweet potato or corn. Since the POWs were underfed, many became ill and died of malnutrition.

The POWs were sent out on work details to cut wood for the POW kitchens. Other POWs worked in rice paddies. Each morning, as the POWs stood at attention and roll call was taken, the Japanese guards hit them across their heads. 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. 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.

The barracks used by the POWs were built to hold 50 POWs, but the Japanese put from 60 to 120 POWs in each one. There no shower facilities and the POWs slept on bamboo strips. In addition, no bedding, covers, or mosquito netting was provided which resulted in many becoming ill.

The camp hospital was made up of 30 wards. One ward had been missed when the wards were being counted so it was given the name of “Zero Ward.” The ward became the place were POWs who were going to die were sent. The Japanese were so terrified by it, that they put a fence up around it and would not go near the building. Most of the POWs who died there died because their bodies were too malnourished to fight the diseases they had.

While at Cabanatuan, according to medical records kept by the camp medical staff, Clarence was admitted into the camp hospital on August 31, 1942, suffering from malaria. It is not known when he was discharged since no date was given. On October 13, 1942, Clarence was readmitted to the hospital suffering from dysentery. According to the record of POWs who died at Cabanatuan, Pvt. Clarence L. Allen died of dysentery on November 29, 1942, at approximately 11:30 A.M., and was buried in the camp cemetery in Grave 910.

After the war, the remains of Pvt. Clarence L. Allen could not be positively identified because they had mixed with two other men. At the request of the families, the remains were returned to the United States. On April 7, 1950, the remains of Pvt. Clarence L. Allen, Cpl. Gilberto G. Tafoya, of the 200th Coast Artillery, and S/1c Dudley D. Wyatt, were buried at Little Rock National Cemetery in Little Rock, Arkansas, in Section 12, Site 144 – 166. The reason the cemetery was selected, is that it was considered to be approximately the same distance from the hometown of each man.

AllenG

Leave a Reply