Saturday, December 17, 2011

Salinas California's National Guard

M3 Stuart Tank Captured in 1942
December 13th was the 375th anniversary of the National Guard. The Massachusetts Bay Company in 1636 established militias of citizen-soldiers that could and would be called upon to fight when needed. These community units evolved into today's National Guard.

Three federalized National Guard units were the first to see action in World War II. They participated in the heroic defense of Bataan in the Philippines before finally surrendering to the Japanese in April 1942.

The 40th Tank Company (later Company C, 194th Tank Battalion) of Salinas, California was one of these National Guard units. Approximately 105 Salinas men (rosters vary) were sent to the Philippines in September 1941 as part of two U.S. Army light tank battalions to reinforce General Douglas MacArthur's forces defending the Philippine Islands. The men from Salinas, armed with antiquated weapons and under-trained, had the distinction of being the first U.S. Armored Force deployed overseas in what was soon to become the Pacific front in World War II.

When the war broke out on December 7, 1941 (December 8th in the Philippines), the company fought on Luzon. It was the last U.S. element to pull back to the Bataan Peninsula. Although outnumbered and without effective anti-personnel and anti-tank ammunition, Company C and other former National Guard Companies slowed the rate of the Japanese advance and delayed the ultimate loss of the Philippines. Their official After-Action Report is available by clicking here.

When American and Filipino forces surrendered on April 9, 1941, the survivors of the Battle for Bataan were forced to participate in the infamous Bataan Death March. Conservative estimates believe that 6,000-10,000 Filipino and 600-1000 U.S. soldiers died on the 65-mile forced march.  Three Presidential unit citations were awarded to the 40th Tank Company for outstanding performance in combat operations.

Burton Anderson in his illustrated history of the Salinas National Guard (1995) reports that of the 105 men he notes in his research as belonging to Company C only 47 returned home alive. Fifty-eight men died: most of whom died in their first months of captivity at Camp O'Donnell (4) and Cabanatuan (33). These men died of all manner of tropical diseases, abuse, and malnutrition.

Among the deaths, one man died on the Bataan Death March and two escaped to become guerrillas. They were, however, later captured and executed. Ten men died on Hellships to Japan (Arisan-maru: 6, Oryoku-maru: 1, Enoura-maru: 2, Brazil-maru: 1). (N.B.: We researched only the names that Mr. Anderson attached to his research. There are other lists, but it would take a professional military historian many months to untangle the inconsistencies.)

POW Memorial at Kinkaseki Dedicated November 2011
Eight men were taken to POW camps in Mukden, China (today's Shenyang) where one perished. Two where shipped to Formosa where one was a slave laborer in heavy construction at the Taihoku POW Camp and the other mined copper at the notorious Kinkaseki Mine Camp. Only 10 American POWs are documented as to having slaved been assigned to do slave labor in this mine, reportedly only toward the end of the war and at the closing of the mine. Researchers believe that more than 1,100 POWs were held at the Kinkaseki camp between 1942 and 1945.

Cave-ins, injury, disease, malnutrition, and executions made Kinkaseki one of the worst of Japan's POW camps. Fewer than 100 of the Allied prisoners held at Kinkaseki are believed to have survived to war's end. The mine was owned by Nippon Mining Company, today's JX Nippon Mining & Metals Corp. of JX Holdings. You can access the Hong Kong War Crimes trial documents of military officers responsible for the atrocities at Kinkaseki HERE.

Thirty-eight men were shipped to Japan on Hellships to become slave laborers at 13 different companies at 18 camps on Japan's main islands. Two men died in the POW camps. Below we identify the best we can, with the resources available, the camps and companies where the men of Salinas were held in Japan.

Sendai 6-B: Hanawa (Osarizawa)
POWs: 3 survived
Labor: Copper mining
Company: Mitsubishi Goushi Company [三菱合資会社]
Company Today: Mitsubishi Materials (Mitsubishi Material Kabushiki Kaisha, 三菱マテリアル株式会社)

Sendai 7-B: Hanaoka
POWs: 2 survived
Labor: Copper mining
Company: Fujita-gumi Construction Company
Company Today: Dowa Holdings Co., Ltd. (DOWA Holdings Kabushiki Kaisha, DOWA ホールディングス株式会社)

Tokyo 1-B: Kawasaki
POWs: 1 survived
Labor: Slave labor in Kawasaki shipyard
Company: Nippon Tsuun
Company Today: Nippon Express Company, Limited (Nippon Tsuun Kabushikigaisha, 日本通運株式会社)

Tokyo 5-B: Niigata
POWs: 1 survived 
Labor: Stevedore, foodstuffs and coal, labor at a foundry
Company: Niigata Kairiku Unso
Company Today: Rinko Corporation (Kabushikigaisha Rinko Corporation, 株式会社リンコーコーポレーション) *Niigata Kairiku Unso Merged to Rinko Corporation in 1960

Tokyo 16-B: Kanose
POWs: 2 survived 
Labor: Slave labor in a carbide mill, manufacture of carbon rods
Company: Showa Denko
Company Today: Showa Denko K.K. (Showa Denko Kabushikigaisha, 昭和電工株式会社)

Tokyo 8-D: Ashio
POWs: 1 survived 
Labor: Copper mining
Company: Furukawa Kogyo
Company Today: Furukawa Co., Ltd. (Furukawa Kikai Kinzoku Kabushikigaisha, 古河機械金属株式会社)

Nagoya 5-B: Yokkaichi
POWs: 3 survived
Labor: Sulphuric Acid Manufacturing
Company: Ishihara Sangyo
Company Today: Ishihara Sangyo Kaisah, Ltd. (Ishihara Sangyo Kabushiki Gaisha, 石原産業株式会社)

Nagoya 7-B: Toyama
POWs: 2 survived
Labor: Scrap metal smelter
Company: Nihon Sotatsu
Company Today: Nihon Soda Co., Ltd. (Nihon Sotats Kabushiki Gaisha, 日本曹達株式会社)
Note: Mitsui Co., Ltd. is the biggest shareholder of Nihon Sotatsu today.

Nagoya 9-B: Jintsu
POWs: 1 survived
Labor: Stevedore
Company: Nippon Tsuun
Company Today: Nippon Express Company, Limited (Nippon Tsuun Kabushikigaisha, 日本通運株式会社).

Osaka 10-B: Maibara
POWs: 1 survived
Labor: Building of canals and draining of a lake for growing food; some used as stevedores at local railyard
Company: Unknown
Company Today: Unknown

Osaka 11-B : Rokuroshi (aka. Camp Mallette)
POWs: 1 survived 
Labor: Subsistence farming. Camp occupied by American Officers transferred from Zentsuji on 25 June 1945
Company: Japanese Imperial Army
Company Today: N/A

Osaka 12-B ( 1-D): Hirohata
POWs: 6 survived
Labor: Steel mill
Company: Nippon Steel, Futase Mine Works (Nippon Seitetsu Kogyo, Futase-Kogyo-sho)
Company Today: Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corporation, NSSMC ( formerly Nippon Steel, Shin Nippon Seitetsu Kabushiki Gaisha, 新日本製鐵株式会社)

Osaka 3-D: Yodogawa
POWs: 1 died
Labor: Steel mill?
Company: Yodogawa Tekkojo (Possibly Yodogawa Seikojo)
Company Today: Yodogawa Steel Works, Ltd. (Kabushiki Gaisha Yodogawa Seikojo, 株式会社淀川製鋼所)

Fukuoka 3-B: Yawata [Tobata/Kokura]
POWs: 3 Survived
Labor: Steel Mill
Company: Nippon Steel, Yawata Iron Mill (Nippon Seitetsu Yawata Seitetsu-sho)
Company Today: Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corporation, NSSMC ( formerly Nippon Steel, Shin Nippon Seitetsu Kabushiki Gaisha, 新日本製鐵株式会社)

Fukuoka 4-B: Moji (Military Hospital)
POWs: 3 survived
Labor: Stevedore
Company: Kanmon Senpaku Niyaku (Shipping and Cargo Handling)
Company Today: Moji Koun Kabushiki-Gaisha [門司港運株式会社]

Fukuoka 8-B: Inatsuki
POWs: 1 survived
Labor: Coal mining
Company: Mitsui Mining [Mitsui Kozan] -Yamano Mine
Company Today: Nippon Coke & Engineering Co., Ltd. (Nippon Cokes Kogyo Kabushiki Gaisha, 日本コークス工業株式会社)

Fukuoka 17-B: Omuta
POWs: 1 died, 3 survived
Labor: Coal mining
Company: Mitsui Mining [Mitsui Kozan] -Miike Mine
Company Today: Nippon Coke & Engineering Co., Ltd. (Nippon Cokes Kogyo Kabushiki Gaisha, 日本コークス工業株式会社)

Fukuoka 23-B: Keisen
POWs: 2 survived
Labor: Coal mining
Company: Meiji Mining [Meiji Kogyo] –Hirayama Mine
Company Today: The company was dissolved in 1969. Its exploration and research division became independent as Meiji Consultant Co., Ltd. in 1965, and still exists.

M2 Half Track Philippines 1942

Guardian of Company C's history is the Monterey County Historical Society. The Society is responsible for a substantial collection of individual, family, city, and county archival materials. These rare and valuable documents are housed in a temperature and humidity controlled archival vault. The Society maintains a number of historical buildings and a museum. On April 8, 2006, The Bataan Memorial at the Boronda History Center was dedicated with the unveiling of a restored WWII M2 Half-Track. We hope that you will visit this important resource and give generously to support its unique collection.

Sam Farr (D-CA) the congressman from Salinas is a co-sponsor of H. Res. 333. Thank you!

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