Pvt. Harry J. Noworul
Pvt. Harry J. Noworul was born
in Chicago on June 20, 1917. He was the son
of Walter Noworul & Veronica
Kaczmarczyk-Noworul and the brother of Adolph and
Florence. He grew up above the grocery store
his parents owned at 2250 South Albany
Avenue. While growing up in Chicago, he
attended Farragut High School and then Harrison
High School. In 1940, he enlisted in the
United States Army because he wanted to do
something with his life.
Sometime during 1941, he was assigned to Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion. At this time, the army was still attempting to fill openings in National Guard units called to federal service with men from the same states. Harry most likely joined the company while it was training at Fort Knox in 1941.
In late summer 1941, the 192nd took part in
maneuvers in Louisiana. After these
maneuvers, the 192nd was sent to Camp Polk to
receive new equipment and prepare for duty
The tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field the morning of December 1st to guard against paratroopers. At all times, two members of each tank crew remained with their tanks. On December 8, 1941, they were informed of the attack on Pearl Harbor and returned to their tanks. At 8:30 that morning, American planes began taking off to guard the airfield and filled the sky. At noon, the planes landed and were parked in a straight line outside the mess hall. The pilots went to lunch.
At 12:45 in the afternoon, planes approached the
airfield from the north. The tankers had
time enough to count 54 planes in the
formation. They saw what some described as
raindrops falling from the planes and knew they
were bombs when they began exploding on the
The tank battalion
that it was to
B and C
ran low on
enough for one
to support the
On April 9, 1942, Harry became a Prisoner of War when Filipino and American Forces were surrendered to the Japanese. To him, the worst thing was the sight of hundreds of Japanese troops surrounding the men in his detachment.
In one of the strangest twists of fate, the Japanese assembled members of Harry's company and asked those who could drive an American car to step forward. When all the members present stepped forward, the Japanese became angry. Through an interpreter, the POWs were able to explain that almost everyone in the United States could drive a car. This was a fact the Japanese found hard to believe.
Harry was selected by the Japanese to drive a car along the route of what would become known as "The Bataan Death March." While driving the Japanese officers, Harry saw his neighborhood friend from Chicago, Anthony Czerwin, from the 17th Pursuit Squadron.
After Harry had completed his car driving duty, he too took part in the death march with his friend from B Company Pvt. Andy Aquila. While Harry was on the march, he came close to being bayoneted by a Japanese guard because he was caught bartering with a Filipino civilian for food.
As a POW, Harry was held at Camp O'Donnell. While there, he came down with malaria. He was extremely ill and was close to death when Tony Czerwin gave Mike Wepsiec quinine pills that Tony had gotten by bartering with a Filipino civilian. These pills saved Harry's life.
While at Camp O'Donnell, Harry was among 100 POWs selected to go out on a work detail to Bataan to retrieve American vehicles that had been destroyed by the army before it was surrendered. It was while he was on this detail that Harry and Sgt. Ray Vandenbroucke would bury Cpl. William Burns, Pvt. Charles Peterson and Pvt. Edwin Singletary. All three men were members of Company B.
Harry was also held as a prisoner at Bilibid
Prison and did dock work in Manila before he was
sent to Japan on a hell ship. Harry was
boarded onto the Taga Maru which was
also known as the Coral Maru. The
ship sailed on September 20, 1943, and arrived
at Tako, Formosa, on September 23rd. It
sailed again on September 26th and arrived at
Moji, Japan, on October 5th. During the
voyage, 70 POWs died and their bodies were
thrown into the sea.
Harry was liberated by American Occupation Forces and was returned to the Philippines for medical treatment. On the U.S.S. Yarmouth he returned to the United States at San Francisco on October 8, 1945. After receiving more medical treatment, he returned to Chicago. He married his girlfriend, Dorothy, who had waited for him to return home not knowing if he was alive or dead. Together they would raise a son and a daughter.
After he returned home, Harry helped the families of William Burns and Charles Peterson bring the remains of their sons home by drawing a map to show where they had been buried. This map also allowed the army to rebury the remains of Edwin Singletary at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.
Harry was discharged, from the army, on May 10, 1947. The effects of the war did not end with Harry's return home. Harry's son recalled the first time he ever saw his father cry was on the day that his mother died. Harry's wife had provided the support he needed to start his life over again. Harry J. Norowul passed away on October 18, 1989.
The picture at the top of the page was taken of Harry, by the Japanese, while he was a prisoner. The number 487 is written on it. This was Harry's POW identification number. Harry's son, Walter, received the photo at his father's wake. A man came up to him and said that he thought Walter might want the picture. Right after the man handed Walter the photo, Walter was temporary distracted by someone else, when he turned back to talk to the man, the man was gone. Walter never learned who the man was and how the man came to have his father's POW photo.