Denny, Wallace (P2, C2, L12)
Staff Sergeant Wallace Denny, 23, of Mercer County, Kentucky, died of diphtheria and malaria in the early morning hours of 22 July 1942 at Camp Cabanatuan #1 in the Philippines as a prisoner of war while serving on federal active duty.
Denny, born in South Carolina, enlisted in Harrodsburg's 38th Tank Company on 18 Jan 1937 while he was still in high school. He reenlisted on 18 January 1940 at the rank of corporal and listed his occupation as farming and by this time was married to Alma in April 1939 and reported his occupation as farmer. The 38th Tank Company was the first Kentucky unit ordered to active duty in Kentucky on 25 November 1940 and Denny went on to active duty as a Sergeant. The unit and was redesignated as Company D, 192nd Light Tank Battalion at Fort Knox.
Moving under secret orders, Company D arrived in the Philippines by Thanksgiving Day, 1941. War came to them when the Japanese attacked Clark Field just a few hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Harrodsburg Tankers along with the allied forces fought the Japanese valiantly without reinforcements or resupply until they were ordered to surrender in April 1942. They had delayed the Japanese Army's timetable from 50 days to four months, giving the allies vital time to protect Australia and recover from the attack on Pearl Harbor.
On January 7, Wallace volunteered to take the point a lead a patrol into the Barrio of Batangas. After entering Batangas, he killed two Japanese soldiers with his pistol. Lt. Col. Ernest Miller believed that Denny should have received the Silver Star for service beyond his duties. His name was submitted for the medal, but General James Weaver denied the medal. According to 1st Lt. William Gentry, Wallace received a battlefield commission to second lieutenant, but there is no documentation to confirm this.
Denny was taken prisoner on 9 April 1942 and trucked to Mariveles where he began the 90 mile Death March eventually ending up at Camp O’Donnell and was later held at Cabanatuan #1.
After arriving in the camp, it was reported by the camp medical staff that Wallace was admitted to the camp hospital on June 9, 1942, suffering from diphtheria. It appears that Wallace was never released from the hospital because records kept by the camp medical staff show that he died of diphtheria and malaria on Wednesday, July 22, 1942, at approximately 4:00 A.M. He was buried in the camp cemetery. One of the POWs present at his burial was Lt. William Gentry..
After the war, the U.S. Remains Recovery Team positively identified SSG Wallace Denny and his remains were reburied at the Manila American Cemetery, Philippines Plot L Row 2 Grave 96.
SEE Also: Bataan Commemorative Research Project Website
S/Sgt. Wallace Denny was born on August 29, 1918, in Mercer County, Kentucky. He left high school after his third year and worked as a farmer. He was married to Mary Ann Best, a school teacher, and was working on his grandmother's farm. On April 1, 1939, he joined the Kentucky National Guard to earn a little extra money.
In September 1940, Wallace’s tank company received orders that it was being federalized as D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. During this time, the members of the company attempted to recruit new members to bring the company up to strength.