Brosnan, PFC Irvin M.

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PFC Irvin Martin Brosnan
Born: 23 February 1919 – Trona, California
Parents: Martin F. Brosnan & Catherine McFarlan-Brosnan
Siblings: 1 sister, 1 brother
Hometown: Trona, California
– U.S. Army
– 17 February 1941 – Los Angeles, California
– Unknown
– Unknown
– possibly joined 17th Ordnance, in California, as it was being sent to the Philippine Islands
– 17th Ordnance Company
– the company created from A Company of 19th Ordnance
– trained alongside the 192nd Tank Battalion at Ft. Knox
Note: On August 15, 1941, orders were issued to the company, 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 a Japanese occupied island, with a large radio transmitter, hundreds 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:
– Arrived: Ft. Mason, San Francisco, California
– 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: U.S.S. President 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 was seen on the horizon several times
– cruiser intercepted ships
– Arrived: Manila – Friday – 26 September 1941
– disembark ship – 3:00 P.M.
– taken by bus to Fort Stotsenburg
– maintenance section with 17th ordnance remained behind to unload the tanks and reattached turrets
-27 September 1941 – job completed at 9:00 A.M.
– Battle of Luzon
– 8 December 1941 – 6 January 1842
– converted WWI anti-personnel shells for use by the tanks
– set up fuel dumps for the tanks during the withdrawal toward Bataan
– Battle of Bataan
– 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– did tank maintenance under combat conditions on the frontlines
– manufactures and scavenged spare parts for the tanks  
Prisoner of War
– 9 April 1942
– Death March
– POWs started the march at Mariveles on the southern tip of Bataan
– POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor
– American artillery returned fire
– San Fernando – POWs packed into small wooden boxcars
– each car could hold eight horses or forty men
– Japanese packed 100 POWs into each boxcar
– those POWs who died remained standing since they could not fall to the floors
– Capas – POWs leave boxcars – dead fall-out of cars
– walk last ten miles to Camp O’Donnell
POW Camps:
– Philippines:
– Camp O’Donnell
– the unfinished Filipino training base
– Japanese put camp into use as POW Camp
– only one water spigot for the entire camp
– as many as 50 POWs died each day
– Japanese opened a new POW camp to lower death rate
– 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 them 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
– arrived at Cabanatuan
– Cabanatuan
– the camp had been opened to lower death rate among POWs
– Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
– Japanese put the base into use as POW camp
– “Blood Brother” rule implemented
– if one POW in the group of 10 escaped, the other nine would be killed
– work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens
– many were able to smuggle in medicine, food, and tobacco
– men who attempted to escape and caught were executed
– daily POW meal – 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
Hell Ship:
Tottori Maru
– Boarded: 1961 POWs put on the ship – 7 October 1942
– 500 POWs in front hold
– 1461 in the rear hold
– Sailed: Manila – 8 October 1942 10:00 A.M.
– passed Corregidor at noon
– 9 October 1942 – two torpedoes fired at the ship by an American submarine
– ship misses mine laid by an American submarine
– Arrived: Takao, Formosa – 11 October 1942
– Sailed: 16 October 1942 – 7:30 A.M.
– because of submarines, the ship returned to Takao – 10:30 P.M.
– Sailed: 18 October 1942
– Arrived: Pescadores Islands – same day
– remained anchored off islands for several days
– two POWs died
– buried at sea
– Sailed: 27 October 1942
– Arrived: Takao – same day
– 28 October 1942 – POWs were taken ashore and showered
– ship also cleaned
– foodstuffs loaded onto the ship
– Sailed: 30 October 1942
– Arrived: Fuson, Korea – 9 November 1942
– Disembarked: 9 November 1942
– POWs disembarked and issued new clothes and fur-lined overcoats
– sick left behind at Fusan
– those who recovered were later sent to Mukden
– white boxes with ashes of those who died sent with survivors
– Train Ride: POWs took a two-day train trip to Mukden, Manchuria
– 11 November 1942 – arrived at Mukden
POW Camp:
– Manchuria
– Work: machine shop or lumber mill
Liberated: 20 August 1945 – Russian Army
– taken by train to Darian, China
– returned to the Philippine Islands
U.S.S. Tryon
– Sailed: Manila – not known
– Arrived: San Francisco – 24 October 1945
– taken to Letterman General Hospital Promoted: Sergeant
Discharged: 21 April 1946
Note: His brother, Joseph, was Killed in Action
Residence: San Bernardino County, California
Died: 3 March 1998
– Riverside National Cemetery – Riverside, California
– Section: 48 Site: 5192

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