|Pvt. Norman A. Paul
Pvt. Norman A. Paul was born on April 15, 1913, in
Hoard Township, Clark County, Wisconsin, to Robert
Paul & Mary Bremer-Paul. He had two sisters
and five brothers. He left school after the
eighth grade to go to work.
Norman was inducted into the U.S. Army on April 7, 1941, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training and was assigned to A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. During his training, he learned to operate the equipment of the battalion.
In late August, the battalion was informed it would take part in maneuvers in Louisiana. During the maneuvers the battalion performed exceptionally well. After the maneuvers, instead of returning to Ft. Knox, the battalion remained at Camp Polk. None of the members had any idea why they were being kept there.
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.
The battalion traveled by train to San Francisco. By ferry, they were taken to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they received inoculations and physicals. Those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island. They were scheduled to join the battalion at a later date.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S Calvin Coolidge 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 November 5th, 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 worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons. The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea. They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance.
On the morning of December 8, 1941, the members of A Company were informed of the Japanese attack on Clark Field. His tank and the others were sent to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. About 12:45 in the afternoon as the tankers were eating lunch, planes approached the airfield from the north. At first, the soldiers thought the planes were American. It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that they knew the planes were Japanese.
The 192nd remained at Clark field for about a week before they were ordered to the barrio of Dau so it would be near a road and railroad. For the next four months, the tankers held positions so that the other units could disengage and form a defensive line.
At Gumain River, the tank companies formed a defensive line along the south bank of the river. When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easily seen since they were wearing white t-shirts. It was there that the tankers found that the Japanese soldiers were high on drugs when they attacked. Among the dead Japanese, the tankers found the hypodermic needles and syringes. The tankers were able to hold up the Japanese for several weeks.
On another occasion the company was in bivouac on two sides of a road. They posted sentries and most of the tankers attempted to get some sleep. The sentries heard noise down the road and woke the company. Every man grabbed a weapon. As they watched, a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac. The tankers opened fire with everything they had. When they stopped firing, they had completely wiped out the bicycle battalion.
On March 2nd or 3rd, during "The Battle of the Points." The tanks had been sent in to wipe out two pockets of Japanese soldiers who had been landed behind the main defensive line. The Japanese were soon cut off. When the Japanese attempted to land reinforcements, they landed them at the wrong place creating another pocket.
The night of April 8, 1942, the members of A Company circled their tanks. Each tank fired one armor piercing shell into the engine of the tank in front of it. The tankers next opened up the gasoline valves and dropped hand grenades into the turrets. The next morning at 7:00 A.M. they became Prisoners of War.
The POWs made their way north from Mariveles. The first five miles of the march were uphill. At one point, the members of the company had to run past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor. They received little water and little food. When they reached San Fernando, they were put into a bull pen. In one corner of the bull pen was a trench the POWs were suppose to use as a washroom. The surface of the trench was alive with maggots. How long they remained in the bull pen is not known.
The Japanese ordered the POWs to form ranks. They were marched to the train stationed and packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane. Each car could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car. Those who died remained standing since there was no place for them to fall. At Capas, the living left the cars and the dead fell to the floors. They walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base. There was one water faucet for the entire camp. Men literally died for a drink. The death rate in the camp began to rise until as many as 55 men dying each day. The burial detail worked non-stop to bury the dead. Often, when they returned the next morning, the wild dogs had dug up the bodies or the bodies were sitting up in their graves.
The Japanese opened a new POW camp near Cabanatuan to lower the death rate among the POWs. It is not known if Norman was sent to the camp when it opened or if he was sent there after returning from a work detail.
On June 13th, the Japanese selected 200 POWs for a work detail at the Port Area of Manila. The POWs were used as stevedores to load and unload ships. At first the POWs were first housed in a warehouse which was poorly lit and ventilated. The bathroom and kitchen facilities were also poor. The Japanese finally housed the POWs in the Port Terminal Building across the street from Pier 7. Once this was done, more 200 more POWs were added to the detail. The detail was disbanded on July 15, 1944.
The POWs were boarded onto the Nissyo Maru the same day and remained in the hold for two days before the ship sailed. At first, the prisoners viewed this as a means of escape from the life in the camps. They would later regret this belief. The POWs were put into the hold of the ship back to back while standing up. When the hold was full, the Japanese closed the hatches.
The ship sailed for Japan on July 17, 1944. There was very little water and no sanitary facilities. For the men in the hold, food was not as important as water. Men began going crazy and would attack each other for the smallest reasons.
During the voyage, the prisoners heard a "bang" under the ship. They assumed that it was a torpedo from an American submarine. Another ship in the convoy, the Hakusan Maru, was carrying 707 POWs was hit by torpedoes resulting in the deaths of almost all the Americans. The attack took place at 3:00 A.M. The POWs did not know it, but they were under attack by a wolf pack made up of the U.S.S. Crevale, U.S.S. Angler, and U.S.S. Flasher.
The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on July 27th. It sailed the next day for Moji, Japan. From July 30th to August 2nd the ship sailed through a storm. On August 3rd, the POWs were issued clothes. The ship finally arrived at Moji on August 4th at midnight. They were unloaded from the ship at 8:00 A.M.
The POWs formed detachments. Norman's detachment was taken by train to Nagoya #7-B. The POWs in the camp mined zinc and lead.
According to records kept at the camp, Tec 5 Norman A. Paul died from chronic bronchitis on Tuesday, July 24, 1945. His body was taken to a crematorium and the ashes given to the camp commandant. After he was liberated, Emerson Rex, of A Company, would tell Norman's parents of his death.
After the war, Donald's remains were positively identified. At the request of his family, his remains were returned home and on November 24, 1948. He was buried in Section C--25, Site 14284 at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.