| Pfc. Daniel J.
Courtney was born on October 23, 1917, in
Janesville, Wisconsin, to Edward & Eva
Courtney. As a child, with his two brothers
and four sisters, he grew up at 518 South Pearl
Street. He was known as "Dannie" to his
family and friends. One of his sisters was
married to 1st
Lt. John F. A. Bushaw who would
assume commander of A Company in the
Philippines. When he was called to federal
duty, Dannie was working for the Janesville
Knowing it was just a matter of time before he
would be drafted into the army, Dannie joined
the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Tank Company
which was headquartered in an armory in
Janesville. On November 2, 1940, the tank
company was federalized and sent to Fort Knox,
Kentucky, for one year of military service.
In January 1941, Dannie was reassigned to
Headquarters Company when it was formed with
members of the four letter companies of the
battalion. On April 1, 1941, Dannie
married Mary Liptow at St. Mary's Catholic
Church in Janesville. The couple
would have a son within a year.
The battalion next was sent to Louisiana, where
they took part in the Louisiana maneuvers of
1941 from September 1 through 30. After
the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to Camp
Polk, Louisiana. None of the members of
the battalion had any idea why they were
there. On the side of a hill, the members
learned they were being sent overseas as part of
Operation PLUM. Within hours, many men had
figured out they were being sent to the
The decision 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
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.
returned home to say their goodbyes to friends
and family. Returning to Camp Polk, the
battalion was sent over different train routes
to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California, where
they were ferried, by 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. Men who
were found with minor medical conditions were
held back and scheduled to rejoin the company at
a later date. Other men were simply
was boarded onto the U.S. A. T. 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 2 and had a two day layover, so
the soldiers were given shore leave so
they could see the island.
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.
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,
the tankers were met by Colonel Edward P. King,
who welcomed them and made sure that they had
what they needed. He also was apologetic
that there were no barracks for the tankers and
that they had to live in tents. The fact
was he had not learned of their arrival until
days before they arrived. He made sure
they had Thanksgiving Dinner before he left them
to have his own dinner.
For the next seventeen
days the tankers spent much of their time
removing cosmoline from their weapons which had
been greased to prevent them from rusting at
sea. They also spent a large amount of
time loading ammunition belts. The plan
was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to
take part in maneuvers.
On Monday, December
1, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of
Clark Field to guard against paratroopers.
The 194th Tank Battalion guarded the northern
half of the airfield, while the 192nd guarded
the southern half. At all times, two
members of every tank and half-track crew
remained with their vehicles. Meals were
brought to them by food trucks.
The morning of
December 8, the officers of the battalions met
and were informed of the Japanese attack on
Pearl Harbor hours earlier. All the
members of the letter companies were ordered to
the perimeter of Clark Airfield.
All morning long, the
sky was filled with American planes. At
noon, all the planes landed to be refueled and
the pilots went to lunch. At 12:45 planes
approached the airfield from the north.
The tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54
planes. When bombs began exploding, the
men knew the planes were Japanese.
Japanese were finished, there was not much left
of the airfield. The soldiers watched as
the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the
hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and anything
that could carry the wounded was in use.
When the hospital filled, they watched the
medics place the wounded under the
building. Many of these men had their arms
and legs missing.
That night the members
of HQ Company slept in a dried latrine near
their bivoauc. They had no idea that it
was the last time they would sleep on a bed for
over three and a half years.
After the attack the
192nd remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for almost two
weeks. They were than sent to the Lingayen
Gulf area where the Japanese had landed in
support of B and C Companies.
The Japanese lunched an all out attack on April
3. On April 7, the 57th Infantry,
Philippine Scouts, supported by tanks, attempted
to restore the line, but Japanese infiltrators
prevented this from happening. During this
action, one tank was knocked out but the
remaining tanks successfully withdrew. C
Company, 194th, which was attached to the 192nd,
had only seven tanks left.
The tanks became a favorite
target of the Japanese receiving fire on trails
and while hidden in the jungle. and could not
fight back. The situation was so bad that
other troops avoided being near the tanks, and
the 26th Cavalry turned down a tank company's
offer of assistance in a counter-attack.
It was at this time that Gen.
Edward P. King decided that further resistance
was futile, since approximately 25% of his men
were healthy enough to fight, and he estimated
they would last one more day. In addition,
he had over 6000 troops who sick or wounded and
40000 civilians who he feared would be
massacred. At 10:30 that night, he sent
his staff officers to negotiate surrender terms.
Tank battalion commanders
received this order,
"You will make plans, to be communicated to
company commanders only, and be prepared to
destroy within one hour after receipt by
radio, or other means, of the word 'CRASH',
all tanks and combat vehicles, arms,
ammunition, gas, and radios: reserving
sufficient trucks to close to rear echelons
as soon as accomplished."
evening of April 8, 1942, Capt. Fred
Bruni, HQ's commanding officer, gave his men the
news of the surrender. While
informing the members of the company of the
surrender, he waved his arm toward the tanks and
told the men that they would no longer need
them. As he spoke, his voice choked.
He turned away from the men for a moment, and
when he turned back he continued. He next
told the sergeants what they should do to
disable the tanks. During the
announcement, Bruni emphasized that they all
were to surrender together. He
told the soldiers to destroy their weapons and
any supplies that could be used by the
Japanese. The only thing they were told
not to destroy were the company's trucks.
The men waited in their bivouac until ordered to
move. Somehow, Bruni had found enough
bread and pineapple juice for what he called,
On April 11, the first Japanese soldiers
appeared at HQ company's encampment.
Donald was now a Prisoner of War. A
Japanese officer ordered the company, with their
possessions, out onto the road that ran in front
of their encampment. Once on the road, the
soldiers were ordered to kneel along the sides
of the road with their possessions in front of
them. As they knelt, the Japanese
soldiers, who were passing them, went through
their possessions and took whatever they wanted
from the Americans. They remained along
the sides of the road for hours.
Dannie and his company finally boarded their
trucks and drove to Mariveles. From there,
they walked to Mariveles Airfield and were
ordered to sit. As they sat, the POWs
noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming
across from them. They soon realized that
this was a firing squad and the Japanese were
going to kill them.
As they sat watching and waiting to see what the
Japanese intended to do, a Japanese officer
pulled up in a car in front of the
soldiers. He got out of the car and spoke
to the sergeant in charge of the detail.
The officer got back in the car and drove
off. As he drove away, the Japanese
sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their
Later in the day, Dannie's group of POWs was
moved to a school yard in Mariveles. The
POWs were left sitting in the sun for hours
without food or water. Behind the POWs
were four Japanese artillery pieces which began
firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum which had not
surrendered. Shells from these two
American forts began landing among the
POWs. The POWs could do little since they
had no place to hide. Some POWs were
killed by incoming American shells. One
group that tried to hide in a small brick
building died when it took a direct hit.
The American guns did succeed in knocking out
three of the four Japanese guns.
The POWs were ordered to move again by the
Japanese and had no idea that they had started
what became known as the death march.
During the march he received no water and little
food. At San Fernando, he was put into a
small wooden boxcars.
The cars could hold forty men or eight horses,
but the Japanese packed 100 men into each car
and closed the doors. They were packed in
so tightly, that those who died remained
standing until the living climbed out of the
cars. From Capas, Dannie walked the last
ten miles to Camp O' Donnell.
The POWs walked the last eight kilometers to
Camp O'Donnell which was an unfinished Filipino
Army Training Base that 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
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.
The Archbishop of Manila sent
a truckload of medical supplies to the camp, the
Japanese commandant refused to allow the truck
into the camp. When the Japanese Red Cross
sent medical supplies the camp 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
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.
To get out of the camp, Harley and
Walter Tucker volunteered to go out on the work
detail recover destroyed vehicles as scrap metal
for the Japanese. The POWs would tie the
vehicles together with ropes. Then, each
man would drive a vehicle as they were towed to
San Fernando. From there, the vehicles
were taken to Manila.
When the detail ended, Harley
and the other men were sent to Cabanatuan which
had been the headquarters of the 91st Philippine
Army Division and was formerly known at Camp
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. 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
Each barracks was built to
house 50 POWs, but most had 60 to 120 POWs in
them. The men slept on bamboo slats
without mattresses, covers, or mosquito netting
which caused many to become ill.
Meals on a daily basis
consisted of 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces
of vegetable oil, and sweet potato or
corn. Because of the diet, the POWs
suffered from malnutrition which made them more
susceptible to illness.
The camp hospital was
composed of 30 wards. The ward for the
sickest POWs was known as "Zero Ward," which got
its name because it had been missed when the
wards were counted. Each ward had two
tiers of bunks and could hold 45 men but often
had as many as 100 men in each. The
sickest men slept on the bottom tier.
In September 1943,
Dannie's name appeared on a list of POWs being
sent to Japan. He was transported to Japan
on the Coral Maru.
The ship was also known as the Taga
Maru. The ship sailed on
September 19, 1943. Unlike many other
POWs, Dannie's experience on the ship was not
that bad., since the ship was not crowded and
the prisoners were given adequate food.
Around September 22nd, the ship stopped at
Takao, Formosa, before sailing for Moji, Japan,
arriving there on October 8, 1943.
The POWs disembarked the ship and
were taken by train to POWs camps. Dannie
was sent to
Hirohata, which was also known as
Osaka 12-B. The prisoners in the camp
worked in the Seitetsu Steel Mill. They
loaded and unloaded cargo and ore from ships,
loaded and unloaded coal cars at the mills,
worked in the machine shops, worked at the blast
furnaces and cleaned the slag from the
furnaces. If they were caught stealing,
they were severely punished. At the camp,
Dannie ran a coal shovel that fired a
boiler. Working with coal without eye
protection resulted in Dannie having vision
During his time in the camp,
POWs were beaten with belts, ropes, clubs, and
fists. In addition the POWs had water
forced down the nostrils of the POWs and
submerged them in cold water and forced to stand
nude in the cold. The guards also stole
food assigned to the POWs and canned meat and
fruit, cigarettes, and other items from the
POWs' Red Cross packages. Clothig and
shoes sent by the Red Cross for the POWs were
used by the Japanese.
Dannie and the other POWs were liberated by
American troops on September 9, 1945, and were
taken to Saipan on the U.S.A.H.S.
Marigold. From there, he was
sent to Marianas and flown by Air Transport to
Hawaii. Finally, he was flown to the
United States landing at Hamilton Airfield,
north of San Francisco, and hospitalized.
From there, he was sent to Galesburg, Illinois,
On November 27, 1945, Dannie received a 212 day
furlough and went home to Janesville. After he
was discharged, Dannie returned to Mary and
together they raised a family of seven
children. One son, Donnie, drowned in
1962. To support his family, Dannie worked
at the General Motors manufacturing plant in
Daniel J. Courtney passed away on March 23,
1974, and was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in
Janesville, Wisconsin, next to his son.