2nd Lt. Frank Edward Riley
Frank E. Riley was born on June 13, 1918, to
John C. Riley Sr. & Cora Frances
his sister, Helen, and his brother John grew
up at 2502 South Second Street in Saint
Joseph, Missouri. He
joined the Missouri National Guard in
1937. His brother, John, was also a
member. of the unit.
In November 1940, his tank company was federalized and given orders to report to Fort Lewis, Washington, on February 10, 1941. Their tank company was now designated as B Company, 194th Tank Battalion.
The tank battalion trained for over six months before receiving orders to report to Fort McDowell on Angel Island for overseas duty. It is not known when, but at some point, Frank was reassigned to C Company as an officer. As it turned out, B Company was detached from the 194th and sent to Alaska to bolster the Army presence there. Three weeks before he was sent to the Philippines, his wife gave birth to a daughter.
for this move was made on August 15, 1941, was
the result of an event that took place in the
summer of 1941. A squadron of American
fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf, in the
Philippines, when one of the pilots, who was
flying at a lower altitude, noticed something
odd. He took his plane down and identified
a flagged buoy in the water and saw another in
the distance. He came upon more buoys that
lined up, in a straight line for 30 miles to the
northwest, in the direction of an Japanese
occupied island which was hundred of miles
away. The island had a large radio
transmitter. The squadron continued its
flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to
On September 8, 1941, the battalion sailed for the Philippine Islands. At 7:00 AM on Sunday, September 13, the battalion arrived in Hawaii. The tankers were allowed ashore but had to report back in the early afternoon. The ship sailed again at 5:00 PM. The ship sailed but took a southerly route away from the major shipping lanes. During this part of the trip, the escort cruiser, the U.S.S. Astoria, took off several times when smoke was spotted on the horizon. Each time it turned out the ship was friendly.
The 194th arrived in the Philippines on September 26. After entering Manila Bay, the ranking officers met with a boarding party and decided the 194th and 17th Ordnance would be taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg, about 60 miles north of Manila. The maintenance section of the battalion remained behind to unload tanks. Since the commanding officer of the instillation, General Edward King had not received advanced warning of the arrival of the units, the tankers found themselves living in tents along the main road between Ft. Stotsenburg and Clark Airfield.
For over two months, the
battalion trained at Ft. Stotsenburg
awaiting for additional training to take
place with the arrival of the 192nd Tank
The M-3 tanks that they now had were
totally new to the tankers, so training in
them would be beneficial. The
training they would receive was not what
It is known that the 194th were
allowed to simulate deployment against an
invasion force in early November 1941.
Frank and the other
tankers engaged the Japanese in battle
after battle. Often,
the tanks were the last unit to disengage
from the enemy. Meals
for the crews consisted of two meals a
The longer they held out, their
food rations were cut further.
The morning of April 9,
1942, the tank crews heard the order
"crash." This meant they were to
disable their tanks and destroy
No sooner had they done when,
according to Frank, "They no sooner said
that than the Japanese came over the
hill." Frank was at the headquarters
of the 194th Tank Battalion recuperating
from the foot wound and concussion he
had received when his tank had been hit
two days earlier.
The Japanese arrived on
April 10 and ordered the Prisoners of War to
Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan. The
members of the 194th did not start the march
until around 7:00 P.M. They
marched until 3:00 in the morning. At
that time, the marchers were given an one
At 4:00 A.M., they began march again. When
he started the march, blood ran from his
ears and nose from the concussion.
They reached the barrio of Lamao at around
There the POWs were allowed to try to
find food; little
The POWs again were ordered to move at 9:00 A.M. The column reached Limay at noon. For Frank and the other tankers, this was from where they really started the death march. Up to this time, the guards, regular combat soldiers, had shown a great deal of respect for them. As they got further north, the treatment kept getting worse
When the POWs reached San Fernando, they were herded into a bullpen. The ground was covered in human waste from previous POWs. They next made their way to the train station. There, they boarded small wooden boxcars which were known as forty or eights. The cars could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car.
During the trip to Capas, the POWs were packed in so tightly that those who died remained standing. When the living left the cars, the dead fell to the floor. After walking another ten miles, they finally reached Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an
unfinished Filipino Army training base that
the Japanese put into use as a POW camp.
There was only one water spigot for the
The death rate among the POWs
increased the longer the POWs were in the
too long after arriving, Frank went on a
cleanup detail. When it ended, he was
sent to Cabanatuan which had replaced Camp
his time in the camps. Frank worked on
farms and repaired trucks and other equipment.
While doing the other, he committed acts
of sabotage by draining oil from engines
and letting air out of the air brakes on
tow trucks. The POWs never were punished
because the Japanese never figured out
what they had done.
Frank was at Bilibid when on
December 12, 1944, the POWs heard rumors
that a detail was being sent out. The
POWs went through what was a farce of an
They were told cigarettes, soap, and
salt would be issued. The
POWs were also told that they would also
receive a meal to eat and one to take with
Japanese stated they would leave by 7:00 in
the morning, so the lights were left on all
At 4:00 a.m. the morning of December
13, the other POWs were awakened.
A.M. the POWs formed ranks for foll call
which took until 9:00 A.M. When they
were finished the POWs were allowed to
roam the compound. At 11:00 A.M.,
they were ordered to form detachments
of 100 men. Afterwards, the
detachments were marched down Luzon
Boulevard the two miles to Pier 7 at the
Port Area of Manila.
On December 25, the POWs disembarked at San Fernando, La Union, at 2:00 AM and disembarked. They walked two kilometers to a school yard on the southern outskirts of the barrio. From December 25 until the 26. The POWs were held in a school house. The morning of December 26, the POWs were marched to a beach. During this time the prisoners were allowed one handful of rice and a canteen of water. The heat from the sun was so bad that men drank seawater. Many of those men died.
The remaining prisoners at San Fernando, La Union, where they boarded onto another "Hell Ship" the Enoura Maru. On this ship, the POWs were held in three different holds. The ship had been used to haul cattle. The POWs were held in the same stalls that the cattle had been held in. In the lower hold, the POWs were lined up in companies 108 men. Each man had four feet of space. Men who attempted to get fresh air by climbing the ladders were shot by the guards.
The Daily routine for the POWs on the ship was to have six men climb out of the hold. Once on deck, they used ropes to pull up the dead and also pull up the human waste in buckets. Afterwards, the men on deck would lower ten buckets containing rice, soup, and tea.
During the night of December 30th, the POWs heard the sound of depth charges exploding in the water. The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on December 31st and docked around 11:30 AM. After arriving at Takao, Formosa, each POW received a six inch long, 3/4 inch wide piece hardtack to eat. This was the first bread they had since receiving crackers in their Red Cross packages in 1942. During the time in the harbor, the POWs received little water. From January 1st through the 5, the POWs received one meal and day and very little water. This resulted in the death rate among the POWs to rise. On January 6, the POWs from the Brazil Maru were moved to the forward hold of the Enoura Maru. It was at this time the POWs began to receive two meals a day.
The Enoura Maru also came under attack by American planes the morning of January 9. The POWs were receiving their first meal of the day, when the sound of ship's machine guns was heard. The explosions of bombs falling closer and closer to the ship were also heard. The waves created from the explosions rocked the ship.
One bomb that hit the ship
exploded in the corner of the forward hold
killing 285 prisoners. During the
tank, Frank was able
to hide behind the cans that were the POWs
latrines. He believed that this saved his life.
"This time (the Americans) did
a good job of it, killing
prisoners. They knocked off just
about half of us."
On January 13, the surviving POWs were boarded onto a third "Hell Ship" the Brazil Maru. On the ship, the POWs found they had more room and were actually issued lifejackets. The ship sailed for Japan, on January 14, as part of a convoy and arrived in Moji, Japan, on January 29, 1945. During this part of the trip, as many as 30 POWs died each day. The ship also towed one or two other ships which had been damaged. Of the original 1619 men that boarded the Oryoku Maru, only 459 of the POWs had survived the trip to Japan.
In Japan, Frank was sent to Fukuoka #3. It is not known how long he was held there, but he was transferred to Fukuoka #22, which was located at Moji. Frank was boarded onto another ship, the Otaro Maru. He arrived in Pusan, Korea, on April 25, 1945, when he was sent to Mukden, Manchuria by train. The POWs arrived there on April 29. One of the biggest problems facing Frank and the other new arrivals was the belief among the older residents that the new arrivals were stealing their food, their supplies, and making their lives worse by being there. This belief caused friction among the members of the two groups.
Frank remained in the camp until the end of the war when the POWs were liberated by the Russian Army. He and the other POWs were taken to Dairen, China. He received medical treatment and then returned to the United States.
Frank returned home to his
wife, Lyla Pauline Rose-Riley, whom he had
married on March 9, 1940. He
became the father of two daughters. One of
whom died as an infant.
Frank E. Riley passed away
on May 2, 2003, in Palm Springs, Florida.
He was buried at Lake
Worth Memory Gardens, Lot 219, Space D, in
Lake Worth, Florida.
at the bottom of the page, was taken at Mukden,
Manchuria, after Frank had been liberated by the