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
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.
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 the United States on the Simon Bolivar, at San Francisco,on October 21, 1945. He received further medical treatment before he 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, and was cremated. 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.