Lobdell

 

Pfc. Lloyd J. Lobdell


    Pfc. Lloyd J. Lobdell was born on November 23, 1918, in Elkhorn, Wisconsin.  He was the son of Lloyd F. Lobdell & Ruth Amon-Lobdell and was raised on a farm outside of Janesville, Wisconsin.  Later, he resided at 314 Glen Street in Janesville and was a 1938 graduate of Janesville High School.  In 1935, his brother, Gerald, was born. 

    In October of 1940, Lloyd joined the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Tank Company from Janesville.  His reason for doing so was that the company was being called to federal duty and he wanted to fulfill his military obligation before he was drafted into the regular army.  The company was to serve for one year and then be released from federal duty.

    In November of 1940, Lloyd went to Fort Knox, Kentucky with his company which was now designated as C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. What specific training he received is not known.  In the late summer of 1941, Lloyd took part in maneuvers in Louisiana from September 1 through 30.  After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of  returning to Ft. Knox. 
    On the side of a hill the men were informed, by the battalion's commanding officer, that they were being sent overseas.  Those 29 years old or older were allowed to resign from federal service.  Most of the remaining soldiers were allowed to return home to say their goodbyes.

    The reason for this move was an event that took place in the summer of 1941.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf 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 that a large radio transmitter. The island was hundred of miles away.  The squadron continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles before returning to Clark Field.  When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.
    The and the next day, another squadron was sent to the area and found that the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat that was seen making its way to shore.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
    After the companies were brought up to strength with replacements, the battalion was equipped with new tanks and half-tracks with came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.  The battalion traveled over different train routes to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California, where they were taken by the ferry, the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe to Angel Island.   At Ft. McDowell, on the island, they received physicals and inoculations.  Men found with minor medical conditions were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Other men were simply replaced. 
    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 2 and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
    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. President 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 Dateline.  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 P.  King, who apologized that they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure they had what they needed, and that that they all 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.
    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 readied their tanks 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, December 7 in the United States, officers of the battalion were told of the attack on Pearl Harbor and were ordered to bring their tank companies to full strength at the perimeter of Clark Field.  At 8:30, the American planes took off and filled the sky in every direction.  At noon, the planes landed to be refilled and were lined up near the mess hall while the pilots went to lunch.    
    The tankers were eating lunch when a formation of 54 planes was spotted approaching the airfield from the north.  The tankers believed the planes were American.  As they watched, raindrops fell from the planes.  When bombs exploded on the runways, they knew the planes were Japanese.    
    About a week after the attack, the company was sent to the Barrio of Dau so it would be close to a highway and railroad and protect them from sabotage.  From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River.  There, the tanks, with A Company, 194th held the position.
    On December 23 and 24, the company was in the area of Urdaneta, where the tankers lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write.  After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get south of Agno River.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening, but 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 were asked to hold the position for six hours, they held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27 when they fell back to the new defensive positions.

    While supporting the 194th Tank Battalion, the company lost 2nd Lt. William Read on December 30.  On a road east of Zaragoza that night, the company was bivouacked and had posted sentries.  The sentries heard a noise on the road and woke the other tankers who grabbed Tommy-guns and manned the tanks' machine guns.  As they watched, a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac.  When the last bicycle passed the tanks, the tankers opened up on them.  When they stopped firing, they had completely wiped out the bicycle battalion.  To leave the area, the tankers drove their tanks over the bodies
    At Gumain River, the night of December 31st to the morning of January 1st, the tank companies formed a defensive line along the south bank of the river.  When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts.  The Japanese were taking heavy casualties, so they attempted to use smoke to cover their advance, but the wind blew the smoke into the Japanese.  When the Japanese broke off the attack, they had suffered fifty percent casualties.    

    On January 28, the tank battalions 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 attempting landings.  They also took part in the Battle of the Pockets and the Battle of the Points.       
    The pockets was an extremely dangerous operation.  When tanks were sent into a pocket, they entered one tank at a time.  The next tank would not enter the pocket until the tank that had been relieved, by the tank the previous tank, exited the pocket. 
    To wipe out the Japanese, two methods were employed.  One had three Filipino soldiers sitting on the back of each tank.  When the tank passed over a foxhole the soldiers each dropped a hand grenade into the foxhole.  Being that the ordnance was from WWI, one of the three hand grenades usually exploded.
    The second method was to park the tank with one tread over foxhole.  The crew would give power to the other track causing the tank to spin and dig its way into the ground.  
    The Japanese landed Marines on a point that stuck out from Bataan.  These troops were quickly cut off.  When they attempted to land reinforcements, they landed them at the wrong place creating a second pocket that was cut off.  A and B Company supported the Philippine Army as the two pockets were wiped out.

    The Japanese also were dropping surrender leaflets with a scantly clad blond on them.  The Japanese would have been more successful at getting the Americans to surrender if the picture had been hamburger, since the men were so hungry that they most likely would have surrendered for a good meal.
    The Japanese also were dropping surrender leaflets with a scantly clad blond on them.  The Japanese would have been more successful at getting the Americans to surrender if the picture had been hamburger, since the men were so hungry that they most likely would have surrendered for a good meal.
    During the Battle of the Points, on March 2 and 3, the tanks were sent in to wipe out Japanese troops that had broken through the main defensive line and than trapped behind the line after the Filipino and American troops pushed the Japanese back toward the sea and wiped them out.
   The company's last bivouac area was about twelve kilometers north of Marivales and looking out on the China Sea.  By this point, the tankers knew that there was no help on the way.  Many had listened to Secretary of War Harry L. Stimson on short wave.  When asked about the Philippines, he said, "There are times when men must die."  The soldiers cursed in response because they knew that the Philippines had already been lost.
    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 counter-attack.
    On April 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 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."           
    Lloyd became a Prisoner Of War when the Filipino and American forces were surrendered to the Japanese on April 9, 1942.  He did not take part in the death march but was left behind at Hospital #1 on Bataan.  He was later taken by truck to Bilibid Prison before he was sent to Cabanatuan Camp #3.  Later, the Japanese consolidated Camp 3 into Camp 1 which held the POWs who had taken part in the march out of Bataan.  There was also a Camp 2 which closed because of a lack of water.  It was later reopened and housed Naval POWs.
    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 camp was still averaging nine deaths a day into November 1942.
    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.
    According to medical records kept by the hospital staff in the camp.  Lloyd was admitted to "Zero Ward" - the name given to the camp hospital since so many of the POWs died - on Tuesday, October 6, 1942, suffering from beriberi.  It appears he developed malaria while hospitalized.

    Pfc. Lloyd J. Lobdell died at Cabanatuan POW Camp on Thursday, November 19, 1942, at 3:30 P.M. at the age of 22 years old.  His parents were informed of his death in August 1943.  According to the final report on the 192nd Tank Battalion - and a hospital roster kept in the camp - Lloyd Lobdell died of beriberi and edema, but U.S. Army records indicate the cause of death as malaria.

     Pfc. Lloyd J. Lobdell was buried in grave 717.  After the war, Lloyd's remains were exhumed with the remains of twelve other POWs who died at Cabanatuan on the same day.  Since the remains of only two POWs could be identified, the army reburied the remains of the ten unidentified POWs, in a grave at the American Military Cemetery at Manila. 

     In December 1949. the army decided to end the work of identifying the remains of the ten POWs.  Since his remains, at the time, could not be identified, he was buried as an "Unknown" at the cemetery and his name was put on the Tablets of the Missing at the cemetery.           
    In July 2014, JPAC announced that it was going to exhume the remains in the grave in an attempt to identify the remains of the ten men buried in it.  This was done through the effort of John Eakin who sued JPAC to have the grave opened, since John's cousin was one of the men buried in the grave, and the family had given DNA.  John also contacted families of the other men who had been buried in the grave. 
    The week of September 8, 2014, the remains of the POWs were disinterred and a portion was sent to Hawaii for DNA testing, since the army was able to get DNA from Lloyd's family and other families.  On July 28, 2017, a meeting was held to announce that the remains of Pfc. Lloyd J. Lobdell had been positively identified.  The family asked that his remains be buried in the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.
    A press release on January 26, 2018, stated that the remains of Pfc. Lloyd J. Lobdell were positively identified.   On February 2, 2018, he was reburied at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii with full military honors.
    Since his remains have been recovered, a rosette will be placed in front of his name on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery at Manila to indicate his recovery.
    It should be mentioned that the remains of John Eakin's cousin, Pvt. Arthur Kelder, were identified and returned to Chicago where they were buried in the family mausoleum in 2015.  In addition, the remains of T/4 John Kovach Jr., C Co., 192nd, who was also in the grave, were identified and reburied in Port Clinton, Ohio, on July 10, 2017.











 

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