Charles David Tinley – Captain, United States Army

Courtesy of Nancy Tinley Brown

Captain Charles D. Tinley
54th Signal Corps
Died 2 February 1943
Camp Tanaguwa, Osaka, Japan


My father, Charles David Tinley, was born of Scotch-English parentage in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, on February 8, 1907. His father, James Tinley, was Superintendent of the Lehigh and Wilke-Barre Coal Company. His mother was Christina Hannah Berry Tinley. My father was the youngest of four living children. At the time my father was born, his siblings were: Emily, 22 years old, Carrie 18, and Clarence 12. Around 1920 my grandfather retired from the coal company and he, his wife and two children, Emily and Charles moved to Franklin Center, Pennsylvania, where he bought and ran a grocery store. In 1922, my grandmother died when my father was 15. My father once wrote, “A sympathetic and understanding mother motivated by the highest ideals and a father, who engendered respect and admiration, profoundly influenced my childhood development.”

My father attended high school in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, where my mother, Vera Ethel Beerbower, was also attending. He graduated from high school in 1923 and attended Edinboro State Teachers College for two and one half years before entering the five-year cooperative engineering course at Akron University. He received his Electrical Engineering degree in 1929. Sometime during the time he was a student at Akron University, his father and sister Emily moved to Akron, Ohio.

During my father’s college years, my mother graduated from high school and attended Edinboro State Teacher’s College and received her teacher’s certificate. She taught in a one-room schoolhouse until they were married in June of 1930.

It was during my father’s college years at Akron U. that he entered ROTC and then devoted his vacations to summer camp and his evenings to study in order to qualify himself for promotions in the US Army Reserves.

While he was at Akron U., my father co-oped with the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in electrical maintenance and Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in electrical construction. Following graduation he was employed by the General Electric Company in electrical engineering testing at Harbor Creek, Pennsylvania. In 1930 my father was laid off, so he entered the teaching profession as instructor of related technical subjects in Dunkirk Industrial High School and became Principal in 1939. Dunkirk, New York, is about fifty miles from Erie, Pennsylvania, on Lake Erie.

It was when my mother and father were living in Dunkirk and after my father changed careers to education that he studied at Buffalo State Teachers College, Oswego State Normal School, University of Buffalo and Cornell University, earning a Masters Degree. I was born in April of 1934 and my sister Jane (now Jane Wilson) in June of 1935 and we were living at 504 McKinley Avenue. Shortly after Jane was born my parents bought their first home at 517 McKinley Avenue. We all attended the First United Presbyterian Church in Dunkirk. My father was an Elder and superintendent of the Sunday School. Mother was active in the Church Circle and taught Sunday school. Life was good.

In the spring of 1941 my father, then a member of the Reserve Officers Corp, was called to active duty and our family life was put on hold. He was Marshall of the Memorial Day Parade on May 29th in Dunkirk. The parade culminated at the train station and we bid our tearful farewells as he left on the late evening train for San Francisco to meet his transport to the Philippines. On June 6th my dad sailed on the President Pierce, which had been refitted for this trip for the army, and arrived in Manila on June 24th. He was made commander of the 54th Signal Maintenance Company at the Port of Manila. Occasionally, he would go to Clark Field (Fort Stotesenburg) on the Bataan Peninsula because he had men up there installing telephones and cables. Then in late October my father moved his company to Nichols Field, Tizal Philippine Islands, which was 8 miles south of Manila.

On December 8, 1941 when the Japanese invaded the Philippines I do not know exactly where my father was. My mother received a letter from my father on January 22, 1942 with a return address of Bataan Peninsula. Letters in February and March had return addresses of APO 2 P. I. A telegram on April 4 came via Cebu, however, I don’t have any confirmed evidence that he was ever in Cebu. The U.S. forces under Major General King surrendered on April 9 and these heroic survivors of Bataan were then subject to the Japanese atrocities and the humiliations of the Death March into captivity. My father was a prisoner at Camp O’Donnell, where the Japanese took the prisoners from the Bataan Death March and then later at Cabanatuan, because mother received letters from him at those locations. In November 1942, my father was transferred to Camp Tanaguwa, Osaka, Japan and died on February 2, 1943.

Following the war, in November 1945, my mother received a letter from Major George W. Campbell of the Army Medical Corps who had cared for my father. He confirmed that he had gone to Japan with my father and that they were in the same camp. Major Campbell sent a few of my father’s personal belongings and verified that his death was due to dysentery and starvation.

My mother had my father’s ashes returned to the U.S. and he is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Section 12, and Grave 1069.

The story of my father is just one story of a WW II soldier but it is symbolic of them all. The personal letters to my mother support that he was a good Christian with high morals. He was a brave and loyal soldier who loved his country and was willing to give his life for it. He was a loving husband who cherished his wife and daughters.

“To Captain Tinley, service was not just a glorious adventure but a solemn duty to which he gave years of thoughtful preparation. He gave of his time, his effort and his loyalty in those days when too many of us were concerned with frivolous pursuits. In the end he gave all, to his own undying glory. We must never forget Captain Tinley.” (The Dunkirk Evening Observer editorial)


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 02/08/1907
  • DATE OF DEATH: 02/02/1943
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 10/20/1948

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