Devine, Ben (P2, C2, L13)
Sergeant Ben “Bud” Devine Jr., 24, of Mercer County, Kentucky, died of dysentery on 19 May 1942 at Camp O'Donnell, Philippines as a prisoner of war while on federal active duty.
Ben was born in Funks Grove, McLean County, Illinois which is south west of Bloomington, Illinois. It is not known when his family returned to Mercer County. He first enlisted in the Kentucky National Guard on 6 April 1936. He served until 3 October 1936 and was discharged due to moving out of state. He listed his civilian occupation as a farmer. Devine reenlisted in the Kentucky Guard on 15 Feb 1937 and served until he was discharged on 9 Dec 1938. He reenlisted again on 4 August 1939.
His middle initial likely was H though some websites show him as R. The Find a grave website lists his father as Benjamin Harrison Devine and his mother as Effie Belle Baker Devine though he is not listed as a child of either on the website.
The 38th Tank Company was the first Kentucky unit ordered to active duty in Kentucky on 25 November 1940 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.
Devine 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. Not very long after arriving in the camp, Ben became ill with dysentery and malaria. At some point, Devine was put in the camp hospital. Devine was buried in the camp cemetery. According to records kept at the camp, Sgt. Ben R. Devine Jr, died on Tuesday, May 19, 1942, from scurvy and malaria. He was buried in Section G, Row 8, Grave 5, of the camp cemetery.
After the war, the U.S. Remains Recovery Team positively identified the remains of SGT Ben R. Devine Jr. He was reburied, at the request of his family, at the American Military Cemetery at Manila in Plot D, Row 2, Grave 257..
BELOW: SGT Ben Devine, Harrodsburg, tank fell through bridge in Louisiana during maneuvers in 1941 Maurice E Wilson Collection. NOTE: Devine standing on highest point of tank.
BELOW: KENTUCKIAN LEADS IN FIRST TANK BATTLE -- A Kentuckian, First Lieut. W. H. Gentry, Harrodsburg, upper left, led Americans in the first tank battle in U. S. history, a victorious battle over Japanese tanks on Bataan Peninsula. This picture was taken less than two years ago when Lieutenant Gentry, then a staff sergeant, was in training with his National Guard company at Fort Knox. Others in the picture are Capt. Bacon R. Moore, upper right; Pvt. Ben Devine, lower left in tank, and Sergt. Yandell Terhune, lower right.
SEE Also: Bataan Commemorative Research Project Website
Sgt. Ben R. Devine Jr. was born in 1919 in Funks Grove, Illinois, to Ben Devine Sr. and Effie Devine. He was known as “Bud” to his family and friends. It is known he had six sisters and one brother. He was known as “Bud” to his family and friends. He left school after eighth grade and worked on the family farm on Route 1 in rural Mercer County.
Ben joined the Kentucky National Guard tank company, in Harrodsburg, which met above a store in the town. In September 1940, the company was federalized and designated D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. After the notification, recruits were sought to fill out the company's roster, before the company left for Fort Knox, Kentucky.