Beggs

 

Pvt. Harold Richard Beggs


    Pfc. Harold R. Beggs was the son of Carl L. Beggs & Lydia M. Ohlinger-Beggs and was born on September 26, 1920, in Port Clinton, Ohio.  He was one of the couple's four children.  As a child, he grew up at 310 East Sixth Street in Port Clinton.
    In 1939, he joined the Ohio National Guard in Port Clinton, Ohio.  In the fall of 1940, Harold was called to federal service when his tank company was inducted into the regular army.
    At Fort Knox, Kentucky, Harold spent nearly a year training.  In the late summer of 1941, he took part in maneuvers.  After the maneuvers, were ordered to remain at the camp.  None of them had any idea why.  On the side of a hill, at Camp Polk, Louisiana, he and the other members of the battalion learned that they were not being released from federal service.  Instead, they were being sent overseas as part of "Operation PLUM." Within hours, many of the members of the battalion had figured out that PLUM stood for Philippines, Luzon, Manila.
    Harold received a leave home to say goodbye to is family.  When he left home, his little brother was only 17 months old.  This was the last time he would see his brother for over three years. 

    Over different train routes, the battalion's companies traveled to San Francisco.  They were taken by ferry to Fort McDowell on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  There, they were given physicals and inoculated for duty in the Philippine Islands.  Those men who were found to need minor medical treatment remained behind at the fort and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.

   
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd. 
The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island.  On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam.  At one point, the ships passed an island at night.  While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  The ships sailed the same day for Manila and entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th and docked at Pier 7.  November 20th was the date that the National Guardsmen were scheduled to be released from federal service.  The soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.
    At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King.  The general apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own. 
Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
   
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons.  The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea.  They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance. 

    The morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers learned of the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor.  He and the other tankers were ordered to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.
    Around 11:45 A.M., the tankers watched as planes approached the airfield.  When bombs began exploding they knew the planes were Japanese.  Although they did the best they could, the tankers did not have the right type of weapons to fight the planes.
    Harold spent the next four months taking part in a delaying action against the Japanese.  During the withdraw into the Bataan Peninsula, the tanks were often the last unit to disengage from the Japanese.

    At Gumain River, the tank companies formed a defensive line along the south bank of the river.  When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts.  It was there the tankers noted that the Japanese soldiers were high on drugs when they attacked.  Among the dead Japanese, the tankers found the hypodermic needles and syringes.   The tankers were able to hold up the Japanese for several weeks.      
    Harold took part in the Battle of the Pockets and the Battle of the Points.  The Japanese had landed troops behind the main Filipino and American defensive line in an attempt to break it.  Since the landings were scattered, the Japanese Marines were trapped in foxholes in these two pockets.

    The Japanese at the same time had broken the defensive line on Bataan and then pushed back.  This resulted in two pockets of Japanese troops trapped behind American and Filipino lines. During this battle, the tankers drove over the Japanese foxholes and soldiers sitting on the tanks dropped hand grenades into the foxholes.  In a matter of days, all resistance was wiped out.

    Another method the tankers used to wipe out the pockets was to park a tank with one track over the Japanese foxhole.  The crew would then spin the tank on one track while the other track dug into the ground.
    On April 8, 1942, Harold became a Prisoner of War.  He took part in the death march and was held as a prisoner in Camp O'Donnell.  It is believed he went out on the Bridge Building Detail to Bataan.  The detail was under the command of Lt. Col. Ted Wickord of the 192nd. 
    The first bridge the POWs rebuilt was at Calauan.  After the bridge was completed, the POWs were sent to Batangas to rebuild a bridge there.  They next went to Canbelaria to rebuild a third bridge.  After this detail he was held as a prisoner at Cabanatuan.  It is not known if Harold was held at other camps in the Philippines.
    In 1944, Harold was sent to Bilibid Prison for what the Japanese called a physical.  He was then sent to the Port Area of Manila.  There he was boarded the Hokusen Maru on October 1, 1944 for shipment to Japan.  In the hold of the ship, he was reunited with Wade Chio and Virgil Janes of C Company.  Two days later on October 3rd, the ship sailed.
    During the trip, Wade Chio was not doing well.  One reason was that he was against one of the walls of the hold and could not get much food.  To help Chio, Harold switched places with him so that he got more food.  This move resulted in Harold losing his eyesight because of lack of food.
    On October 11, 1944, the Hokusen Maru arrived at Hong Kong.  From there, the ship sailed for Formosa and arrived there on November 11, 1944.  Harold and the other POWs were disembarked and spent two months on the island.  He was held on the island at Inron Temporary Camp.  Since they were in such poor shape, the Japanese only made the POWs do light work.
    Harold and Wade Chio arrived in Japan on the Melbourne Maru.  The ship left Formosa on January 14, 1945, and arrived at Moji, Japan, on January 23rd.  From Moji, some of the POWs were later sent to Aisho Camp. In the camp, Harold worked in a copper mine.  In July of 1945, his parents learned he was a POW in Japan.  This was the first news they had received about him since they had learned he was a POW.
    According to archival information, Harold was later transferred to Sendai Camp #8.  He was once again used as a laborer in mining.  He remained in this camp to the end of the war.   His parents would learn he had been liberated in a letter written by Virgil Janes another member of his tank company.
    After he was liberated, Harold returned to the Philippines.  He sailed for the United States on the U.S.S. General R. L. Howze arriving at San Francisco on October 16, 1945.  He returned to Port Clinton and was discharged, from the army, on February 9, 1946.  For the rest of his life, Harold suffered partial paralysis in his legs and from impaired vision. 
    Harold returned to Port Clinton and worked as a machinist for U.S. Gypsum.  He married Ruth E. Bluhm and became the father of a daughter and two sons.  On March 12, 1949, Harold - and five other members of the tank company - served as one of the pallbearers at the funeral service of Sgt. John Morine.  Morine had died as a POW of Formosa.
    On February 8, 1962, Harold and his family were home when their house exploded from a kitchen stove gas leak.  Amazingly, Harold, his wife, and two sons survived the explosion.  Their daughter was not home.  His wife passed away on January 20, 1968.  Harold R. Beggs passed away on July 22, 2001, in Oak Harbor, Ohio.
  


 

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