Pvt. Lloyd James Richter
| Pvt. Lloyd J.
Richter was born on July 29, 1913, in Marshall,
Minnesota, to Edward Richter & Rose
Schoell-Richter. He was known as "James" to
his family and called "Shadow" by his friends.
In 1930, he was living in Iowa and working on his
At some point, Lloyd moved to Janesville, Wisconsin, and joined the Wisconsin National Guard. His tank company was federalized in September 1941 and officially activated on November 25th. On November 28th, the company boarded a train for Ft. Knox, Kentucky.
Arriving at Ft. Knox, the tank soldiers attended various schools for training. It is not known what training that Lloyd received.
In the late summer of 1941, the 192nd was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, to take part in maneuvers. According to members of the battalion, during the maneuvers, they broke through the defensive perimeter of General George Patton's Army and were about to overrun his headquarters when the maneuvers were suddenly canceled. After the maneuvers, instead of returning to Ft. Knox, they were held at Camp Polk not knowing why. It was on the side of a hill, that Gen. Patton informed them that they were being sent overseas. The day they received this news was the day that they were scheduled to be released from federal service. Those men 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service.
Traveling west by train, the battalion arrived in San Francisco. They were then taken by ferry to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. At the fort, they were given physicals and inoculated. Some men were held back for medical reasons and scheduled to be sent to the Philippines 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 a 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. They sailed the same day for Manila. The ships 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.
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.
The morning of December 8, 1941, the officers of the battalion were called together and ordered to have their tank platoons deployed to the perimeter of Clark Airfield. They were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The deployment around the airfield was to stop Japanese paratroopers.
As the tankers sat in their tanks, all morning long, they watched as American planes filled the sky. At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch. The tankers were also having lunch when planes were seen approaching the airfield from the north. They had enough time to count 54 planes. Many of the tankers speculated that the planes were American. They then saw what looked like raindrops falling from the planes. It was when bombs began exploding on the runways that the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese.
After the bombers were through, they were followed by Japanese Zeros. The Zeros strafed the airfield and fort. Some of the tankers manned their .50 caliber machine guns and fired on the planes. It was reported that they shot down as many as nine planes. After the attack, the tankers saw the carnage done by the planes.
The tank battalion remained at Clark Field for several days before being sent north to Lingayen Gulf where the Japanese had landed troops. They fought a delaying action to allow troops and supplies to enter Bataan.
In one incident, that took place December 23rd and 24th, the company was told by General Wainwright's headquarters that he was immediate commander of the area. The company was sent north of the Agno River. While they were north of the river, the main bridge on the Carmen Road was destroyed. The tank company found itself in danger of being caught behind enemy lines. This resulted in the company having to make end runs to cross the river on one of the two remaining bridges.
At the 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 date, the tanks of A Company had bivouacked for the night when the guards heard a noise down the road. They awakened the other tankers and the men manned their guns. As they watched a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac. They opened fire with everything they had. According to members of the company, there was a great deal of confusion, noise, and screaming. Then, there was silence. They had completely wiped out the bicycle battalion.
Company A was assigned the duty of protecting the west coast of Bataan from Japanese invasion. It was during this duty, that they would engage the enemy, who had landed troops behind the Filipino and American lines, in what was to become known as the Battle of the Points.
The Japanese had landed soldiers behind the main defensive line on Bataan on January 22nd at Quinauan Point. The troops soon were surrounded in their beachhead with no way out. When the Japanese attempted to land reinforcements, they were landed on the wrong place creating a second pocket on Anyasan Point. Both points were wiped out. 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.
On April 9, 1942, 7:00 A.M., Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese. The night before, the tankers were given the order "Crash." The members of A Company circled their tanks and each tank fired an armor piecing round into the tank in front. They next opened the gasoline valves in the tanks and dropped grenades into each tank. The soldiers waited for the Japanese to make contact. When the Japanese did, they were officially Prisoners of War.
A Company started the death march at Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan. They made their way north to San Fernando. During the march they received no water and little food. At one point, Lloyd was shot in his thigh with a bullet from a pistol by a Japanese guard. Once they reached San Fernando, they were herded into a bull pen. In one corner was a trench for the POWs to use as a washroom. The surface of the trench moved because it was covered with maggots. A Japanese medic treated Lloyd's leg wound at San Fernando.
The POWs were ordered to fall-in. They formed detachments and marched to the train station. There, they were packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane. The cars were known as "Forty and Eights' because each car could hold forty soldiers or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car. The heat in the car was stifling and many POWs died. They remained standing until the living left the boxcars at Capas. From Capas the POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army Training Base that the Japanese pressed into use as a POW camp. There was one water faucet for the entire camp. Disease ran wild in the camp and as many as 50 POWs died each day. Those POWs assigned to the burial detail worked day and night to bury the dead. Since there was a high water table, the POWs would hold the bodies down with poles until the bodies were covered with dirt. Frequently, when the detail returned to the cemetery to bury more dead, the wild dogs had dog up the bodies, or the bodies were sitting upright in the graves.
The situation in the camp got so bad that the Japanese opened a new camp at Cabanatuan to lower the death rate among the POWs. Lloyd was sent to the camp, but he went out on a work detail on June 21, 1942, Manila. Most of the POWs on the detail worked as stevedores on Pier 7. Lloyd was given the job of driving a truck. It is not known how long he was on the detail, but he is not pictured in the photo of the POWs, on the detail, taken in 1943. He apparently sent to Bilibid Prison.
Lloyd also went out on the Las Pinas Detail to build runways at Nichols Field on December 6, 1942. The POWs on the detail lived at the Pasay School and walked to the airfield everyday. The POWs on the detail built runways with picks and shovels and literally removed hills to build the airfield. Carts, pushed by two POWs, were used to remove rubble from the hill work site and dumped the earth into the swamp to be used as landfill. Meals for the POWs were the leftovers from the Japanese kitchens.
The guards on the detail abused the POWs by overworking them. This resulted in the deaths of many POWs. Other POWs began to refer to the detail as a "death detail" because of the number of deaths. At some point while on the detail, Lloyd came down with malaria. He was ill for five days.
One day, in June 1943, while working at the airfield, the POWs saw two POWs executed by the Japanese. The two men were weak and sick and could not do much work. They decided to crawl to a tree and rest. The Japanese discovered one man leaning against the tree and killed him by order of the detail's Japanese commanding officer Captain Kazuki.
When they found the second POW, the Japanese made six POWs dig his grave and stand at attention around it. As they watched the Japanese shot the second man. His body fell into the grave and the other POWs covered it with dirt. Charles recalled that the man was a redhead.
The POWs also witnessed the death of a second POW in February 1944. According to the POWs, they had lined up for morning assembly. One POW had lined up incorrectly causing the POWs to be late in leaving to work at the airfield. Captain Kazuki, who was known as "The Wolf" to the POWs, ordered the guards to beat the POW. They proceeded to beat the man on his head and back for twenty minutes. After they were done, the man was taken back to the compound and never seen again.
The rumor spread in the camp that the man had died from a broken back. The Japanese ordered the American doctor to list the cause of death for the man as malaria. Having little choice, he did so.
When the detail ended in July 1944, Lloyd was sent to Bilibid Prison. After arriving at Bilibid, Lloyd's name appeared on a list of POWs being sent to Japan. He was give a physical. On July 14, the POWs were marched to the port area of Manila. Once at Pier 7, they were boarded onto the Nissyo Maru on July 17th at 8:00 A.M. When the Japanese realized they could not fit all the POWs in one hold, they opened a second hold.
The ship was moved on July 18th and anchored at the harbor breakwater from July 18th to July 23rd. At 8:00A.M. on the twenty-third, at 8:00 A.M., the ship moved to a point off Corregidor and dropped anchor at 7:00 P.M. The next morning, the ship sailed as part of a convoy which attempted to avoid American submarines by hugging the coast line of Luzon.
At 3:00 A.M. on July 26th, one of the ships, the Otari Yama Maru, was hit by a torpedo from the U.S.S. Flasher which was a part of a three submarine wolf pack made up of the U.S.S. Crevale, the U.S.S. Angler, and the U.S.S. Flasher. When it exploded the POWs saw the flames from the explosion shoot over the hatch of the hold. Several other ships were sunk. The remaining ships in the convoy reached Takao, Formosa, at 9:00 A.M on July 28th.
At 7:00 P.M. on July 28th, the ships sailed again. From July 30th to August 2nd, the convoy sailed through a storm. The next day the August 3rd, the POWs were issued new clothes. The ship arrived on August 4th at midnight at Moji, Japan. The POWs did not disembark the ship at 8:00 A.M. They were marched to a movie theater and held there in the dark.
The POWs formed detachments and marched to the train station. From there, they rode a train to the various POW camps along the line. Raymond arrived at a new POW camp known as Oeyama Camp. The POWs in this camp worked in a nickel refinery at a tin smelting plant and were involved in the manufacturing of corrugated tin. The only other member of A Company in the camp was William McAuliffe.
The POWs, in the camp, were used as common laborers at two nickel smelters. Others were marched nearly six miles to a nickel mine. In 1945, they also worked as stevedores at Miyazu Harbor which was located near one of the smelters. Since the bombing run ran over the camp, two POWs were killed. About two weeks later, a massive air raid on the town took place and lasted all night until it ended about midday.
On July 30th, B-29s bombed Miyazu. Since their bombing run went over the camp, two POWs were killed in the raid. Two weeks later the planes returned and bombed the town all night half way through the next day. A short time later, many of the POWs witnessed the atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki.
Lloyd was liberated on September 9, 1945, and returned to the Philippines for medical treatment. He was also promoted to sergeant. He then returned to the United States on October 15, 1945, and returned to Janesville. He was discharged on May 18, 1946.
The POWs were liberated from the camp on September 9, 1945. Lloyd was returned to the Philippines for medical treatment and was promoted to sergeant. He then returned to the United States on October 15, 1945. Lloyd returned to Janesville, Wisconsin, and was discharged on May 18, 1946.
On May 25, 1948, Lloyd was subpoenaed to give testimony against Tomoya Kawakita. Kawakita was an American citizen who worked as an interpreter for the Japanese at Osaka #3-B. He was charged with treason for torturing, taunting, and beating the POWs. He was called "Efficiency Expert" by the POWs for his beatings. Kawakita was found guilty and sentenced to death. President Dwight Eisenhower reduced the sentence to life in prison. Kawakita, after serving ten years, was later released when Alcatraz closed. He was deported to Japan.
Lloyd Richter married Mary B. Turner on April 25, 1946. He became the father of a daughter and son. He spent the rest of his life in Belvidere, Illinois.
Lloyd Richter died on June 26, 1985, at the Veterans Administration Hospital in North Chicago, Illinois. He was buried at Belvidere Cemetery in Belvidere, Illinois.