Noworul

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 overseas. 
    The battalion traveled west by train to San Francisco.  Arriving there, they were taken by ferry to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  At Ft. McDowell, they were given physicals and inoculated.   Those men found to have a minor medical condition 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.  They 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. 
   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.
    For the next seventeen days, the tankers loaded ammunition belts and worked at cleaning the cosmoline out of their weapons.  They were scheduled to take part in maneuvers.

    On December 8, 1941, Carl's company was ordered to the perimeter of the airfield to guard it against Japanese paratroopers.  That morning they had been informed of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He and the other tankers watched the attack on Clark Field since most of their weapons were useless against airplanes.  They fought the best they could with weapons that were not designed to fight aircraft.

    In the Philippines, Harry fought the Japanese in the slow withdrawal into the Bataan Peninsula.  With the other members of Company B, he fought a gallant battle against a better supplied enemy force.  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.
    In Japan, he was held at Osaka 12-B,  The POWs in the camp worked at the Seitetsu Steel Mill.  They worked at the blast furnaces, loaded and unloaded ships, cleaned slag from the furnaces, and in the machine shop.  At some point, Harry was transferred to Tokyo #2B POW.  The POWs in this camp worked at a steel mill owned by the Nitsui Corporation.  

    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.


 

 


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