Blacketer, Pvt. William E.

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Pvt. William Elwood Blacketer
Born: 5 April 1919 – Mackville, Kentucky
Parents: Elmer Blacketer and Hattie Shewmaker-Blacketer
Siblings: 3 sisters, 7 brothers
Home: 461 Hardin Avenue – Harrodsburg, Kentucky
Occupation: Odd Jobs
– Kentucky National Guard – Harrodsburg
– 16 October 1940 – since he was in the National Guard, he did not have to register for the draft
– U. S. Army
– 25 November 1940 – Harrodsburg
– Fort Knox, Kentucky
– Basic Training
– the training was done with 69th Tank Regiment, First Armored Division
– soldiers rushed through basic training
– Week 1: infantry drilling
– Week 2: manual arms and marching to music
– Week 3: machine gun
– Week 4: pistol
– Week 5: M1 rifle
– Week 6: field week – training with gas masks, gas attacks, pitching tents, and hikes
– Week 7: 
– learned the weapons, firing each one
– learned the parts of the weapons and their function
– field stripped weapons
– learned about caring for weapons
– December 1940 – moved into barracks
– shared their mess hall with A Company until its mess hall was finished
– men selected to be transferred to the newly created HQ Company
– Blacketer was one of those selected
– the new company was the largest company in the battalion 
– It was divided into a staff platoon, a reconnaissance platoon, a maintenance platoon, a motor platoon, and the usual cooks and clerks that every company
– Men were assigned various jobs which included scouts, radio operators, mechanics, truck drivers, and other duties. 
– They also sent to specialty schools with training in areas like tank mechanic, radio, automotive mechanic, and small and large arms.
– still lived in D Company barracks until Hq Company’s barracks were finished
Typical Day
– 6:15 – reveille
– 7:00 – 8:00 A.M. – breakfast
– 8:00 – 8:30 A.M. – calisthenics
– 9:00 A.M. – attended various tank schools
– classes
– 30 and 50 caliber machine-guns
– pistols
– map reading
– care of personal equipment
– military courtesy
– training in tactics
– 11:30 – soldiers cleaned up for lunch
– Noon – 1:00 P.M. – lunch
– 1:00 P.M. – attended the various schools
– trained under the supervision of the 1st Armor Division
– 13 January 1942 – assigned to schools 
– mechanics’ school
– tank driving school
– radio operating
– electrician school
– 4:30 – the soldiers called it a day
– they returned to their barracks and put on dress uniforms
– tank driving
– qualified as a tank driver
Tactical Maneuvers:
– February
– four composite tank detachments made of men from all the companies of the battalion left Ft. Knox
– left on different dates on problematic moves at 9:00 A.M.
– detachments:
– 3 motorcycles
– 2 scout cars
– 16 tanks
– 1 ambulance and supply, fuel, and kitchen trucks
– the route was difficult
– it was chosen so that the men became acquainted with their equipment
– they also had to watch out for simulated enemy planes
– bridges were avoided whenever it was possible to ford the water
– they received their rations from a food truck
– in late March 1941, the entire battalion was moved to new larger barracks
– located 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
– men form selective service permanently joined the battalion
– needed larger barracks 
Tactical Maneuvers:
– June 14 and 16
– the battalion was divided into four detachments composed of men from different companies
– C and D Companies, part of HQ Company, and part of the Medical Detachment left on June 14
– A and B Companies, and the other halves of HQ Company and the Medical Detachment left the fort on June 16
– A and B Companies, and the other halves of Hq Company and the Medical Detachment left the fort on June 16
– 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 maneuvers gave the men practice at loading, unloading, and setting up administrative camps
– prepared 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)
– 1 ambulance.
– The detachments traveled through Bardstown and Springfield 
– arrived 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
– there the men swam, boated, and fished.
– returned to Ft. Knox through Lebanon, New Haven, and Hodgenville, Kentucky
– at Hodgenville, the men were allowed to visit the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln
Louisiana Maneuvers
– The entire battalion was loaded onto trucks and sent in a convoy to Louisiana 
– the tanks and wheeled vehicles were sent by train
– the 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
– men felt that the tanks were finally being used like they should be used and not as “mobile pillboxes.” 
– HQ Company kept the tanks running and supplied but did not actively participate in the maneuvers
– since he was assigned to one of the company’s tanks, it is not known how involved he was in the maneuvers
– the maneuvers were described by other men as being awakened at 4:30 A.M. and sent to an area to engage an imaginary enemy.
– After engaging the enemy, the tanks withdrew to another area.
– The crews had no idea what they were doing most of the time
– they were never told anything by the higher-ups.
– Some felt that they just rode around in their tanks a lot. 
– at Ft. Knox, the tankers were taught that they should never attack an anti-tank gun head-on
– their commanding general threw away the entire battalion doing just that one day
– the battalion returned to the maneuvers after being held out for a period of time
– the battalion also went from fighting in the Red Army to fighting for the Blue Army
– snake bites
– major problem
– every other man was bitten at some point by a snake
– The platoon commanders carried a snakebit kit
– it was used to create a vacuum to suck the poison out of the bite
– The bites were the result of cool nights and snakes crawling under the soldiers’ bedrolls while the soldiers were sleeping on them.
– one multicolored snake about eight inches long that was beautiful to look at was deadly
– if it bit a man he was dead
– The good thing was that these snakes would not just strike at the man
– they only struck if the man forced himself on them
– the soldiers carefully picked up their bedrolls in the morning
– looked to see if there were any snakes under them
– to avoid being bitten, men slept on the two and a half-ton trucks
– they also slept on or in the tanks.
– Another trick the soldiers learned was to dig a small trench around their tents
– placed a rope in the trench
– The burs on the rope kept the snakes from entering the tents.
– The snakes were not a problem if the night was warm.
– the wild hogs were in the area were also a problem
– In the middle of the night while the men slept in their tents they would suddenly hear hogs squealing
– The hogs ran into the tents pushing on them until they took them down and dragged them away. 
– food
– not very good since it was so damp that it was hard to get a fire started
– Many of their meals were C ration meals of beans or chili that they choked down.
– Washing clothes was done when the men had a chance.
– They found a creek and looked for alligators
– if there were none, they took a bar of soap and scrubbed whatever they were washing.
– Clothes were usually washed once a week or once every two weeks.
– the sandy soil was a problem
– tanks were parked and the crews walked away from them.
– When they returned, the tanks had sunk into the sandy soil up to their hauls
– other tanks were brought in and attempted to pull them out
– If that didn’t work, the tankers brought a tank wrecker from Camp Polk to pull the tank out.
– the tank crews learned how to move their tanks at night
– this was something not taught at Ft. Knox
– the night movements were preparing them for what they would repeatedly do in the Philippines
– The drivers learned how to drive at night and to take instructions from their tank commanders
– the tank commanders had a better view at night
– At night a number of motorcycle riders from other tank units were killed
– had orders to ride their bikes without lights on
– this meant they could not see obstacles in front of their bikes
– When they hit something they fell to the ground and the tanks went over them.
– This happened several times
– the motorcycle riders were ordered to turn on their headlights
– after these maneuvers that the 192nd Tank Battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft. Knox
– soldiers received furloughs home and get their affairs in order
– men 29 years old or older were allowed to resign from federal service
– replacements for these men came from 753rd Tank Battalion
Overseas Duty:
– after these maneuvers that the 192nd Tank Battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft. Knox
– many of the soldiers were furloughs home and get their affairs in order
– men 29 years old or older were allowed to resign from federal service
– replacements for these men came from 753rd Tank Battalion
– the 192nd also got the tanks of the 753rd and some came from the Third Armored Division
– this move was caused by 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, with a flag, in the water
– He came upon more flagged buoys that lined up – in a straight line – for 30 miles to the northwest
– the buoys lined up with a Japanese occupied island hundreds of miles away
– the island had a large radio transmitter
– The squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field
– the planes landed, but it was too late to do anything that day
– The next day – planes were sent to the area
– the buoys had been picked up
– a fishing boat was seen making with a tarp on its deck was seen making its way toward shore.
– communication between the planes and the Navy was poor, nothing was done to intercept the boat
– the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines
– the battalion received new tanks and half-tracks
– the tanks were new to the battalion
– the tanks came from the 753rd and the 3rd Armor Division
– tanks and half-tracks loaded on flat cars
– D Company took the southern route to San Francisco, California
– went along the Gulf Coast, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona
– came north along the west coast
– the soldiers rode one train followed by a second train
– the second train carried the company’s tanks
– at the end of the second train were a boxcar and passenger car with soldiers in it
– soldiers arrived by train in San Francisco, California
– ferried to Angel Island on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
– on Angel Island they received physicals
– some men held back for minor medical conditions
– scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date
– other men simply were replaced
– Boarded: U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott
– Sailed: San Francisco – Monday – 27 October 1941
– Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii – Sunday – 2 November 1941
– soldiers give shore leave
– Sailed: Wednesday – 5 November 1941
– took a southerly route away from main shipping lanes
– joined by U.S.S. Louisville and U.S.A.T. President Calvin Coolidge
– 15 November 1941 – smoke from ship spotted on the horizon
– The Louisville revved its engine, its bow came out of the water
– it shot off in the direction of the smoke
– the smoke was from a friendly country
– the Louisville also intercepted two other ships
– both were Japanese freighters carrying scrap metal to Japan
– Arrived: Guam – 16 November 1941
– ships take on coconuts, water, vegetables, bananas
– Sailed: 17 November 1941
– passed Japanese held island in total blackout
– Arrived: Thursday – 20 November 1941 – Manila Bay – 7:00 A.M.
– there was no band or welcoming committee waiting at the pier
– no one told them to enjoy their stay in the Philippines and see as much of the island as they could
– a military party came aboard the ship
– carried guns 
– the soldiers were told, “Draw your firearms immediately; we’re under alert. We expect a war with Japan at any moment. Your destination is Fort Stotsenburg, Clark Field.”
– soldiers disembarked the ship three to four hours after arrival
– a Marine checked off the names of the enlisted men
– greeted them with “Hello suckers”
– boarded train for Ft. Stotsenburg
– Stationed: Ft. Stotsenburg
– Gen. Edward King greeted them and apologize about their living quarters
– made sure that the soldiers had dinner
– a stew thrown into their mess kits before they he had his own
– the battalion pitched the ragged World War I tents in an open field halfway
– it was 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
– 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
– blew dirt everywhere and the noise was unbelievable.
– at night, they heard the sounds of planes flying over the airfield
– the planes were Japanese reconnaissance planes
– the khaki uniforms they had been issued turned out to be a heavy material 
– they were uncomfortable to wear in the tropical heat
Rado Communications
– the 192nd had a large number of ham radio operators
– set up a communications tent
– within hours men radioed home they had safely arrived in the Philippines
– the new radio traffic drove the Army monitoring station in Manila crazy
– finally learned it was the 192nd
– assigned channels to the battalion
Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1941 – 6 January 1942
– 8 December 1941 – 6 January 1942
– lived through the attack on Clark Field
– HQ Company remained in battalion bivouac
– members took cover in a dry latrine
– lived through two more heavy attacks on December 10 and 13
– 15 December 1941
– each battalion received 15 Bren Gun Carriers
– used to see if the ground could support tanks
– 21 December 1941
– 192nd ordered to support 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts at Lingayen Gulf
– Japanese landing troops
– HQ Company went north to support tank companies wherever they were
– 22 December 1941 – first tank battle
– tanks make run to Damortis
– tanks supported 26th Cavalry
– 26th Cavalry did not want tank support
– 71st Division Commander said that they would clutter up their action
– 23/24 December 1941
– operated north of the Agno River
– main bridge at Carmen blown
– tank battalions made end runs to get south of Agno River
– 24 December 1941
– tank battalions held a line along the south bank of Agno River
– 192nd held the left side of the line from west of Carmen (on Route 3)
– critical points – held the position for 24 hours
– 25/26 December 1941 – tank battalions organized tank defenses
– 192nd held the line from Carmen to Route 3  to Tayug to the northeast of San Quentin
– critical points held by tanks
– some tanks only in radio contact with each other
– ordered to hold the position until 5:00 A.M. – 27 December 1941
– 26/27 December 1941
– 192nd tanks ordered to form a new defensive line from Carmen to Umigan
– destroyed most of 44,000 gallons of 100-octane gas
– 27 December 1941 – withdrew from the line that night
– formed new line: Santa Ignacia – Gerona – Santo Tomas – San Jose
– 27/28 December 1941 – withdrew
– formed a new line: Tarlac – Cabanatuan
– 28/29 December 1941
– dropped back and formed: Bamban Gapan Line
– 29/30 December 1941
– formed a new line along Bamban River
– ordered to hold until they received further orders
– 31 December 1941/1 January 1942
– tanks covered an area north of Calumpit
– 2 January 1942 – tanks ordered to Lyac Junction to covering position
– cover withdrawal toward Bataan
– 192nd covered northwest flanks
– 194th withdrew covered by 192nd
– 6 January 1942
– tank battalions held the line between Culis and Hermosa
– 6/7 January 1942
– 192nd covered the withdrawal of 194th across a bridge
– 194th then covered the 192nd’d withdrawal across the bridge
– 192nd last American unit to enter Bataan
– the bridge was blown after it was crossed
Battle of Bataan
– 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– 8 January 1942 – composite tank company created
– held East Coast Road open
– under constant enemy fire
– tank battalions bivouac just south of Pilar-Bagac Road
– tank companies reduced to 10 tanks
– HQ Company and 17th Ordnance did much-needed maintenance on tanks
– 13 January 1942 – tanks dropped back to battalion bivouac
– 20 January 1942 – withdrawal from Abucay-Hacienda Line
– 192nd covered East Coast Road
– 25 January 1942 – Balanga-the Cadre Road-Bani Bani Road
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.”
– 25/26 January 1942
– Balanga – bridge battalion was to use destroyed by artillery fire
– the battalion had to use alternate roads west of Balanga
– 28 January 1942 – beach duty
– 194th’s 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
– 1 February 1942
– tanks and half-tracks take on protecting three airfields
Battle of the Pockets
– Japanese attacked and were pushed back creating two pockets behind the main defensive line
– tanks sent in to wipe out pockets
– tanks would enter pocket one at a time
– another tank would not enter until the tank that was relieved left the pocket
– the first method used against Japanese
– three Filipino soldiers rode on the back of tanks
– as tank passed over Japanese foxholes, Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into the foxholes
– one of the three hand grenades usually exploded
– the second method used against Japanese
– the tank would park with one track over the foxhole
– tank driver gave power to other track causing the tank to go in a circle
– tank ground its way into the ground
– March 1942
– Japanese had been fought to a standstill
– suffered from the same illnesses affecting Americans
– 3 April 1942
– fresh troops brought in from Singapore by Japanese
– launched a major offensive
– 6 April 1942
– tanks sent to various areas in an attempt to plug holes in the defensive line
– 8 April 1942
– Gen. Edward P. King
– determined only 25% of his troops were healthy enough to fight
– would last one more day
– feared that the 6,000 troops who were hospitalized and 40,000 Filipino civilians would be slaughtered
– D Company, A Company, 194th, and B Company, 192nd, prepared to make a suicide attack to stop the advance
– 10:30 P.M. – staff officers to meet with Japanese and 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.”
– 11:40 P.M. – ammunition dumps were blown up
– At 2:oo A.M. April 9, Gen. King sent a jeep under a white flag to negotiate surrender terms
– carried Colonel Everett C. Williams, Col. James V. Collier, and Major Marshall Hurt to meet
 – the white flag was bedding from A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion
– the driver was from the Provisional Tank Group
– Shortly after daylight Collier and Hunt returned with word of the appointment
– the tankers received the message “crash” over their radios at 6:45 A.M.
– 9 April 1942
– circled tanks and fired an armor-piercing shell into each tank’s engine
– opened gasoline cocks and dropped grenades into the crew compartment
– Gen. King left to negotiate the surrender
– went through the area held by B Company, 192nd
– he spoke to the men and said to them, “Boys. I’m going to get us the best deal I can.” 
– He also said, “When you get home, don’t ever let anyone say to you, you surrendered. I was the one who surrendered.” 
– Gen. King with his two aides, Maj. Cothran and Captain Achille C. Tisdelle Jr. got into a jeep carrying a large white flag
– they were followed by another jeep – also flying another large white flag – with Col. Collier and Maj. Hurt in it
– As the jeeps made their way north, they were strafed and small bombs were dropped by a Japanese plane
– The drivers of both jeeps managed to avoid the bullets
– The strafing ended when a Japanese reconnaissance plane ordered the fighter pilot to stop strafing
– About 10:00 A.M. the jeeps reached Lamao
– they were received by a Japanese Major General who informed King that he reported his arrival to negotiate a surrender
– stated that an officer from the Japanese command would arrive to do the negotiations
– the Japanese officer also told him that his troops would not attack for thirty minutes while King decided what he would do
– After a half-hour, no Japanese officer had arrived from their headquarters and the Japanese attack had resumed
– King sent Col. Collier and Maj. Hunt back to his command
– they had instructions that any unit inline with the Japanese advance should fly white flags
– Shortly after this was done a Japanese colonel and interpreter arrived
– King was told the officer was Homma’s Chief of Staff and he had come to discuss
   King’s surrender
– King attempted to get insurances from the Japanese that his men would be treated as prisoners of war
– the Japanese officer – through his interpreter accused King of declining to surrender unconditionally
– At one point King stated he had enough trucks and gasoline to carry his troops out of Bataan
– He was told that the Japanese would handle the movement of the prisoners
– The two men talked back and forth until the colonel said through the interpreter, “The Imperial Japanese Army are not barbarians.” 
– King found no choice but to accept him at his word
Prisoner of War:
– 9 April 1942
– Death March
– Mariveles – POWs started the march at the southern tip of Bataan
– POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing at Corregidor
– Americans on Corregidor returned fire
– SanFernando – held in a bullpen
– not known how long he was there or if he was fed
– POWs marched to the train station
– put into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane
– each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men
– known as “forty or eights”
– POW detachments had 100 men
– 100 POWs packed into each boxcar and the doors were closed
– POWs who died remained standing since they could not fall to the floors
– Capas – dead fell to the floors as living left boxcars
– POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O’Donnell
POW Camps:
Philippine Islands:
– Camp O’Donnell
– 1 April 1942 – unfinished Filipino training base Japanese put into use as a POW camp
– Japanese believed the camp could hold 15,000 to 20,000 POWs
– POWs searched upon arrival at camp
– those found with Japanese money were accused of looting
– sent to the guardhouse
– over several days, gunshots heard southeast of the camp
– POWs who had money on them had been executed
– Japanese took away any extra clothing from POWs as they entered the camp and refused to return it
– since no water was available to wash clothing, the POWs threw soiled clothing away
– clothing was taken from dead
– few of the POWs in the camp hospital had clothing
– POWs were not allowed to bathe
– only one water spigot for the entire camp
– POWs waited 2½ hours to 8 hours to get a drink
– water frequently turned off by Japanese guards when they wanted water
– the next man in line waited as long as 4 hours for the water to be turned on again
– mess kits could not be cleaned
– POWs found the pipe and dug a trench for a second water line
– Japanese again turned the water off when they wanted water
– unknown to them, the POWs had a hidden spigot
– got water from it when they wanted it
– POWs had to carry water 3 miles from a river to cook their meals
– slit trenches overflowed since many of the POWs had dysentery
– flies were everywhere including in camp kitchens and food
– the camp hospital had no water, soap, or disinfectant
– the senior POW doctor wrote a list of medicines he wanted to treat the sick and was told by the camp commandant, Capt. Yoshio Tsuneyoshi, never to
  write another letter
– Tsuneyoshi said that all he wanted to know about the American POWs was their names and numbers when they died
– refused to allow a truckload of medicine sent by the Archbishop of Manila into the camp
– 95% of the medicine sent by the Philippine Red Cross was taken by the Japanese for their own use
– a second truck of medicine from the Red Cross was turned away at the camp gate
– POWs in the camp hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow
– operations on POWs were performed with mess kit knives
– only one medic – out of six medics assigned to care for 50 sick POWs in the hospital – was well enough to work
– as many as 50 POWs died each day
– each morning dead were found everywhere in the camp and stacked up under the hospital
– the dead were moved to one area and the ground under the hospital was scraped and covered with lime to clean it
– the dead were moved to the cleaned area and the area where they had lain was scraped and covered with lime
– usually the dead were not buried for two or three days
– at one point, 80 bodies laid under the hospital
– work details: if a POW could walk, he was sent out on a work detail
– POWs on burial detail often had dysentery and malaria
– Japanese opened a new POW camp to lower the death rate
– In May or early June 1942, his parents received a message from the War Department:

“Dear Mr. E. Blacketer:

        “According to War Department records, you have been designated as the emergency addressee if Private William E. Blacketer, 20,523,439, who, according to the latest information available, was serving in the  Philippine Islands at the time of the final surrender. 

        “I deeply regret that it is impossible for me to give you more information than is contained in this letter.  In the last days before the surrender of Bataan, there were casualties which were not reported to the War Department.  Conceivably the same is true of the surrender of Corregidor and possibly other islands of the Philippines.  The Japanese Government has indicated its intention of conforming to the terms of the Geneva Convention with respect to the interchange of information regarding prisoners of war.  At some future date, this Government will receive through Geneva a list of persons who have been taken prisoners of war.  Until that time the War Department cannot give you positive information. 

        “The War Department will consider the persons serving in the Philippine Islands as “missing in action” from the date of surrender of Corregidor, May 7, 1942, until definite information to the contrary is received.  It is to be hoped that the Japanese Government will communicate a list of prisoners of war at an early date.  At that time you will be notified by this office in the event that his name is contained in the list of prisoners of war.   In the case of persons known to have been present in the Philippines and who are not reported to be prisoners of war by the Japanese Government, the War Department will continue to carry them as “missing in action” in the absence of information to the contrary, until twelve months have expired.  At the expiration of twelve months and in the absence of other information the War Department is authorized to make a final determination.

        “Recent legislation makes provision to continue the pay and allowances of persons carried in a “missing” status for a period not to exceed twelve months;  to continue, for the duration of the war, the pay and allowances of persons known to have been captured by the enemy; to continue allotments made by missing personnel for a period of twelve months and allotments or increase allotments made by persons by the enemy during the time they are so held;  to make new allotments or increase allotments to certain dependents defined in Public Law 490, 77th Congress.  The latter dependents generally include the legal wife, dependent children under twenty-one years of age and dependent mother, or such dependents as having been designated in official records.  Eligible dependents who can establish a need for financial assistance and are eligible to receive this assistance the amount allotted will be deducted from pay which would otherwise accrue to the credit of the missing individual.

                                                                                                                                                                    “Very Truly yours

                                                                                                                                                                            J. A. Ulio (signed) 
                                                                                                                                                                       Major General
                                                                                                                                                                   The Adjutant General”

– 1 June 1942 – POWs formed detachments of 100 men
– POWs marched out the gate and marched toward Capas
– Filipino people gave POWs small bundles of food
– the guards did not stop them
– At Capas, the POWs were put into steel boxcars and rode the cars to Manila
– the train stopped at Calumpit and switched onto the line to Cabanatuan
– POWs disembarked the train at 6:00 P.M. and put into a schoolyard
– fed rice and onion soup
– 4 June 1942 – the transfer was completed
– Cabanatuan
– original name: Camp Pangatian
– Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
– actually three camps
– Camp 1: POWs from the death march and Camp O’Donnell held there
– Camp 2: four 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 sent there
– all POWs later moved to Camp 1 by the autumn of 1942
Camp 1:
– POWs ran the camp
– Japanese only entered the camp if there was a problem
– June 1942
– four POWs escaped and recaptured
– tied to posts at the main gate and beaten
– other POWs were not allowed to give them water
– after three days their ropes were cut
– they dug their own graves
– shot by a firing squad
– a Japanese officer went to each grave and shot each man
– Details:
– work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens, plant rice, and farm
– when POWs lined up for roll call
– a common practice for Japanese guards to kick the POWs in their shins with their hobnailed boots
– 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
Blood Brothers
– POWs put in 10 men groups
– if one man escaped, the other nine men were shot
– POWs lived in barracks together, worked together, ate together
– to prevent escapes, the POWs set up patrols along the camp’s fence
– men who attempted to escape and caught were executed after being beaten
– the other POWs were forced to watch the beatings
– daily POW meal – 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato, or corn
June 1942:
– diphtheria broke out in camp
– 150 POWs died before the Japanese provided medicine
– 26 June – six POWs were executed by the Japanese 
– they had left the camp to buy food and were caught returning to camp
– tied to posts in so they could not stand up or sit down
– no one was allowed to give them food or water
– not permitted to give them hats to protect them from the sun
– they were left tied to the posts for 48 hours
– four of the POWs were executed on the duty side of the camp
– two POWs were executed on the hospital side of the camp
Camp Hospital:
– 30 Wards
– each ward could hold 40 men
– frequently had 100 men in each
– two tiers of bunks
– sickest POWs on the bottom tier
– each POW had a 2 foot by 6-foot area to lie in
– Zero Ward
– given the 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
– In July 1942, the family received a second letter. The following is an excerpt from it.

“The last report of casualties received by the War Department from the Philippines arrived early in the morning of May 6. Through this date, Private William E. Blacketer had not been reported as a casualty. The War Department will consider the persons serving in the Philippine Islands as “missing in action” from the date of the surrender of Corregidor, May 7, until definite information to the contrary is received.

“Efforts to secure prisoner of war lists from the Philippines have not been successful to this date due to the lack of communication and the fact that the Japanese Government has not yet given permission for the Swiss representative and the International Red Cross delegates to make visits to prisoner of war camps in the islands. When the lists of prisoners are received, we will clear the name of your son and send you any additional information that we may have.”     

– 7 August 1942 – a POW escaped from the camp 
– 17 September 1942 – he was captured and placed in solitary confinement a
– he was beaten over the head with an iron bar by a Japanese sergeant
– Col. Mori, would parade him around the camp
– used the man as an example as he lectured the POWs
– the man wore a sign that read, “Example of an Escaped Prisoner”
– 12 September 1942 – three POWs escaped 
– 21 September 1942 – recaptured
– their feet were tied together and their hands were crossed behind their backs and tied with ropes
– a long rope was tied around their wrists and they were suspended from a rafter
– their toes barely touched the ground causing their arms to bear all the weight of their bodies
– beaten while hanging from rafters
– the punishment lasted three days
– they were cut from the rafter and they were tied hand and foot
– they were placed in the cooler for 30 days on a diet was rice and water
– finally released
– 29 September 1942 – three POWs executed
– caught attempting to escape
– Americans patrol stopped them at the fence
– the Japanese heard the commotion
– three men were beaten for 2½ hours
– one so bad his jaw was broken
– the three were tied to posts by the main gate
– their clothes were torn off them
– beaten on and off for the next 48 hours
– anyone passing them was expected to urinate on them
– after three days they were cut down and thrown into a truck
– they were taken to a clearing in sight of the camp and shot
– 14 October 1942 – food rations improved
– 550 grams of rice, 100 grams of meat, 330 grams of vegetables, 20 grams of fat, 20 grams of sugar, 15 grams of salt, and 1 gram of tea
– at some point, 50 grams of mongo beans replaced some of the rice
– sick POWs also received an additional 50 grams of meat
– Actual Meals:
– wet rice and rice coffee for breakfast
– Pechi green soup and rice for lunch
– Mongo bean soup, Carabao meat, and rice for dinner
– 1 November 1942
– 1500 POW names drawn by Japanese
– Japanese issued each man 1 pair of shoes, 1 undershirt, and 1 blue denim uniform
– told to put on their best clothing
– marched to a ball field
– told to remove clothing and issued Japanese clothing
– POWs selected were sent to Japan
– POWs never were told this, they figured it out on their own
– 5 November 1942
– 3:00 A.M. – POWs left camp and marched to the Barrio of Cabanatuan
– before they left camp, they were given their breakfast to take with them
– rice and what the Japanese called a “large piece of meat”
– the piece of meat was two inches square and a quarter-inch thick
– it was large compared to a piece of meat they usually received
– Barrio of Cabanatuan
– boarded train
– 98 POWs were put into each car
– the POWs could move if they worked together
– rode the train to Manila
– arrived at 5:00 P.M.
– marched to Pier 7
– slept on a concrete floor inside a building
Hell Ship:
Nagato Maru
– Boarded: Manila – 6 November 1942 – 5:00 P.M.
– Japanese attempted to put 600 POWs into one hold
– settled for somewhere between 550 and 560
– 9 POWs had to share a 4 foot, 9 inches, by 6 foot, 2 inches, space
– to sit, POWs had to draw their knees under their chins
– Sailed: 7 November 1942
– two latrines were supposed to service 1500 POWs
– the POWs had to stand in line to use them
– extremely sick could not reach latrines
– tubs put in holds for the sick
– to reach them, they had to walk on other POWs
– floor quickly became covered in human waste
– hold infested with lice, fleas, and roaches
– Meals: no system in place for distribution of food
– the sickest POWs did not eat
– water was almost non-existent
– holds were extremely hot
– POWs were rotated on deck
– Arrived: Takao, Formosa – 11 November 1942
– stayed three days in the harbor
– POWs were not allowed on deck for short periods of time
– Sailed: 15 November 1942
– Arrived: Mako, Pescadores Islands
– same day
– Sailed: 18 November 1942
– Arrived: Keelung, Formosa – same day
– Sailed: 20 November 1942
– POWs felt explosions from depth charges
– Arrived: Moji – 24 November 1942
– stayed on ship until 5:00 P.M. the next day
– as they left the ship, POWs received a piece of colored wood
– the color determined what camp the POW was sent to
– POWs deloused and showered after coming ashore
– inoculated
– given new clothing
– POWs ferried to Shimonoseki, Honshu
– boarded a train and rode along the northern side of the Inland Sea to Osaka-Kobe Area
– divided into detachments, according to colored wood chips, and sent to camps
POW Camps:
– Japan:
Yodogawa Camp
– Arrived: 22 November 1942
– Work: steel mills
– POWs worked at multiple sites
– Japanese pilfered Red Cross packages of cigarettes, canned food and milk, cheese, and other items
– also took Red Cross clothing and shoes
– POWs fed moldy rice and green wheat which made them sick
– Corporal punishment was common in the camp
– given out for the slightest violation
– POWs caught with food were beaten and thrown into the guardhouse
– while at the steel mill
– a POW stole an entire bowl of rice from a Japanese civilian
– to find out which of the 15 POWs did it, the Japanese forced a dirty rope down the throat of each man and caused him to vomit
– the man whose vomit contained the rice was the guilty POW
– the common punishment was to have the POWs strip naked and  kneel in the cold
– a bamboo pole was put behind their knees to cut off circulation to their legs
– As they knelt, they were beaten until unconscious
– As they lay on the ground, water was thrown on them to revive them
– when they revived, the beating resumed
– this was repeated many times
– the largest collective punishment took place after the Japanese discovered there were POWs selling their rubber sole shoes to Japanese civilians
– All the POWs were lined up, called to attention, and made to strip naked
– The POWs knelt with bamboo poles behind their knees for hours
– this was done until those guilty of trading their shoes confessed
– one POW, who wanted to end the punishment, said that he was the guilty man
– he did this to end the punishment and had not traded his shoes
– the man was beaten on his head and shoulders with slippers, belts, fists, and leather heels
– he was knocked to the ground and was kicked in his stomach and other parts of his body
– when he passed out, water was thrown on him to revive him
– the beating continued until he passed out again
– he was revived with water and beaten until he passed out
– afterward, his hands were tied behind his back, to a rope, and he was strung up, on his tiptoes, all night.
– 7 March 1943 – The War Department released a list of names of men known to be held as Japanese Prisoners of War. Bill’s name was on the list. His family had learned he was a POW weeks earlier.


Within days of receiving the first message, his wife received the following letter:

    “The Provost Marshal General directs me to inform you that you may communicate with your son, postage free, by following the inclosed instructions:

    “It is suggested that you address him as follows:

        “Pvt.William E. Blacketer, U.S. Army
         Interned in the Philippine Islands
         C/O Japanese Red Cross, Tokyo, Japan
         Via New York, New York

    “Packages cannot be sent to the Orient at this time. When transportation facilities are available a package permit will be issued you.

    “Further information will be forwarded you as soon as it is received.


                                                                                                                                                                   “Howard F. Bresee
                                                                                                                                                                   “Colonel, CMP
                                                                                                                                                                   “Chief Information Bureau”

– Camp Closed: 18 May 1945
– most, if not all, the POWs were sent to Osaka 3-B
– the camp was also known as Oeyama
– Oeyama Camp
– Work: nickel refinery
– mines located almost six miles from camp
– POWs extracted ore with picks and shovels loaded ore into ore car and pushed it to a railroad track that ran past the mine
– often worked in snow as deep as six feet
– POWs also worked on Miyazu docks
– they stole food meant for the Japanese Army
– Collective Punishment
– if a POW broke a rule all POWs in his work detachment or the camp were punished
– 12 POWs were accused of stealing rice while at the docks
– stood at attention for two hours
– forced to swallow rope which caused them to vomit
– Japanese found no rice
– fed the POWs rice and let them go to their barracks
– at times entire camp was made to stand at attention because a rule was broken by one POW
– Red Cross packages withheld from POWs
– Japanese misappropriated packages for canned meats, canned milk, butter, chocolate, and cigarettes
– Japanese also use clothes and shoes meant for POWs
– 30 July 1945 – air raid
– B-29s heavy bomb the nearby port town on Miyazu on the west coast of the island
– bombing runs went over camp
– POWs working on docks made to work through an air raid
– two POWs accidentally killed
– one guard told POWs they would be killed if Americans invaded Japan
– two weeks later major attack on Miyazu
– lasted all night until noon the next days
-the guard who told them they would be executed also told the POWs the war was over
Liberated: 2 September 1945
– returned to Manila
– 23 September 1945 – his name was listed as being liberated by the War Department
– his family received word of his liberation earlier
Sailed: Manila – U.S.S. Joseph T. Dychman – September 1945
Arrived: San Francisco – 16 October 1945
Selective Service Registration: 
– 13 May 1946
– Contact Person: Hattie Blacketer – mother
Married: Juanita Yeast
– sister of Willard and Claude Yeast of the 192nd Tank Battalion
According to Bill Blacketer, his father had worked as a book salesman and was accused of embezzling money from his company. He spent two years in prison. Bill stated that he was in Louisville in December 1969 – just after enlisting in the Air Force – and was walking down the street when he ran into his father. The two talked for several hours before parting company. That was the last time he ever saw his father.

Other members of the family have stated that William was involved in some trouble with Chicago hoodlums. According to them, he disappeared not too long after this and has never been heard from again.

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