Pattison

 

Pvt. Elmore Walter Pattison


    Pvt. Elmore W. Pattison was born on August 9, 1916, in Toledo, Ohio, to Walter C. Pattison and Mada M. Kuhn-Pattison.  With his two sisters and four brothers, he grew up in Cincinnati and later lived at 74 Trellis Way in Sylvania, Ohio.  He left high school after two years and, in 1940, he was living with his aunt and uncle, in Cleveland Heights, while working as a cook in a restaurant.
    On September 27, 1940, Elmore enlisted in the U.S. Army in Cleveland, Ohio.  He was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training.  It is not known what he was trained to do while in basic training. 
    Upon completing basic training, he was sent Camp Polk, Louisiana, where he was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion.  The battalion had been sent to Camp Polk from Ft. Benning, Georgia.  While it was at the base maneuvers were taking place.  The battalion did not take part in the maneuvers.
    When the maneuvers ended, the 192nd Tank Battalion was held back at the camp.  The members of the battalion had no idea why they were being kept there.  It was on the side of a hill that they learned they were being sent overseas.  Those National Guardsmen who were 29 years old or older, were given the chance to resign from federal service.  Elmore volunteered to replace one of the National Guardsmen and was assigned to B Company. 

   
    After the companies were brought up to strength with replacements for the men released from federal service, the battalion was equipped with new tanks and halftracks.  The battalion traveled over three different railroad routes to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. 
    On the island, the soldiers were inoculated and received physicals.  Those who had minor medical issues were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. 

    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. 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 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.  
Ironically, it was the day the National Guard members of the battalion had originally been scheduled to be released from federal service.
    Seventeen days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the members of 192nd arrived in Manila.  The battalion was deployed Fort Stotsenburg. 
At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King.  The general 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.  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 seven days preparing their equipment for use in the maneuvers they expected to take part in.
    The morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield.  Early that morning, the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had reached the Philippines.  The tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  As they sat on their tanks, they watched American planes fill the sky.  At noon, every plane landed. 
    The tankers were eating lunch when they saw 54 planes approaching the airfield from the north.  As they watched the planes, they saw what looked like raindrops falling from the planes.  When bombs began exploding on the runways, the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.  Most of the tankers could do nothing but watch since their weapons were not meant to fight planes. 

    The 192nd remained at Clark Field for about a week when they 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 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.
    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.
   
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.  Elmore was one of the men who escaped to Corregidor.

    Very little is known about Elmore's time on Corregidor.  It is known that he was admitted to the hospital on the island on May 5, 1942, which was the night before the Japanese lunched an offensive to capture Corregidor.  According to the medical records, he was suffering from a fever, which had an unknown cause, and was still in the hospital on May 11, 1942.
    The POWs were held on the island for two weeks before they were taken by barges near Luzon.   A few hundred yards off shore, the POWs jumped over the side and swam to shore.  From there, they walked to Bilibid Prison and then were taken to Cabanatuan.  In the camp, he was reunited with his friends from the 192nd who had taken part in the death march.
    During Elmore's time in the camp, he worked on a detail at Ft. McKinley.  The POWs on the detail widen and lengthened runways at Zablan Airfield.  While he was a detail Elmore became ill and sent to the hospital at Bilibid Prison.  He was admitted on December 5, 1942, and diagnosed with xerophthalmia which is a dryness of the cornea.  No date of discharge was given, but it is known he was sent to Cabanatuan.
    Elmore also worked on the camp farm at Cabanatuan.  Medical records kept at the prison indicate that Elmore was admitted to the camp hospital on March 26, 1943.  The records do not state why he was admitted or when he was discharges.  It is known that he remained in the camp until July 1943, when his name appeared on a list of POWs being sent to Japan. 
    Trucks arrived at Cabanatuan and the POWs were taken to the Port Area of Manila.   There, they were boarded onto the Clyde Maru.  The ship sailed on July 23rd and arrived at Santa Cruz, Zambales, Philippine Islands, the same day.  While anchored there, it was loaded with manganese ore. 
    The ship sailed again on July 26th.  During this part of the voyage, 100 POWs, at a time, were allowed on deck from 6:00 Am to 4:00 PM.  The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on July 28th and remained in the port until August 5th at 8:00 AM, as part of a nine ship convoy.  It arrived at Moji, Japan, on August 7th.
    The POWs were organized into detachments of 100 POWs  and marched to the train station.  At 9:30 in the morning, the train departed on a two day trip.  They disembarked
at 7:30 PM at Omuta, Kyushu, and marched 18 miles to Fukuoka #17.  Those too ill to march were taken by truck by to the camp.

    The camp was surrounded by a ten foot high wooden fence that was topped off with three electrified wires. The first wire was about six feet off the ground.  Fifty POWs were assigned to each barracks.  The barracks were 20 feet wide and 120 feet long.  There were ten rooms in each barracks. A minimum of four to six POWs shared each room. 
    In the camp, the POWs were used as slave labor in an condemned coal mine.  In the camp, the stronger POWs preyed on the weaker POWs.  POWs would trade their food rations for cigarettes.  The situation got so bad that the Japanese put an end to it.

    It was while Elmore was a prisoner in the camp that his parents received their first news that he was a POW.  The war department contacted them and informed them of his status on February 2, 1944.  At the same time, his parents learned that his brother, Herbert, who was a sailor on the U.S.S. Quincy had been officially declared dead and Missing in Action when the ship was sunk on August 9, 1942, during the Battle of Savoy Island.
    One day, the POWs in the camp saw a large explosion over Nagasaki.  When the POWs who were in the mine returned to the camp they were told about it.  Many believed that the main Japanese ammunition dump had been hit.  None of the POWs had any idea that they had seen the atomic bomb exploding.  They also had no idea that Fukuoka #17 was located in the primary target for the bomb, but the crew of the plane chose to go to the secondary target because of cloud cover.
    The guards in the camp began acting differently toward the POWs.  The POWs were given a day off from work which had never happened before.  When they received a second day off, they knew something was up.
    One morning, George Weller a reporter for the Chicago Daily News came through the gates of the camp.  He informed the POWs that the war was over and that American troops were on the island.  Some of the POWs left the camp and met up with the troops.  The remaining POWs stayed in the camp until liberated.

    After liberation, Elmore was returned to the Philippines and promoted to Private First Class.  He remained there until returned to the United States.  He was boarded onto the U.S.S. Admiral Hughes and arrived at Seattle on October 9, 1945.  When he returned home, he learned that his brother, Herbert, was killed in the sinking of the U.S.S. Turney off Savo Island.
    Elmore remained in the Army and became a member of the Corps of Engineers, 24th Infantry Division as a Combat Construction Specialist.  He served with the division in the Korean War and rose in rank from Pfc to sergeant.  He was wounded on July 12, 1950, and retired from the Army on January 31, 1952, due to his wounds. 
    Elmore W. Pattison died on May 25, 1955, in Florida.  He was buried at Toledo Memorial Park Cemetery in Sylvania, Ohio.


 

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