Pvt. Francis Ignatius McGuire was born on April 26, 1917, in Tooele County, Utah, to Bartholomew McGuire and Mary Duffy-McGuire. With his brother and sister, he grew up at 20 Glenwood Avenue in Tooele City, Utah. It is known that his father was an engineer for the Tooele Valley Railroad which provided railroad service to a copper smelter.
Francis was a worker at the copper smelter owned by the Anaconda Copper Company when he was drafted into the U.S. Army while living in Nevada. He was inducted on March 19, 1941, at Salt Lake City and sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training. In the late summer of 1941, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, where he was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion.
His tank battalion did not take part in the maneuvers that were being held at Camp Polk while they were there. After the maneuvers, the 192nd Tank Battalion, which had taken part in maneuvers, was informed that it was being sent overseas. Since the battalion was mainly made up of National Guardsmen, those men who were 29 years old or older, were given the chance to resign from federal service. Francis either volunteered to replace a National Guardsman or had his name drawn. He was assigned to B Company and to the tank of Zenon Bardowski.
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, hundreds 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 was sent to the area but the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat seen making its way to shore. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
The battalion’s new tanks came from the 753rd Tank Battalion and were loaded onto flat cars, on different trains. The soldiers also put cosmoline on anything that they thought would rust. Over different train routes, the companies were sent to San Francisco, California, where they were ferried, by the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they were given physicals by the battalion’s medical detachment and men found with minor medical conditions were held on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
The soldiers boarded 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. 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 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, another transport, the 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 11. During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Dateline.
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, while two other intercepted ships were Japanese freighters hauling 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 20, 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 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 tents in an open field halfway 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.
For the next seventeen days, the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons. The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea. They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance as they prepared to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.
The tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field on December 1 to guard against enemy paratroopers. Two crew members of each tank or half-track had to remain with them at all times.
On December 8, December 7 in the United States, Francis lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield just ten hours after Pearl Harbor. That morning news of the attack on Pearl Harbor reached the Philippines. The tankers were issued orders to guard the perimeter of the airfield against Japanese paratroopers. All morning, the sky was filled with American planes. At 12 noon, the planes landed.
Around 12:45, the tankers watched as planes approached the airfield from the north. Fifty-four planes were counted by the tankers. At first, they believed the planes were American. Then, they watched as little silver droplets fell from the planes. It was only when explosions took place on the runways that the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.
The tankers did not have weapons to fight the planes, but two of the half-tracks had been rigged with .50 caliber machine guns on rings that could rotate. Zenon Bardowski shot down a Zero from one of the half-tracks during the attack.
When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield. The soldiers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and anything that could carry the wounded was in use. When the hospital filled, they watched the medics place the wounded under the building. Many of these men had their arms and legs missing.
That night, most men slept under their tanks since it was safer than sleeping in their tents. They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed. They lived through two more attacks on December 10 and 13.
The tankers would remain at Clark Field until they were sent north to support the 26th U.S. Cavalry at Lingayen Gulf on December 21st. The job they found themselves in, again and again, was that of holding a position so that the other troops could disengage from fighting the Japanese.
On December 23 and 24, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta. The bridge they were going used to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of the river. As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening. They successfully crossed the river in the Bayambang Province.
On December 25, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th.
The tankers were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27, and at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29. On January 1, conflicting orders were received by the defenders who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5. The orders were issued by Gen. MacArthur’s chief of staff and called for them to withdrawal into Bataan. Doing this would trap the Southern Luzon Forces before they could withdraw Bataan. General Wainwright, who was in command, was unaware of the orders.
Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River and half had withdrawn. 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 2 to 4, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando
At 2:30 A.M., the night of January 5/6, the Japanese attacked at Remedios 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 6/7 the tanks withdrew into the peninsula with the 192nd holding its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leapfrog 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.
The next day, the battalion was between Culo and Hermosa and assigned a road to enter Bataan on which was worse than having no road. The half-tracks kept throwing their rubber tracks and members of 17th Ordnance assigned to each battalion had to re-track them in dangerous situations. After daylight, Japanese artillery fire was landing all around the tanks.
A composite tank company was formed, the next day, under the command of Capt. Donald Hanes, B Co., 192nd. Its job was to protect the East Coast Road north of Hermosa open and to stop Japanese tanks attempting to use it to overrun the next defensive line that was forming. While in this position, the tanks were under constant enemy artillery fire. The rest of the tanks were ordered to bivouac south of the Abucay-Hacienda Road.
When word came that a bridge was going to be blown, all the tanks were ordered out of the area, which included the composite company. This could have resulted in a catastrophe, but the Japanese did not take advantage of the situation.
The tanks bivouacked south of the Pilar-Bagac Road and about two kilometers from the East Coast Road. It had almost been one month since the tank crews had a rest and the tanks had maintenance work done on them by 17th Ordnance. It was also on this day that the tank platoons were reduced to three tanks per tank platoon. The men rested and the tanks received the required maintenance. Most of the tank tracks had worn down to bare metal and the radial engines long past their 400-hour overhauls.
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.”
The battalions were sent to cover the junctions of the Back Road and East Road with the Abucay-Hacienda Road on January 25. While holding the position, the 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, fought its way to the position at 3:00 A.M. One platoon was sent to the front of the column of trucks which were loading the troops. The tanks provided heavy fire so that the infantry could withdraw and inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese.
Later on January 25, both the 192nd and 194th held a defensive line on the Bakanga-Cardre-BaniBani Roads until the withdraw was completed at midnight. They held the position until the night of January 26/27, when they dropped back to a new defensive line roughly along the Pilar-Bagac Roads. When ordered to withdraw to the new line, the 192nd found that the bridge at Balanga, that they were supposed to use had been destroyed by enemy fire. To withdraw, they had to use secondary roads to get around the barrio and tanks were still straggling in at noon.
Over the next several months, the battalion fought battle after battle with tanks that were not designed for jungle warfare. The tank battalions, on January 28, were given the job of protecting the beaches.
The tank battalions, on their own, took up the job of protecting the airfields at Cabcaban, Bataan, and Mariveles, since Japanese paratroopers were known to be available. The tanks and half-tracks were well hidden in the jungle around the airfields and different plans were in place to be used against Japanese forces. There was only one major alert in March when 73 Japanese planes came over.
B Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line. The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time to replace a tank in the pocket. Another tank did not enter the pocket until a tank exited the pocket.
To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used. The first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank. As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole. Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually exploded.
The other method used to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole. The driver gave the other track power resulting in the tank going around in a circle and grinding its way down into the foxhole. After this, the tankers slept upwind of their tanks.
The 192nd was assigned the coastline from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan’s east coast. The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings. Companies A & C were ordered to the west coast of Bataan while B Company – which was held in reserve – and 17th Ordnance held the southern shore of Bataan. The tankers were awake all night and attempted to sleep under the jungle canopy – during the day – which protected them from being spotted by Japanese reconnaissance planes. During the night, they were kept busy with reports of threats both on and offshore. The 192nd was assigned the coastline from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan’s east coast.
Doing this duty, the tanks would hide under the jungle’s canopy during the day and come out onto the beaches at night. While on this duty, Francis was involved in firefights between the tanks and Japanese gunboats in Manila Bay when the Japanese attempted to land troops behind the main battle line. The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.
On the morning of February 3, after being up all night guarding the beach, the members of B Company were attempting to get some sleep. Each day, a Japanese reconnaissance plane was known as “Photo Joe” flew over attempting to locate the tanks. Sgt. Walter Cigoi, tired of being awakened by the plane had his driver pull his half-track onto the beach and took a potshot at the plane; He missed.
About twenty minutes later, Japanese dive bombers appeared and bombed and strafed the area. During the attack, three members of B Company were killed and Francis was wounded. He was taken to a field hospital by other members of his company.
The company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets – from January 23 to February 17 – to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line after a Japanese offensive was stopped and pushed back to the original line of defense. The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time to replace a tank in the pocket. Another tank did not enter the pocket until a tank exited the pocket. Doing this was so stressful that each tank company was rotated out and replaced by one that was being held in reserve.
To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used. The first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank. As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole. Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually exploded.
The other method used to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole. The driver gave the other track power resulting in the tank spinning around and grinding its way down into the foxhole. The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.
While the tanks were doing this job, the Japanese sent soldiers, with cans of gasoline, against the tanks. These Japanese attempted to jump onto the tanks, pour gasoline into the vents on the back of the tanks, and set the tanks on fire. If the tankers could not machine gun the Japanese before they got to a tank, the other tanks would shoot them as they stood on a tank. The tankers did not like to do this because of what it did to the crew inside the tank. When the bullets hit the tank, its rivets would pop and wound the men inside the tank. It was for their performance during this battle that the 192nd Tank Battalion would receive one of its Distinguished Unit Citations.
Since the stress on the crews was tremendous, the tanks rotated into the pocket one at a time. A tank entered the pocket and the next tank waited for the tank that had been relieved to exit the pocket before it would enter. This was repeated until all the tanks in the pocket were relieved.
What made this job so hard was that the Japanese dug “spider holes” among the roots of the trees. Because of this situation, the Americans could not get a good shot at the Japanese.
The tankers, from A, B, and C Companies, were able to clear the pockets. But before this was done, one C Company tank which had gone beyond the American perimeter was disabled and the tank just sat there. When the sun came up the next day, the tank was still sitting there. During the night, its crew was buried alive, inside the tank, by the Japanese. When the Japanese had been wiped out, the tank was turned upside down to remove the dirt and recover the bodies of the crew. The tank was put back into use.
At the same time, the company took part in the Battle of the Points on the west coast of Bataan. The Japanese landed troops but ended up trapped. One was the Lapay-Longoskawayan points from January 23 to 29, the Quinawan-Aglaloma points from January 22 to February 8, and the Sililam-Anyasan points from January 27 to February 13. The defenders successfully eliminated the points by driving their tanks along the Japanese defensive line and firing their machine guns. The 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts followed the tanks eliminating any resistance and driving the Japanese Marines over the edge of the cliffs where they hid in caves. The tanks fired into the caves killing or forcing them out of them into the sea.
The soldiers were hungry and began to eat everything they could get their hands on to eat. The Carabao were tough but if they were cooked long enough they could be eaten. They also began to eat horse meat provided by the 26th U.S. Cavalry. To make things worse, the soldiers’ rations were cut in half again on March 1, 1942. This meant that they only ate two meals a day.
The Japanese also were dropping surrender leaflets with a scantily clad blond on them. The Japanese would have been more successful at getting the Americans to surrender if the picture had been hamburger since the men were so hungry that they most likely would have surrendered for a good meal.
In March, the amount of gasoline was reduced to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles except the tanks. This would later be dropped to ten gallons a day. At the same time, food rations were cut in half again. Also at this time, Gen. Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that a platoon of tanks be sent to Corregidor.
On April 3, 1942, the Japanese launched an all-out attack supported by artillery and aircraft. A large force of Japanese troops came over Mount Samat and descended down the south face of the volcano. This attack wiped out two divisions of defenders and left a large area of the defensive line open to the Japanese.
A counter-attack was launched – on April 7 – by the 57th Infantry, Philippine Scouts which was supported by tanks. Its objective was to restore the line, but Japanese infiltrators prevented this from happening. During this action, one tank was knocked out but the remaining tanks successfully withdrew. C Company, 194th, was attached to the 192nd and had only seven tanks left.
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 6,000 troops who sick or wounded and 40,000 civilians who he feared would be massacred. His troops were on one-quarter rations, and even at that ration, he had two days of food left. He also believed his troops could fight for one more day.
At 2:oo A.M. April 9, Gen. King sent a jeep under a white flag carrying Colonel Everett C. Williams, Col. James V. Collier and Major Marshall Hurt to meet with the Japanese commander about terms of surrender. (The driver was from the tank group and the white flag was bedding from A Company.) Shortly after daylight Collier and Hunt returned with word of the appointment. It was at about 6:45 A.M. that 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 tank crews circled their tanks. Each tank fired an armor-piercing shell into the engine of the tank in front of it. They also opened the gasoline cocks inside the tank compartments and dropped hand grenades into the tanks. Most of the company waited in their bivouac for the Japanese to make contact, while others attempted to reach Corregidor which had not 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 and the jeeps were provided by the tank group and both men 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 where they were received by a Japanese Major General who informed King that he reported his coming to negotiate a surrender and that an officer from Japanese command would arrive to do the negotiations. The Japanese officer also told him that his troops would no 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 with 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, but the Japanese officer – through his interpreter – accused him 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.
On the morning of April 9, at 6:45, the tankers received the order “crash.” This was their order to destroy their tanks and guns. The next morning, they made their way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan. Francis was now a Prisoner of War.
On the march, the POWs received little food and no water. Artesian wells flowed across the road, but if the POWs attempted to get water from the wells, they were killed. The first few miles, leaving Mariveles, were uphill, since many of the POWs were sick, this made the march worse. At one point, the POWs ran past Japanese artillery which was firing at Corregidor which had not surrendered. Shells from the American guns landed among the POWs.
The POWs made their way to San Fernando. At the train station, the POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars that were used to haul sugarcane. The cars were known as “forty or eights,” since the cars could each hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car and shut the doors. Those men who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas. The dead fell to the floors of the cars as the living climbed out.
From Capas, the POWs walked the last miles to Camp O’Donnell which was an unfinished Filipino Army Base put into use as a POW camp and the Japanese believed the camp could hold 15,000 to 20,000 POWs. When they arrived at the camp, the camp commandant told the Americans that they were not prisoners of war but captives and would be treated as such. The Japanese also took away any extra clothing that the POWs carried with them and refused to return it. The POWs were searched and anyone found with Japanese money was separated from the other POWs and sent to the guardhouse. These POWs were accused of looting the bodies of dead Japanese soldiers. Over several days, gunshots were heard coming from southeast of the camp.
There was only one water faucet for the entire camp and men stood in line from 2½ to 8 hours waiting for a drink. The Japanese guard in charge of the spigot would turn it off, for no reason, and the next man in line would have to wait up to four hours for it to be turned on again.
Water for cooking food had to be hauled three miles to the camp. Mess kits could not be cleaned. Since there was no water to wash their clothing, the POWs threw away soiled clothing and stripped the dead of their clothing. Few of the POWs in the camp hospital had clothing.
Since most of the POWs had dysentery, the slit trenches overflowed which resulted in flies being everywhere in the camp including the camp kitchen and in the food. The camp hospital had no water, soap, or disinfectant which also caused diseases to spread. When the ranking American doctor presented a letter with the medicines and medical supplies they needed to treat the sick, the camp commander, Captain Yoshio Tsuneyoshi, told him never to write another letter. He also said that the only things he wanted to know about the POWs were their names and serial numbers after they died.
The Archbishop of Manila sent a truck full of medical supplies to the camp, but the Japanese refused to let it into the camp. When a representative of the Philippine Red Cross told a Japanese lieutenant that they could set up a 150-bed hospital for the POWs, he was slapped in the face by the lieutenant. Medicines sent to the camp by the Philippine Red Cross were confiscated by the Japanese for their own use.
The POWs called the hospital “Zero Ward” because most of the men who entered it never came out alive. The Japanese were so afraid of contracting an illness that they put a barbed wire fence up around it. The POWs in the hospital lay elbow to elbow on the floor and operations were performed with knives from mess kits. Only one medic, out of every six assigned to treat the sick, was healthy enough to perform his duties.
Each morning, the POWs walked around the camp and collected the bodies of the dead and placed them under the hospital building. To clean the ground, the POWs moved the bodies, scrapped the ground, put down lime to sterilize the ground, moved the bodies back, and repeated the process where the bodies had been. It took two to three days to bury a man after he died.
Any POW, if he could walk, went out on a work detail for the day such as the one collected wood for the POW kitchen. Some POWs went out on work details which lasted for months to get out of the camp. The worse detail a man could be put on was the burial detail. On this detail, two POWs carried a dead man to the camp cemetery. Once there, they put the body in a grave and held the body down with a pole, since the water table was high, and covered it with dirt. The next morning, when the burials resumed, the dead were often sitting up or had been dug up by wild dogs.
On June 1, the POWs formed detachments of 100 men and were marched to Capas, where they were put into steel boxcars. Each car had two Japanese guards. During the trip at Calumpit, the train was switched onto a track that took it to Cabanatuan. When the POWs left the cars, they were herded into a schoolyard where they were fed cooked rice and onions soup. They were marched to the new camp which was a former Philippine Army Base and had been the home of the 91st Philippine Army Division’s home.
In the camp, the Japanese instituted the “Blood Brother” rule. If one man escaped the other nine men in his group would be executed. POWs caught trying to escape were beaten. Those who did escape and were caught were tortured before being executed. It is not known if any POW successfully escaped from the camp.
The POWs were sent out on work details to cut wood for the POW kitchens. While on these details they 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. Meals on a daily basis consisted of 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, and sweet potato or corn. This diet resulted in the POWs becoming malnourished and disease quickly spread.
Each barracks was designed to house 50 men, but the Japanese put from 60 to 120 POWs in each one. There were no showers for the POWs to use, and the men slept on bamboo slats without mattresses, covers, or mosquito netting.
After being sent to Cabanatuan, Francis was selected to go out on a work detail to Palawan Island on August 12, 1942. The POWs sent to the island built an airfield with picks and shovels. They also received brutal treatment at the hands of the Japanese guards, and the men were beaten with pick handles. They were and kicked and slapped on a daily basis, and prisoners who attempted to escape were executed.
At some point, Francis became ill with malaria and was sent to Bilibid Prison in Manila on August 22, 1944, where he was admitted to the hospital ward. As it turned out, Francis was lucky to have been sent to Bilibid, because those POWs who remained on Palawan Island were later burned to death by the Japanese on December 15, 1944.
Francis was held at Bilibid until September 30, 1944, when he had been selected for transport to Japan and taken to the Port Area of Manila. On October 1, Francis and other POWs were boarded onto the Hokusen Maru. It should be noted that Francis’s POW Detachment was scheduled to sail on the Arisan Maru, but since the Hokusen Maru was ready to sail and the detachment of POWs scheduled to sail on the ship had not completely arrived, the Japanese switched the POW detachments. As it turned out, the Arisan Maru was sunk by an American submarine resulting in the death of all but nine of the POWs on the ship.
The POWs boarded the Hokusen Maru, on October 1st, and were put in one hold. On October 3rd, the ship sailed but dropped anchor at the harbor’s breakwater. It remained there for three days and the temperatures in the hold rose to over 100 degrees causing some men to go crazy. The Japanese threatened to kill the POWs if they didn’t quiet the men, so the sane POWs strangled those out of their minds or hit them with canteens.
As part of a ten-ship convoy, it sailed again on October 4 and stopped at Cabcaban. The next day, it was at San Fernando, La Union, where the ships were joined by four more ships and five escorts. The ships stayed close to the shoreline to prevent submarine attacks which failed since, on October 6th, two of the ships were sunk by torpedoes.
The ships were informed, on October 9, that American carriers were seen near Formosa and that American planes were in the area. The decision was made for the ships to head for Hong Kong. During this part of the trip, the ships ran into American submarines which sank two more ships. The Hokusen Maru arrived at Hong Kong on October 11. While in port, American planes bombed the harbor on October 16th which caused the ship to rock. On October 21, the ship sailed for Takao, Formosa, arriving on October 24.
The POWs remained in the ship’s hold until November 8 when they were disembarked. On Formosa, McGuire was held at Heito Camp because the Japanese were too hard-pressed for ships to send them on to Japan. He was in the camp from November 9, 1944, until January 24, 1945. Francis was in a group of 110 Americans to arrive at the camp from Luzon. Upon arrival, the POWs were made to stand in line. The camp commander, 1st Lieutenant Tamaki, went down the line and searched the POWs and their possessions. The next day, the POWs met and noted that Tamaki had taken all the medicine and first aid equipment from them.
After remaining in the camp for five days, the POWs were put to work. Francis was put into a workgroup with four other POWs. The POW groups were given the job of loading ballast stones into boxcars. The POWs were expected to load three boxcars a day, with each boxcar holding ten tons of ballast. To do this job, the POWs loaded a basket called a “punki’ with stone. The POWs were clearing a dry river bed so that sugarcane could be planted. Those POWs “too ill” to do this work in the camp farm.
At the end of a workday, as the POWs returned to the camp, on different occasions, Francis and the other POWs witnessed men pulled out of line for not working hard enough and dragged to a water trough and thrown into it. The guards held the POW underwater. The POWs never witnessed the entire event since they had to go to their barracks. But they knew, from talking to the men who were punished, that when the Japanese were done using the trough, the man was marched to the guardhouse.
From their barracks, they could hear the man’s screams. They learned from their talks that once the POW was inside the guardhouse the POW was beaten by Lt. Tamaki. Tamaki hit the POW, with a bamboo cane, on his back, shoulders, and legs. After two or three days, the POW was released from the guardhouse.
A short time after arriving at Heito, ten Americans died from severe headaches or “brain fever.” The British doctor could not do anything for the men who came down with the fever since he had no medicine. Lt. Tamaki called both the American and British POWs together and had a talk with them. He asked if any of the POWs had a fever. About fifty or sixty POWs raised their hands. Lt. Tamaki told the POWs that the camp had a large cemetery with a lot of room in it and that he was going to work hard to fill the cemetery. Two of Francis’s friends, Sgt. John Morine, from Port Clinton, Ohio, and T/4 Ralph Madison, from Janesville, Wisconsin, died from the fever and were buried in the camp cemetery.
On one occasion, a Japanese colonel, who was in charge of making sure that the POWs were fed well, came to the camp. When he visited the POWs rations were increased. He would tell them how lucky they were to be Japanese POWs and mentioned meals of ducks, geese, pigs, and vegetables. All these vegetables and animals were raised in the camp but the POWs were never fed them. After the colonel left the camp, the POWs rations were reduced to 450 grams of rice and one potato a day. The pigs being raised in the camp were fed better than the POWs.
The POWs were boarded onto the Enoshima Maru on January 25, 1945, at Keelung, Formosa, and he finally arrived in Japan during February 1945, where he was sent to Naruo Camp, also known as Osaka #8, where the POWs worked in a graphite factory manufacturing electric graphite rods. The graphite would produce ulcers on the POWs which would grow in size the longer they worked in the factory. Francis remained in the camp until it was closed on May 29, 1945, after the area was bombed by American B-29s. From there he was sent to Nagoya #9.
The camp opened on May 29, 1945, and the POWs arrived the same day. A ten-foot-high fence encircled the camp where they lived in two barracks which had dirt floors. The barracks had 100 feet long and 24 feet wide, with two tiers of platforms around the perimeter of each building. The POWs were given straw mats to sleep on, on the platforms. An 8-foot wide aisle ran down the center of the barracks.
There was no real hospital building and one end a 42 foot by 24-foot area at the end of a barracks was used for this purpose. There was room for 20 POWs, but every day, there were as many as 100 sick POWs. The hospital was manned by an American doctor, who was a dentist, four American medics, and one Japanese medic. Once a month, each POW received a two-inch square piece of soap. All medical records were destroyed on August 16, 1945.
Men would wear out from being overworked and underfed. Then pneumonia took over and the men died in a couple of days. Their bodies would be put in a four-foot by four-foot by two-foot box. It had handles that allowed it to be carried. A Buddhist priest from the village walked ahead of the procession in his white and gold robes. When the remains were returned to the camp, they were in a four-inch by four-inch by twelve-inch box. The man’s name and serial number were on the box. The box was kept by the camp commandant in his office.
Being that the Japanese had a quota of POWs they needed to work on the details each day, those suffering from diarrhea or dysentery were not considered sick. The sick were beaten with shovels to get them to do work that they were too sick to do. They also had their meal rations reduced.
The meals of the POWs were primarily wheat, rice, and soybeans with some vegetables like onions and daikon a Japanese beet. They had fish, either fried or in a soup, every ten days. Their food was performed by six POWs who also prepared the POWs lunches that they took with them to work.
Most of the POWs walked three-quarters of a mile and worked on the docks loading and unloading coal, rice, and beans. While working they received an hour lunch and two half-hour rest periods. A workday started about 7:30 A.M. and ended at 4:30 P.M. When there was a lot of work, POWs returned and worked fro 7:00 P.M. until midnight. Another 100 POWs worked in the camp garden.
Clothing for the POWs came from the Japanese. Many wore Japanese Army uniforms and getas which were traditional Japanese footwear. While working the POWs wore straw shoes, hats, and raincoats for inclement weather. If the POW still had his GI shoes, the Japanese provided leather for repairs.
Collective punishment was a common occurrence in the camp and involved stealing rice or beans. When one POW broke a camp rule, all the POWs were punished. On one occasion, for 7 days, the POWs were denied coal, in the middle of winter, because someone had broken a rule. What made this worse was while working in the mill, the temperature was 185 degrees and they had to return to unheated barracks. 15 POWs were accused of stealing rice from sacks that they were unloading from a ship. Once they returned to the camp, they were forced to kneel for from 1½ to 5 hours to get them to confess. Six of the fifteen men confessed and the others were fed and sent to their barracks.
When the camp commandant left the camp at 8:30 that evening, all the POWs were called from the barracks by the second in command and ordered to stand at attention. They were then beaten with pickax handles, rope, that was about 3 inches thick and five feet long, clubs, and farrison belts across the buttocks, face, and legs. Kicking was also a frequent method of punishment.
When the POWs passed out, they were either thrown into a large tub of water, with their hands and feet bound, or they had water poured on them until they revived. They once again had to stand at attention as the beating continued for a total of 3 hours. One POW counted that he received 150 blows to his face and 20 on his buttocks.
The Japanese denied the POWs food, clothing, shoes, and other items sent to the camp by the Red Cross. Instead of giving these things to the POWs, the Japanese pilfered the items for their own use. The guards were seen wearing shoes sent by the Red Cross for the POWs.
The first time the POWs saw American planes pass over the camp, the POWs cheered in spite of the Japanese trying to silence them by hitting them with their sabers. By June 1945, the air raids were getting closer. Sometimes at night, the plant would be blacked out and the POWs were returned to their barracks. Occasionally, they had an air raid drill were the POWs went into the zigzag trench. As the war went on, as the prisoners marched to the mill, they saw teenage boys being trained by army officers. They knew that it was for the expected invasion of Japan. The boys also used sticks for rifle practice.
On August 15, the POWs knew something was going on when the Japanese held a meeting. The Japanese men were sad and the Japanese women cried. They also seemed not to care if the POWs did any work, so the POWs took it easy. On August 17 and 18, the POWs were told they did not have to work. Finally, the guards came to the barracks and told the POWs that the war was over. Then the guards vanished from the camp. The Japanese civilians began bringing food to them.
The Swiss Red Cross arrived at the camp on September 5 and began to make the arrangements for the POWs to leave the camp. Later in the day, the POWs were taken to the train station and put on trains. Once on the train, they were given three days of k-rations for the trip, but the POWs ate the rations the first night on the train. When they got to Tokyo, most of the POWs were sick from overeating. From there, they were sent to a bay 200 miles south of Tokyo and boarded the U.S.S. Rescue.
Francis returned to the United States on the U.S.S. Storm King at San Francisco on October 15, 1945, and was hospitalized at Letterman General Hospital, in San Francisco, and Bushnell General Hospital in Brigham, Utah.
He was discharged from the Army on November 27, 1945, with the rank of staff sergeant. He would later live at 3010 North 13th Street in Grand Junction, Colorado, where he died on October 23, 2001.