Pvt. Louie Lee Webb
| Pvt. Louie Webb
was born on May 17, 1923, in North Carolina to Lee
Roy Webb & Bennie Mae Cashion-Webb. With
his three brothers, he grew up in Gastonia, North
Carolina. After completing two years of
high school, he went to work.
On November 8, 1940, he joined the U.S. Army and did his basic training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion at Ft. Benning, Georgia. In the late summer of 1941, the battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana. It did not take part in the maneuvers taking place there.
While Louie was there, the 192nd Tank Battalion - which had taken part in the maneuvers - received orders to go overseas. The battalion was made up mainly of National Guardsmen, so those 29 years old or older were released from federal service. Louie volunteered to join the battalion and was assigned to B Company.
The battalion traveled west by train to San Francisco. Arriving there, they were taken by ferry to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. At Fort McDowell, 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.
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. 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 the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard it against enemy paratroopers. Two members of each tank and half-track crew had to remain with them at all times. On the morning of December 8, 1941, the members of B Company were informed of the Japanese attack on Clark Field and ordered back to their tanks and half-tracks. At 8:30 A.M., the Army Air Corps took off and filled the sky with American planes. At noon the planes landed and were parked in a straight line outside the mess hall. About 12:45 in the afternoon as the tankers were eating lunch, planes approached the airfield from the north. At first, the soldiers thought the planes were American. It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that they knew the planes were Japanese.
The 192nd remained at Clark Field for about a week before they were ordered to the barrio of Dau so it would be near a road and railroad. For the next four months, the tankers held positions so that the other units could disengage and form a defensive line.
After the Americans surrendered, they
remained on Corregidor for two weeks. They
were than taken by barge a few hundred yards
from the coast of Luzon. At that point,
they were ordered to jump into the water ans
swim to shore. Once on shore, they were
taken to a pier and used as laborers to repair
sailed but dropped anchor at the
harbor's breakwater. It remained
there for three days and the temperatures in
the hold rose to over 100 degrees causing
some men to go crazy. The Japanese
threatened to kill the POWs if they didn't
quiet the men. To do this, the sane
POWs strangled those out of their minds or
hit them with canteens.
The ships were informed, on October 9th, that American carriers were seen near Formosa and sailed for Hong Kong when it was informed American planes were in the area. During this part of the trip, the ships ran into American submarines which sank two more ships. The Hokusen Maru arrived at Hong Kong on October 11th. While it was in port, American planes bombed the harbor on October 16th. On October 21st, the ship sailed for Takao, Formosa, arriving on October 24th.
Japanese decided that the surviving POWs on the
ship were too ill to continue the voyage to
Japan, so they were disembarked on November
was taken to Inrin
Temprary Camp which had
been opened for them. The POWs were given
light work to do.
Louie returned to the Philippines for medical
treatment. Boarding the U.S.S. Joseph
T. Dychman, for San Francisco, arriving
there on October 16, 1945. After receiving
treatment at Letterman General Hospital, he
returned to North Carolina and was discharged on
March 16, 1946. He married Lillian Clanton
in 1948 and became the father of a
daughter. He worked as a printer.