Capt. Harold Walden Collins
Capt. Harold Walden Collins was born on April 24, 1915. He was the son of Charles R. Collins and Elizabeth Burget-Collins. With his two sisters and two brothers, he grew up in Lacarne, Ohio. Until the eleventh grade, he went to school in both Erie and Lacarne, Ohio. He then transferred to Port Clinton High School and graduated in 1934.
After high school, Harold attended the University of Toledo but left after two years. He also married Gertrude Thompson and became the father of a daughter, Carolyn.
On July 5, 1932, Harold joined the Ohio National Guard with his brother-in-law, Kenneth Thompson, and his friends, Steve Eliyas, Arthur Burholt and Joseph Hrupcho, he joined the Ohio National Guard's tank company headquartered in the armory in Port Clinton. In the National Guard, he also rose in rank from private to corporal. On July 1, 1939, he was commissioned a second lieutenant and served as the company's maintenance officer, mess officer, and supply officer.
In the fall of 1940, Harold's tank company received the news that they were going to be called to federal service for a period of one year. The company officially became C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion on November 25, 1940. On that date, he was promoted to first lieutenant.
The 39 members of the company traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky were, with National Guard companies from Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin, the 192nd Tank Battalion was formed.
On February 15, 1941, Harold was promoted to
first lieutenant. After almost nine months
of training, the 192nd was sent on maneuvers in
the maneuvers, the 192nd Tank Battalion
remained behind at the fort without having
any idea why.
On the side of a hill, the battalion
members learned they were being sent
overseas. Those men 29 years
old or older were released from
federal service. Many men
received leaves home to say their
goodbyes to families and friends.
On December 8, 1941, having heard the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the tanks were positioned around the perimeter of Clark Field to prevent the Japanese from using paratroopers. Around 12:45 in the afternoon, Harold and the rest of C Company lived through the attack on Clark Field.
On December 9th, C Company was ordered to the area of Mount Arayat. Reports had been received that the Japanese had landed paratroopers in the area. No paratroopers were found, but it was possible that the pilots of damaged Japanese planes may have jumped from them.
Japanese landed troops at Lingayen Gulf, he
assumed command of a platoon of C Company
tanks. His platoon was sent north with his
tanks in support of B Company. It was
outside of Demoritis, La Union, that Harold
earned the Silver Star. In spite of
Japanese resistance, his platoon of tanks
was able to reach the 26th U.S. Cavalry and
engaged the Japanese which allowed the 26th to
disengage and withdraw from the area. He
was promoted to captain on December 24, 1941.
C Company was re-supplied and withdrew to
Baluiag where the tanks encountered Japanese
troops and ten tanks. It was at Baluiag
that Gentry's tanks won the first tank victory
of World War II against enemy tanks.
Early on the morning of the 31st, the Japanese began moving troops and across the bridge. The engineers came next and put down planking for tanks. A little before noon Japanese tanks began crossing the bridge.
Later that day, the Japanese had assembled a large number of troops in the rice field on the northern edge of the town. One platoon of tanks under the command of 2nd Lt. Marshall Kennady were to the southeast of the bridge. Gentry's tanks were to the south of the bridge in huts, while third platoon commanded by Capt Harold Collins was to the south on the road leading out of Baluiag. 2nd Lt. Everett Preston had been sent south to find a bridge to cross to attack the Japanese from behind.
Major John Morley, of the Provisional Tank Group, came riding in his jeep into Baluiag. He stopped in front of a hut and was spotted by the Japanese who had lookouts in the town's church steeple. The guard became very excited so Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks positions, got into his jeep and drove off. Gentry had told Morley that his tanks would hold their fire until he was safely out of the village.
When Gentry felt the Morley was out of danger, he ordered his tanks to open up on the Japanese tanks at the end of the bridge. The tanks then came smashing through the huts' walls and drove the Japanese in the direction of Lt. Marshall Kennady's tanks. Kennady had been radioed and was waiting.
Kennady held his fire until the Japanese were in view of his platoon and then joined in the hunt. The Americans chased the tanks up and down the streets of the village, through buildings and under them. By the time C Company was ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had knocked out at least eight enemy tanks.
C Company withdrew to Calumpit Bridge after receiving orders from Provisional Tank Group. When they reached the bridge, they discovered it had been blown. Finding a crossing the tankers made it to the south side of the river. Knowing that the Japanese were close behind, the Americans took their positions in a harvested rice field and aimed their guns to fire a tracer shell through the harvested rice. This would cause the rice to ignite which would light the enemy troops.
The tanks were about 100 yards apart. The
Japanese crossing the river knew that the
Americans were there because the tankers shouted
at each other to make the Japanese believe
troops were in front of them. The Japanese
were within a few yards of the tanks when the
tanks opened fire which caused the rice stacks
to catch fire. The fighting was
such a rout that the the tankers were using
a .37 mm shell to kill one Japanese soldier.
Battle of the
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For the next four months, Harold was involved in the battle to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines. It was during this time, that he was promoted to captain. On April 9, 1942, Harold and the rest of C Company became Prisoners Of War. It was during this time that he was awarded the Silver Star.
Harold took part in the death march. Since the Japanese dispersed the members of the company among the other prisoners, it is not known if he was with other members of the the 192nd. The POWs made their way to San Fernando. Once there, they were put into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane. Each car could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car. Those who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas.
As a POW, Harold was held at Camp O'Donnell. When Cabanatuan opened, he was transferred there. During July 1942, Harold was sent to the barrio known to the Americans as Little Bagio. He was sent there to represent the enlisted men when dealing with the Japanese. Being an officer, Harold was not required to do physical labor.
When the detail ended. Harold was returned to Cabanatuan. It is not known if he went out on another work detail. What is known is that while a POW there, he and Capt Arthur Burholt organized shows for the other prisoners as a way to break the monotony of camp life.
During Harold's time at Cabanatuan, his family received a post card from him. In it he said, "I am waiting impatiently to be back home with you again. Say hello and give my love to all the folks. Buy Carol Lee (his daughter) a new dress and give her a kiss for me. Hoping to see you soon."
Sometime later, Harold was sent to Bilibid Prison. This former Spanish prison was used by the Japanese as a clearinghouse for POWs being sent to another part of the Japanese Empire. At the prison, Harold was reunited with other C Company members. Life for the men was monotonous since the prison was surrounded by high walls.
It is not known if
Harry became a POW when Bataan was surrendered
or if he escaped to Corregidor. When he
became a prisoner of war, he most likely was
held at Camp O'Donnell and Cabanatuan. Medical
records from Cabanatuan
indicate that Harold was hospitalized in the
camp's hospital on July 21, 1942. The
records do not give the reason why he was
hospitalized or when he was discharged.
By 8:00, the POWs were lined up roll call was taken and the names of the men selected for transport to Japan were called. The prisoners were allowed to roam the compound until they were told to "fall-in." The men were fed a meal and then marched to Pier 7 in Manila. During the march down Luzon Boulevard, the POWs saw that the street cars had stopped running and many things were in disrepair.
The Americans saw that the American bombers were doing a job on the Japanese transports. There were at least forty wrecked ships in the bay. When the POWs reached Pier 7, there were three ships docked. One was a old run down ship, the other two were large and in good shape. They soon discovered one of the two nicer ships was their ship.
It was at this time the POWs were allowed to sit down. Many fell asleep and slept until 3:45 in the afternoon. About 5:00 PM the POWs boarded the Oryoku Maru for transport to Japan.
It is not known which hold Harry was held in, but the sides of the hold had two tiers of bunks that went around its diameter. The POWs near the hatch used anything they could find to fan the air to the POWs further away from it.
The ship left Manila on December 14th, at about 3:30 AM, as part of the MATA-37 a convoy bound for Takao, Formosa. By the swells in the water, the POWs could tell that the ship was in open water.
The POWs received their first meal at about 3:30 that afternoon. Meals on the ship consisted of a little rice, fish, and water. Three fourths of a cup of water was shared by twenty POWs. The prisoners had just eaten when they heard the sounds of guns. At first, they thought the gun crews were just drilling since they had not heard any planes. It was only when the first bomb hit that they knew it was no drill. The POWs heard the change in the planes' engines sound as they began their dive toward the ships in the convoy. Explosions were taking place all around the POWs. Bullets from the planes ricocheted in to the hold causing many casualties. In all, the POWs would have to sweat out five air raids. The one result of the raid was no evening meal.
At four-thirty in the afternoon, the ship experienced its worse attack. It was hit at least three times, by bombs, on its bridge and stern. Most of the POWs were wounded by ricocheting bullets or shrapnel from explosions. Bombs that exploded near the ship sent turrets of water over it. Bullets from the fighters hit the metal hull plates at an angle that prevent most from penetrating the hull. Somewhere on the ship a fire had started but was put out after several hours.
After the first raid, the ship was left alone by "playing possum" in the water. The fighters went after the other ships in the convoy. The moaning and muttering of men who were losing their minds kept the POWs up all night. That night 25 POWs died in the hold. The ship reached Subic Bay at 2:30 in the morning. It was a suitable landing place.
Sometime after midnight, the POWs heard noise on deck as women and children were unloaded. During the night, the medics in the ship's hold were ordered out by a Japanese officer to tend to the Japanese wounded. One of the medics recalled that the dead, dying and wounded were everywhere.
The ship steamed in closer to the beach and its anchor was dropped. The POWs were told, at 4:00 in the morning, that they would be disembarked after daybreak. It was December 15th. The POWs sat in the hold four hours after daybreak when the sound of planes was heard. They would live through three more attacks. When the U.S. Navy planes resumed their attack, the attacks came in waves. Jack and the other POWs noted that attack was heavier then the day before.
At 8:00 AM, a Japanese guard yelled to the POWs, "All go home; Speedo!" He also shouted that the wounded would be the first evacuated. As the POWs were abandoning ship, the planes returned. The pilots of the planes had no idea that the ship was carrying prisoners. It was not until the pilots saw the POWs climbing out of the ship's holds that they realized it was a prison ship and stopped the attack.
In the hold the POWs crowded together. Chips of rust fell on them from the ceiling. After the raid, they took care of the wounded before the next attack started. A Catholic priest, Fr. Duffy, began praying, "Father forgive them. They know not what they do."
When the attack resumed, the ship bounced in the water from the explosions. The POWs in the holds lived through seventeen attacks from American planes before sunset. Overall, six bombs hit the ship. One hit the stern of the ship killing many.
About a half hour later, the ship's stern started to really burn. Jack made his way on deck and went over the side. He remembered how good the water felt. Jack swan to shore near Olongapo, Subic Bay, Luzon. As he swam to shore, which was about 300 to 400 yards away. Japanese soldiers fired on the POWs to keep them in the water so they would not escape.
While the POWs were at Olongapo Naval Station, a Japanese officer, Lt. Junsaburo Toshio, told the ranking American officer, Lt. Col. E. Carl Engelhart, that those too badly wounded to continue the trip would be returned to Bilibid. Fifteen men were selected and loaded onto a truck. They were taken into the mountains and never seen again. They were buried at a cemetery nearby. The remainder of the POWs remained on the tennis courts for five or six days. During that time, they were given water but not fed.
On December 24th, the remainder of the POWs were boarded onto trains at San Fernando, Pampanga. The widows of the train were kept closed and the heat in the cars was terrible. From December 24th to the 27th, the POWs were held in a school house and later on a beach at San Fernando, La Union. During this time they were allowed one handful of rice and a canteen of water. The heat from the sun was so bad that men drank seawater. Many of these men died.
The POWs remained on the tennis court for nine days. During their time on the courts, American planes attacked the area around them. The men watched as the fighter bombers came in vertically releasing bombs as they pulled out of the dives. On several occasions, the planes dove right at the POWs, dropped their bombs, and pulled out. The bombs drifted over the POWs and landed away from them exploding on contact.
Since the POWs had no place to hide, they watched and enjoyed the show. They believed that the pilots knew they were Americans but had no way of knowing if this was true. But what is known is that not one bomb was dropped on them even though they could be seen from the planes.
The evening of December 16th, the Japanese brought 50 kilo bags of rice for the POWs. About half of the rice had fallen out of the bags because of holes. Each POW was given three spoons of raw rice, and a quarter of a spoon of salt.
At about 8:00 AM on the morning of December 22nd, 22 trucks arrived at the tennis court. Rumors flew on where they were going to be taken. At about 4:00 PM, a Taiwanese guard told the POWs, in broken English,"No go Cabanatuan. Go Manila; maybe Bilibid." The guard knew as little as the POWs.
On December 21st, the POWs were taken by truck to San Fernando, Pampanga, arriving there about four or five in the afternoon. Once there, they were put in a movie theater. Since it was dark, the POWs saw as a dungeon.
During their time at San Fernando, Pampanga, the POWs lived through several air raids. The reason for the air raids was the barrio was military headquarters for the area. Most of the civilians had been moved out of the barrio. Many of the Americans began to believe they had been taken there so that they would be killed by their own countrymen.
December 23rd, at about 10:00 PM, the Japanese interpreter came and spoke to the ranking American officer about moving the POWs. The Japanese loaded the seriously ill POWs into a truck. Those remaining behind believed they were taken to Bilibid. The remaining POWs were moved to a trade school building in the barrio.
After 10:00 AM on December 24th, the POWs were taken to the train station. The POWs saw that the station had been hit by bombings and that the cars they were to board had bullet holes in them from strafing. 180 to 200 were packed into steel boxcars with four guards. The doors of the boxcars were kept closed and the heat in the cars was terrible. Ten to fifteen POWs rode on the roofs of the cars along with two guards. The guards told these POWs that it was okay to wave to the American planes.
On December 25th, the POWs disembarked at San Fernando, La Union, at 2:00 AM and disembarked. They walked two kilometers to a school yard on the southern outskirts of the barrio. From December 25th until the 26th. The POWs were held in a school house. The morning of December 26th, the POWs were marched to a beach. During this time the prisoners were allowed one handful of rice and a canteen of water. The heat from the sun was so bad that men drank seawater. Many of those men died.
The remaining prisoners at San Fernando, La Union, where they boarded onto another "Hell Ship" the Enoura Maru. On this ship, the POWs were held in three different holds. The ship had been used to haul cattle. The POWs were held in the same stalls that the cattle had been held in. In the lower hold, the POWs were lined up in companies 108 men. Each man had four feet of space. Men who attempted to get fresh air by climbing the ladders were shot by the guards.
The daily routine for the POWs on the ship was to have six men climb out of the hold. Once on deck, they would use ropes to pull up the dead and also pull up the human waste in buckets. Afterwards, the men on deck would lower ten buckets containing rice, soup, and tea.
During the night of December 30th, the POWs heard the sound of depth charges exploding in the water. The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on December 31st and docked around 11:30 AM. After arriving at Takao, Formosa, each POW received a six inch long, 3/4 inch wide piece hardtack to eat. This was the first bread they had since receiving crackers in their Red Cross packages in 1942. During the time in the harbor, the POWs received little water. From January 1st through the 5th, the POWs received one meal and day and very little water. This resulted in the death rate among the POWs to rise. On January 6th, the POWs began to receive two meals a day.
The Enoura Maru also came under attack by American planes the morning of January 9th. The POWs were receiving their first meal of the day, when the sound of ship's machineguns was heard. The explosions of bombs falling closer and closer to the ship were also heard. The waves created from the explosions rocked the ship.
One bomb that hit the ship exploded in the corner of the forward hold killing 285 prisoners. The surviving POWs remained in in the hold for three days with the dead. The stench from the dead filled the air. On January 11th a work detail was formed and about half the dead were removed from the hold. The dead were unloaded from the ship, and a POW detail of twenty men took the corpses to a large furnace where they were cremated. These men reported that 150 POWs had been cremated. Their ashes were buried in a large urn. Later in the day, the survivors of the forward hold were moved into another hold.
On January 13th, the surviving POWs were boarded onto a third "Hell Ship" the Brazil Maru. On the ship, the POWs found they had more room and were actually issued lifejackets. The ship sailed for Japan on January 14th as part of a convoy.
The ship sailed on January 14, 1945, and arrived in Moji, Japan, on January 29, 1945. During this part of the trip, as many as 30 POWs died each day. The ship also towed one or two other ships which had been damaged. Of the original 1619 men that boarded the Oryoku Maru, only 459 of the POWs had survived the trip to Japan.
According to the unknown survivor, Capt. Harold Collins died from his wounds on January 18, 1945. The date of his death is listed as Saturday, January 20, 1945, in U. S. Army records. After he died, he was stripped of his clothes, and he was taken on deck and thrown overboard.