| Pvt. Norman A. Paul was born on April 15, 1913, in Valders, Wisconsin, to Robert Paul & Mary Bremer-Paul. He had two sisters and five brothers. Norman left school after the eighth grade to go to work on the family farm, and he also worked as a truck driver. |
Norman was inducted into the U.S. Army on April 7, 1941, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training. During his training, he learned to operate the equipment of a tank battalion.
A typical day for the soldiers started in 6:15 with reveille, but most of the soldiers were up before this since they wanted to wash and dress. Breakfast was from 7:00 to 8:00 A.M., followed by calisthenics at 8:00 to 8:30. Afterwards, the tankers went to various schools within the company. The classes consisted of .30 and .50 caliber machine guns, pistol, map reading, care of personal equipment, military courtesy, and training in tactics.
At 11:30 the soldiers stopped what they were doing and cleaned up for mess which was from noon to 1:00 P.M. Afterwards, they attended the various schools which they had been assigned to on January 13, such as: mechanics, tank driving, radio operating. At 4:30, the soldiers called it a day and returned to their barracks and put on dress uniforms and at five held retreat followed by dinner at 5:30. After dinner, they were off duty and lights were out at 9:00 P.M., but they did not have to turn in until 10:00 when Taps was played.
In late August, Paul was sent to Louisiana and assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion. During the maneuvers the battalion did not participate in them. After the maneuvers, National Guardsmen, 29 years old or older, of the 192nd Tank Battalion, were released from federal service and replacements came from the 753rd. One of the replacements who was assigned to A Company was Paul.
The battalion traveled by different trains to San Francisco, California, were they takenon the ferry, the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Cox e, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they received inoculations and physicals, and those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island. They were scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27, at 9:00 P.M. 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. They arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2. The soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
On Tuesday, 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 the S.S. President Calvin Coolidge. On Sunday night, November 9, the soldiers went to bed and when they woke up the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11, since the ships had crossed the International Date Line during the night. It was during this part of the voyage, 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 took off in the direction of the smoke, which turned out to be from a ship from a friendly country.
The next day, Sunday, November 16, they arrived at Guam, where the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing the next day 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 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., the soldiers disembarked and most were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. The truck drivers drove their trucks to the fort while the maintenance section remained behind to unload the tanks.
At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel 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 had what they needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner. Ironically, November 20 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 tents.
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 and prepared to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.
On December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. From this time on, two tank crew members, or half-track crew members, remained with each vehicle at all times and received their meals from food trucks. The reason this was done was the tankers were suppose to use their cannons as anti-aircraft guns.
The morning of December 8, 1941, Capt. Walter Write informed his company that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japanese, and the tank crews were put on alert full alert around the airfield. Many of the men thought that this was the start of the maneuvers. At 8:30 A.M., American took off to intercept any Japanese planes. At noon, the planes landed to be refueled and were lined up near the mess hall. The pilots went to lunch.
The tankers were eating lunch when planes were seen approaching the airfield from the north at about 12:45. Many of the tankers counted 54 planes as the planes approached the airfield. As they watched, what was described as "raindrops" began falling from the planes. It was when the bombs began exploding on the runways, the tankers knew they were Japanese.
The members of A Company lived through the bombing of Clark Field. During the attack, they could do little since their guns were not made to use against planes. For some rea son, not known to the tankers, the Japanese did not attac k t he tanks. The few planes that did had their bombs explode between the tanks.
That night, the tankers lived through several more air raids. Most slept under their tanks since it was safer then sleeping in their tents. They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed for the next three and one half years.
Since another attack was expected, vehicles were dispersed and camouflaged. The tanks remained around the perimeter of Clark Field to prevent a paratroop assault. The soldiers had no idea if an invasion would soon follow.
On December 12, the company was sent to the Barrio of Dau so it would be close to a highway and railroad and protect them from sabotage. They remained there until they were ordered north to rejoin the other companies of the battalion.
On December 23 and 24, the company was in the area of Urdaneta, where, that 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 after the main bridge had been destroyed. As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening but successfully crossed 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 held 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.
On a road east of Zaragoza, on December 30, the company was bivouacked for the night and 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 31 to the morning of January 1, 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.
At Guagua, A Company, with units from the 11th Division, Philippine Army, attempted to make a counterattack against the Japanese. Somehow, the tanks were mistaken, by the Filipinos to be Japanese. The 11th Division accurately used mortars on them. The result was the loss of three tanks.
On January 1, the tanks of the 194th were holding the Calumpit Bridge allowing the Southern Luzon Forces to cross the bridge toward Bataan. General Wainwright was attempting to hold the main Japanese force coming down Route 5 to prevent the troops from being cut off. General MacArthur's chief of staff gave conflicting orders involving whose command the defenders were under which caused confusion. Gen. Wainwright was not aware these orders had been given.
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.
After this, the company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga. It was there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt. William Read. The company returned to the command of the 192nd on January 8, 1942.
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.
The company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets - from January 23 to February 17 - to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line after a Japanese offensive was stopped and pushed pack to the original line of defense. 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. Doing this was so stressful that each tank company was rotated out and replaced by one that was being held in reserve.
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.
While the tanks were doing this job, the Japanese sent soldiers, with cans of gasoline, against the tanks. These Japanese attempted to jump onto the tanks, pour gasoline into the vents on the back of the tanks, and set the tanks on fire. If the tankers could not machine gun the Japanese before they got to a tank, the other tanks would shoot them as they stood on a tank. The tankers did not like to do this because of what it did to the crew inside the tank. When the bullets hit the tank, its rivets would pop and wound the men inside the tank. It was for their performance during this battle that the 192nd Tank Battalion would receive one of its Distinguished Unit Citations.
Since the stress on the crews was tremendous, the tanks rotated into the pocket one at a time. A tank entered the pocket and the next tank waited for the tank that had been relieved to exit the pocket before it would enter. This was repeated until all the tanks in the pocket were relieved.
What made this job so hard was that the Japanese dug "spider holes" among the roots the trees. Because of this situation, the Americans could not get a good shot at the Japanese.
The tankers from A, B, and C Companies were able to clear the pockets. But before this was done, one C Company tank which had gone beyond the American perimeter was disabled and the tank just sat there. When the sun came up the next day, the tank was still sitting there. During the night, its crew was buried alive, inside the tank, by the Japanese. When the Japanese had been wiped out, the tank was turned upside down to remove the dirt and recover the bodies of the crew. The tank was put back into use.
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.
On April 3, 1942, the Japanese launched a attack supported by artillery and aircraft. A large force of Japanese troops came over Mount Samat and descended down the south face of the volcano. This attack wiped out two divisions of defenders and left a large area of the defensive line open to the Japanese.
The Japanese broke through the east side of the main defensive line on Bataan on April 7. The tanks were pulled out of their position along the west side of the line and ordered to reinforce the eastern portion of the line. Traveling south to Mariveles, the tankers started up the eastern road but were unable to reach their assigned area due to the roads being blocked by retreating Filipino and American forces.
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 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."
The night of April 8, 1942, the members of A Company circled their tanks. Each tank fired one armor piercing shell into the engine of the tank in front of it. The tankers next opened up the gasoline valves and dropped hand grenades into the turrets.
It was at that time that Paul and other members of his company made the decision to attempt to reach Corregidor. According to other members of his battalion, they found a boat and were able to get its owner, by the point of a gun, to take them to Corregidor. As they approached the island, they kept signaling with a flashlight, until they received a response which told them how to negative the mine field. While he was on the island, he sent a telegram home telling his parents he was okay.
It is not known what Paul did on Corregidor, but it is known that he became a Prisoner of War when the island was surrendered to the Japanese on May 6, 1942. The POWs remained on the island for two weeks before they boarded barges and were taken about 100 yards from shore. The POWs jumped into the water and swam to shore and marched to Bilibid Prison. How long he remained at the prison is not known, but he was later sent to Cabanatuan.
On June 13, the Japanese selected 200 POWs for a work detail at the Port Area of Manila. The POWs were used as stevedores to load and unload ships. At first the POWs were first housed in a warehouse which was poorly lit and ventilated. The bathroom and kitchen facilities were also poor. The Japanese finally housed the POWs in the Port Terminal Building across the street from Pier 7. Once this was done, more 200 more POWs were added to the detail. The detail was disbanded on July 15, 1944.
Most of the POWs from the detail were boarded onto the Nissyo Maru, the same day and remained in the hold for two days before the ship sailed. At first, the prisoners viewed this as a means of escape from the life in the camps. They would later regret this belief. The POWs were put into the hold of the ship back to back while standing up. When the hold was full, the Japanese closed the hatches.
The ship sailed for Japan on July 17, 1944. There was very little water and no sanitary facilities. For the men in the hold, food was not as important as water. Men began going crazy and would attack each other for the smallest reasons.
During the voyage, the prisoners heard a "bang" under the ship. They assumed that it was a torpedo from an American submarine. Another ship in the convoy, the Hakusan Maru, was carrying 707 POWs was hit by torpedoes resulting in the deaths of almost all the Americans. The attack took place at 3:00 A.M. The POWs did not know it, but they were under attack by a wolf pack made up of the U.S.S. Crevale, U.S.S. Angler, and U.S.S. Flasher.
The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on July 27, and sailed the next day for Moji, Japan. From July 30 to August 2, the ship sailed through a storm which kept it safe from submarines. On August 3, the POWs were issued clothes. The ship finally arrived at Moji on August 4th at midnight, and the POWs were unloaded from the ship at 8:00 A.M.
The POWs formed 100 men detachments, and Norman's detachment was taken by train to Nagoya #7-B. The POWs in the camp mined zinc and lead. During his time as a POW, his parents received a POW postcard from him once a year. The last one was received in July 1945, six months after it had been written.
According to records kept at the camp, T/5 Norman A. Paul died from chronic bronchitis on Tuesday, July 24, 1945. His body was taken to a crematorium and the ashes given to the camp commandant. After the war, Emerson Rex, of A Company, met with Norman's parents and told them of his death. On December 16, 1945, his parents held a memorial service for him at St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Curtiss, Wisconsin.
After the war, Donald's remains were positively identified. At the request of his family, his remains were returned home in September, 1948, on the U.S.A.T. Sgt. Morris E. Crain, with the remains of 79 other soldiers from Wisconsin. His ashes were buried in Section C--25, Site 14284 at Fort Snelling National Cemetery on November 24, 1948.