Martin A. Cahill (1944/10/24)

An American torpedo sank Marty Cahill.

Martin A. Cahill was born on February 24, 1918, in San Francisco, California, to William and Lena Cahill. His family also included his brothers Anthony and William and his sisters Constance and Mrs. R. Lozier. Martin Cahill attended schools in San Francisco until September 1935, when he enrolled in Santa Cruz High School. After leaving school in 1936, he worked as a commercial vehicle driver.

Martin enlisted in the California National Guard at Salinas on December 6, 1938. He remained active in the guard and was inducted into the US Army on January 29, 1941. In February, his unit was re-designated as C Company, 194th Tank Battalion and was ordered to Fort Lewis, Washington. Martin trained as a cook during the company's seven-month stay at Ft. Lewis. In September the 194th Tank Battalion was transported to the Philippine Islands aboard the SS President Cleveland and reached Manila on September 27, 1941.

When the Japanese invaded the Philippines on December 22, Martin's tank company assisted in the defense of Manila. During the next four months, he drove a truck transporting supplies to his unit. Following the surrender of US forces on April 9, 1942, Cahill took part in the Bataan Death March and was confined to the Japanese Prison camp at Cabanatuan, where he remained until the fall of 1944.

In October 1944, Cahill and other prisoners were placed aboard a Japanese vessel bound for Manchuria. A letter from the War Department to his parents in 1945 describes the final episode in the life of Private First Class Martin A. Cahill.

“The information available to the war department is that the vessel sailed from Manila on October 11, 1944, with 1775 prisoners of war aboard. On October 24 the vessel was sunk by submarine action in the South China Sea over 200 miles from the Chinese coast, which was the nearest land. Five of the prisoners escaped in a small boat and reached the coast. Four others have been reported as picked up by the Japanese by whom all others aboard are reported lost. Absence of detailed information as to what happened to other individual prisoners and the known circumstances of the incident lead to a conclusion that all other prisoners listed by the Japanese as aboard the vessel perished.”

The body of Martin Cahill was never recovered; he was memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. His awards include the Purple Heart.

(ABMC; NARA2; SCHSC Pg. 7; SCSn October 26, 1945; (194th Tank Battalion Company C http://www.proviso.w-cook.k12.; http://www.proviso.k12.

Creator: Nelson, Robert L.
Source: Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010.
Date: Undated
Type: OBIT
Coverage: 1940s
Rights: Reproduced by permission of Robert L. Nelson and The Museum of Art and History.
Identifier: RO-CAHILL


Nelson, Robert L. “Martin A. Cahill (1944/10/24).” Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010. SCPL Local History. Accessed 26 Jan. 2023.