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Dewberry, PFC Claude A.

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PFC Claude Albert Dewberry
Born: 25 July 1915 – Virginia
Parents: Albert S. Dewberry & Katie Wilkinson-Dewberry
Siblings: 1 sister, 4 brothers
Home: Staunton River, Virginia
Enlisted:
– U.S. Army
– 10 January 1940 – Raleigh, North Carolina
Unit:
– 194th Tank Battalion
– most likely joined the battalion as they prepared to leave for San Francisco, California
Training:
– Fort Francis E. Warren Military Reservation – Laramie, Wyoming
– Fort Lewis, Washington
Note: The decision for this move – which had been made on August 15, 1941 – was the result of an event that took place in the summer of 1941. A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines, when one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower altitude, noticed something odd. He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another in the distance. 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 which was hundreds of miles away. The island had a large radio transmitter. The squadron continued its flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field. When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.
The next day, when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat – with a tarp on its deck – which was seen making its way to shore. Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was difficult, the boat escaped. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
Overseas Duty:
– 4 September 1941 –
– the battalion traveled by train to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California
– Arrived: 7:30 A.M. – 5 September 1941
– ferried to Ft. McDowell, Angel Island on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
– given physicals and inoculations
– men with medical conditions replaced
– Ship: S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
– Boarded: Monday – 8 September 1941 – 3:00 P.M.
– Sailed: 9:00 P.M. – same day
– Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii – Saturday – 13 September 1941 – 7:00 A.M.
– Sailed: 5:00 P.M. – same day
– escorted by the heavy cruiser, U.S.S. Astoria, and an unknown destroyer
– smoke was seen on the horizon several times
– cruiser intercepted several ships
– each time the ship was from a neutral country
– 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 the turrets
– 27 September 1941 – job completed at 9:00 A.M.
Stationed:
– Ft. Stotsenburg, Philippine Islands
– lived in tents until barracks completed – 15 November 1941
– 1 December 1941
– tanks ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field
– 194th guarded north end of the airfield with 192nd guarding south portion
– two crew members of each tank and half-track remained with the vehicles at all times
– meals served by food trucks
– those not assigned to a tank or half-track remained at the command post
Engagements:
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1941 – 6 January 1942
– 8 December 1941
– Clark Field – lived through the attack on the airfield
– after attack 194th sent to a bivouac three kilometers north of Clark Field
– from there they were sent to Barrio of San Joaquin on the Malolos Road
– 12 December 1941
– moved to new bivouac south to San Fernando near Calumpit Bridge
– arrived at 6:00 A.M.
– medical detachment maintained a field hospital in the same general area that the tank companies were in
– C Company ordered to Southern Luzon
– 15 December 1941
– C Company holding Tagaytay Bridge – South Luzon
– spent most of the time chasing down Fifth Columnists
– 24 December 1941
– the company moved over Taal Road to Santo Tomas
– bivouacked near San Paolo
– 25 December 1941
– sent to assist in operations around Lucena, Pagbilao, and Lucban
– 26/27 December 1941
– defended in Southern Luzon near Lucban
– supported Philippine Army
– 29/30 December 1941
– new line at Bamban River established
– tank battalions held the line until ordered to withdraw
– 30 December 1941
– covered withdraw of Philippine Divisions
– it was around this time that the company rejoined the battalion
– 2 January 1942
– both tank battalions ordered to withdrawal to Lyac Junction
– 194th withdrew there on Highway 7
– 5 January 1942
– rejoined rest of 194th at Guagua
– took a position on the road between Sexmoan and Lubao with five SPMs
– ambushed a Japanese force of 750 to 800 attempting to cut the highway
– Japanese lost half their force
– Labao was burning when tanks left the area
– 6 January 1942
– at Remedios, they established a new defensive line along a dry creek bed
– 1:50 A.M. – Japanese attempted to infiltrate line
– bright moon made them easy to see
– tanks opened up on them
– Japanese laid down smoke which blew back into them
– 3:00 A.M.
– Japanese broke off the attack
– 6/7 January 1942 – tank battalions withdraw across the bridge at Culis Creek at night
– 194th withdraw across the bridge covered by 192nd
– bridge destroyed after 192nd crossed bridge
– Battle of Bataan – 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– January 1942
– tank companies reduced to three tanks per platoon
– 8 January 1942
– composite tank company made up of tanks from the 192nd and 194th sent to protect East Coast Road north of Hermosa
– their job was to keep the East Road open north of Hermosa and prevent the Japanese from driving into Bataan before the main battle line had been formed
– remainder of tanks ordered to bivouac for night south of Aubucay-Hacienda Road
– tankers had been fighting for a month without a rest
– tanks also needed overdue maintenance
– 17th Ordnance
– all tank companies reduced to ten tanks
– three per tank platoon
– sent to reopen Moron Road so General Segunda’s forces could withdraw
– tanks knock out an anti-tank gun
– two tanks disabled by landmines but recovered
– mission abandoned
– Gen. Segunda’s troops escaped using beach but lost their heavy equipment
– 12 January 1942
– C Company, with D Company, 192nd, sent to Cadre Road
– forward position with little alert time
– 13 January 1942
– mines planted by ordnance prevented them from reaching Cadre Road
– returned to battalion
– 16 January 1942 – Bagac
– sent to open Moron Road so General Segunda’s forces could move south
– at the Moron Road and Road Junction 59 the tanks moved forward knocking out an anti-tank gun
– two tanks were lost to landmines but towed out
– mission abandoned
– Segunda’s forces escaped along beach losing its heavy equipment
– 20 January 1942
– west of Bani Bani Road – tanks were sent to save the 31st Infantry command post
– 24 January 1942
– tanks order to Hacienda Road in support of troops
– landmines planted by ordnance prevented them from reaching road
– 26 January 1942
– battalion holding a position a kilometer north of Pilar-Bagac Road
– four SPMs with the battalion
– 9:45 A.M. – warned by Filipino a large Japanese force was coming
– when the enemy appeared they opened up with all the battalion had
– estimated they lost 500 of 1800 men
– 10:30 A.M. – Japanese withdrew from area
– prevented new defensive line being formed from being breached
– 28 January 1942
– 194th tanks given beach duty protecting southern beaches
– guarded coast from Limay to Cabcaben
– half-tracks patrolled roads
– maintained radio contact with on-shore and off-shore patrols
It was at this time the tank battalions received these orders which came from Gen. Weaver: “Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying in position and firing at visible enemy until further delay will jeopardize withdrawal. If a tank is immobilized, it will be fought until the close approach of the enemy, then destroyed; the crew previously taking positions outside and continuing to fight with the salvaged and personal weapons. Considerations of personal safety and expediency will not interfere with accomplishing the greatest possible delay.”
– March 1942
– two tanks were bogged down in mud
– the tankers were working to get them out
– Japanese Regiment entered the area
– Lt. Col. Miller ordered tanks and artillery to fire at point-blank range
– Miller ran from tank to tank directing fire
– wiped out Japanese regiment
– gasoline rations cut to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles except the tanks
– Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that one platoon of tanks be sent to Corregidor
– Wainwright rejected idea
– April 1942
– tanks sent into various sectors in attempt to stop Japanese advance
– 3 April 1942
– Japanese launched major offensive
– tanks sent into various sectors to stop Japanese advance
– 6 April 1942
– four tanks sent to support 45th Philippine Infantry and 75th Infantry, Philippine Scouts
– one tank knocked out by anti-tank fire at junction of Trails 8 & 6
– other tanks covered withdraw
– 3rd Platoon sent up west coast road
– near Mount Samat ran into heavy Japanese force
– the tanks withdrew to Marivales
– 8 April 1942
– fighting on East Coast Road at Cabcaban
It was at this time that the 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.”
– 10:30 P.M. – Gen. King announced that further resistance would result the massacre of 6,000 sick or wounded and 40,000 civilians
– less than 25% of his troops were healthy enough to continue fighting
– he estimated they could hold out one more day
– sent his staff officers to negotiate the surrender of Bataan
Prisoner of War:
– 9 April 1942
– received order to destroy equipment and report to kilometer marker 168.2.
– Provisional Tank Group Headquarters
– Japanese officers told Col. Ernest Miller to keep them there until ordered to move
– 10 April 1942
– 7:00 P.M. – started march from Provisional Tank Group headquarters
– 3:00 A.M. – halted and rested for an hour
– 4:00 A.M. – resume march
– at times slipped on remains of dead who had been killed by Japanese shelling
– 11 April 1942
– 8:00 A.M. -reached Lamao
– allowed to forage for food
– 9:00 A.M. – resumed march
– Noon – reached Limay and main road
– officers, majors and up, separated from lower-ranking officers and enlisted men
– joined main march from Bataan
– Death March
– 4:00 P.M higher ranking officers put on trucks
– lower-ranking officers and enlisted men continued to walk
– marched through Abucay and Samal
– POWs ordered to form 100 men detachments
– marched at faster pace
– fewer breaks
– when given break, the POWs sat on road
– North of Hermosa the POWs reached pavement
– made march easier
– POWs given an hour rest on road
– those who attempt to lay down are jabbed with bayonets
– POWs march through Layac and Lubao
– rains – POWs drank as much as they could
– reached San Fernando
– POWs put in groups of 200 to be fed
– one POW sent to get a box of rice for each group
– pottery jars of water given out the same way
– POWs form 100 men detachments
– marched to train station
– POWs put into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane
– each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men
– 100 POWs packed into each car
– POWs who died remained standing
– Capas – dead fell to floor as living left boxcars
– as POWs formed ranks, Filipinos threw sugarcane to POWs
– also gave them water
– POWs walked last 8 kilometers to Camp O’Donnell
POW Camps:
– Camp O’Donnell
– original name – Camp Pangatian
– Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
– 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 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 for 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 entire camp
– POWs waited 2½ hours to 8 hours to get a drink
– water frequently turned off by Japanese guards and next man in line waited as long as 4 hours for water to be turned on again
– mess kits could not be cleaned
– POWs had to carry water 3 miles from a river to cook their meals
– second water spigot installed a week after POWs arrived
– slit trenches overflowed since many of the POWs had dysentery
– flies were everywhere including in camp kitchens and food
– 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 were their names and numbers when they died
– the ranking American officer was beaten with a broadsword after requesting medicine, additional food, and material to repair the leaking POW huts
– refused to allow a truckload of medicine sent by the Archbishop of Manila into the camp
– 95% of the medicine sent by Philippine Red Cross was taken by the Japanese for their own use
– 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 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 ground under hospital was scrapped and cover with lime to clean it
– the dead were moved to this area and the section where they had laid was scrapped and cover with lime
– usually not buried for two or three days
– 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 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 disembark the train at 6:00 P.M. and put into a schoolyard
– fed rice and onion soup
– Cabanatuan
– Camp 1: POWs from Camp O’Donnell sent there in an attempt to lower death rate
– Camp 2: two miles away
– all POWs moved from there because of a lack of water
– later used for Naval POWs
– Camp 3: six miles from Camp 2
– POWs from Corregidor and from hospitals sent there
– POWs later moved to Camp 1
– Camp 1:
– “Blood Brother” rule implemented
– if one POW in the group of 10 escaped, the other nine would be killed
– POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
– Barracks:
– each barracks held 50 men
– often held between 60 and 120 men
– slept on bamboo slats without mattresses, covers, and mosquito netting
– diseases spread easily
– no showers
– Morning Roll Call:
– stood at attention
– frequently beaten over their heads for no reason
– when POWs lined up for roll call, it was a common practice for Japanese guards, after the POWs
  lined up, to kick the POWs in their shins with their hobnailed boots
– Work Details:
– Work Day: 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
– work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens, plant rice, and farm
– 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 to drive them deeper
– 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
– 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
– most of the food the POWs grew went to the Japanese
– 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
– medical staff had little to no medicine to treat sick
– many deaths from disease caused by malnutrition
– hospitalized – 9 June 1942 – tested for tuberculosis – test negative
– 23 June 1942 – assigned to Hospital #2 at Cabanatuan
– 27 October 1942 – pPOWs departed camp for Davao Mindanao
POW Camp:
– Decapol, Mindanao
– POWs built runways
– also worked on a farm
– 1944 – First American planes appeared over the camp
– Japanese start transferring POWs
Hell Ship:
Yashu Maru
– Boarded: 6 June 1944 – Lasang, Mindanao
– held in holds for six days
– Sailed: 12 June 1944
– dropped anchor – Zamboanga, Mindanao
– stayed for several days
– Arrived: 17 June 1944 – Cebu City, Cebu Island
– POWs put in a warehouse
– Sailed: unnamed ship
– POWs called ship “Singoto Maru”
– Arrived: 24 June 1944 – Manila
POW Camp:
– Bilibid Prison
– Admitted: 26 June 1944
– upon arrival from Davao, he was admitted to the hospital
– medical records indicate he was suffering from asthma
– Discharged: 8 July 1944 – to “Well Group”
– Readmitted: 8 July 1944
– asthma
– Discharged – 17 July 1944
– remained at Bilibid
– Cabanatuan
– Hospitalized: 26 August 1944
– Discharged: Not Known
Hell Ship:
Oryoku Maru
– Boarded: 13 December 1944
– approximately 700 POWs put in the aft hold
– approximately 600 POWs put in the forward hold
– approximately 300 POWs put in amidships hold
– Sailed: Manila – 14 December 1944 – 3:00 A.M.
– 8:00 A.M. ship strafed by American planes from U.S.S. Hornet
– ricochets wound POWs in the holds
– 8 to 10 POWs suffocate in the forward hold from heat
– 30 POWs suffocate in aft hold from heat
– some POWs go crazy from thirst – drink urine
– that evening American planes returned and continued the attack
– Sunk: 15 December 1944
– Japanese abandon ship
– POWs left in holds
– 9:30 A.M. – POWs told to abandon ship
– Japanese fire upon POWs with machine guns as the POWs swim toward shore
– POWs held on a tennis court
– during the time on the court, they watched American planes bomb Japanese positions
– believed the pilots knew they were Americans because not one bomb fell in their area
– POWs who died on the tennis court were buried in a bomb crater on the beach
– 20 December 1944 – POWs were taken to San Fernando, Pampanga
– 23 December 1944 – Sickest POWs were taken into mountains by truck
– taken to the cemetery where a 15-foot by 15-foot grave had been dug
– POWs bayoneted or decapitated
– 24 December 1944 – remaining POWs were taken by train to
San Fernando, La Union
– 25 December 1944 – boarded onto Brazil Maru
– Sailed: San Fernando, La Union – 27 December 1944
– Arrived: Takao, Formosa – 6 January 1945
– 9 January 1942
– ship bombed in Takao Harbor
– one bomb exploded outside forward hold blowing a hole in the ship’s haul
– a second bomb fell through the open hatch exploding
– as many as 200 POWs were killed
Died:
– Tuesday, 9 January 1945
– Dead left in hold for days
– the survivors stacked the bodies under the hatch so they would be the first thing seen by the Japanese when they looked in
– Japanese organized a detail to remove dead
– the bodies were put on a barge and taken to shore
– POWs were too weak to lift bodies so they dragged them to shore by ropes tied to the corpse’s legs
Memorials:
– Tablets of the Missing – American Military Cemetery – Manila, Philippine Islands
– New Prospect Baptist Church Cemetery – Pittsylvania County, Virginia
– photo of his memorial is at the bottom of this page
– Arlington National Cemetery – Arlington, Virginia
Note: The remains of the POWs were buried in a mass grave at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii

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