T/Sgt. Ernest George Walsh
Ernest G. Walsh was born on May 7, 1919, in Janesville, Wisconsin, to Arthur
M. Walsh &
Florence Dickson-Walsh. With his three brothers, he grew up at 514 South Third Street and attended
grade school and high school in Janesville.
Ernest joined the 32nd Divisional Tank Company of the Wisconsin National Guard and was called to federal service when the company was federalized in November of 1940. He trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky and was transferred to Headquarters Company when the company was created in December, 1940. He then participated in maneuvers in Louisiana. It was after these maneuvers that his battalion, the 192nd Tank Battalion, was informed it was being sent overseas. He was given a leave to say goodbye to his fiends and family.
Traveling by train to California, the battalion was given the proper inoculations on Angel Island and boarded a ship bound for the Philippine Islands. Arriving in the Philippines on Thanksgiving Day, 1941, the battalion was rushed to Ft. Stotsenburg. The battalions' Thanksgiving Dinner consisted of the the leftovers from the 194th Tank Battalion.
On December 8, 1941, Ernest lived the Japanese attack on Clark Field. This attack successfully destroyed the Army-Air Corp. The tankers watched from the perimeter of the airfield where they had been stationed to prevent the Japanese from using paratroopers. Although they attempted to fight back, many of the weapons available to them were useless against planes.
As a member of Headquarters Company, Ernest was not involved in combat, but worked to keep the tankers supplied with food, gasoline and ammunition for the tanks. He did this until the Filipino and American forces were surrendered to the Japanese on April 9, 1942.
Ernest and the other members of HQ made their way to Mariveles. It was from the southern tip of the Bataan Peninsula that Ernest started what would become known as "The Death March."
Upon reaching San Fernando, Ernest and the other prisoners were jammed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane. They road the cars to Capas. There, the living left the cars and the dead fell to the floors of the cars. From Capas, Ernest walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was filled with disease. As many as fifty men died a day. It was while he was there that Ernest developed dysentery. In addition, he was already suffering from malaria.
When Cabanatuan was opened in May of 1942, Ernest was diagnosed as being "too ill" to move. He would remain at Camp O'Donnell until he died on June 4, 1942. The official cause of death was dysentery and malaria. He was 23 years old.
After the war, the remains of T/Sgt. Ernest G. Walsh were returned to Janesville. On Saturday, July 30, 1949, he was buried at Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery in Janesville. Lloyd Ricter and Lester Buggs, of A Company, served as two of his pallbearers.
Today, T/Sgt. Ernest G. Walsh lies next to his brother, Stanley, who also died while a Japanese Prisoner of War.
After the war, the Walsh family had this headstone made. It stands behind the two military headstones that lie at the head of each son's grave.