Lorenz_R

 


Pvt. Raymond A. Lorenz


    Pvt. Raymond A. Lorenz was born on February 25, 1919, in Okeene, Oklahoma, to Manuel & Amelia Lorenz.  It is known that he had three sisters and two brothers.  The family resided in Deep Creek, Major County, Oklahoma.  He left school after eighth grade and worked as a truck driver for the state highway department and was living in Isabella, Oklahoma, in 1941.
    Raymond was inducted into the U.S. Army on February 24, 1941, at Camp Chaffee in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, for basic training.  After completing basic training, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, where he became a member of the 753rd Tank Battalion. 
   The 192nd Tank Battakion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, in the late summer of 1941, to take part in maneuvers 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 battalion learned they were being sent overseas.  Men too old to go overseas were released from federal service.  Replacements for these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.  Raymond either volunteered, or had his name drawn, to join the 192nd and was assigned to B Company.
    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 Field.  He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own.  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 to guard it against paratroopers.  At all times, two members of each crew remained with their tanks or half-tracks.  On December 8,  at six in the morning, the officers of the battalion were called to the radio room at the fort.  They were ordered to their platoons at the perimeter of Clark Airfield.  The 192nd had been assigned to the southern portion of the airfield.
    The tankers watched that morning as the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  The planes were lined up in a straight line outside the mess hall.  At 12:45, the tankers watched as 54 planes approached the airfield.  As they watched, the saw "raindrops" falling from the planes.  When bombs began exploding, the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese.
    After the attack the tankers saw the carnage done by the attack.  The Japanese had effectively destroyed the Army Air Corps.  The tankers would spend the next four months attempting to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines.

    On the morning of December 8, 1941, the members of B Company were informed of the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  His tank and the others were sent to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  About 12:45 in the afternoon as the tankers were eating lunch, planes approached the airfield from the north.  At first, the soldiers thought the planes were American.  It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that they knew the planes were Japanese.
    The tank battalion received orders on December 21 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 Cavalry.
    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.

   
    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. 
    Because 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.
    During the withdraw into the peninsula, the company crossed over the last bridge which was mined and about to be blown.  The 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it and then cover the 192nd's withdraw. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
    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 28, 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.

    B 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 tanks.

     On April 9, 1941, at 6:45 in the morning, the tankers received the order "crash."  They circled their tanks and each crew fired a metal piercing shell into the engine of the tank in front of it.  They opened the gasoline valves and dropped grenades into the tanks.  It was at that time that Raymond and other members of the company made the decision that they would attempt to reach Corregidor.

    After arriving on Corregidor, Raymond volunteered to be sent to Ft. Drum.  He was still there when Corregidor surrendered on May 6, 1942.  After the surrender, as a Prisoner of War, he was sent to the Wawa Dam area east of Manila.  The POWs on the detail worked on roads, removed large rocks, and repairing a dock.  The work was finished on May 18, the POWs were sent to Bilibid Prison before they were sent Cabanatuan #3.

    Cabanatuan - which had been the headquarters of the 91st Philippine Army Division and was known as Camp Panagaian - 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.  Camp 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.

It is known that Raymond was housed in Barracks 6, Group II.
     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.

    According to medical records kept by the hospital staff in the camp, Ray was admitted suffering from conjunctivitis and malnutrition on Wednesday, October 28, 1942.  He was discharged from the hospital on Tuesday November 17, 1942.  It appears that he was still in the camp in July 1944, when a list of POWs being sent to Japan was posted.  His name was on the list.
  
  On July 15, trucks arrived at the camp and the POWs were boarded.  The POWs arrived at Bilibid seven hours later.  Their dinner was rotten sweet potatoes.  Since it was night, they had to eat in the dark.  They remained at Bilibid until July 17 at 8:00 A.M. and walked to Pier 7.  They were boarded onto the Nissyo Maru.  The Japanese attempted to put the entire POW detachment in the forward hold but failed, so 600 of the POWs were put into the read hold.
    The ship was moved and remained outside the breakwater, at Manila, from July 18th until July 23rd while the Japanese attempted to form a convoy.  The POWs were fed rice and vegetables.  They also received two canteen cups of water. 
    The ship sailed on July 23 at 8:00 A.M. to Corregidor and dropped anchor off the island at 2:00 P.M.  It remained off the island overnight and sailed at 8:00 A.M. the next day.  The ship sailed north by northeast.  On July 26 at 3:00 in the morning, there was a large  fire off the ship.  It turned out that the one of the ships, the Otari Yama Maru had been hit by a torpedo from the U.S.S. Flasher which was a part of a three submarine wolf pack.  On July 28, the ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, and docked at 9:00 A.M.   The ship sailed at 7:00 P.M. and continued its northward trip all day and night of July 29.  On July 30, the ship ran into a storm which finally passed by August 2.  The POWs were issued clothing on August 3 and arrived at Moji on August 4 at midnight. 
    At 8:00 in the morning, the POWs disembarked the ship. They were taken to a theater and were held in it all day.  The POWs were divided into different groups and sent to different camps.  The POW detachment Raymond was in was taken to the train station.  The train left at 9:00 P.M. and arrived at the camp at 2:00 A.M., they were unloaded and walked the three miles to the camp. 

    Raymond was assigned to Fukuoka Camp #23 where the POWs lived in barracks in 15 foot by 15 foot bays which were each shared by six POWs.  The men slept on straw mats with a blanket and quilted coverlet.  During the winter, the average temperature was 14 degrees, and there was no heat, so the POWs slept together for heat.  At 6:00 A.M., 6:00 P.M., and 9:00 P.M., the Japanese took row call.  For the first two weeks in the camp, the POWs learned the Japanese words for mining equipment. 

    The POWs received their jobs from the camp commandant who spoke adequate English.  The POWs were divided into two groups of miners.  The "A" group mined during the day, while the "B" group mined at night.  Every ten days the groups received a day off and would swap shifts.  When the POWs arrived at the mine, they were turned over to civilian supervisors and worked in teams of 5 men.  They quickly learned the more they did the more these supervisors wanted from them.  If they filled five mining cars, the next day the supervisor wanted six mining cars of coal.  The POWs threw rock and timbers into the cars to fill them and covered them with a layer of coal.  When the cars were dumped into the crusher, the rocks and boards damaged it.  After awhile, the supervisor and POWs came to a reasonable agreement on how many cars they would load each day. 
   The POWs quickly learned the more they did the more these supervisors wanted from them.  After awhile, the supervisor and POWs came to a reasonable agreement on how many cars they would load each day.  The one good thing about working in the mine in the winter was the temperature was about 70 degrees. 
Earl recalled that working in the mine was scary because conditions in the mine.  The mines the POWs worked were often mines that Japanese engineers had determined to be unsafe for Japanese miners.
    Other POWs in the camp worked topside, at the mine, as coal dust diggers, others POWs made brickets, while some remained in the camp to work.  It is not known what work the POWs who worked in the camp did.

    During his time in the camp, the worst atrocity Raymond witnessed was an American who was shot to death by a firing squad.  This was done because the soldier had stolen a piece of bread.

    In 1945, things got worse for the POWs, so they knew the Japanese were losing the war.  At 5:00 P.M. on August 15 they learned the war was over, but the POWs did not believe it.  The next day the camp commandant, at 9:00 A.M., informed the POWs that the war was over.  He also told them that they had to stay in the camp.  On August 24, the Japanese gave the POWs paint and canvas and told them to paint "POW." on the canvas and put it on the barracks roofs.
   On August 28, B-29s appeared over the camp. Two of the planes circled and dropped fifty gallon drums to  the POWs.  For the first time, the POWs knew they were now in charge, and most of the guards quickly disappeared.  On September 15, Americans arrived in the camp.  The POWs were taken by truck to the train station.  They road the train to Nagasaki.  Once there, they were given physicals, deloused, and the seriously ill were boarded onto a hospital ship.  The rest were taken by the U.S.S. Marathon to Okinawa.  They were then flow back to the Philippines.
    Raymond was held in the Philippines until he was considered healthy enough to go home.  He was also promoted to Staff Sergeant at this time.  After returning home he reenlisted on February 24, 1946, and remained in the Army a total of ten years.  He transferred to the U.S. Air Force and served another eleven years until retiring on April 30, 1961, as a technical sergeant.
   Raymond also married and was the father of three daughters and and three sons.  The family resided in Kelseyville, California.  Raymond A. Lorenz passed away on September 8, 1990, in Vacaville, California.


 

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