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.
The tanks were ordered to the perimeter of the Clark
Field to guard
1st to guard
their tank at
December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the
attack on Pearl Harbor, John lived the
Japanese attack on Clark Field. He recalled, "This sergeant,
Morine, ran through the tank
park and yelled, 'They bombed Pearl
Harbor! They bombed Pearl Harbor!' And just about
that time we saw 54 Japanese bombers
come over us, open up their bomb-bay
doors, and drop bombs on the airfield."
During the attack, John and the other
tankers could do very little since they did
not have the proper weapons to fight aircraft.
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."
1943, John went out on a work detail to Lipa
Batangas. The POWs on the detail built
runways and revetments at Lipa Airfield.
Every other day, they worked on a local
farm. On February 16, 1943, John was sent
to the medical ward of Bilibid Prison.
Records kept by the medical staff show that he
had dysentery and that he was discharged, to
Cabanatuan, on Febraury 21, 1943.
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
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.