French, Edward T. (P2, C2, L22)
Sergeant Edward Theodore French, 24, of Harrodsburg, Mercer County joined the Harrodsburg National Guard unit on 1 November 1937. His brother Morgan also joined sometime before they were activated in November 1940. Edward French had been promoted to Corporal by in October 1940. He had been born in nearby Perryville, Boyle County. It is not known when they moved to Mercer County. He listed his civilian occupation on his first enlistment as farmer.
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.
At some point during the fighting Bataan he was injured by shrapnel from Japanese bombing. It is not known when or where his injury took place. He was recuperating in the in the 2nd General Field Hospital on Bataan recuperating at the time of the surrender. In an attempt to prevent the American guns on Corregidor and Fort Drum from firing on their artillery, the Japanese placed their guns among the buildings of the hospital where French was staying. An artillery shell fired from Fort Drum fell short and hit the hospital, Edward, along with 24 other soldiers, were killed on 22 April 1942.
He was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries received during combat. French is buried in the Manila American Cemetery Plot L Row 4 Grave 90.
Edward's brother Morgan survived the war returning to Kentucky. Morgan passed away in 2013, the oldest surviving Harrodsburg Tanker. The living quarters for soldiers at the the Fort Knox Warrior Transition Battalion was named in honor of Master Sergeant Morgan French in October 2012. The facility was inactivated in 2016.
See Also: https://bataanproject.com/provisional-tank-group/french-sgt-morgan-r/
Map courtesy: Center Of Military History Publication 10-24-1 “Medical Service in the War against Japan” by Mary Ellen Condon-Rall and Albert E. Cowdrey; 1998
SEE Also: Bataan Commemorative Research Project Website Edward French Bio
Sgt. Edward Theodore French was the son of Clifton French & Mary Alice Smith-French. He was born in Boyle County, Kentucky on August 16, 1917. Like his father, Edward was a farmer outside Harrodsburg before the war. He was the brother of Sgt. Morgan French.
On November 25, 1940, the tank company was called to federal service as D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. The company boarded 10 trucks in Harrodsburg on November 28th and its tanks were loaded onto a flatcar and taken by train to Ft. Knox. The company left Harrodsburg at 12:30 P.M. arriving about four hours later at 4:30 P.M.