Lane H.

 

Pvt. Harold Dale Lane


    Pvt. Harold D. Lane was born on November 13, 1921, in Litchfield, Illinois.  He was the son of Mary Evaline Beck-Lane & Homer Lane.  His family lived at 622 South 24th Avenue in Bellwood and later 142 South Eleventh Avenue in Maywood.  Harold attended local schools in Bellwood and was a member of the class of 1939 of Proviso Township High School.  He left school early and worked at American Can Company in Maywood.

    In 1939, Harold joined the Illinois National Guard.  On November 25, 1940, he was called to federal service when the tank company was called to federal service for one year.

    Harold trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky, for almost a year.  During this time, he qualified as a motorcycle messenger for his company.  He then took part in maneuvers in Louisiana in the late summer of 1941. 
    After the maneuvers he and the other members of the battalion remained behind at Camp Polk.  None of them had any idea why they had not returned to Ft. Knox.   The battalion members learned that they were being sent overseas.  Those 29 years old or older were given the chance to resign from federal service. 
Harold received a furlough home.  It is likely that it was at this time that he married.  His wife, Adeline, in Davenport, Iowa.  The couple would setup their home at 142 South 11th Avenue in Maywood.

    After the companies were brought up to strength with replacements for the men released from federal service, the battalion was equipped with new tanks and halftracks.  The battalion traveled over three different railroad routes to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. 
    On the island, the soldiers were inoculated and received physicals.  Those who had minor medical issues were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. 

    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  For many, it would be the last time that they would ever see the United States.  The battalion arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd.  The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island.  On Tuesday, November 4th, 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.  

    Seventeen days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Harold and the other members of Company B arrived in Manila.  The battalion was deployed Fort 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.  They spent the next seven days preparing their equipment for use in the maneuvers they expected to take part in.

    Harold lived through the attack on Clark Airfield.  He spent the next four months fighting to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines.  On April 9, 1942, Harold became a Prisoner Of War.  He most likely took part in what would become known as the "Bataan Death March" and was held at Camp O'Donnell.  

    Realizing that Camp O'Donnell was a death trap, Harold volunteered to go out on a detail to Pampanga Province.  The POWs on the detail tied together vehicles which had been disabled during the withdraw into Bataan.  They drove the vehicles to San Fernando.  From there, the vehicles were taken to Manila and sent to Japan.

    At some point on the detail, Harold came down with malaria, and he also developed beriberi.  He was returned to Cabanatuan.  According to medical records kept at the camp hospital, he was admitted to the camp hospital on July 4, 1942.  He remained in the hospital until he was discharged on August 3, 1942. 
    Harold went out on a work detail to build runways on the Las Pinas Detail. 
The POWs on the detail were housed at the Pasay School in eighteen rooms.  Thirty POWs were assigned to a room.  The POWs were used to extend and widen runways for the Japanese Navy.   The plans for this expansion came from the American Army which had drawn them up before the war.  The Japanese wanted a runway 500 yards wide and a mile long going through hills and a swamp.
    Unlike the Americans, the Japanese had no plans on using construction equipment. Instead, they intended the POWs to do the work with picks, shovels, and wheel barrows.  The first POWs arrived at Pasay in August 1942.  The work was easy until the extension reached the hills.  When the extension reached the hills, some of which were 80 feet high, the POWs flattened them by hand.  The Japanese replaced the wheel barrows with mining cars that two POWs pushed to the swamp and dumped as land-fill.  As the work became harder and the POWs weaker, less work got done.
    At six in the morning, the POWs had reveille and "bongo," or count, at 6:15 in detachments of 100 men.  After this came breakfast which was a fish soup with rice.  After breakfast, there was a second count of all POWs, which included both healthy and sick, before the POWs marched a mile and half to the airfield.
    After arriving at the airfield, they were counted again.  They went to a tool shed and received their tools; once again they were counted.  At the end of the work day, the POWs were counted again.  When they arrived back at the school, they were counted again.  Then, they would rush to the showers, since there only six showers and toilets for over 500 POWs.  They were fed dinner, another meal of fish and rice and than counted one final time. Lights were turned out at 9:00 P.M.
 

    The brutality shown to the POWs was severe.  The first Japanese commander of the camp, a Lt. Moto, was called the "White Angel" because he wore a spotless naval uniform.  He was commander of the camp for slightly over thirteen months.  One day a POW collapsed while working on the runway.  Moto was told about the man and came out and ordered him to get up.  When he couldn't four other Americans were made to carry the man back to the Pasay School. 
    At the school, the Japanese guards gave the man a shower and straightened his clothes as much as possible.  The other Americans were ordered to the school.  As they stood there, the White Angel ordered an American captain to follow him behind the school.  The POW was marched behind the school and the other Americans heard two shots.  The American officer told the men that the POW had said, "Tell them I went down smiling." There, the White Angel shot the POW as the man smiled at him.   As the man lay on the ground, he shot him a second time.  The American captain told the other Americans what had happened.  The White Angel told them that this was what going to happen to anyone who would not work for the Japanese Empire.
    The second commanding officer of the detail was known as "the Wolf."  He was a civilian who wore a Japanese Naval Uniform.  Each morning, he would come to the POW barracks and select those POWs who looked the sickest and made them line up.  The men were made to put one leg on each side of a trench and then do 50 push-ups.  If a man's arms gave out and he touched the ground, he was beaten with pick handles.
    On another occasion a POW collapsed on the runway.  The Wolf had the man taken back to the barracks.  When the Wolf came to the barracks that evening and the man was still unconscious, he banged the man's head into the concrete floor and kicked him in the head.  He then took the man to the shower and drowned him in the basin.
    A third POW who had tried to walk away from the detail told the guards to shoot him, the guards took him back to the Pasay School and strung him up by his thumbs outside the doorway and placed a bottle of beer and sandwich in front of him.  He was dead by evening.
    The remains of the POWs who had died on the detail were brought to Bilibid Prison in boxes.  The Japanese had death certificates, with the causes of death and signed by an American doctor, sent with the boxes.  The Americans from the detail, who accompanied the boxes, would not tell the POWs at Bilibid what had happened.  It was only when the sick, from the detail, began to arrive at Bilibid did they learn what the detail was like.  These men were sent to Bilibid to die since it would look better when it was reported to the International Red Cross.
   
 

   At some point Harold became ill and was admitted to the hospital at Bilibid Prison.  According to medical records kept at the hospital suffering he was suffering from kidney disease.  The records also show that he was discharged on June 28, 1943 and sent to Cabanatuan.          

    On August 17, 1944, Harold and other POWs were sent to Bilibid Prison.  There, they we remained for about two weeks. During this time he was given a physical.  It was determined that he was healthy enough to be transported to Japan.  

    Harold and 1000 other POWs were taken to the Port Area of Manila and boarded onto the Noto Maru July 15th.  All 1033 POWs were packed into the ship's only hold.  These ships were known as "Hell Ships" because of the conditions that the prisoners endured.

    On July 17, 1944, the Noto Maru sailed for Takao, Formosa, as part of a convoy.  During the trip, the convoy was attacked by an American submarine.  Another ship carrying 1500 POWs was sunk.  Arriving in Formosa on July 27th, the ship anchored for the night before sailing the next day for Moji, Japan.  The ship arrived at Moji on August 3rd.  From there, the POWs were dispersed among various POW camps.

    Harold was sent to Tokyo Base Camp #1 at Omori.  There, he and the other prisoners worked in a coal mine.  The diet of the POWs in the camp consisted of barley, millet. miso soup.  Once in awhile the POWs would receive potatoes,  seaweed, octopus,  and a giant radish known as daikon.  He remained in the camp until he was liberated when Japan surrendered in September of 1945.  It should be mentioned that after the war a number of POWs, from the camp, made propaganda broadcasts for the Japanese.

    Harold returned to the Philippines, by plane, for medical treatment.  It was at this time that he was promoted to staff sergeant.  Harold was boarded onto the U.S.S. Yarmouth and arrived in San Francisco on October 8, 1945.  He was sent to Letterman General Hospital for further medical treatment.
     Returning to Maywood, Harold was discharged, from the army, on December 16, 1945.  He returned to Proviso Township High School, as a student, to earn his diploma.  He would later reside in Rockford, Illinois, and became the father of a daughter and son.  Harold worked as a machinist until he retired and moved to New Mexico.

    Harold D. Lane died on January 22, 1994, and was buried in Section  9,  Site  1826, at Santa Fe National Cemetery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


 

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