McArthur_A

 

T/Sgt. Albert Cox McArthur Jr.


    T/Sgt. Albert C. McArthur Jr. was born in April 28, 1919, to Albert C . McArthur Sr. & Catherine Dickinson-McArthur in Chicago.  With his two sisters, he lived at 310 South Villa Avenue in Villa Park, Illinois.  He was known as "Bert" by his family and friends.  
    Bert attended grade school in Villa Park and was a graduate of York High School in Elmhurst, Illinois. 
He also attended the Illinois Institute of Technology studying radio at night and worked as a clerk in an insurance company.

    In September 1940, Bert enlisted in the Illinois National Guard.  A month later, on October 10th, he married Helen Okken.  His reason for joining the National Guard was he knew he would be drafted and wanted to complete his military service.  He was called to federal service when his tank company was federalized as B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, in November 1940.  From Maywood, Illinois, on November 28th, the company traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky.  There, Bert attended radio school, and after completing his classes, he was put in charge of radio communications for the battalion.

    Bert took his job very seriously.  When Frank Goldstein and Charles Corr arrived at Ft. Knox - after being inducted into the army and assigned to B Company because both had been trained in the Illinois National Guard's radio operator program - Bert was waiting for them at the train depot at 2:00 in the morning.  He told them that he needed one man to repair radio equipment and the other man to train radio operators.

    In the fall of 1941, the 192nd took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  After the maneuvers, they were ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, in stead of returning to Ft. Knox.  On the side of a hill, the battalion learned that they were being sent overseas.  Bert received a leave home to say his goodbyes.  While on leave, on October 10, 1941, he married Helen Orkken, and the returned to Camp Polk the next day.

   The 192nd traveled west by train to San Francisco, California and were ferried to Angel Island where they were given physicals and  inoculated.  Those who had minor medical issues were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Other men simply were replaced.
    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.  For many, it would be the last time that they would ever see the United States.  The battalion arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd, and the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.  On Wednesday, November 5th, the ships sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the 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.
    When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables, before sailing for Manila. 
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 at 8:00 A.M. on Thursday, November 20th and docked at Pier 7 later that day.  At 3:00 P.M. the soldiers disembarked and were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.   Those assigned to trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the battalion's 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.     
   
They spent the next seventeen days preparing their equipment for use in the maneuvers they expected to take part in with the 194th Tank Battalion.  They removed cosmoline from their guns, which had been greased to prevent them from rusting at sea, and loaded ammunition belts.
    On Monday, December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard it against paratroopers.  The 194th Tank Battalion was assigned the northern half of the airfield while the 192nd protected the southern half.  At all times, two crew members had two remain with their tank or half-track and received their meals from food trucks.  HQ Company made sure that the companies had what they needed.
   
The morning of December 8, 1941, just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the tankers were ordered the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  All morning long as they sat on their tanks, they watched as American planes filled the sky.  At noon, the planes landed.       
    As the tankers were having lunch, 54 planes approached the airfield from the north.   
When bombs began exploding on the runways, the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.  Since they had few weapons that could be used against Japanese, they could do is watch.
    On December 21st, the 192nd was sent to Lingayen Gulf in an attempt to stop the Japanese from landing troops.
  Being in a non-combatant position, Bert remained behind working to ensure that communications with the tanks was maintained and giving orders to the radiomen. 
    The evening of April 8, 1942, Capt. Fred Bruni, HQ's commanding officer, gave his men the news of the surrender.  While informing the members of the company of the surrender, he waved his arm toward the tanks and told the men that they would no longer need them.  As he spoke, his voice choked.  He turned away from the men for a moment, and when he turned back he continued.  He next told the sergeants what they should do to disable the tanks.  During the announcement, Bruni emphasized that they all were to surrender together.   He told the soldiers to destroy their weapons and any supplies that could be used by the Japanese.  The only thing they were told not to destroy were the company's trucks.  The men waited in their bivouac until ordered to move.  Somehow, Bruni had found enough bread and pineapple juice for what he called, "Their last supper."
   
On April 11th, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment.  A Japanese officer ordered the company, with their possessions, out onto the road that ran in front of their encampment.  Once on the road, the soldiers were ordered to kneel along the sides of the road with their possessions in front of them.  As they knelt, the Japanese soldiers, who were passing them, went through their possessions and took whatever they wanted from the Americans.  They remained along the sides of the road for hours.           
    The company finally boarded their trucks and drove to just outside of Mariveles, where they were ordered by the Japanese out of their trucks.  From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and were ordered to sit.  As they sat, the POWs noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming across from them.  They soon realized that this was a firing squad and the Japanese were going to kill them.

    As they sat watching and waiting to see what the Japanese intended to do, a Japanese officer pulled up in a car in front of the soldiers.  He got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail.  The officer got back in the car and drove off.  The sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
    
    Later in the day, the POWs were order to move to a schoolyard in Mariveles.  
The POWs were left sitting in the sun for hours.  The Japanese did not feed them or give them water.  Behind the POWs were four Japanese artillery pieces which were firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum which had not surrendered. Shells from these two American forts began landing among the POWs who could do little to protect themselves since they had no place to hide.  Some POWs were killed by incoming American shells.  One group that tried to hide in a small brick building died when it took a direct hit.  The American guns did succeed in knocking out three of the four Japanese guns.            

    At one point, the POWs were given a rest to be fed.  When rain began to fall, the Japanese canceled the meal and forced the prisoners to march again.  With Albert on the march were Sgt. Ray Vadenbroucke, Sgt. James Bainbridge, and Cpl. Albert Cornils.  Cpl. Cornils was weak and sick and had reached the point that he was going to fall out.  Knowing that if he fell out he would be killed, Albert, Bainbridge and Vadenbroucke took turns helping Cornils so that he would continue the march.

    At San Fernando, Albert and his friends were packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul saugarcane.  The cars could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car.  They were packed in so tightly that those who died remained standing until the living left the cars.

    Albert with the other prisoners walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.  This unfinished Philippine Army Base had been pressed into use as a POW Camp.  The camp had one water faucet for over 12,000 POWs.  Disease also ran wild in the camp.
    To lower the death rate among the POWs, the Japanese opened a new camp at Cabanatuan.  Being considered a "healthier" POW, Bert was sent to the camp.  According to records kept by the camp's medical staff, Bert was admitted to the camp hospital with dysentery and Noma disease.  Noma is infection of the mouth or genitals.
    T/Sgt. Albert C. McArthur Jr. died on September 10, 1942, at Cabanatuan POW Camp, from dysentery and Noma, and was buried in the camp cemetery.  In March 1943, six months after his death, his wife and parents received word that he was a POW and did not learn of his death until June 1943.

    After the war, Bert's remains were exhumed and identified by the remains recovery team.  At the request of his family, T/Sgt. Albert McArthur was buried in Plot B, Row 7, Grave 18, at the new American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.


 

 



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