Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with James L. Leggett, Jr., March 24, 1981

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:06 - Entry into the U.S. Army

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Partial Transcript: The following is an unrehearsed interview with James Leggett, Jr. for the Alumni/Faculty Oral History Project.

Segment Synopsis: James Leggett, Jr. is introduced. He talks about joining the ROTC during college, 1933-1937. He talks about earning his commission in 1938, joining the Corps of Engineers, and his interest in aviation which led to his joining the 803rd Engineers Battalion.

Keywords: 2nd Lieutenant; 803rd Engineer Aviation Battalion (United States); Active duty; Army Corps of Engineers; Army ROTC; Aviation; College; Commissions; Compulsory; Engineers; Fort Belvoir (Va.); Infantry; Orders; Training; University of Kentucky; Westover Air Reserve Base; Westover Field

Subjects: United States. Army; United States. Army--Reserves; United States. Army. Reserve Officers' Training Corps

GPS: Westover Air Reserve Base (Mass.)
Map Coordinates: 42.193889, -72.534722
00:05:00 - Shipping out

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Partial Transcript: The, uh--when--uh, how, how long was it that, that you went into active service before you got orders to go to the tropics?

Segment Synopsis: Leggett talks about being on active duty, and his battalion's training for a cold climate assignment. They were instead given orders to go to the Philippines. He describes his battalion's shipping out process, and tells a story about attempting to teach his wife how to drive before he left.

Keywords: Active duty; Active service; Angel Island (Calif.); Arctic; Aviation engineers; Battalions; Build up; Changing tires; Commanding officer (C.O.); Driving; Equipment; European theater; Married; Officers; Orders; Permanent commissions; San Francisco (Calif.); Sealed orders; Training; Troop trains; Tropics; Wife; Winter gear

Subjects: United States. Army; United States. Army--Military life; World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Philippines

GPS: Angel Island (California)
Map Coordinates: 37.86, -122.43
00:12:15 - Reactions to being sent to the Philippines

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Partial Transcript: What was your reaction when you found out you were going to the Philippines?

Segment Synopsis: Leggett talks about how he and his battalion felt about being sent to the Philippines after training for a colder climate. He talks about the ship that transported them to the Philippines via Honolulu and Guam, and talks about how he spent his shore leave.

Keywords: Awareness; Blackout conditions; Bunks; Clark Air Base, Luzon Island (Philippines); Clark Field; Guam; Honolulu (Hawaii); Impressions; Japan; Manila (Philippines); Officers; Pacific luxury passenger liner; Raw materials; Reactions; Ships; Shore leave; Swimming; USS General T. H. Bliss

Subjects: Clark Air Base (Philippines); United States. Army; United States. Army--Military life; World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Philippines

GPS: Manila (Philippines)
Map Coordinates: 14.58, 121
00:17:56 - Life at Clark Field, Philippines

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Partial Transcript: Um, what are your recollections of, of Clark Field?

Segment Synopsis: Leggett talks about the personnel who worked at Clark Field while he was stationed there. He talks about the types of recreation available.

Keywords: Alert; Attacks; Bands; Clark Air Base; Clark Air Base, Luzon Island (Philippines); Country clubs; Del Carmen; Families; Filipinos; Manila (Philippines); Military installations; Nurses; Off base; Personnel; Social life; Weekend passes; Women

Subjects: Clark Air Base (Philippines); United States. Army; United States. Army--Military life; World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Philippines; World War, 1939-1945--Women

GPS: Clark Air Base, Luzon Island (Philippines)
Map Coordinates: 15.185833, 120.559722
00:22:45 - Aviation engineers' mission

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Partial Transcript: Um, you mentioned before we started taping that your battalion was--the companies were divided in different locations.

Segment Synopsis: Leggett talks about his battalion's mission as aviation engineers to construct and maintain airfields. He talks about how his battalion was divided in the area.

Keywords: Airfields; Assistant adjutant; Aviation engineers; Battalions; Clark Air Base, Luzon Island (Philippines); Companies; Construction; Division; Missions; Officers; Runways; Southern Islands; Units

Subjects: Clark Air Base (Philippines); Engineering; United States. Army; United States. Army--Military life; World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Philippines

GPS: Clark Air Base, Luzon Island (Philippines)
Map Coordinates: 15.185833, 120.559722
00:26:22 - Attacks on Pearl Harbor and Clark Field

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Partial Transcript: Um, that last week or ten days when you were under, uh, constant alert, um, were you, were you any more apprehensive at that time?

Segment Synopsis: Leggett talks about whether he was apprehensive while being on alert, and talks about how he heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He talks about the attack he experienced personally at Clark Field approximately nine hours later.

Keywords: Airplanes; Alert; Apprehensive; Attacks; Bombs; Clark Air Base, Luzon Island (Philippines); Foxholes; Ignorance; Injuries; Objectives; Orders; Patrol; Radio; Reserve officers; Squadrons; Stotsenburg (Philippines); War; Worry

Subjects: Clark Air Base (Philippines); Pearl Harbor (Hawaii), Attack on, 1941; United States. Army; United States. Army--Military life; World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Philippines

GPS: Clark Air Base, Luzon Island (Philippines)
Map Coordinates: 15.185833, 120.559722
00:33:39 - Missions to destroy ammunition and gasoline dumps

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Partial Transcript: Um, what did the, you know, what did the place look like that, that day after?

Segment Synopsis: Leggett talks about the missions he led to destroy enemy gasoline and ammo dumps and his decision to assist another battalion in salvaging the ammunition.

Keywords: Ammo dumps; Ammunition dumps; Battalions; Camp O'Donnell; Clutch pedals; Commanding officer (C.O.); Damage; Day after; Gasoline dumps; Missions; Quarters; Squads; Villages

Subjects: Clark Air Base (Philippines); United States. Army; United States. Army--Military life; World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Philippines; World War, 1939-1945--Fuel supplies

GPS: Camp O'Donnell
Map Coordinates: 15.3759, 120.5119
00:40:25 - Changes to their mission after the attack on Clark Field

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Partial Transcript: Your mission must have really changed drastically.

Segment Synopsis: Leggett talks about how their mission as aviation engineers changed after the attack on Clark Field. He talks about the various fields and runways they maintained, and discusses one Major's argument for storing planes further from one another so that they would be more difficult for the enemy to destroy.

Keywords: A Company; Activities; Air power; Airfields; Airplanes; Arguments; Attacks; B Company; Bataan (Philippines); Biplanes; C Company; Changes; Command; Communication; Construction; Couriers; Equipment; Headquarters Company; Maintenance; Missions; P40s; Philippine Air Force; Runways; Southern Islands; Strategy; Supremacy

Subjects: Clark Air Base (Philippines); United States. Army; United States. Army--Military life; World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Philippines

GPS: Clark Air Base, Luzon Island (Philippines)
Map Coordinates: 15.185833, 120.559722
00:46:46 - Movement after the Japanese landed at Lingayen Gulf

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Partial Transcript: Where did you go after Clark Field?

Segment Synopsis: Leggett talks about where his battalion moved not long after the attack on Clark Field. He talks about driving under blackout conditions and the hallucinations he experienced. He talks about the process of moving their troops to the Bataan Peninsula.

Keywords: Attacks; Bataan Peninsula; Battalions; Blackout conditions; Bren Gun Carrier; Camp O'Donnell; Christmas; Clark Field; Cook crew; Driving; Hallucinations; Japanese; Landing; Lingayen Gulf; Maps; Missions; Motorcycles; P40s; Rivers; Villages; War; Withdrawal process

Subjects: Bataan (Philippines : Province); Clark Air Base (Philippines); United States. Army; United States. Army--Military life; World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Philippines

GPS: Bataan (Philippines : Province)
Map Coordinates: 14.67, 120.42
00:56:01 - Mission while on the Bataan Peninsula

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Partial Transcript: At this time, what were your feelings as far as how the war was going and, and, um, you know, what was, what was going to be happening?

Segment Synopsis: Leggett talks about their hopes for the war shortly after their move to the Bataan Peninsula. He talks about where they were stationed, and their mission of maintaining roads and bridges in the area. He describes a typical day. He talks about his concerns regarding enemy attacks, and talks about the losses that B Company took during an attack.

Keywords: A Company; Adjutants; Air raids; Airfields; B Company; Barrios; Battalion headquarters; Blackout conditions; Bombs; Bridges; Casualties; Changes; Concerns; Crews; Driving; Feelings; Filipinos; General Douglas MacArthur; Grenades; Help; Hopes; Incendiaries; Japanese; Jobs; Landed; Landings; Liaisons; Locations; Losses; Maintenance; Manila Bay; Maps; Missions; Moon; North; Pressure; Realizations; Record-keeping; Relief; Roads; Surrendered; Terrain; Typical day; Villages; Waiting; War; Wounded

Subjects: Bataan (Philippines : Province); United States. Army; United States. Army--Military life; World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Philippines

GPS: Bataan (Philippines : Province)
Map Coordinates: 14.67, 120.42
01:09:47 - Rations

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Partial Transcript: Between January and March, as I understand it, there's sort of a lull in the fighting.

Segment Synopsis: Leggett talks about the reduced rations his battalion was put on after moving to the Bataan Peninsula. He talks about supplementing their rations with monkeys and other animals, and tells a story about a Major finding out what they were eating.

Keywords: Animals; Commanding officer (C.O.); Food; Half rations; Lack; Lulls; Meat; Mess officers; Monkeys; Quantity; Rice

Subjects: Bataan (Philippines : Province); United States. Army; United States. Army--Military life; World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Philippines; World War, 1939-1945--Food supply--United States

GPS: Bataan (Philippines : Province)
Map Coordinates: 14.67, 120.42
01:16:10 - Japanese propaganda / morale after MacArthur left the Pacific

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Partial Transcript: Um, I also read that the Japanese dropped a lot of propaganda leaflets.

Segment Synopsis: Leggett talks about the types of propaganda leaflets he witnessed that had been dropped by the Japanese. He talks about the morale on the peninsula due to malaria and MacArthur leaving the Pacific theater. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Amateur; Distribution; Duty; Entertaining; Equitable; Front line troops; General Douglas MacArthur; Japanese; Leaflets; Malaria; Morale; Prisons; Shot; Sickness; Supplies; Tacticians; Wainwright

Subjects: Bataan (Philippines : Province); United States. Army; United States. Army--Military life; World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Philippines; World War, 1939-1945--Propaganda

GPS: Bataan (Philippines : Province)
Map Coordinates: 14.67, 120.42