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.

    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 runways.
    The tankers only could watch 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.

    The tank battalion remained at the the airfield until it received orders on December 21st that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.  Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas.  When they reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta.   The bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of river.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening.  They successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
    On December 25th, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th.
    The tankers were fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th.  While there, the bridge over the Pampanga River was destroyed, they were able find a crossing over the river.
  
    During the withdraw into the peninsula, the company crossed over the last bridge which was mined and about to be blown.  The 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it and then cover the 192nd's withdraw. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
    Over the next several months, the battalion fought battle after battle with tanks that were not designed for jungle warfare. 
The tank battalions , on January 28th, were given the job of protecting the beaches.  The 192nd was assigned the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.
    B Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line.  The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time to replace a tank in the pocket.  Another tank did not enter the pocket until a tank exited the pocket.
    To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used.  The first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank.  As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually exploded.
    The other method to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole.  The driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around and grinding its way down into the foxhole.  The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.

    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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