Carter_C

 



Pfc. Charles Albert Carter
    Pfc. Charles A. Carter was born on September 9, 1919, in Franklin County, Ohio, to Minor & Belle Carter. 
His family of six sisters and two brothers were raised at Star Yard on Portsmouth, Ohio.  It is known his father died in the 1930s. 
In 1940, his family was living at 376 Kellogg Street in Columbus, Ohio.  To help support the family, he finished eighth grade and went to work as a laborer at a rock quarry. 
    Charles was inducted into the U.S. Army on March 28, 1941, in Columbus.  He was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training.  After basic training, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, where he was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion.  The battalion had been sent to Camp Polk from Fort Benning, Georgia.  Maneuvers were taking place at the camp, but the 753rd did not take part of them.
    After the maneuvers the 192nd Tank Battalion expected to return to Ft. Knox.  Instead, they were kept at Camp Polk and not given a reason.  It was on the side of a hill that they learned that they were being sent overseas.  Men 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service.  Replacements for these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.  One of those replacements was Charles.  He was assigned to B Company.

    The battalion traveled by train to San Francisco.  By ferry, they were taken to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, they received inoculations and physicals.  Those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island.  They were scheduled to join the battalion at a later date.
   
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S, Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd.  The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island.  On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam.  At one point, the ships passed an island at night.  While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  The soldiers remained on board since the ships were sailing the next morning.  The ships entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th,and later that day docked at Pier 7.  About three hours after arriving the soldiers disembarked and the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. 
    At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward King who apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner. 
Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
   
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.

    On December 1st, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers.  Two crew members had to be with their tank at all times.  The morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield.  They had received word of the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield.  As they sat in their tanks and half-tracks they watched as American planes filled the sky.  At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45, the tankers watched as planes approached the airfield from the north.  When bombs began exploding on the runways, they knew the planes were Japanese.

   
    At 12:45 in the afternoon on December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Elkoney lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield.  That morning, they had been awakened to the news that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor just hours earlier.  He and the other tankers were eating lunch when planes approached the airfield from the north.  At first, they thought the planes were American.  They then saw what looked like rain drops falling from the planes.  It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.  The company remained at Clark Field for the next two weeks.

    The tank battalion received orders on December 21st that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.   Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas.  When they reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta.   The bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of river.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening.  They successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
    On December 25th, 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 27th, and at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th.  On January 1st, conflicting orders were received by the defenders who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5.  Doing this would allow the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan.  General Wainwright was unaware of the orders since they came from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff. 
    Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River.  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 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.

    During the withdraw into the peninsula, the night of January 6th/7th, the 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross a bridge, and then cover the 192nd's withdraw over the bridge. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.

    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 28th, were given the job of protecting the beaches.  The 192nd was assigned the coast line 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.

    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 to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole.  The driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around and grinding its way down into the foxhole.  The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.     
   
    The morning of April 9, 1942, the members of B Company circled their tanks.  Each tank fired one armor piercing shell into the engine of the tank in front of it.  The tankers next opened up the gasoline valves and dropped hand grenades into the turrets.  The next morning at 7:00 A.M. they became Prisoners of War.
    The members of B Company made their way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  It was from this barrio that the tankers started what they simply called "the march."
    The POWs made their way north from Mariveles.  The first five miles of the march were uphill.  At one point, the members of the company had to run past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor.  They received little water and little food.  When they reached San Fernando, they were put into a bull pen.  In one corner of the bull pen was a trench the POWs were suppose to use as a washroom.  The surface of the trench was alive with maggots.  How long they remained in the bull pen is not known. 
    The Japanese ordered the POWs to form ranks.  They were marched to the train stationed and packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane.  Each car could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese  packed 100 POWs into each car.  Those who died remained standing since there was no place for them to fall.  At Capas, the living left the cars and the dead fell to the floors.  They walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
   
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base.  There was one water faucet for the entire camp.  Men literally died for a drink.  The death rate in the camp began to rise until as many as 55 men dying each day.  The burial detail worked non-stop to bury the dead.  Often, when they returned the next morning, the wild dogs had dug up the bodies or the bodies were sitting up in the graves. 
To lower the death rate among the POWs, the Japanese opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan. 

    Charles went out on a work detail in December 1942, to Ft. McKinley and collected junk leftover from the battle.  From there, the POWs were moved to Nielson Field to build runways with picks and shovels.  While he was there e became ill and was sent to Bilibid Prison. 
    In July 1944, Charles' name appeared on a list for POWs being sent to Japan.  On July 17th, the POWs were taken to Pier 7 in Manila and boarded onto the Nissyo Maru.  The Japanese attempted to pack the entire POW detachment into the number one hold.  When they realized that they
couldn't, they opened the number two hold.  The POWs were fed at 9:00 P.M.  The next day, the ship moved further out in the harbor and dropped anchor.  The POWs did not  receive water for over a day.  The ship remained outside the breakwater for a week before it moved again and anchored off Corregidor.
    Once the 21 ships of Convoy HI 68 were gathered in Manila Harbor, the ships sailed on July 24th.  The next day the ships were spotted by an American wolf pack.  Inside the holds, the POWs used buckets as toilets. The Japanese also set up wooden toilets that hung over the side of the ship.
    At 12:22 P.M., the freighters were fired on by the submarines.  The torpedoes missed but the Japanese bow knew that there were submarines in the area and began dropping depth charges. The submarines disengaged from the convoy and waited until after dark to resume the attack. When they did they sunk several of the ships.  The POWs on Nissyo Maru saw the flames from one of the ships, a tanker, go over the hatch, which was uncovered, of the hold.
    On July 27th, the convoy reached Takao, Formosa, at 1:00 P.M.  Sugar was loaded in the lower part of the number two hold.   The ships sailed the next day and the convoy arrived at Moji, Japan, on August 3rd at 4:00 P.M. 
    The POWs disembarked and were deloused.  The detachment of POWs Charles was in was boarded onto a train and taken to Oeyama Camp.  The POWs in the camp were used as slave labor in a nickel mine and worked at a smelter.  The mine the POWs worked in required that they walk nearly six miles each way.  They were also used as stevedores in the nearby port town of
Miyazu.

    The attacks by American B-29s became more frequent in 1945.  On July 30th, B-29s bombed Miyazu doing heavy damage.   Two weeks later the bombers returned bombing all night ending about noon the next day.  A guard who once told the POWs they would executed if the war ended told them the war was over.
    Charles was liberated on September 2, 1945, and returned to the Philippines to receive medical treatment.  He was returned to the United States on the U.S.S. Storm King, at San Francisco, on October 15, 1945.  He married Eva Margaret Albright and the couple became the parents of two daughters, two sons, and resided in Zanesville, Ohio. 
    Charles A. Carter passed away on April 19, 1965, and was buried at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Zanesville.
         




 

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