Jennings




S/Sgt. Willard Daylis Jennings
     S/Sgt. Willard Daylis Jennings was was born on June 29, 1919, in Billings, Montana, to George T. Jennings & Stella Daylis-Jennings.  With his two sisters and two brothers, he would later move to Forest Park, Illinois, where he resided at 1120 Circle Avenue.  He attended the Field-Stevenson School in Forest Park and was a member of the Proviso Township High School Class of 1939.   He worked in the shipping department of a newspaper.     In 1937, with his parents permission and while he was still in high school, Willard enlisted in the Illinois National Guard's 33rd Tank Company in Maywood, Illinois.  When the company was federalized as Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion, he went to Fort Knox, Kentucky to train.  After nearly a year of training at Fort Knox, Willard qualified as a tank driver.  He would later become a tank commander.
    In the late summer of 1941, the 192nd was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, to take part in maneuvers.  After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to remain at Camp Polk and had no idea why.  It was on the side of hill that the men learned that the battalion was being sent overseas.  Those men who were 29 years or older were given the opportunity to resign from Federal service.  They were replaced by tankers from the 753rd Tank Battalion.
    The tank battalion was given the tanks and half-tracks of the 753rd Tank Battalion which were loaded on different trains.  Over different train routes, the battalion made its way to San Francisco.  From there, it was ferried to Angel Island where the soldiers received physicals and inoculations. 
    
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, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  The ships sailed the same day for Manila and entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th.  They docked at Pier 7 and the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. 
   At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King, who apologized that they 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.  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.
    The first week of December, 1941, the tank battalions were ordered to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against enemy paratroopers.  Two members of every tank crew were to remain with their tanks at all time.

   
    The morning of December 8th, the tankers were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor  They were ordered to return to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  As they watched the sky that morning, it was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.

    At 12:45, as the tankers were eating lunch, 54 planes approached the airfield from the north.  At first the tankers thought the planes were Americans, until they noticed silver raindrops falling from the planes.  When bombs began exploding on the runways, they knew the planes were Japanese.  The bombing destroyed most of the planes of the Army Air Corps. After the attack, the battalion remained at the airfield
    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 tankplatoon, 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 fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th. 

    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.

    During the withdraw into the peninsula, the company crossed over the last bridge which was mined and about to be blown.  The 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it and then cover the 192nd's withdraw. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
    During the Battle of the Points the tanks were sent in to wipe out Japanese troops that had broken through the main defensive line and than trapped behind the line after the Filipino and American troops pushed the Japanese back.  According to members of the battalion they resorted two ways to wipe out the Japanese.
    The first method was to have three Filipino soldiers sit on the back of the tanks with sacks of hand grenades.  When the Japanese dove back into their foxholes, the tank would go over it and the soldiers would drop three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the ordnance was from World War I, one out of three hand grenades would explode.
    The second method was simple.  The tank was parked with one track across the foxhole.   The driver spun the tank on one track.  The tank dug into the dirt until the Japanese soldiers were dead.
 

    At 6;45 the morning of April 9, 1942, the tankers received the order "crash."  They circled their tanks.  Each tank fired a armor piecing 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.
   After the Japanese made contact with B Company, the members of the company made their way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  They were now officially Prisoners of War.  At Mariveles, the Japanese took blankets and other items from the POWs that they could use.  The tankers striped anything from their uniforms that indicated that they were tankers.  They heard the rumor that the Japanese were looking for them.
    From Mariveles, the tankers made their way north toward San Fernando.  They were given little food or water.  They were often marched at night.  When they arrived at San Fernando, they were put in a bull pen.  In one corner was a slit trench that was the washroom for the POWs.  The surface of it moved from the maggots. 
    The POWs were ordered to form detachments of 100 men.  They were taken to the train station and packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane.  The cars were known as forty or eights since they could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese put 100 POWs into each boxcar.  Those who died remained standing since there was no place to fall.  At Capas, the POWs disembarked and the dead fell to the floor of the cars.  The POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army training base that the Japanese pressed into use as a POW camp.  There was one water faucet for the entire camp.  Disease among the POWs ran wild with as many as 55 POWs dying each day.  The Japanese closed the camp and moved the POWs to Cabanatuan to try to lower the death rate. 

    When Cabanatuan was opened Willard was sent to the new camp.  It was there that Sgt. Willard D. Jennings died at about 4:00 in the morning on Friday, June 12, 1942, from dysentery.  He was 22 years old.   He was buried in the camp cemetery.
    After the war the remains recovery team identified the remains of Sgt. Willard D. Jennings at the camp cemetery. 
At the request of his family, Sgt. Willard D. Jennings remains lie in Plot B, Row 2, Grave 137, at the American Military Cemetery just outside of Manila.






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