Harold R. Beggs was the son of Carl L. Beggs &
Lydia M. Ohlinger-Beggs and was born on September 26,
1920, in Port Clinton, Ohio. He was one of the
couple's four children. As a child, he grew up
at 310 East Sixth Street in Port Clinton.
In 1939, he joined the Ohio
National Guard in Port Clinton, Ohio. In
the fall of 1940, Harold was called to federal service
when his tank company was inducted into the regular
At Fort Knox, Kentucky,
Harold spent nearly a year training. In the late
summer of 1941, he took part in maneuvers. After
the maneuvers, were ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana,
instead of returning to Ft. Knox. None of them
had any idea why.
On the side of a hill, at
Camp Polk, Louisiana, he and the other members of the
battalion learned that they were not being released
from federal service. Instead, they were being
sent overseas as part of "Operation PLUM." Within
hours, many of the members of the battalion had
figured out that PLUM stood for Philippines, Luzon,
Harold received a furlough
home to say goodbye to is family. When he left
home, his little brother was only 17 months old.
This was the last time he would see his brother for
over three years.
The reason for this move
- which had been made in August 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 Clark Field.
When the planes landed, it
was too late to do anything that day. The next
day, when another squadron was sent to the area, the
buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat - with a
tarp on its deck - which was seen making its way to
shore. Since communication between the Air
Corps and Navy was difficult, the boat escaped.
It was at that time the decision was made to build up
the American military presence in the Philippines.
From Camp Polk, the battalion
traveled west over four different train routes.
Arriving in San Francisco, the soldiers were ferried,
on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft.
McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, the
soldiers were given physicals and inoculated for
tropical diseases by the battalion's medical
detachment. Those with minor health issues were held
back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later
date. Some men were simply released and
The 192nd boarded
onto the U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L.
Scott and sailed on Monday, October
27. During this part of the trip, many tankers
had seasickness, but once they recovered they spent
much of the time training in breaking down machine
guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP.
The ship arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday,
November 2nd and had a two day layover, so the
soldiers were given shore leave so they could see
On Wednesday, November 5,
the ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly route
away from the main shipping lanes. It was at
this time it was joined by, the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S.
Louisville and, another transport, the
S.S. Calvin Coolidge.
Sunday night, November 9, the soldiers went to bed
and when they awoke the next morning, it was
Tuesday, November 11. During the night, while
they slept, the ships had crossed the International
Date Line. On Saturday, November 15, smoke
from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.
The Louisville revved up its engines, its bow came
out of the water, and it shot off in the direction
of the smoke. It turned out the smoke was from
a ship that belonged to a friendly country.
When they arrived at Guam
on Sunday, November 16, the ships took on water,
bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for
Manila the next day. At one point, the ships
passed an island at night and did so in total
blackout. This for many of the soldiers was a
sign that they were being sent into harm's
way. The ships entered Manila Bay, at 8:00
A.M., on Thursday, November 20, and docked at Pier 7
later that morning. At 3:00 P.M., most of the
soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.
Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while
the maintenance section remained behind at the pier
to unload the tanks.
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.
Ironically, November 20th was the date that the
National Guard members of the battalion had expected
to be released from federal service.
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.
On December 1, the tanks
were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field.
Two tank crew members remained with each tank at all
times. The morning of December 8, 1941, the
tankers learned of the Japanese attack of Pearl
Harbor. He and the other tankers returned to
the perimeter of the airfield to guard against
Around 11:45 A.M., the
tankers watched as planes approached the
airfield. When bombs began exploding they knew
the planes were Japanese. Although they did
the best they could, the tankers did not have the
right type of weapons to fight the planes.
battalion received orders on December 21st that it
was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.
Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies
soon ran low on gas. When they reached
Rosario, there was only enough for one tank platoon,
from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th
On December 23 and 24, the
battalion was in the area of Urdaneta.
The bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno
River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run
to get south of river. 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 25, 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 27.
were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27,
and at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December
28th and 29th. On January 1, conflicting
orders were received by the defenders who were
attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route
5. Doing this would allow the Southern Luzon
Forces to withdraw toward Bataan. General
Wainwright was unaware of the orders since they came
from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff.
The tankers were at
Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27, and at
San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28 and
29. On January 1, conflicting orders were
received by the defenders who were attempting to
stop the Japanese advance down Route 5. Doing
this would allow the Southern Luzon Forces to
withdraw toward Bataan. General Wainwright was
unaware of the orders since they came from Gen.
MacArthur's chief of staff.
of the orders, there was confusion among the
Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges
over the Pampanga River. Due to the efforts of
the Self-Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery,
and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion
the Japanese were halted. From January 2 to 4,
the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to
Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
The tankers were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on
December 27, and at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan
on December 28 and 29. On January 1st,
conflicting orders were received by the defenders
who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance
down Route 5. Doing this would allow the
Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward
Bataan. General Wainwright was unaware of the
orders since they came from Gen. MacArthur's chief
After this battle, C
Company made its way south. When it entered
Cabanatuan, it found the barrio filled with Japanese
guns and other equipment. The tank company
destroyed as much of the equipment as it could
before proceeding south.
On December 31, 1941,
Company was sent out reconnaissance patrols north of
the town of Baluiag. The patrols ran into
Japanese patrols, which told the Americans
that the Japanese were on their way.
Knowing that the railroad bridge was the only way
into the town and to cross the river, Lt. Gentry set
up his defenses in view of the bridge and the rice
patty it crossed.
Early on the morning of the 31st,
the Japanese began moving troops and across the
bridge. The engineers came next and put down
planking for tanks. A little before noon
Japanese tanks began crossing the bridge.
Company's tanks were hidden in brush. The
Japanese troops passed the tanks for three hours
without knowing that they were there. While
the troops passed, Lt. William Gentry, platoon
commander, was on his radio describing what he was
seeing. It was only when a Japanese soldier
tried take a short cut through the brush, that his
tank was hidden in, that the tanks were
discovered. The tanks turned on their sirens
and opened up on the Japanese. They then fell
back to Cabanatuan.
Later that day, the Japanese had assembled a large
number of troops in the rice field on the northern
edge of the town. One platoon of tanks under
the command of 2nd Lt. Marshall Kennady were to the
southeast of the bridge. Gentry's tanks
were to the south of the bridge in huts, while third
platoon commanded by Capt Harold Collins was to the
south on the road leading out of Baluiag.
2nd Lt. Everett Preston had been sent south to
find a bridge to cross to attack the Japanese from
Major Morley came riding in his jeep into
Baluiag. He stopped in front of a hut and was
spotted by the Japanese who had lookouts in the
town's church's steeple. The guard became very
excited so Morley, not wanting to give away the
tanks positions, got into his jeep and drove
off. Bill had told him that his tanks would
hold their fire until he was safely out of the
When Gentry felt the Morley was out of danger, he
ordered his tanks to open up on the Japanese tanks
at the end of the bridge. The tanks then came
smashing through the huts' walls and drove the
Japanese in the direction of Lt. Marshall Kennady's
tanks. Kennady had been radioed and was
Kennady's platoon held its fire until the Japanese
were in view of his platoon and then joined in the
hunt. The Americans chased the tanks up and
down the streets of the village, through buildings
and under them. By the time Bill's unit was
ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had
knocked out at least eight enemy tanks.
The tanks of the
192nd and other units were holding the bridges so that the southern Luzon forces could cross into
Bataan. Because of
conflicting orders, which were iissued Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff, there was
confusion among the Filipinos and American forces
defending the bridges over the Pampanga River and
about half withdrew.
When Gen. Wainwright realized what was going on, he
countermanded the orders and order the
remaining units to stay at the bridges.
Due to the efforts of the Self-Propelled Mounts, the
71st Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the
192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were halted.
From January 2 to 4, the 192nd held the road open
from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern
forces could escape.
Over the next
several months, the battalion fought battle after
battle with tanks that were not designed for jungle
warfare. The tank battalions, on
January 28th, 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
C Company also took
part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out
Japanese soldiers 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 exited 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. The 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
On April 9,
1942, Harold became a Prisoner of War and took part in the death
march, from Mariveles, at the
southern tip of Bataan. The POWs made
their way north along the east coast of
Bataan. The first five
miles were uphill which made the march
harder on them
since many were sick. They march
Limay, Balanga, and Orani.
stopped and rested, it was so the Japanese
had the chance to change
continued the march
through Abucay and
they got the faster
they were marched.
At Hermosa, they
which made the
into a bullpen.
It is not
there, but at
point they were
of 100 men and
The POWs were
packed into small wooden boxcars known as forty or eights. Each car could hold forty men
or eight horses, but the Japanese put 100 men in each
car. They were packed
in so tightly, that those men who died could
not fall to the floors of the
cars. At Capas, the living left the cars
and the dead fell to the floors.
The POWs walked
the last eight kilometers to Camp O'Donnell which
was an unfinished Filipino Army Training Base, which the Japanese pressed into use as a POW camp on
April 1, 1942. When they arrived at the camp,
the Japanese confiscated any extra clothing that the
POWs had and refused to return it to them.
They searched the POWs and if a man was found to
have Japanese money on them, they were taken to the
guardhouse. Over the next several days,
gunshots were heard to the southeast of the
camp. These POWs had been executed for
There was only one water faucet
in the camp, and the prisoners stood in line from
two to eight hours waiting for a drink. The
Japanese guards at the faucet would turn it off for
no reason and the next man in line would stand as
long as four hours waiting for it to be turned on
again. This situation improved when a second
faucet was added.
There was no water for washing
clothes, so the POWs would throw out their clothing
when it had been soiled. In addition, water
for cooking had to be carried three miles from a
river to the camp and mess kits could not be
washed. The slit trenches in the camp were
inadequate and were soon overflowing since most of
the POWs had dysentery. The result was that
flies were everywhere in the camp including the POW
kitchens and in the food.
The camp hospital had no soap,
water, or disinfectant. When the ranking
American doctor at the camp wrote a letter to the
camp commandant, Capt. Yohio Tsuneyoshi, asking for
medical supplies, he was told never to write another
letter. When the
Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medical
supplies to the camp, the Japanese commandant
refused to allow the truck into the camp. The Philippine
Red Cross sent medical supplies to the camp and the
Japanese took 95% of the supplies for their own use.
The POWs in the camp hospital lay
on the floor elbow to elbow and only one of the six
medic assigned to care for 50 sick POWs was healthy
enough to care for them. When a representative
of the Philippine Red Cross stated they could supply
a 150 bed hospital for the camp, he was slapped in
the face by a Japanese lieutenant.
Each morning, the bodies of the
dead were found all over the camp and were carried
to the hospital and placed underneath it. The
bodies lay there for two or three days before they
were buried in the camp cemetery by other POWs who
were suffering from dysentery and/or malaria.
To clean the ground under the hospital, the ground
was scraped and lime was spread over it. The
bodies of the dead were placed in the area, and the
area they had been laying was scrapped and lime was
spread over it.
Work details were sent out on a
daily basis. Each day, the American doctors
gave a list of names to the Japanese of the POWs who
were healthier enough to work. If the quota of
POWs needed to work could not be met, the Japanese
put those POWs who were sick, but could walk, to
work. The death rate among the POWs reached 50
men dying a day, so the POWs began volunteering for work details to escape the camp.
out on the Bridge Building Detail to Bataan which was
under the command of Lt. Col. Ted Wickord of the
192nd. The first bridge the POWs
rebuilt was at Calauan. After the bridge was
completed, the POWs were sent to Batangas to rebuild
a bridge there. They next went to Canbelaria
to rebuild a third bridge. After this
detail he was held as a prisoner at Cabanatuan which had been the
headquarters of the 91st Philippine Army Division
and was formerly known at Camp Panagaian.
To prevent escapes, the POWs set
up a detail that patrolled the fence of the
camp. The reason this was done was that those
who did escape and were caught, were tortured before
being executed, while the other POWs were made to
watch. It is believed that no POW successfully
escaped from the camp.
The POWs were sent out on work
details to cut wood for the POW kitchens.
Meals on a daily basis consisted of 16 ounces of
cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, and sweet
potato or corn. Other POWs worked in rice
paddies. Each morning, after arriving at the
farm, the POWs went into a tool shed to get their
tools. As they left the shed, the guards hit
them on their heads. While working in the
fields, the favorite punishment given to the men in
the rice paddies was to have their faces pushed into
the mud and stepped on by a guard. Returning
from a detail the POWs bought, or were given,
medicine, food, and tobacco, which they somehow
managed to get into the camp even though they were
searched when they returned. It is not known
if Harold was held at other camps in the Philippines
or if he remained at Cabanatuan the entire time he
was a POW in the Philippines.
In 1944, Harold was sent to
Bilibid Prison for what the Japanese called a
physical. He was then sent to the Port Area of
Manila. There he was boarded the Hokusen
Maru on October 1, 1944 for shipment to
Japan. In the hold of the ship, he was
reunited with Wade Chio and Virgil Janes of C
Company. The ship sailed but dropped anchor at
the harbor's breakwater. It remained
there for three days and the temperatures in the
hold rose to over 100 degrees causing some men to go
crazy. The Japanese threatened to kill the
POWs if they didn't quiet the men. To do this,
the sane POWs strangled those out of their minds or
hit them with canteens.
As part of a ten ship
convoy it sailed again on October 4 and stopped at
Cabcaban. The next day, it was at San Fernando
La Union, where the ships were joined by four more
ships and five escorts. The ships stayed close to
the shoreline to prevent submarine attacks which
failed since, on October 6, two of the ships were
The ships were informed, on October 9, that American
carriers were seen near Formosa and that American
planes were in the area. The decision was made
to send the ships to Hong Kong. During this
part of the trip, the ships ran into American
submarines which sank two more ships. The Hokusen
Maru arrived at Hong Kong on October
11. While it was in port, American planes
bombed the harbor on October 16. On October
21, the ship sailed for Takao, Formosa, arriving on
During the trip,
Wade Chio was not doing well. One reason was
that he was against one of the walls of the hold and
could not get much food. To help Chio, Harold
switched places with him so that he got more
food. This move resulted in Harold losing his
eyesight because of lack of food.
On November 8, 1944, the
Japanese decided that the POWs were too ill to be
sent to Japan. Harold and the other POWs were
disembarked and spent two months on the
island. He was held on the island at Inron
Temporary Camp. Since they were in such poor
shape, the Japanese only made the POWs do light
work. The healthier POWs worked at a sugar
Harold and Wade
Chio arrived in Japan on the Melbourne
Maru. The ship left Formosa on
January 14, 1945, and arrived at Moji, Japan, on
January 23. From Moji, some of the POWs were
later sent to Aisho Camp which was located
on the side of a mountain.
Living conditions in the
camp were atrocious. The camp had a limited
amount of water because the water line to the camp
was broken. This meant they could not wash after
working and for cooking. The POW kitchen was
40 feet from the latrines resulting in flies being
everywhere in the kitchen. The Japanese also
did not supply lids for the cooking utensils.
The Japanese guard in charge of the POW mess stole
food for himself that was meant for them. POWs
reported he was seen carrying sacks of rice and
sugar, assigned to them, from the camp.
In the camp, the POWs slept in
barracks that were inadequately heated and during
the cold nights the POWs had only thin blankets to
cover themselves with. The Red Cross blankets
that were sent to the camp, for the POWs, were
issued to the guards.
appropriated the Red Cross packages for themselves
and stored them in a warehouse inside the
camp. Besides the blankets, they also took
chocolate, canned meats, fruit, and milk, and
clothing meant for the POWs. Since a certain
number of POWs had to report for work each day, the
Japanese medic in charge of the sick bay, sent men
to work who were too sick to do heavy work.
The Japanese also withheld medicine and medical
supplies sent for POW use and used it for
The POWs worked in the
Ashio Copper mine which had been closed but reopened
because of the war. Safety regulations in the
mine was almost none existent and POWs were
According to archival
information, Harold was later transferred to Sendai
Camp #8. He was once again used as a laborer
in mining. He remained in this camp to the end
of the war. His parents would learn he
had been liberated in a letter written by Virgil
Janes another member of his tank company. In
July of 1945, his parents learned he was a POW in
Japan. This was the first news they had
received about him since they had learned he was a
After he was
liberated, Harold returned to the
Philippines. He sailed for the United States
on the U.S.S. General R. L. Howze
arriving at San Francisco on October 16, 1945.
He returned to Port Clinton and was discharged, from
the army, on February 9, 1946. For the rest of
his life, Harold suffered partial paralysis in his
legs and from impaired vision.
Harold returned to Port
Clinton and worked as a machinist for U.S.
Gypsum. He married Ruth E. Bluhm and became
the father of a daughter and two sons. On
March 12, 1949, Harold - and five other members of
the tank company - served as one of the pallbearers
at the funeral service of Sgt. John Morine.
Morine had died as a POW of Formosa.
On February 8,
1962, Harold and his family were home when their
house exploded from a
kitchen stove gas leak. Amazingly, Harold, his
wife, and two sons survived the explosion.
Their daughter was not at home at the time.
Ruth, passed away on January 20, 1968. Harold
passed away on July 22, 2001, in Oak Harbor, Ohio.