Harrodsburg Tankers

About the Harrodsburg Tankers

Harrodsburg Tanker Bataan Memorial Day Logo
Harrodsburg Tanker Bataan Memorial Day Logo

The Harrodsburg Tankers, then known as the 38th Tank Company, were a Kentucky Army National Guard unit stationed in Harrodsburg who were called to active duty prior to World War II. When they entered federal active duty, they were redesignated as Company D, 192nd Light Tank Battalion. On Thanksgiving Day, 20 November 1941, they landed in the Philippines. On 7 December 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and only hours later they began an attack on the Philippines. The Harrodsburg Tankers, along with the allied forces, fought the Japanese valiantly without reinforcements or resupply until ordered to surrender in April 1942. Those who could not escape to Corregidor were in the infamous "Bataan Death March". They were all eventually taken prisoner of war. Only 37 of the original 66 Kentucky Guard Members from Harrodsburg survived Japanese captivity.

 

History of Harrodsburg Guard Unit Before World War II

SGT Herman Taylor applies a coat of paint to the historic tank displayed prominently in Harrodsburg. The tank memorializes 66 former Kentucky Guardsmen. From DMA Annual Report 1982 P 19 Courtesy John Trowbridge.
SGT Herman Taylor applies a coat of paint to the historic tank displayed prominently in Harrodsburg. The tank memorializes 66 former Kentucky Guardsmen. From DMA Annual Report 1982 P 19 Courtesy John Trowbridge.

From the Kentucky National Guard Yearbook of 1938

The Thirty-eighth Tank Company is the successor of Company "D," Kentucky State Guard, which was organized at Covington for State duty in the absence of the regular unit on Federal service in France during the World War (1).

The unit was called on for active field service at various times during that period, notably at Lexington, Kentucky, during a riot in February, 1920, in which six persons were killed and twenty injured. In March, 1921, this unit was converted to the new Thirty-eighth Tank Company and was extended Federal recognition under date of March 29, 1921, under the command of Capt. Louis V. Crockett. This unit was called upon repeatedly for active field service in the Eastern Kentucky mine fields and other service in the state until its disbandment in March, 1932.

The 38th Tank Company was reorganized at Harrodsburg, Kentucky, in June, 1932, and was extended Federal recognition under the date of July 5, 1932. Its officers were Capt. Bacon R. Moore, First Lieut. George W. Biggerstaff, First Lieut. Truman Mayes, Second Lieut. Charles D. Clarkson and Second Lieut. Davis H. Gritton, all of whom had seen service in the World War (1).

Each year the Company has passed Federal Inspection with satisfactory rating and has attended field training at Fort Knox. In 1936 it was engaged in the Second Army Maneuvers.

On January 22, 1937, Captain Moore, Lieutenant Gritton, Lieutenant Rue, and thirty-five enlisted men were called for prison riot and flood duty at Frankfort. Lieutenant Gritton as Mess Officer prepared food for 3,000 people; Lieutenant Rue was detailed to the Capitol for ten days; and eighteen of the men were on trucks four days moving convicts to other prisons. From February 1 to February 8 Captain Moore, with seventy-five men, maintained quarantine guard running from Louisville up River Road behind the city to the Dixie Highway. Fourteen men stayed on prison guard duty until June.

The Tank Company has two M 2 T 2 tanks (twin turrets also known as Mae West). Captain Moore completed the Tank School course at Fort Benning, Georgia, on June 17, 1933, and Staff Sgt. Parsons completed the Tank Course at Fort Benning in the fall of 1936. In May, 1938, Lieutenant Biggerstaff was promoted to Captain and assigned to duty on the State Staff.

Lieutenant Gritton was promoted to First Lieutenant and Pvt. George A. Van Arsdall was promoted to Second Lieutenant.

 

Tank Memorial in Harrodsburg

Harrodsburg, Kentucky Tank Memorial
Harrodsburg, Kentucky Tank Memorial

Provisio East High School Bataan Commemorative Research Project

We wish to express our thanks to Jim Opolony, Coordinator of the Proviso East Bataan Commemorative Project. Opolony is a teacher at Proviso East High School in Maywood, Illinois and he along with two other teachers started the Provisio East High School Bataan Commemorative Research Project website during the 1999 -2000 school year.

The website, still an ongoing project, has become one of the most respected resources available about the men of Harrodsburg and all those who served in the 192nd Tank Battalion.

Click here to visit Provisio East High School Bataan Commemorative Research Project

 

Honoring the Harrodsburg Tankers

Honoring the Service and Memory of the Guardsmen of Harrodsburg, Mercer County and Central Kentucky.

View 66th Anniversary Commemorative Booklet about the Harrodsburg Tankers - Company D, 192nd Tank Battalion.

Department of the Army Poster No. 21-43, 1952, by Stanley Dersh.
Department of the Army Poster No. 21-43, 1952, by Stanley Dersh.

Toul Pocket, Philippine Islands, 15 February 1942

The Japanese had penetrated deep into the battle –worn Filipino-American Army on Bataan and General Wainwright ordered a counter attack to beat them back. The 192nd Tank Battalion, National Guardsmen from several states, the 45th Infantry (Philippine Scouts), and men of the Philippine Army, storming through the dense jungle, wiped out the enemy pockets. They traded their blood and courage for two more vital months on Bataan. For this gallantry, despite great odds and a hopeless situation, the outfits engaged received the Distinguished Unit Citation.

Department of the Army Poster No. 21-43
No. 7 History of the United States Army
U. S. Government Printing Office: 1952
Printing by Stanley Dersh
This poster is no longer in use by the Army.