2nd Lt. Leroy Arnold Scoville
Lt. Leroy A. Scoville was born in Evansville, Wisconsin, on
November 30, 1915. He was the son of Alvie J. Scoville &
Verena M. Huset-Scoville and
grew up at 464 South Madison Street. As a child, he attended
school in Evansville and was a 1933 graduate of Evansville High
was known as "Scoops" to his friends. After high school,
he worked as a salesman in a store.
Leroy joined the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Tank Company headquartered in an armory in Janesville, Wisconsin on September 23, 1940. On November 28, 1940, the tank company was called to federal service. When he arrived at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Leroy held the rank of private.
Joining three other National Guard tank companies, the 32nd Tank Company of the Wisconsin National Guard became A Company of the 192nd Tank Battalion when the battalion was formed at Fort Knox, Kentucky in November, 1940. During this ten months of training, Leroy rose to the rank of sergeant.
In the late summer of 1941, the192nd Tank Battalion went on maneuvers in Louisiana. After the maneuvers the battalion gathered on a side of a hill for a meeting. At this meeting, Leroy and the other members of the battalion learned that they were being sent overseas. Those considered to be "too old" were given the chance to resign from active duty.
The battalion traveled by train in San Francisco and then took a ferry to Angel Island. There they received the necessary inoculations for duty in the Philippine Islands.
Sailing from San Francisco, the ship Leroy was on stopped for layovers in Hawaii and Guam. From there, the ship sailed for Manila. It was during this time, that Leroy was commissioned as a second lieutenant.
Leroy arrived with the 192nd at Manila and was boarded onto a truck. The members of the battalion were rushed to Clark Field and assigned to tents since their barracks had not been finished. It was also at this time that Leroy was promoted to sergeant. Later, he was commissioned a second lieutenant.
For the next two weeks, the tankers readied their equipment for the expected training they were suppose to receive. This training never took place.
On December 8, 1941, Leroy lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field. Having heard the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor, just hours earlier, the tanks had been ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers.
During the next four months, Leroy and the other members of A Company fought to slow the Japanese advance. Doing this meant that A Company often found itself as the rear guard of the retreating Filipino and American forces. It was during the Battle for Bataan that Leroy wrote this letter to his parents:
Dear Mom and Dad and all,
How is everything back in America's fairyland, I mean dairy-land? I'll bet you had begun to think for sure that I had forgotten all about you. The truth of the matter is that we had been just a little bit too busy taking care of these little yellow devils from across the ocean.
I figure that before this thing is over though they will begin to think they have more than just a little bit to take care of. We have already taken care of a lot of them and with the Philippines really begin to click and now the ... we need, I believe we can blow the whistle most anytime and we will start a touchdown march that will make the Japs look like termites in reverse.
I have quite a bit of film and have taken a few pictures of our fellows and the scenery around; just the nicer things, because there are really a lot of nice things to see around here; the mountains the sun shining on them, the moonlight and ocean all go together to make up some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever scene.
I have written you on several occasions and I certainly hope you have received the letters so you will not be too much concerned or worried for my safety. They have sent in a request for my promotion to Second Lt., but it has not come through.
We have been eating and living pretty well. Food is limited but we have enough to keep us going fairly well. Cigarettes are scarce as heck but we even get few of those occasionally. We have seen a lot of action and have been in a lot of close situations but God has smiled favorably in our direction because we're still a-kicking. I thank him often for the grace that has accompanied me in this whole life.
I am in the rear echelon right now but am in reserve capacity to assist in any operation were I might be needed. Herb Durner is with me. I have seen Robert Hubbard a few times. He has been bothered with some kind of infection on his hands and arms but seems to be getting along quite well. Each day we hope for assistance from the states and have complete faith that it will soon come.
Is everyone well? I wish I could hear from you, a letter or wire or anything. Do you still have my car? I hope so. If not though it is O.K. That is not very important to me now. I pray for your good health and for faith to carry us through the experience. Some day we shall be together again and that will be an experience to be thankful for.
There is not a great deal to say or attempt to say except that we are still well. We live in the woods and have learned the numerous ways of preparing beds and all types of things for protection. Have faith. Pray for me as I pray for you and I know that he will take care of us. Should be time to eat soon. I have made an allotment to the bank. If you should need the money I want you to feel welcome to use it in any way.
Please write and tell me about all the folks, those at the store, and our relatives and friends. I presume mail is very difficult to get through. Anyway, Bye now and God bless you all.
In another letter he wrote:
January 19, 1942
Dear Mom and Dad and all;
Things have been really popping this past month and that is for sure. We have been all over this darned island scrapping with these cussed little Japs. I presume you are more than worried about me even as I am considerably concerned about your welfare and health and all. So far I have been fortunate. I have placed my complete faith in God and I know in my heart that nothing on this earth can guarantee me safety.
I have read my New Testament constantly and have found some wonderful promises there and some wonderful examples of other people before me that have had to endure as difficult time as we are now experiencing and God helped them. I am not positive, but I think I have seen a few signs that must have been from Him and I know He must be with me because I am never as worried in a situation now as I was when the war first started.
It would be useless and foolish to try to tell you here of our experiences as we will be censored so we will dwell upon the nicer things as connected with this business.
Naturally there has been a great deal of destruction and we have been greatly out numbered. Nevertheless, we have received many compliments from the higher authority upon our work and I know with some white troops to assist assist and work with the Philipinos we will be able to rid this Island of the pests from Japan. We are in a rest-camp now and it is a much appreciated rest. We have plenty to eat, a good place to bathe and are now getting plenty of sleep. We have been very fortunate this far. We had ___ ___ ___ and there have been a few injuries. No deaths in our company as yet - among the enlisted men, with one possible exception which we are not sure of. Our greatest loss which you probably know about was the death of Captain Walter Write. He was most important to us and I am sure that his presence throughout the past month would have given us an entirely different picture of this campaign. We also lost a fine ___ ___ ___. But rumor is he was picked up by medics and now has been evacuated to Australia. God willing I hope this is true for he was a wonderful individual. I cabled you shortly after the war began! I hope you received it.
Hubbard, Durner, Ken Hatlevig and Kubly are well. Trebs was in the hospital for a while with some shrapnel in his leg but should be out by now.
The Jap planes are pretty active today but I expect they will hum a different tune when the U. S. starts marching the other way.
I always wonder if God would make me undergo some great trial for my sins and determining my worth to his Kingdom. I hope and pray with all my heart he shall not find me lacking in any respect. I read the 23rd Psalm, the 91st Psalm a lot and also the 14th chapter of John. I have found so many comforting things there and am really beginning to find out how little I knew about some of the things in my Testament.
I sincerely hope this finds you all well. This is a big job of course but at a time like this no one must shirk responsibility and every one must do their best to get this thing over with and help make this a pleasant world.
May God bless you all and keep you constantly under His care. Some day, some where we will be together again and may God bless the day and grant that wherever it may be that it shall be to His glory. With all my love and best wishes forever.
Your Loving Son
Sometime during the Battle of Bataan, Leroy met with the commanding officer of A Company and received a battlefield commission as a second lieutenant. With the commission, came a transfer to C Company. He would remain with C Company until the surrender.
Leroy suffered from sores that covered his hands and arms. It was believed this illness was a result of the poor diet that the defenders of Bataan had.
On April 9, 1942, the word came down that the defenders of Bataan were being surrendered. It was on this day that Leroy became a POW. He took part in the death march and was held as a POW at Camp O'Donnell.
It was while a POW at Camp O'Donnell that Leroy was credited with saving the life of Sgt. Lewis Wallisch. Wallisch was in the camp hospital. Knowing that if Wallisch stayed in the hospital he would most likely die, Leroy convinced Wallisch to go out on a work detail with him. So the Japanese would think Wallisch was healthy enough to work, Leroy helped him walk out of the camp.
On the work detail, Leroy and the other POWs recovered disabled vehicles as scrap metal. Since the cars and trucks did not run, the POWs would tie them together with rope and tow them behind an operational vehicle. Each man, would steer one of the vehicles that was tied together by rope.
When the scrap metal detail ended, Leroy was sent to Cabanatuan #1. This camp was opened to replace Camp O'Donnell. He remained in the camp for ten days before being sent to Cabanatuan #3. On October 28, 1942, he was returned to Cabanatuan #1 and spent another two and one half years there. At this time, Leroy contracted malaria.
Leroy was placed in charge of an enlisted men's barracks at the camp. From what is known, he was well liked by the men. He was known to always have a smile on his face. His men knew that they heard him singing, he was in a good mood.
During this time, Leroy worked in the camp kitchen. This was a desirable job since the POWs doing it got extra food. Leroy's job was to collect wood to be used for cooking.
It was also while he was held as a POW at Cabanatuan that Scoops and Jacques Merrifield of B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, became good friends. The two men became bunkmates. What this meant is that they would keep watch over each others possessions while the other man worked.
With two other officers from the battalion, Leroy and Merrifield grew vegetables to supplement their regular meals. To do this the men scrounged plant seeds from wherever they could get them. The extra food helped Leroy to maintain his health.
On September 25, 1944, Leroy and his friend, Jac Merrifield, were sent to Bilibid Prison. The prison served as the clearinghouse for prisoners being sent to Japan or other occupied countries. During their time at Bilibid, Leroy, Harvey Riedeman and Jacques Merrifield would get together and talk. In the evening after roll call, their favorite place to get together was on top of an air raid shelter. Two or times during the evening Japanese guards would chase them away. After the guards left, the three men would get back together.
After passing his physical, Scoville was sent to the docks of Manila and boarded onto the Oryoku Maru with Merrifield. After the ship had sailed, it came under attack from American planes. The ship was run aground while American planes bombed and strafed the ship eight different times. During the last attack, the pilots noticed the large number of men leaving the ship that they realized the ship was carrying POWs. They immediately stopped the attack. They realized that they had been bombing a POW ship.
Leroy and the other prisoners swam to shore near the town of Olongowa on Luzon. There they were divided between the healthy and injured. The injured or those who said they could not go on were taken into the hills and never seen again. Leroy spent the next five days on the tennis courts of an old country club.
On December 20, 1944, Leroy and the other healthy prisoners were taken to Pampauga. They remained there until the 20th of December when they were taken by train to San Fernando La Union of the Lingayen Gulf and boarded onto another "Hell Ship" the Enoura Maru. The POWs spent Christmas Day in an old school house. Their Christmas dinner was a little rice and a half of canteen of water.
The Enoura Maru made the journey to Formosa safely arriving on January 1, 1945. On January 6, 1945, the coal in the forward hold emptied and 500 POWs were put into the hold. Leroy was one of these men.
As the ship sat docked in the harbor, it also came under attack by American planes on January 9, 1945. During the attack, a bomb exploded in the hold that Leroy and Merrifield were in on the ship. Merrifield was on the other end of the hold and was not wounded, but Leroy was.
Leroy's right leg and foot were torn to pieces by the bomb. He was cared for by medics, but since they had almost no medical supplies, there was not much they could do for him. With the other surviving POWs, Leroy was placed on a third "Hell Ship" the Brazil Maru.
It was on this ship that 2nd Lt. Leroy A. Scoville died of his wounds the morning of January 24, 1945. Before he died, he asked Robert Boehm of A Company to give his parents his last possession. He had lost everything else in the sinking of the Oryoku Maru. According to lt. Jacques Merrifield LeRoy Scoville died at sea, and his remains were thrown overboard.
Since LeRoy's final resting place is unknown, the name of 2nd Lt. Leroy A. Scoville appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.