Hanes

 


Capt. Donald Leroy Hanes


 
    Capt. Donald L. Hanes was born on August 10, 1903, in Hoopeston, Illinois, to Charles K. Hanes & Opha D. Kincade-Hanes.  His given name was Marion Donald LeRoy Hanes, but he was known as "Don" to his family.  His family moved to New Castle, Pennsylvania.  While living there, he graduated from Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia.
    Donald married, Gertrude Mielke, in Wheaton, Illinois, on September 12, 1924.  The couple made their home in Downers Grove, Bellwood, and later at 406 Oak Street in Maywood.  They were the parents of a son, Charles.   Donald worked as a machinist at a diesel motor manufacturer.
    He enlisted in the Illinois National Guard on August 23, 1929 , he used Donald as his first name on his military records.  He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant on May 3, 1937.   He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on November 22, 1940, two days before the tank company was called to federal service as Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion.  The company trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky. 
    As a 1st Lieutenant, Donald became commanding officer of Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion when Headquarters Company was formed in January 1941.  He was promoted to captain on May 18, 1941, at Ft. Knox.
    Donald took part in the Louisiana maneuvers of 1941.  When the maneuvers were completed, the members of the 192nd Tank Battalion were told that their time in federal service had been extended from one to six years.  After those soldiers and officers deemed to be "too old" to go overseas were released from federal duty, the battalion members received passes home to take care of unfinished business.

    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 sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th for Guam.  When the ships arrived at Guam, they 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.  The tankers rode buses to the train station where they got out and took a train to Ft. Stostenburg.  Other battalion members boarded their trucks and drove them to fort north of Manila.

    At the fort, the tankers were met by General Edward King.  King 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.  He remained with the battalion until they had settled in and had their Thanksgiving Dinner.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.  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.

    The battalion arrived in the Philippines  a little over two weeks before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  During their time at Fort Stostenburg, they lived in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field.  They spent most of their time readying their equipment for the maneuvers they were expecting to take part in.  With the other members of his company, Donald lived through the bombing of Clark Field on December 8, 1941. 
    Being the commanding officer of B Company, Donald was ordered to take his company to Dau, a barrio to the east of Clark Field.  The barrio had excellent roads and a rail line which could be used to move troops.
    During the Battle of Bataan,  a detachment of his company was sent sent to rescue the 26th U. S. Cavalry who were engaged with the Japanese.  The Japanese had trapped the cavalry in a morass of rice fields.  This was the first time in World War II that American tanks engaged the enemy.  During the rescue, his tanks fought on terrain they were not designed to fight on.
    During one engagement, Capt Hanes's tank was hit from behind by a 75 mm shell.  The shell's concussion knocked the crew out for an indefinite period of time.  When they came to their senses, the tank was still moving but in the opposite direction.
    The theory on how this had happened was that the impact from the 75 mm shell had lifted the tank and spun it around.  When the tank landed, it was headed toward home.  Unlikely as it may have seemed at the time, this theory was the one that the tank crew accepted.
    The battle continued through the night with the crews of the tanks fighting blind.  The only thing lighting the darkness was the flashes of the cannons.  After one such flash, a Japanese tank loomed up out of the darkness.  Capt. Hanes's tank crew fired at the tank with everything they had.  They saw a streak of fire come out of the darkness.  The fire grew until it was a torch outlining the riddle hulk of a Japanese tank.
    A single burning Japanese soldier jumped from the tank.  He quickly fell to the ground dead.  None of the men remembered having any feelings about the incident.   The reason was that seeing men die had become a daily occurrence and had left them numb.
    At dawn, Capt. Hanes' company withdrew having accomplished their mission.  Reaching a flat valley, the tanks stopped, and his men dropped off to sleep in the hot tanks.  This rest did not last long because his tanks were called upon to stop the Japanese once again.  The Japanese were two miles away attempting to split an American infantry regiment.  Capt. Hanes' tanks engaged the Japanese, fought all day and stopped their advance.  This allowed the regiment to withdraw before the tanks withdrew themselves.
    It was sometime in early 1942, that Capt. Hanes was transferred to Headquarters Company.  With this transfer, he gave up his command of B Company.
    When the Philippine Islands were surrendered to the Japanese, Capt. Donald Hanes became a Prisoner of War.  He was first held at Camp O'Donnell.  While a prisoner there, Capt. Hanes was selected for a work detail to rebuild bridges commanded by Lt. Col. Ted Wickord.  When this detail was over, Capt. Hanes was sent to Cabanatuan Camp #1.

    Little is known about Hanes' time at Cabanatuan.  What is known is that medical records kept at the camp show that he was admitted to the camp hospital on March 31, 1943.  Why he was admitted and when he was discharged were not recorded.
    In the fall of 1944, Capt. Hanes was sent to Bilibid Prison to await shipment to Japan.  On December 12, 1944, the POWs heard rumors that a detail was being sent out.  The POWs went through what was a farce of an inspection.  They were told cigarettes, soap, and salt would be issued.  The POWs were also told that they would also receive a meal to eat and one to take with them.  The Japanese stated they would leave by 7:00 in the morning, so the lights were left on all night.  At 4:00 a.m. the morning of December 13th, Ben and the other POWs were awakened.
    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 that the POWs were allowed to sit down.  Many of the POWs slept until 3:45 in the afternoon.  They were awakened about 5:00 PM and boarded the Oryoku Maru for transport to Japan. 
    Donald was put into the ship's rear hold.  800 POWs were put in the hold.  They were then fed fish and barley.  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 sound 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.   POWs were reported as drinking urine and howling.  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.  When the U.S. Navy planes resumed their attack, the attacks came in waves.  The POWs would live through three more attacks.  During one attack, a bomb came through the side of the ship blowing a large hole in the aft hold and resulting in the deaths of many POWs.  The POWs noted that attack was heavier then the day before.
   At 8:00 A.M.,
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.  Carroll made his way on deck and went over the side and swam to shore near Olongapo, Subic Bay, Luzon.  As he swam to shore, which was about 300 to 400 yards away, the Japanese soldiers fired on the POWs to keep them in the water so they would not escape.
   
As they swam to shore, four American planes flew over them at a low altitude.  The POWs frantically waved to them hoping to prevent them from strafing.  The planes veered off and returned flying lower over the POWs.  This time, they dipped their wings to acknowledged they knew they were Americans.  Once on shore, the POWs were herded onto tennis courts at the Olongapo Naval Station at Subic Bay.  It was noted by the POWs when they reached shore that much of the ship's stern was blown away.
     

   While the POWs were at Olongapo, 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.  What was learned is that these men were taken to a cemetery and shot.  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.

   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 was 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.

    The Brazil Maru sailed for Japan, from Takao, on January 14, 1945.  After a sixteen day trip, during which it tolled another ship, the Brazil Maru arrived at Moji on January 30th.  In Japan, Hanes was held as a POW at Fukuoka POW Camp #1.  This camp was known by the name, "The Pine Tree Camp."  But, by the time Hanes arrived in Japan, he was extremely ill.  Capt. Donald Hanes died on February 5, 1945, of dysentery at Fukuoka Camp #1 in Japan.  His remains were cremated and given to the camp commandant.  His ashes were put into an urn with the ashes of 98 other POWs.
    According to Ted Wickord, the son of Lt. Col. Ted Wickord, the Hanes family rented the apartment in the two flat that his family owned in Maywood.  He had been told by his mother that he should intercept any telegram sent to Mrs. Hanes.  Somehow, Mrs. Hanes received the telegram telling of her husband's death.  Ted, his mother, and brother did not know this until they heard the sound of Mrs. Hanes falling to the floor after reading the telegram.  Ironically, two days later a postcard from Capt. Hanes arrived stating that he was in good health.
    After the war, on September 27, 1949, the remains of Capt. Donald L. Hanes were buried in Section 82, Site 1B-1D, at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.  Since at that time there was no way to accurately identify his remains, Capt. Donald Hanes was buried in a mass grave with other American POWs who died at Fukuoka Camp #1.  He shares his grave with 2nd Lts. Marshall Kennady, Harry Black, and Everett Preston of the 192nd.
    The photo below shows Capt Donald Hanes' name listed on the headstone of the mass grave.

        


 

 

 

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