Richter

 

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 uncle's farm.
    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 tanks took assigned positions around the airfield to stop Japanese paratroopers.  At 8:30 A.M., American planes took off and patrolled the sky.  At noon, the planes landed and were parked in a straight line outside the mess hall so the pilots could get lunch. 
    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.

    After the attack, the company was sent to the Barrio of Dau so it would be close to a highway and railroad.  From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River.  There, the tanks, with A Company, 194th held the position. 
    On December 23rd and 24th, the company was in the area of Urdaneta.  It was there, that the tankers lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write.  After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get south of Agno River after the main bridge had been destroyed.  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.

   

    A Company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga.  It was there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt. William Reed.  The company returned to the 192nd on January 8, 1942.
    On January 28th, the tank battalions 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.
    A Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese Marines 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 had left 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. 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 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.
    Lloyd was sent to the camp, but he went out on a work detail on June 21, 1942, to Manila.  Most of the POWs on the detail worked as stevedores on Pier 7.  Lloyd was given the job of driving a truck.    One of the best things about the detail was that the POWs were fed beef once in awhile.  
At some point, he requested to be sent to Cabanatuan since he wanted to see other members of A Company.  After being in the camp for awhile, he regretted the decision.
    Lloyd went out on the Las Pinas Detail, in September 1943, to build runways for the Japanese Navy. 
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 detail was under the control of the Japanese Navy and welfare of the POWs was of no concern to them.  They only concern they had was getting the runway built.  If the number of POWs identified as being sick was too large, the Japanese would simply walk among the POWs, at the school, and select men who did not display any physical signs of illness or injury.  Men suffering from dysentery or pellagra could not get out of work.     
    The POWs were divided into two detachments.  The first detachment drained rice paddies and laid the ground work for the runway, while the second detachment built the runway.  When most of the work was done in July 1944, most of the POWs were returned to Cabanatuan, but he did not remain there for long since name appeared on a roster of POWs being sent to Japan.  Trucks arrived at the camp and the POWs were driven to the Port Area of Manila.
    During his time on the detail, Lloyd had a malaria attack that lasted five days.  About three weeks after recovering, he had a relapse which confined him to bed for four weeks.  After he recovered, he never had another malaria attack.  He also at some time developed a kidney infection.
    In July 1944, the detail was ended and the POWs were taken 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., and the Japanese attempted to put them all in one hold.  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, at San Francisco on the U.S.S. Storm King.  Lloyd was sent Mayo Hospital in Galesburg, Illinois, for treatment for his kidney ailment.  He was given a 21 day leave home and 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, and worked as a carpenter.  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.
  


 

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