Griswold

Sgt. Jack Julian Griswold


    Sgt. Jack J. Griswold was born on December 10, 1919, in South Haven, Michigan to Irving L. & Clarissa Griswold.  With his five brothers, he lived at 843 South 17th Avenue in Maywood, Illinois, and attended Roosevelt Grade School in Bellwood.  In June, 1938, he graduated from Proviso Township High School, and worked as a chemist after high school.

    In October of 1939, Jack joined the 33rd Tank Company of the Illinois National Guard which was based in an armory in Maywood.  The tank company was federalized in September 1940 and on November 25, 1940, called to federal duty as B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  It sent for training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, for what was suppose to be one year of training. 

    When Headquarters Company was created in January 1941, Jack was assigned to the company.  He was assigned to battalion communication and during his training at Ft. Knox, since he attended radio operators school.

    In late summer 1941, the battalion was sent to maneuvers in Louisiana.  It was after the maneuvers that the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk. Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft. Knox as expected.  It was there that Jack and the other members were informed that they would be going overseas.  Most of the men were allowed to go home to say their goodbyes. 
   
The battalion traveled west by train to San Francisco, California.  Arriving there, they were taken by ferry to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  At Ft. McDowell, on the island, they were given physicals and inoculated.   Those men found to have a minor medical condition were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Other men were simply replaced.
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th,  as part of a three ship convoy which arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd.  Since the ships had a two layover, the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.  On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam
but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly country.   
    Arriving at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water before sailing for Manila. 
At one point, the ships passed an island at night. 
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.  The ships sailed the next day for Manila and entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th at 8:00 A.M.  They docked at Pier 7 later that day, and the soldiers disembarked at 3:00 P.M.  They were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg, while those assigned to trucks drove to the fort.  The maintenance section of the battalion remained behind at the pier and unloaded the tanks.
 
    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 Field.  He made sure that they had what they needed and that they 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, did tank maintenance, and prepared to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.

    On Monday, December 1st, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers.  The 194th Tank Battalion guarded the northern half of the airfield, while the 192nd guarded the southern half.  At all times, two members of every tank and half-track crew remained with their vehicles.  Meals were brought to them by food trucks.  
    At six in the morning on December 8th, the officers of the battalion were called to the radio room at the fort.  They were ordered to bring their tank platoons up to full strength at the perimeter of airfield.  All morning the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed to be refueled and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45, the tankers were having lunch and watched as 54 planes approached the airfield from the north.  As they watched, the saw "raindrops" falling from the planes.  When bombs began exploding, the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese.

    As a member of HQ Company, Jack remained in the battalion's bivouac.  During the attack, he and the other members took cover to protect themselves from bombs and bullets.  After the attack, he saw the damage done to the airfield.
    HQ Company worked to supply the letter companies of the battalion with ammunition and fuel.  Jack made sure that the radios in the tanks were operational so that HQ could communicate with them.
  It was during this time that his family received their last letter from him postmarked December 28, 1941. 

    As a POW, Jack was held at Camp O'Donnell and Cabanatuan, where he remained until November when he was selected for transport to Japan.  The POWs were transported to Manila by truck. 
    On November 7, 1942, the POWs were boarded onto the Japanese ship the Nagato Maru which sailed the same day.  600 POWs were put in one of the ship's holds which was about 30 feet by 40 feet.  There was no room for the POWs to lay down.  The remaining 300 POWs were put in the ship's other hold.  During the trip, the POWs were fed rice, fish and soup.  It arrived in Takao, Formosa, on November 14th, which means it may have stopped at Hong Kong before sailing for Takao, or that it avoided submarines.

    It was in the hold of the ship that Jack was reunited with Lt. Tom Savage, Lt. Ben Morin, Lt. Richard Danca, Capt. Ruben Schwass, and Lt. Col Ted WickordLt. Danca was so sick that the other members of the battalion did not think he would survive the trip.  As it turned out, Lt. Danca died as the ship arrived in Formosa, and his remains were taken ashore and cremated. 
   
The ship sailed from Takao on November 17th for the Pecadores Islands and arrived there the same day.  It dropped anchor for the night and sailed again on November 18th for Keelung, Formosa, and arrived the same day and remained in harbor for two days.  On November 20th, it sailed for Moji, Japan, and arrived on November 26th. 
    The POWs disembarked and broken into two detachments to be sent to different POW camps.  Jack was taken to
Tanagawa Camp.  During the train trip Lt. Morin stated that Jack did not have a shirt and it was extremely cold.  It was his belief that this caused Jack to get sick. The POWs arrived at the camp on November 27th as one of 500 POWs sent to the camp.  The POWs were housed in barracks that were 80 feet long by 18 feet wide.  There was little heat since the Japanese gave the POWs very little charcoal.  There were only five blankets in the entire camp.
    The POWs, who were not officers, were required to build a break water for a dry dock at a Japanese submarine base.  They worked eight to eighteen hours a day working and received one day off every two weeks.  The officers had to clean the camp, Japanese quarters, and the latrines.
   
A little under two weeks after arriving at Tanagawa, Sgt. Jack Griswold was sent to the camp hospital which was a wooden shack with little heat, and the sick lay on the dirt floors.  No POW could be admitted to the hospital without approval of two American doctors.  Next, a Japanese medic had to approve that the POW be admitted.  Since this process was drawn out, many POWs died one or two days after entering the hospital.  There was very little medicine available to treat the POWs.  Most of the POWs, in the camp, died from beatings, starvation, lack of hygiene, and pneumonia.  According to Lt. Morin, Jack died of dysentery, and possibly pneumonia, on December 7, 1942.
    Lt. Ben Morin just happened to be working on the burial detail the day Jack died.  According to Lt. Morin, he and Lt. Henry Knox, of A Company, stopped to pick up a body of a dead American for cremation.  When he looked down at the body, he realized that it was Jack Griswold his high school classmate.  On the trip to the crematorium, the soldiers collected wood to be used to cremate Jack's body.  After the cremation, Jack's ashes were given to the camp commandant and would remain with him until the end of the war. 

    In the fall of 1945, Jack's remains were returned to the Philippine Islands and buried in Plot D, Row 6, Grave 261, at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.


 


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