Pfc. Laurence Hubert Grim
| Pfc. Laurence H.
Grim was born in June 9, 1921, to Ernest Grim &
Thelma Henthron-Grim in Viola, Wisconsin. He was
the oldest of the couple's five children.
Ernest grew up in Readstown, Wisconsin, until his father's automobile shop burnt to the ground. Not having insurance to rebuild the shop, his father moved the family to Janesville so he could find work. In Janesville, the family lived at 302 South Randall Avenue. Laurence attended school in Janesville but left high school after his junior year.
In the fall of 1940, Laurence enlisted, with his best friend, Wesley Fancher, in the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Tank Company which was housed in an armory in Janesville. His reason for doing this was that he wanted to fulfill his military service. He also wanted to be a mechanic, like his father, and would receive the training in the army.
In November, 1940, the tank company arrived at Fort Knox, Kentucky, for one year of federal duty. During this time, he attended mechanic's school and qualified as a mechanic.
In the fall of 1941, Laurence took part in the Louisiana maneuvers. It was after these maneuvers that he and the rest of the battalion learned they were being sent overseas. He returned home on leave and said his goodbyes to family and friends.
The battalion traveled by train to San Francisco. By ferry, they were taken to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they received inoculations and physicals. Those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island. They were scheduled to join the battalion at a later date.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S 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 November 5th, 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. They docked at Pier 7 and 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.
On December 8, 1941, Laurence lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield. He spent the next four months working to keep the tanks of A Company running. This often meant that he and the other mechanics rescuing and cannibalizing tanks that had been knocked out of action by the Japanese.
On April 9, 1942, Laurence became a Prisoner of War when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese. He took part in the death march and was held as a POW at Camp O'Donnell. It was while he was there, that he developed dysentery. He was put into the camp hospital, where the doctors and medics worked to help the sick without medicines.
On Saturday, May 23, 1942, Pfc. Laurence H. Grim died of dysentery and malaria at Camp O'Donnell, Philippine Islands. On the burial detail the day he died was Ed DeGroot of A Company. According to Ed, the men working the detail were harden from dealing with death everyday. He and the other men, would strip the bodies of their clothing because it was needed by the living. The clothing would be put in boiling water and dried before it was given to other POWs.
The members of the detail would lay the bodies in a trench until it was full. Ed was placing a body in the trench when he looked at the dead man's face. He saw that it was Laurence Grim. Even though he had become insensitive to seeing so many Americans die, it still bothered Ed that this dead American was someone he knew. Laurence was buried in Section K, Row 5, Grave 3.
After the war, at the request of his family, Pfc. Laurence H. Grim was reburied at the American Military Cemetery outside Manila. He was buried in Plot L, Row 7, Grave 102.