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 were housed at the Pasay School in eighteen rooms. 30 POWs were assigned to a room. The POWs were used to extend and widen runways for the Japanese Navy. The plans for this expansion came from the American Army which had drawn them up before the war. The Japanese wanted a runway 500 yards wide and a mile long going through hills and a swamp.
Unlike the Americans, the Japanese had no plans on using construction equipment. Instead, they intended the POWs to do the work with picks, shovels, and wheel barrows. The first POWs arrived at Pasay in August 1942. The work was easy until the extension reached the hills. When the extension reached the hills, some of which were 80 feet high, the POWs flattened them by hand. The Japanese replaced the wheel barrows with mining cars that two POWs pushed to the swamp and dumped as land-fill. As the work became harder and the POWs weaker, less work got done.
At six in the morning, the POWs had reveille and "bongo," or count, at 6:15 in detachments of 100 men. After this came breakfast which was a fish soup with rice. After breakfast, there was a second count of all POWs, which included both healthy and sick, before the POWs marched a mile and half to the airfield.
After arriving at the airfield, they were counted again. They went to a tool shed and received their tools; once again they were counted. At the end of the work day, the POWs were counted again. When they arrived back at the school, they were counted again. Then, they would rush to the showers, since there only six showers and toilets for over 500 POWs. They were fed dinner, another meal of fish and rice and than counted one final time. Lights were turned out at 9:00 P.M.