Knox H.

 

2nd Lt. Henry Mortimer Knox


    2nd Lt. Henry M. Knox was the son of Ross & Nina Knox.  He was born in Fort Atkinson but raised in Beloit, Wisconsin, on September 12, 1914.  There he resided at 1408 Third Street in Janesville, and later, with his family, at 2229 Riverside Drive in Beloit.  He worked as a salesman for a roofing company.

    Henry joined the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Tank Company in Janesville on August 17, 1940.  On November 25, 1940, the unit was federalized and renamed A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. 

    After arriving at Ft. Knox, Henry was assigned to Headquarters Company when it was formed.  He remained with the company through the maneuvers in Louisiana. 

    In late summer of 1941, the 192nd took part in the maneuvers in Louisiana.  While they participated in these maneuvers, they had no idea that they had already been selected for duty in the Philippine Islands.  When the maneuvers were completed, the 192nd was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana.  It was there that the battalion was called together and its members informed that their time in the military had been extended.  It was at this time that Henry was commissioned a second lieutenant. 

    On the side of a hill, the battalion members were informed that they were being sent overseas.  They were told that this decision had been made by General George Patton.  Those members of the battalion who were 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service.  Men were  given leaves home to say goodbye 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.
 
    At some point, Henry resigned as an enlisted man and was commissioned an officer.  With his commission, he was put into command of one of A Company's tank platoons.

    On December 8, 1941, Henry and the other members of A Company lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  Henry was amazed by how thorough the Japanese attack was at destroying the American Army-Air Corp.

    That morning before the attack, Henry and the rest of A Company were sent to the perimeter of the Clark Field to protect the field against possible Japanese paratroopers.  Over the next four months, Henry, along with the other members of the 192nd, fought to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines.

   On April 9, 1942, the Filipino and American forces were surrendered to the Japanese.  Henry was now a Prisoner of War.  Henry took part in what would become known as the "Death March."  As a POW, he was first held at Camp O'Donnell.  It was there that 2nd Lt. Ben Morin of B Company and Henry would renew their friendship.  As it turned out, the two men would spend the rest of their captivity together.

    Henry was next held at Cabanatuan Camp #1 and assigned to Barracks#29, which was an officers' barracks, until the autumn of 1942.  Then he was sent to Bilibid Prison for preparation for shipment to Japan.  There the prisoners underwent physicals to determined if they were healthy enough to be sent to Japan.  Henry was boarded onto the Nagato Maru for Japan.  Henry recalled that even though the Japanese still had plenty of ships, the POWs were crammed into the hold of the ship.

    Arriving in Japan, Henry was sent by train to Tanagawa where he was was held as a POW.  It was there that Henry helped Lt. Ben Morin cremate the remains of his high school friend.  On June 16, 1943,  he was sent to Yokaishi, Japan.  He was then sent to Zentsuji Camp near the City of Shikoku by train.  With him in each of the camps was Lt. Ben Morin.

    The POWs had a good idea of what was going on in the war from Japanese newspapers.  Among the prisoners were British officers who could read Japanese and tell the other men what was going on in the war.  On June 6, 1944, all newspapers were banned from the camp.  The POWs smuggled them into the camp and continued to read them.

    The final camp Henry was held at was Rokuroshi.  He was transferred there on June 25, 1945.  The camp was next to a great Buddhist temple.  This camp was for officers only and held 750 POWs. There Henry met officers from the British and Australian armies.  Four months after arriving in this camp, Henry was liberated by American forces.  Henry was the only officer of A Company who surrendered on Bataan to survive the war.

    Henry remembered that one time the Japanese left an airplane on a parade ground near the camp.  Three Air Corps officers came up with the idea of stealing the plane and flying it to Russia.  One night the three men climbed over the camp fence to steal the plane.  The problem was that they could not locate the plane in the dark.  Realizing that their plan was not going to work, the men attempted to climb the fence back into the camp.  Henry stated that the POWs had a harder time getting back into the camp than they had getting out of it.

    Henry and the other prisoners learned of the atomic bomb from Japanese newspapers.  He and the other men were liberated and left Japan on September 12, 1945.  Like many of the former POWs, Henry was returned to the Philippines for medical treatment.  While there, he was reunited with his brother, Forrest.  It was the first time that the brothers had seen each other in three and one half years.  

    Henry returned to Janesville and married.  He and his wife had two sons.  Henry remained in the army and rose in rank to captain.  When he retired from the army on October 31, 1960, he settled in Portland, Oregon where he worked as a superintendent of building services for 17 years.  He retired in 1978 and spent the rest of his life in Portland.  Henry M. Knox passed away on June 19, 2000.  He was cremated and his ashes were interred at Willamette National Cemetery in Happy Valley, Oregon.

    The picture at the top of the page was taken while Henry was a POW in Japan.


 

 

 

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