First Sergeant William Preston Cass

World War II

US Army Air Forces
440th Ordnance Company (Aviation)
Service Number: 0654432
Inducted: May 30, 1940
Captured - April 10, 1942, Philippines
Killed - September 7, 1944 when a Japanese ship transporting 750 POWs was sunk.
Memorial Tablet Manila American Cemetery, Philippines

Purple Heart

Son of Mrs. Erma Cass Davis of Akron.

Manila American Cemetery
Tablets of the Missing and Buried at Sea
Memorial Tablet - Cass, William P.
ABMC Photograph

Akron News-Reporter September 23, 1943

Sgt. Bill Cass is Prisoner of War in Japanese Camp
Word received Sunday of This Week After Sixteen Months.

After being listed as "missing in action" for more than 16 months, Sgt. William P. (Bill) Cass, son of Mrs. Tom Davis of Akron, has been heard from by his mother.

Sunday morning of this week, Mrs. Davis received two cards from her son, who, the correspondence informed her, is being held in Japanese Philippine Prison Camp No. 2.

Both cards were of the form correspondence variety, on which several statements are printed and all but the desired one is crossed out by the writer. On one of these cards, in respect to his health, Bill had underlined the word "good," and below that "Health Excellent" had been typewritten in. The cards also informed Mrs. Davis that her son was "Not under treatment." Also typewritten in at the bottom of one of the cards were the words, "Hope to see you soon." The other card bore a typewritten inquiry about his life insurance, which he had taken out before enlisting in the service.

Bill requested his mother to write him through the Red Cross, and a message was dispatched on Monday of this week through that organization. Considerable Japanese printing appeared on both cards and in an effort to learn if these characters had any significance, the cards were taken to Denver by Mrs. Anna Middlebrook to be translated.

Both cards were signed in Bill's handwriting, which was unmistakable, according to Mrs. Davis.

Bill joined the United States army air corps on May 29, 1940. He received his basic training at March Field, Cal. and was later transferred to an air field at Albuquerque, N.M.

He left that place Sept. 23, 1941 and arrived in the Philippine Islands Oct. 23, 1941, where he was stationed at Clark Field, near Manila. So far as has been learned, Bill was stationed there at the time of the Japanese raid on Dec. 7, 1941.

Before Sunday of this week, the last word from Sgt. Cass was received by his mother on May 23, 1942, the same day she received official notification that her son had been reported missing since May 7.

In this last letter, Bill told his mother he had been transferred to another company, the one to which Tim Casey Jr., another Akron boy, had been assigned. However, Tim was not mentioned in that letter and it is not known whether or not he was still a member of that company.

Bill was graduated from the Akron high school in May 1939, and his many school-mates and friends rejoice with his mother in learning this news of him.

Akron News-Reporter November 2, 1944

Army Reports Bill Cass Missing in Ship Sinking
Local Boy Reported Aboard Destroyed Japanese Freighter.

Mrs. Erma Cass Davis received notification the first of this week that her son, 1st Sgt. William P. (Bill) Cass was aboard a Japanese freighter that was being used to transport prisoners of war from the Philippines, when it was destroyed at sea recently.

According to the communication from the war department, some of the war prisoners aboard the ill-fated freighter were picked up by American ships, while there were a "large number who did not survive or were recaptured by the Japanese and about whose present status no positive information is available."

The letter from the adjutant general's office went on to say that "it is with regret that I inform you that your son is in this latter classification."

Sgt. Cass had arrived in the Philippine Islands on Oct. 23, 1941 and was stationed at Clark Field, near Manila. On the same day of the following year that she was notified by the war department that her son was listed as "missing in action," Mrs. Davis received the last word from her son that she was to receive in more than 16 months.

In this letter, Bill told his mother that he was being transferred to another unit, and as the information was rather indefinite, it was not known for certain whether or not he was stationed at Clark Field when the Japs struck their blow on Dec. 7, 1941.

After being listed as "missing in action" for slightly more than 16 months, Bill finally was heard from by his mother on Sept. 19, 1943 when two form cards were received. These cards carried the information that Bill was a prisoner of war in Japanese Philippine Prison Camp No. 2 and was in good health.

She received another card from her son in March of this year, but this latter card was not signed by him while the first two were. That is the last she had heard until she received this latest communication from the war department this week.

Sgt. Cass graduated from the Akron high school in 1939 and enlisted in the army soon after. His many Akron friends and former schoolmates are hopeful that word will be received very soon that he is safe.

Akron News-Reporter January 18, 1945

Prisoner Of War Card Is Received From Bill Cass
Akron Boy Believed Still To Be Interned In Jap Camp.

Mrs. Tom Davis received a card from her son Sgt. William P. (Bill) Cass, who has been a Japanese prisoner of war since the fall of the Philippines in 1942, on Monday of this week.

This card, a duplicate of three other Japanese prison of war correspondence forms previously received by Mrs. Davis, is the first word received since Oct. 27, 1944. On that date the war department notified the Akron sergeant's mother that he was listed as missing.

During September, the notification said, a Japanese ship, being used for transporting prisoners out of the Philippines, was sunk, and while some of those aboard escaped, others were killed and still others recaptured, the whereabouts of Sgt. Cass were not known and he was officially listed as missing.

Although completely disheartened by the government communication, Mrs. Davis' hopes are once again revived, and she now feels confident that her son is still alive.

Principal basis for her encouragement is the fact that on this latest card, Bill had typed, "Happy birthday, Bobby." The greeting was to his brother, Bob Cass, a freshman in Akron high school, whose birthday anniversary was Nov. 17. It is thought that, had the card been written prior to the alleged sinking of the ship upon which Bill was being transported away from his former prison camp, it is doubtful if the birthday, more than two months away, would have been remembered.

All of the cards received by Mrs. Davis, are very similar, with the correspondent using printed, form cards, on which phrases and words are underlined to convey the greater part of the message. A few words are typed in on every card, and on all of them, Mrs. Davis was asked to "write in care of the above (prison camp) address."

On the card received Monday, a request to "write or wire in care of the above address," was typed in, and Mrs. Davis is thankful that she did wire her son on Nov. 28, 1944, before wire messages to prisoners of war were banned.


The Army's 1945 consolidated list of World War II dead shows William P. Cass was a First Sergeant as does the Nov 1944 newspaper article. The American Battlefield Memorial Commission database shows Sergeant.

Official Chronology of the US Navy in WWII - September 7, 1944:
"Submarine Paddle (SS-263) sinks Japanese transport Shinyo Maru, which unbeknown to her attacker carries 750 American prisoners of war on board."

For an account of the sinking of the Shinyou Maru see

William Cass photograph from Service Record Book of Men and Women of Akron, Colorado and Community published by the Alva N. Graves Post of the American Legion. The April 10, 1942 date of his capture is also from the Service Record.

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