Beaver_F




Tec 4 Frank Lester Beaver
    T/4 Frank L. Beaver was born on October 31, 1918, in Piqua, Ohio, and was the son of Frank C. Beaver & Stella M. Clingon-Beaver.  He grew up, with his three sisters and four brothers, on a farm near Washington, Ohio, and attended Houston High School where he graduated valedictorian of his class.  After high school, he worked for the Lear Company manufacturing radios.
    Frank was inducted into the U.S. Army on February 1, 1941, and sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training.  He attended radio school and qualified as a radio operator.  He was assigned to the 192nd Tank Battalion, most likely as a replacement, at Camp Polk, Louisiana, and assigned to Headquarters Company.  He was assigned to one of the company's three tanks as a radio operator.
    In the August, 1941, Frank went home for on a short furlough.  When he returned to Ft. Knox, the tank battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, to take part in maneuvers.  Being assigned to headquarters meant that most of the soldiers worked behind the scenes and did not really participate in the maneuvers.  In Frank's case, he most likely was a more active participant since he was assigned to a tank.
    After the maneuvers, the 192nd was ordered to report to Camp Polk instead of returning to Ft. Knox as they had expected.  On the side of a hill, the tankers learned they were bring sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM. Those men 29 years old or older were given the chance to resign from federal service.  They were replaced by men from the 753rd Tank Battalion.
    From Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over four different train routes.  Arriving in San Francisco, the soldiers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, the soldiers were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases.  Those with health issues were released from service and replaced or treated and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.
    The battalion sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover.  The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands.  They ships sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th for Guam.  When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, and the ships took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water.  The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day. About 8:00 in the morning on Thursday, November 20th, the ships arrived at Manila Bay.  After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked.  Most of the battalion boarded trucks and rode to Ft. Sotsenburg north of Manila.
    At the fort, the tankers were met by Colonel Edward King, who welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed.  He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.  King made that the tankers had their Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons which had been greased so they would not rust during the trip to the Philippines.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.  The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
    On Monday, December 1st the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard it against Japanese paratroopers.  From this moment on, two members of each tank crew had to remain with their tanks at all times.  The morning of December 8th, the officers of the battalions met and were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier.
    All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, all the planes landed to be refueled and parked in a straight line.  It was at this time that the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45, planes approached the airfield from the north and the tankers counted 54 planes.  When bombs began exploding, the men knew the planes were Japanese.  After the attack the 192nd remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for weeks.  It was during this time that Frank's parents received a telegram from him stating that he was okay.  It was also at this time that the battalion was sent to the Lingayen Gulf area where the Japanese had landed.
    For the next four months Frank worked to keep the tanks of his battalion running.  On April 8th, Capt. Fred Bruni told the men that they would surrender the next morning. 
He told the soldiers to destroy their weapons and any supplies that could be used by the Japanese.  The only thing they were told not to destroy were the company's trucks.  He brought with him pineapple juice and food and the company had what he called their last meal.  They remained in their bivouac for two days.


    On April 11th, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ Company's encampment.  A Japanese officer ordered the company, with their possessions, out onto the road that ran in front of their encampment.  Once on the road, the soldiers were ordered to kneel along the sides of the road with their possessions in front of them.  As they knelt, the Japanese soldiers, who were passing them, went through their possessions and took whatever they wanted from the Americans.

    The company boarded their trucks and drove to Mariveles.  From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and sat and waited.  As they sat, the POWs noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming across from them.  They soon realized that this was a firing squad and the Japanese were going to kill them.

    As they sat watching and waiting to see what the Japanese intended to do, a Japanese officer pulled up in a car in front of the Japanese soldiers.  He got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail.  The officer got back in the car and drove off.  The Japanese sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.

    Later in the day, Frank's group of POWs was moved to a school yard in Mariveles. The POWs were left sitting in the sun for hours.  The Japanese did not feed them or give them water.

    The POWs were ordered to move again by the Japanese.  Frank and the other men had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march.  At one point the POWs were ordered to sit.  Behind the POWs were four Japanese artillery pieces which began firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum which had not surrendered. 
    Shells from these two American forts began landing among the POWs.  The POWs could do little since they had no place to hide.  Some POWs were killed by incoming American shells.  One group that tried to hide in a small brick building died when it took a direct hit.  The American guns did succeed in knocking out three of the four Japanese guns.
    The POWs continued the march and
received no water and little food.  It took the members of HQ Company six days to reach San Fernando.  Once there, the POWs were put into a bull pen that had a fence around it.  In one corner was a slit trench to be used as a toilet by the POWs.  The surface of the trench moved since it was covered in maggots.  The POWs had enough room to sit, but they could not lie down. They quickly realized they were sitting in human waste since the bull pen had previously been occupied.

    During their time in the bull pen, the POWs watched the Japanese bury three POWs.  Two were still alive.  When one of the men attempted to climb out of the grave, he was hit in the head with a shovel and buried.

    At San Fernando, Frank was put into a small wooden boxcar and taken to Capas.  The cars could hold forty men or eight horses, but the Japanese packed 100 men into each car.  Those who died remained standing until the living climbed out of the car at Capas.  From Capas, Frank walked the last ten miles to Camp O' Donnell.

    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base that the Japanese pressed into service as a Prisoner of War camp.  It turned out to be a death trap with as many as fifty POWs dying each day.  There was only one working water faucet for the entire camp.  To get a drink, men stood in line for days.  Many died while waiting for a drink since the Japanese guard would shut off the water for no reason.  Because of the death rate among the POWs many POWs went out on work details to get out of the camp.
    The dead, at Camp O'Donnell, were taken to the camp cemetery and buried in shallow graves.  The reason for this was that the water table was high and the POWs could not dig deep.  Once a body was put in the ground, it was held down with a pole until it was covered by earth.  The next day, the POWs, on the detail, found wild dogs had dug up the bodies or the bodies were sitting up in the graves.
    The Japanese opened a new camp at Cabanatuan to lower the death rate among the POWs and the healthier POWs were sent to the camp.  Those who were going to die remained behind at Camp O'Donnell.  Frank was sent to Cabanatuan where he became ill and was sent to the camp hospital on September 21, 1942, suffering from diphtheria.  He remained in the hospital until October 20, 1942, when he was discharged. 
    It is known is that he was selected fora work detail at Las Pinas which left Cabanatuan on December 12, 1942.  The POWs on the detail built a runway for the Japanese Navy which wanted to expand Nichols Airfield.  The Japanese refused to use construction equipment and expected the POWs to remove the side of a hills with picks, shovels, and wheelbarrows.

     It appears that Frank became ill enough to be sent to Bilibid Prison for medical treatment.  When it was believed he had recovered he was sent to Cabanatuan.  There, he was readmitted to the hospital on Wednesday, February 17, 1943.  No reason for why he was admitted was recorded, and no date of discharge was recorded.     
    In July 1944, a list of POWs was posted at Cabanatuan.
At 8:00 P.M. on July 15th, trucks arrived at the camp.  The POWs were boarded onto the trucks and taken to Bilibid Prison.  The POWs arrived at Bilibid seven hours later to find that their dinner was rotten sweet potatoes.  Since it was night, they had to eat in the dark.  They remained at Bilibid until July 17th at 8:00 A.M. and walked to Pier 7 where they were boarded onto the Nissyo Maru.  The Japanese attempted to put the entire POW detachment in the forward hold but failed, so 600 of the POWs were put into the read hold.
  
  The ship was moved and remained outside the breakwater, at Manila, from July 18th until July 23rd while the Japanese attempted to form a convoy.  The POWs were fed rice and vegetables, twice a day, which were cooked together.  They also received two canteen cups of water each day. 
    The ship sailed on July 23rd at 8:00 A.M. to Corregidor and dropped anchor off the island at 2:00 P.M.  It remained off the island overnight and sailed at 8:00 A.M. the next day as part of a convoy.  The ships sailed north by northeast.  On July 26th at 3:00 in the morning, there was a large fire off to the side of ship.  The POWs could see the light through the hold which was not covered.  It turned out that the one of the ships, the Otari Yama Maru had been hit by a torpedo from the U.S.S. Flasher which was a part of a three submarine wolf pack. 
    On July 28th, the ships arrived at Takao, Formosa, and docked at 9:00 A.M.   The Nissyo Maru sailed at 7:00 P.M. and continued its northward trip all day and night of July 29th.  On July 30th, the ship ran into a storm which finally passed on August 2nd.  The POWs were issued clothing on August 3rd and arrived at Moji the night of August 3rd at about midnight. 
    At 8:00 in the morning the next day, the POWs disembarked the ship. They were taken to a theater and were held in it all day.  The Japanese organized them into detachments of 200 men and marched them to the train station. 
    Frank was taken by train to 
Fukuoka #4.  The POWs in the camp were housed in a former YMCA building in the North-eastern section of the city of Moji, Kyushu, Japan.  In August 1944, another building began being used as a mess hall and officers quarters.  A third building became the camp hospital.  The POWs in the camp worked as stevedores on the docks of Moji or at the train station.  The company that used the POWs as stevedores, on the docks, was the Kanmon Stevedoring Company.  In addition, the POWs worked in the warehouse district around the Sothohama Railway Station in Moji.
    At some point Frank became ill.  According to other POWs, the sick stayed in the POW barracks while being treated.  Their daily ration of food was also cut.  If they became sicker, they were moved to the
Moji Military Hospital.  Frank was became ill enough to be moved to the hospital.
    What is known is Tec 4 Frank Beavers died of pneumonia on March 28, 1945, while a POW at the military hospital.  His remains were taken to the city crematory at Moji where he was cremated and his ashes placed in an urn.  The ashes were stored at a Buddhist temple that later burnt down.  Next, the ashes were buried in mass grave above Honganji Temple in the City of Moji.
    In May, 1945, Frank's parents received a POW postcard from him that was dated September 30, 1944.  On the card, he said, "My health is good, hope you are the same.  The climate is cooler here.  Give my regards to all."  When they received the car, his parents had no idea that he had been dead for two months.
    On November 28, 1945, the family of T/4 Frank Beaver learned that he had died as a POW in a telegram from the U.S. Government.  According to the military, the Japanese government was negligent in reporting his death.  On December 9, 1945, Frank's family held a memorial service at the Houston Christian Church.  They also had a military headstone placed at Forest Hill Cemetery in Piqua, Ohio.     
   
    After the war, the American Occupation Force had the Japanese beautify the grave.  The ashes of the men, who died in the camp, are still buried there today. 
    





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