Sgt. John Lawrence Short
Sergeant John L. Short was born on May 23, 1917. He was the son of John and Leah Short. The family resided at 907 State Street, Port Clinton, Ohio. He attended both grade school and high school in Port Clinton. After high school, he worked for U.S. Gypsum.
John joined Company H
of the Ohio National Guard in Port Clinton in
unit was federalized on November 5, 1940 and
designated C Company. On November
company joined other tank companies from
Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin at Fort Knox,
Kentucky and formed the 192nd GHQ
Light Tank Battalion.
December 8,1941, just ten hours after the
attack on Pearl Harbor, John lived the
Japanese attack on Clark Field. During
the attack, John and the other tankers could
do very little since they did not have the
proper weapons to fight aircraft.
On December 22nd, C Company was sent north to Lingayen Gulf to aid the 26th U. S. Calvary who were fighting Japanese invasion forces. The tanks were used as a rear guard as the Filipino and American forces withdrew from engagements with the Japanese. During this time, John spent four months on the front lines fighting the Japanese without a break.
On April 9, 1942, John became a Prisoner Of War. He took part in the death march and was held at Camp O'Donnell. John volunteered to go out on a bridge building detail. Lt. Col. Ted Wickord of the 192nd was one of the two token American commanders of the detail and attempted to fill it with members of his own battalion. The POWs on this detail rebuilt the bridges that they had destroyed as they retreated just weeks before.
During John's time on this detail, he worked near the barrio of Calaun. The people of the town showed great generosity to the POWs. They shared food and provided medical attention to the POWs. When the people heard that the detail was leaving, they held a great feast. To get the Japanese to allow the prisoners to attend, the townspeople convinced the Japanese that the feast was to thank them for the bridge.
The detail next was sent to Batangas where the POWs were given clothing by Irish Catholic nuns. From Batangas, they were sent to Candelura where they lived in an old coconut mill. Again, the Filipino people shared their food with the POWs.
When the detail ended in September, 1942, John
was sent to Mindinao. It is not known
what type of work he did there. After this detail ended, he
was sent to Cabanatuan and assigned to
Barracks 10. After his return
to Cabanatuan, his family received a postcard
from him. In it he said: "Was sure glad to hear from
you. I am in good health and shape. Hope you
are getting along fine. Give my
regards to the rest of the family."
John was next sent out on a
detail in July 1943 to Lipa Batangas. The
POWs built runways and worked on a farm.
John and the other POWs built runways for a
Japanese at Lipa Airfield. He apparently
did not remain on this detail because according to records kept by the
medical staff, John was admitted to the camp
hospital on March 17, 1943. No reason for
his being admitted was given nor was a date of
The welfare of the POWs was of no concern to the Japanese. 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.
In particular, "the Wolf" was was hardest to convince that a man was sick. If a man's arm or leg was bandaged, he would kick the man's leg, in the spot it was bandaged, and see how the man reacted. If the man showed a great deal of pain, he was not required to work. In one case, a man whose broken wrist was in a splint, was twisted by the Wolf while the man trembled in pain.
The remains of the POWs who had died on the detail were brought to Bilibid Prison in boxes. The Japanese had death certificates, with the causes of death and signed by an American doctor, sent with the boxes. The Americans from the detail, who accompanied the boxes, would not tell the POWs at Bilibid what had happened. It was only when the sick, from the detail, began to arrive at Bilibid did they learn what the detail was like. These men were sent to Bilibid to die since it would look better when it was reported to the International Red Cross.
The detail ended, and John was next selected to go to Japan and sent to Manila. On July 2, 1944, he was boarded onto the Canadian Inventor. The ship departed Manila on July 4, 1944. The ship sailed but returned to Manila because of boiler problems. During the repairs, the POWs were kept in its holds. The floors of the holds were covered with human waste. On July 16th, the ship sailed again but was extremely slow and given the name, "Mati Mati Maru." It finally arrived at Takao, Formosa, on July 23rd. It sailed on August 4th, and arrived at Keelung, Formosa, the same day. It remained in harbor for twelve days sailing again on August 17th for Naha, Okinawa. It attempted to sail several times but because of American submarines returned to Naha. It finally sailed on August 23rd before arriving at Moji, Japan on September 1st. By the time the ship arrived in Moji on September 4, 1944, John had spent almost 60 days in the hold of the ship.
In Japan, John was sent to Omine Machi. It appears that his time at the camp was short, and he was sent to Fukuoka #17. The POWs there were used to work in a coal mine that had previously been condemned by the Japanese as being unsafe. John would remain in this camp until he was sent to Fukuoka #9 near the end of the war. There, John also worked in a coal mine owned by the Kajima Tanko Mining Company. He was liberated there in September, 1945. He was returned to the Philippines and after being treated for his illnesses sent home.
John Short returned to Port Clinton and was discharged, from the army, on May 8, 1946. He married Sally Custer on June 3, 1946, and became the father of one child, Leah. John spent the rest of his life in Port Clinton and worked for Ford Motors in Sandusky, Ohio. He passed away on July 24, 1994.