Steel, Pvt. Charles H.

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Pvt. Charles Harold Steel
Born: 27 June 1919 – Wilson, Oklahoma
Parents: Charles H. Steel & Eva T. Steel
– father died – mother married Ike Smith
Home: North Rock Creek Road – McCurtain County, Oklahoma
Occupation: Millard Stove Company – Jasper, Alabama
Selective Service Registration: 16 October 1940
Contact person: Eva Smith – mother
– used “Charley” on his registration card
Inducted:
– U. S. Army
– 21 March 1941 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Training:
– Fort Knox, Kentucky
Basic Training
– the training was done with 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
– Weeks 7: Time was spent learning the weapons, firing each one, learning the parts of the weapons and their functions, field stripping and caring
   for weapons, and the cleaning of weapons
Typical Day
– 6:15 with reveille
– most of the soldiers were up before this since they wanted to wash and dress.
– 7:00 to 8:00 – Breakfast
– 8:00 to 8:30 – calisthenics
– Afterward, the tankers went to various schools within the company.
– training in using and maintaining 30 and 50 caliber machine guns and pistols
– training in map reading, care of personal equipment, military courtesy, and training in tactics.
– 11:30 the soldiers stopped what they were doing and cleaned up for mess – – Noon to 1:00 P.M. – mess
– Afterward, they attended the various schools which they had been assigned to on January 13, such as mechanics, tank driving, radio operating.
– 4:30 – the soldiers called it a day and returned to their barracks and put on dress uniforms
– 5:00 – retreat
– 5:30 – dinner
– After dinner, they were off duty
– 9:00 P.M. – lights were out
– soldiers but did not have to turn in
– 10:00 P.M. – Taps was played.
– Camp Polk, Louisiana
– assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion
– Fort McDowell – Angel Island, California
– ferried to island on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
– received physicals from medical detachment – 25 October 1941 – 26 October 1941
– men with minor health issues held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at later date
– other men simply replaced
Units:
– 753rd Tank Battalion
– A Company
– the battalion had been sent to the base from Ft. Benning, Georgia, but did not take part in the maneuvers that were going on at the time
– 192nd Tank Battalion
– volunteered or had his name drawn to join the battalion
– assigned to Headquarters Company
Overseas Duty:
– Ship: U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott
– Sailed: San Francisco – Monday – 27 October 1941
– Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii – Sunday – 2 November 1941
– remained in Hawaii until other ships in convoy arrived
– Sailed: Wednesday – 5 November 1941
– took southern route away from main shipping lanes
– joined by the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and the transport,
   S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
– smoke was seen on the horizon
– Louisville revved its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it intercepted the ship which was from a neutral country. Two other intercepted ships
   were Japanese freighters carrying scrap metal to Japan.
– Sunday – 9 November 1941 – crossed International Dateline
– soldiers woke up on Tuesday – 11 November 1941
– at about this time the convoy stopped at Wake Island and dropped off B-17 ground crews
– Arrived: Guam – Sunday 16 November 1941
– the ship loaded with water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables
– Sailed: next day
– passed Japanese held island in total blackout
– Arrived: Thursday – 20 November 1941 – Manila Bay – 7:00 A.M.
– soldiers disembarked ship three hours after arrival
– boarded buses for Ft. Stotsenburg
– maintenance section remained behind to unload tanks from ship
Stationed:
– Ft. Stotsenburg
– Colonel Edward P. King met the soldiers when they arrived
– apologized to soldiers about living conditions
– lived in tents along the main road between fort and Clark Airfield
– made sure they all had Thanksgiving Dinner before he had his dinner
– the dinner was a stew thrown into their mess kits
– The members of the battalion pitched the ragged World War I tents in an open field halfway between the Clark Field Administration Building and Fort
   Stotsenburg.
– 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 blowing dirt everywhere and the noise was unbelievable.
– At night, they heard the sounds of planes flying over the airfield which turned out to be Japanese reconnaissance planes.
– In addition, the khaki uniforms they had been issued also turned out to be a heavy material which made them uncomfortable to wear in the tropical heat. 
Engagements:
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1941 – 6 January 194
– lived through attack on Clark Field
– HQ Company remained in battalion bivouac
– members took cover in 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 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 line along south bank of Agno River
– 192nd held left side of line from west of Carmen (on Route 3)
– critical points – held position for 24 hours
– 25/26 December 1941 – tank battalions organized tank defenses
– 192nd held line from Carmen (Route 3) to Tayug – northeast of San Quentin
– critical points held by tanks
– some tanks only in radio contact with each other
– ordered to hold position until 5:00 A.M. – 27 December 1941
– 26/27 December 1941
– 192nd tanks ordered to form new defensive line from Carmen to Lumigan
– destroyed most of 44,000 gallons of 100-octane gas
– 27 December 1941 – withdrew from line that night
– formed new line: Santa Ignacia – Gerona – Santo Tomas – San Jose
– 27/28 December 1941 – withdrew
– formed new line: Tarlac – Cabanatuan
– 28/29 December 1941
– dropped back and formed: Bamban Gapan Line
– 29/30 December 1941
– new line behind Bamban River
– ordered to hold until they received further orders
– 31 December 1941/1 January 1942
– tanks covering 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 line between Culis and Hermosa
– 6/7 January 1942
– 192nd covered withdrawal of 194th
– 192nd last American unit to enter Bataan
– bridge blown after it 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 do 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
Note: 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
– battalion had to use alternate roads west of Balanga
– 28 January 1942 – beach duty
– 192nd from Pandan Point to Limay
– also was suppose to support sub-sectors A and B
– during day tanks remained under jungle canopy
– at night the tanks were moved onto beaches
– 31 January 1942
– half-tracks patrolled roads
– 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 tank that was relieved left the pocket
– first method used against Japanese
– three Filipinos soldiers rode on back of tanks
– as tank passed over Japanese foxhole, Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into foxhole
– one of the three hand grenades usually exploded
– second method used against Japanese
– tank would park with one track over foxhole
– tank driver gave power to other track causing the tank went in a circle
– tank ground its way into ground
– March 1942
– Japanese had been fought to a standstill
– suffered from same illnesses affecting Americans
– 3 April 1942
– fresh troops brought in from Singapore
– lunch major offense
– 6 April 1942
– tanks sent to various areas in attempt to plug holes in 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
– 10:30 P.M. – sent staff officers to meet with Japanese and negotiate surrender terms
Note: 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 blown up
Prisoner of War:
– 9 April 1942
– Prisoner of War
– remained in bivouac for two days
– 11 April 1942
– Japanese enter bivouac
– ordered out on main road that ran in front of bivouac
– knelt on both sides of road
– Japanese troops passing them took whatever they wanted from POWs
– drove trucks to outside of Mariveles
– herded into field
– Japanese soldiers formed a firing squad
– POWs sat and waited to see what was going to happen
– Japanese Naval officer pulls up in car
– gets out and talks to Japanese sergeant in charge of firing squad
– Naval Officer got back in car and drove off
– sergeant orders Japanese soldiers to lower their guns
– POWs ordered to move
– no idea that they had started the march
– Death March
– POWs started march at the southern tip of Bataan
– POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor
– American artillery on Corregidor returned fire – shells landed among the POWs
– marched through Cabcaben, Orani, Layac, and Guagua
– San Fernando
– herded into a bull pin
– organized into detachments of 100 men
– marched to train station
– POWs put into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane
– Capas – POWs left boxcars – the dead POWs fell to the floor
– 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 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. YoshioTsuneyoshi, 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
– 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 medics, assigned to care for 50 sick POWs -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 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 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 disembarked the train at 6:00 P.M. and put into a schoolyard
– fed rice and onion soup
– 4 June 1942 – transfer of POWs completed
– only sick POWs remained at Camp O’Donnell
– Cabanatuan
– original name – Camp Pangatian
– Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
– put into use by the Japanese as a POW camp
– actually three camps
– Camp 1: POWs from Camp O’Donnell sent there in an attempt to lower the 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
– camp created to keep Corregidor POWs separated from Bataan POWs
– Corregidor POWs were in better shape
– January 1943 – POWs from Camp 3 consolidated into Camp 1
– Camp Administration:
– the Japanese left POWs to run the camp on their own
– Japanese entered camp when they had a reason
– POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
– Note: men who attempted to escape were recaptured
– Japanese beat them for days
– executed them
– Blood Brother Rule
– POWs put into groups of ten
– if one escaped the others would be executed
– housed in same barracks
– worked on details together
– 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 because they didn’t like the way the POWs lined up
– Work Details:
– Two main details
– the farm and airfield
– farm detail
– POWs cleared land and grew camotes, cassava, taro, sesame, and various greens
– Japanese took what was grown
– Guards:
– Big Speedo – spoke little English
– in charge of the detail
– fair in the treatment of POWs
– spoke little English
– to get POWs to work faster said, “speedo”
– Little Speedo
– also used “speedo” when he wanted POWs to work faster
– fair in the treatment of POWs
– Smiley
– always smiling
– could not be trusted
– meanest of guards
– Airfield Detail:
– Japanese built an airfield for fighters
– POWs cut grass, removed dirt, and leveled ground
– at first moved dirt in wheelbarrows
– later pushed mining cars
– Guards:
– Air Raid
– in charge
– usually fair but unpredictable
– had to watch him
– Donald Duck
– always talking
– sounded like the cartoon character
– unpredictable – beat POWs
– POWs told him that Donald Duck was a big American movie star
– at some point, he saw a Donald Duck cartoon
– POWs stayed away from him when he came back to camp
– Work Day: 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
– worked 6 days a week
– had Sunday off
– Other Details:
– work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens and plant rice
– 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 their faces deeper into the mud
– 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
– daily POW meal
– 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
– rice was the main staple, few vegetables or fruits
– 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
– Burial Detail:
– POWs worked in teams of four men to bury dead
– carried as many as six dead POWs in slings to the cemetery
– buried in graves that contained 16 to 18 bodies
– used poles to hold the bodies down in grave because of the high water table
Hell Ship:
Clyde Maru
– Sailed: 23 July 1943
– Arrived: Santa Cruz, Zambales, Philippines- same day
– loaded manganese ore
– remained in port for three days
– Sailed: 26 July 1943
– 100 POWs allowed on deck at a time from 6:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.
– Arrived: 28 July 1943 – Takao, Formosa
– Sailed: 5 August 1943 – 8:00 A.M.
– part nine-ship convoy
– Arrived: 7 August 1943 – Moji, Japan
– POWs disembarked – 8 August 1943
– marched to the train station and boarded the train
– 9:30 A.M. – train departed
– two-day train trip
– 7:30 PM – 10 August 1943 – arrived at Omuta, Kyushu
– POWs marched eighteen miles to camp
– eighteen POWs rode in a truck since they were too weak to walk
POW Camp:
Fukuoka #17
– 10 August 1943 – POWs arrived
– the camp had a ten-foot high wooden fence around it
– three electrified wires topped the fence
– 50 POWs assigned to each barracks
– barracks 20 feet wide by 120 feet long
– ten rooms in each barracks
– four to six men assigned to each room
Liberated:
– September 1945
– returned to the Philippines
Transport:
U.S.S. Admiral C. F. Hughes
– Sailed: not known
– Arrived: 9 October 1945 – Seattle, Washington
– taken Madigan General Hospital – Fort Lewis
Discharged:
– 13 January 1946
Wife: Lorene
Died: 2 May 2000 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Buried: Sunny Lane Cemetery – Del City, Oklahoma
– Section: 5

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