| Pvt. J. M.
Lillard was born on July 21, 1914, in Leonard, Texas,
to William B. Lillard & Margie E.
Higgins-Lillard. The initials "J. M."were his
first name. With his four brothers and six
sisters, he grew up in Caddo, Oklahoma, and later
resided in Aubrey, Texas.
J. M. was inducted into the U. S. Army on
March 18, 1941, in Dallas, Texas. It is known
that he completed his basic training at Fort Knox,
and attended tank mechanics school and qualified as
a tank mechanic. After basic training, in the
late summer of 1941, he was sent to Camp Polk, where
he became a member of A Company, 753rd Tank
Battalion, which had been sent to Camp Polk,
Louisiana from Ft. Benning, Georgia.
After the maneuvers of 1941 from
September 1st through 30th, the 192nd Tank Battalion
was ordered to report to Camp Polk and informed that
they were being sent overseas. The 192nd was
made up mostly of National Guardsmen. Those
men 29 years old or older were given the chance to
resign from federal service. J. M.
volunteered, or had his name drawn, to join the
battalion to replace a Guardsman and was assigned to
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 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
Traveling west by train, over
different train routes, the 192nd arrived in San
Francisco, California, and was ferried, by the U.S.A.T.
General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on
Angel Island for physicals and inoculations by the
battalion's medical detachment. Those men determined
to have minor medical conditions were held on the
island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a
later date. Other men were simply replaced.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Hugh L.
Scott and sailed on Monday, October
27th. 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 the island.
On Wednesday, November 5th, 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.
President Calvin Coolidge. Sunday night,
November 9th, the soldiers went to bed and when they
awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November
11th. During the night, while they slept, the
ships had crossed the International Date Line.
On Saturday, November 15th, 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 16th, 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 20th, 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
Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized they had to
live in tents along the main road between the fort
and Clark Airfield. He made sure that they had
what they needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner
before he went to have his own dinner.
Ironically, November 20th was the date that the
National Guard members of the battalion had expected
to be released from federal service.
The members of the battalion
pitched the tents in an open field halfway between
the Clark Field Administration Building and Fort
Stotsenburg. The tents were set up in two rows
and five men were assigned to each tent. There
were two supply tents and meals were provided by
food trucks stationed at the end of the rows of
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 as
they prepared to take part in maneuvers with the
194th Tank Battalion.
On December 1, the tanks were
ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard
against paratroopers. Two crew members had to
be with their tank at all times and received their
meals from food trucks. The morning of
December 8, the officers of the 192nd were called to
an office and informed of the Japanese attack on
Pearl Harbor. All members of the tank
companies were sent to the airfield. HQ
Company remained behind in their bivouac.
At 12:45, the tankers watched as planes
approached the airfield from the north.
In all, they counted 54 planes. At
first, they watched since they believed the
planes to be American. It was only when
bombs began exploding on the runways that they
knew the planes were Japanese. After the
attack he saw the effects of the attack.
When the 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, most men slept
under their tanks since it was safer than
sleeping in their tents. They had no
idea that they had slept their last night in a
bed. They lived through two more attacks
on December 10 and 13.
tank battalion received
orders on December 21st that
it was to proceed north to
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
December 23 and 24, the
battalion was in the area of
Urdaneta, where 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, but they
successfully crossed the
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
Road. The tanks held
the position until 5:30 in
the morning on December 27,
when the tanks fell back
toward Santo Tomas near
Cabanatuan, and at San
Isidro, south of Cabanatuan,
on December 28 and 29.
While there, the bridge over
the Pampanga River was
destroyed, but once again,
they were able find a
crossing over the river.
The Japanese lunched an all
out attack on April 3
against the defenders.
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
7, 1942, the Japanese broke
through the east side of the
main defensive line on
Bataan. It was the
evening of April 8 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 6,000
troops who sick or wounded
and 40,000 civilians who he
feared would be
massacred. At 10:30
that night, he sent his
staff officers to negotiate
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
sufficient trucks to
close to rear echelons
as soon as
The 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,
"Their last supper."
On April 11, the
first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's
encampment, and a Japanese officer ordered the
company, with their possessions, out onto the road
that ran in front of their encampment. J. M.
was now a Prisoner of War. 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. The POWs were left kneeling along the
sides of the road for hours.
J. M. and his
company finally boarded the trucks and drove to just
outside of Mariveles. From there, they walked
to Mariveles Airfield and ordered to sit and wait.
Without knowing it, they were being given
what became known as the sun treatment. The
Japanese made no effort to give the POWs food or
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 Japanese
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 guns.
Later in the
day, J. M.'s group of POWs was moved to a school
yard in Mariveles. Again they were left
sitting in the sun for hours, and the Japanese again
did not feed them or give them 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 who
could do little since they had no place to
hide. Some POWs were killed by incoming
American shells. One group of POWs 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. They 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, the POWs
were put into a bull pen - which was covered by
human waste - and ordered to sit. The POWs
could sit but not lie down. They remained in
the bull pen most of the day until the Japanese
ordered them to form 100 men detachments.
The Japanese marched the POWs
to the train station in San Fernando and put into
a small wooden boxcars
known as "Forty or Eights." Each car could
hold forty men or wight horses, but the Japanese
packed 100 men into each car and closed the
doors. Those who died remained standing
until the living climbed out of the cars at
Capas. From there, the POWs walked the last
ten miles to Camp O' Donnell.
The camp was an unfinished
Filipino training base which the Japanese pressed
the camp 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, Tsuneyoshi refused to allow the truck into
the camp. When the Japanese Red Cross sent
medical supplies to 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 Japanese
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. The Japanese
finally acknowledge that they had to do something,
so the opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.
On June 1, 1942, the POWs
formed detachments of 100 men each and were
marched to Capas. There, the were put in
steel boxcars with two Japanese guards. At
Calumpit, the train was switched onto another line
which took it to Cabanatuan. The POWs
disembarked and were taken to a schoolyard where
they were fed cooked rice and onion soup.
From there, they were marched to Cabanatuan which
had been the headquarters of the 91st Philippine
Army Division and was known as Camp Panagaian.
The camp was actually three
camps. Camp 1 was where the men who captured
on Bataan and taken part in the death march where
held. Camp 2 did not have an adequate water
supply and was closed. It later reopened and
housed Naval POWs. Camp 3 was where those
men captured when Corregidor surrender were
taken. In addition, men from Bataan who had
been hospitalized when the surrender came were
sent to the camp. Camps 3 was later
consolidated into Camp 1.
Once in the camp, the POWs were
allowed to run the camp. The Japanese only
entered if they had an issue they wanted to deal
with. 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.
In the camp, the Japanese
instituted the "Blood Brother" rule. If one
man escaped the other nine men in his group would
be executed. POWs caught trying to escape
were beaten. Those who did escape and were
caught, were tortured before being executed.
It is not known if any POW successfully escaped
from the camp.
The barracks in the camp were
built to house 50 POWs, but most had between 60 to
120 POWs in them. The POWs slept on bamboo
slats, without mattresses, bedding, or mosquito
netting. Many quickly became ill. The
POWs were assigned to barracks which meant that
the members of their group lived together, went
out on work details together, and would be
executed together since they were Blood Brothers.
The POWs were sent out on work
details to cut wood for the POW kitchens.
The two major details were the farm detail and the
airfield detail which lasted for years. A
typical day on any detail lasted from 7:00 A.M.
until 5:00 P.M.
Rice was the main food given to
the POWs fed to them as "lugow" which meant "wet
rice." During their time in the camp, they
received few vegetables and almost no fruit.
Once in awhile, they received bread.
The camp hospital was known as
"Zero Ward" because it was missed by the Japanese
when they counted barracks. The sickest POWs
were sent there to die. The Japanese put a
fence up around the building to protect
themselves, and they would not go into the
building. There were two rolls of wooden
platforms around the perimeter of the
building. The sickest POWs were put on the
lower platform which had holes cut into it so the
they could relieve themselves. Most of those
who entered the ward died.
The POWs had the job of burying
the dead. To do this, they worked in teams
of four men. Each team carried a litter of
four to six dead men to the cemetery where they
were buried in graves containing 15 to 20 bodies.
During his time in the camp, he was assigned to
Barracks 5, Group 2. His POW number
was 8142. Medical records kept at the camp
indicate that Lillard was admitted to Hospital
Building #3, from Group 2, Building 5 on July 5,
1944. No reason was given to why he was
admitted to the hospital.
When the Japanese began
transferring large numbers of POWs to other parts
of their empire, J. M. remained behind at
Cabanatuan. This most likely was that he was
considered "too ill" to be moved. He was
still a POW in the camp when the it was liberated
by U. S. Army Rangers on January 30, 1945.
After receiving medical treatment, he returned
home on the U.S.S. A. E. Anderson, at San
Francisco, on March 8, 1945.
After the war, J.M. married Florence Krueger
on February 7, 1947 and became the father of a
son. He remained in the military and served
in the Korean War and was also stationed in
Germany with the Second Armored Division. He
retired, after seventeen years of service on
November 26, 1956, as a Sergeant First Class and a
tank commander. After retiring, he moved to
Midland, Texas. His wife, Florence, passed
away in 1969, and he married Carrie Dell
Bowman-Stricklin on July 9, 1970.
He later moved
to Pilot Point, Texas, and spent the rest of his
life there. J. M. Lillard died on September
2, 2003, and was
buried at Pilot Point Community Cemetery in Pilot