Lovering

 

Tec 5 Fred William Lovering Jr.


    T/5. Fred William Lovering Jr. was born July 16, 1918, in Oak Park, Illinois, to Frederick W. Lovering Sr., & Francis M. Kruchow-Lovering and was one of the couple's four children.  As a child, he grew up at 330 South 22nd Street in Bellwood, Illinois.  When he was eleven, his father died leaving his mother to raise the children alone.  

    To work, Fred's mother placed her children in the Bensenville Home which was an orphanage in Bensenville, Illinois.  After graduating from Tioga Grade School, Fred started school at Bensenville High School but transferred to Proviso Township High School when he was brought home to Bellwood before his sophomore year.

    Fred enlisted in the Illinois National Guard's 33rd Tank Company which was headquartered in an armory in Maywood.  He did this in spite of mother's objecting to his enlisting.  On October 11, 1940, before he left for Ft. Knox, Kentucky, Fred married Thelma McMullin.

    On November 25, 1940, Fred traveled to Fort Knox when the tank company was federalized.  His company was now B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  At first, Fred and the other members of the company lived in tents until their barracks were completed.

    When Headquarters Company was formed in January 1941, Fred was transferred to the company.  It is not known what his duties with the company were, but the company's main job was to ensure that the letter companies tanks were operational, received ammunition, and get gasoline to the tanks.
    In the late summer of 1941, the battalion took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  After the maneuvers, it was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana instead of returning to Ft. Knox as expected.  It was on the side of a hill, that the battalion members kearned they were being sent overseas.  The men were given leaves and returned home and said their goodbyes.  They returned to the fort
where the battalion loaded their equipment onto trains.

    The battalion traveled west over different train routes to San Francisco, California.  Arriving there, they were taken by ferry to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  At Ft. McDowell, on the island, they were given physicals and inoculated for overseas duty.   Those men found to have a minor medical condition were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Other men were simply replaced.
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, as part of a three ship convoy that arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd.  Since the ships had a two day layover, the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.  On Wednesday, November 5th, the ships sailed for Guam, but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes. During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship, was seen on the horizon.  The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly country
    When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables, before sailing for Manila. At one point, the ships passed an island at night.  While they passed the island, they 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, at 8:00 A.M., entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th.  They docked at Pier 7 later in the day, and at 3:00 P.M., the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. 
  At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward King, who apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field.  He made sure that they all received everything they needed and had 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. A little over two weeks later, he survived the Japanese attack on Clark Field. 

    On Monday, December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard it against paratroopers.  The 194th Tank Battalion was assigned the northern half of the airfield while the 192nd protected the southern half.  At all times, two crew members had two remain with their tank or half-track and received their meals from food trucks.  HQ Company made sure that the companies had what they needed.   
    The morning of December 8, 1941, just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the tankers were ordered the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  All morning long as they sat on their tanks, they watched as American planes filled the sky.  At noon, the planes landed.       
    As the tankers were having lunch, 54 planes approached the airfield from the north. When bombs began exploding on the runways, the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.  Since they had few weapons that could be used against Japanese, they could do is watch.
    On December 21st, the 192nd was sent to Lingayen Gulf in an attempt to stop the Japanese from landing troops.  Lyle, along with the other members of HQ Company  worked to keep the tank companies supplied and fueled.

    Fred and the other members of HQ Company spent the next four months working to supply the letter companies.  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 11th, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment.  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. 

    HQ Company finally boarded trucks and drove to Mariveles where they were ordered out of their trucks.  From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and sat and waited.  As they waited, Fred and the other men 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, in a car, pulled up to the soldiers.  He got out 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 sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.  

    Later in the day, Fred and the other POWs were moved to a school yard in Mariveles.  In the school yard, they found themselves in front of Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum.  When Corregidor and Ft. Drum began returning fire, shells began landing among the POWs who had no place to hide.  Some of the POWs were killed.  The American guns did knock out three of the Japanese guns.

    The POWs were again ordered to move by the Japanese and had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march.  During the march, Fred received no water and little food.  At San Fernando, he was put into bull pen and ordered to sit.  The POWs remained there until the Japanese ordered them to form detachments of 100 men.  They were marched to the train station and packed into small wooden boxcars known as "Forty or Eights."  They were called this because each car could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese packed 100 men into each car and closed the doors.  Those who died remained standing since they could not fall to the floor.  As the prisoners disembarked from the cars, the bodies of those who had died fell to the floors.  From Capas, they walked the last few 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 looting.
    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 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.  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.  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.
    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.

     While he was in the camp, his promotion to T/5 was made official in June 1942.  At some point, he developed cerebral malaria and was admitted to the camp hospital on Thursday, July 9, 1942.  According to medical records kept at Cabanatuan, T/5 Fred W. Lovering died of cerebral malaria on Monday, July 13, 1942, at approximately 3:30 PM.  His family did not learn of his death until July 1945.

    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.  

     After the war,  Fred's remains were returned to Illinois, in November 1949,  at the request of his mother.  T/5 Fred W. Lovering Jr. was reburied, next to his father, at Elm Lawn Cemetery in Elmhurst, Illinois, on November 26, 1949.  Since his mother could not afford to pay to have a headstone placed on his grave, T/5 Fred W. Lovering was laid to rest in an unmarked grave.  

    In early November 2004, through the efforts of the President of the Maywood Bataan Day Organization, Col. Richard McMahon, U.S.A., Retired, a military headstone was placed on T/5 Fred W. Lovering Jr.'s grave.  The placement of the headstone ended fifty-five years of Fred Lovering lying in an unmarked grave.


 

 

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