Pvt. Lacy Lonzo Prater
| Pvt. Lacy L.
Prater was born on August 10, 1914, in Floyd
County, Kentucky, to William B. Prater and Rhoda
Blakinship-Prater. He and his four brothers
and sister were raised in Abbot and Marion,
Kentucky. His youngest brother died as a
child. He joined Company H, Ohio
National Guard in Ada, Ohio, on July 2, 1938, and
was in the National Guard for nearly three years.
Lacy was residing in Alger, Ohio, and was married and the father of a son, when he was inducted into the U.S. Army on February 5, 1941, at Fort Hayes, Columbus, Ohio. He was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, for basic training and was assigned to C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion as a tank driver.
In the late summer of 1941, the 192nd was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, to take part in maneuvers. During the maneuvers, the 192nd, which was part of the Red Army, broke through the defenses of the the Blue Army and was on its way to overrun the headquarters of the army when the maneuvers were suddenly cancelled. The Blue Army was under the command of General George S. Patton.
After the maneuvers the battalion was ordered to remain behind at Camp Polk instead of returning to Ft. Knox. On the side of a hill, they were informed that they were being sent overseas as part as operation "PLUM." Within hours, many of the soldiers had figured out that PLUM stood for Philippines, Luzon, Manila. Those men 29 years or older were allowed to resign from federal service and replaced with men from the 753rd Tank Battalion. The battalion's M2A2 tanks and it's scout cars were replaced with M-3 tanks and half-tracks.
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 the Philippines.
The company traveled west by train to San Francisco, California, and was taken by ferry to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island on the ferry the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe. At Ft. McDowell, they were given physicals and inoculated for overseas duty by the battalion's medical detachment. Those men found to have a minor medical condition were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date, while other men were simply replaced.
The battalion sailed, on the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott, from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy. They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover. The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands. They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th, for Guam.
When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water. The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day. About 8:00 in the morning on November 20th, the ships arrived at Manila Bay. After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked. Most of the battalion boarded trucks and rode to Ft. Stotsenburg north of Manila.
At the fort, the tankers were met by General Edward King. King welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed. He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents. The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.
For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons. They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts. The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
The morning of December 8th, the officers of the battalions met and were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier. The 192nd letter companies were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield.
All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes. At noon, all the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch. At 12:45 planes approached the airfield from the north. The tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54 planes. When bombs began exploding, the men knew the planes were Japanese. After the attack the 192nd remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for almost two weeks. They were than sent to the Lingayen Gulf area where the Japanese had landed.
On December 23rd and 24th, 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 25th, 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 27th.
The tankers were fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th. While there, the bridge over the Pampanga River was destroyed, they were able find a crossing over the river.
C Company was re-supplied and withdrew to Baluiag where the tanks encountered Japanese troops and ten tanks. It was at Baluiag that C Company's tanks won the first tank battle victory of World War II against enemy tanks. After the battle, C Company made its way south. When it entered Cabanatuan, it found the barrio filled with Japanese guns and other equipment. The tank company destroyed as much of the equipment as it could before proceeding south.
On December 31, 1941, the commanding officer of C Company sent out reconnaissance patrols north of the town of Baluiag. The patrols ran into Japanese patrols, which told the Americans that the Japanese were on their way. Knowing that the railroad bridge was the only way into the town and to cross the river, the company set up it's defenses in view of the bridge and the rice patty it crossed.
Early on the morning of the 31st, the Japanese began moving troops and across the bridge. The engineers came next and put down planking for tanks. A little before noon Japanese tanks began crossing the bridge.
Later that day, the Japanese had assembled a large number of troops in the rice field on the northern edge of the town. One platoon of tanks under the command of 2nd Lt. Marshall Kennady were to the southeast of the bridge. Lt. Gentry's tanks were to the south of the bridge in huts, while third platoon commanded by Capt Harold Collins was to the south on the road leading out of Baluiag. 2nd Lt. Everett Preston had been sent south to find a bridge to cross to attack the Japanese from behind.
Major Morley came riding in his jeep into Baluiag. He stopped in front of a hut and was spotted by the Japanese who had lookouts in the town's church's steeple. The guard became very excited so Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks positions, got into his jeep and drove off. Bill had told him that his tanks would hold their fire until he was safely out of the village.
When Gentry felt the Morley was out of danger, he ordered his tanks to open up on the Japanese tanks at the end of the bridge. The tanks then came smashing through the huts' walls and drove the Japanese in the direction of Lt. Marshall Kennady's tanks. Kennady had been radioed and was waiting.
Kennady's platoon held it's fire until the Japanese were in view of his platoon and then joined in the hunt. The Americans chased the tanks up and down the streets of the village, through buildings and under them. By the time Bill's unit was ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had knocked out at least eight enemy tanks.
The tankers withdrew to Calumpit Bridge after receiving orders from Provisional Tank Group. When they reached the bridge, they discovered it had been blown. Finding a crossing the tankers made it to the south side of the river. Knowing that the Japanese were close behind, the Americans took their positions in a harvested rice field and aimed their guns to fire a tracer shell through the harvested rice. This would cause the rice to ignite which would light the enemy troops.
The tanks were spaced about 100 yards apart. The Japanese crossing the river knew that the Americans were there because the tankers shouted at each other to make the Japanese believe troops were in front of them. The Japanese were within a few yards of the tanks when the tanks opened fire.
Lighting the rice stacks, the Americans opened up with small fire. They then used their .37 mm guns. The fighting was such a rout that the the tankers were using a .37 mm shell to kill one Japanese soldier.
The tank company was next sent to the barrio of Porac to aid the Filipino army which was having trouble with Japanese artillery fire. From a Filipino lieutenant, Gentry learned where the guns were and attacked. Before the Japanese withdrew, the tankers had knocked out three of the guns.
After this, the tanks withdrew to the Hermosa Bridge and held it on the north side until all the troops were across. The tanks then crossed to the south and destroyed the bridge which held the Japanese up for a few days. This was the beginning of the Battle of Bataan.
In addition to serving as a rear guard, the
tankers burnt everything that was being left
behind. They burnt warehouses, banks, and
businesses that would help the
The Japanese lunched an all out attack on April 4 against the defenders. On April 7, the 57th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, supported by tanks, attempted to restore the line, but Japanese infiltrators prevented this from happening.
The tanks became a
favorite target of
receiving fire on
trails and while
hidden in the
jungle. and could
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
During the march, he recalled, "Charles Everett, of Logan, Ohio, and myself
save him from
being shot by
walked the last ten
miles to Camp
camp was an
training base which
was put into use by
the Japanese as a
There was only one
water spigot for the
The POWs had to
stand in line for
hours to get a
guards often turned
off the water
ran wild among the
POWs, because they
had no medicine to
sick. As many
as 50 men died each
The ship moved again
on July 23rd, at
8:00 A.M., and
dropped anchor at
7:00 P.M. off
Corregidor. On July
24th, a convoy was
ready and the ship
sailed as part of
it. At 3:00
A.M. on July 26th,
the convoy came
under attack from an
American Wolf Pack
made up of the
U.S.S. Crevale, the
U.S.S. Angler, and
ship, the Otari Yama Maru, was hit by a torpedo
which was a
part of a
The POWs saw
shoot over the
hatches of the
From July 30th until
August 2nd, the
ships sailed through
a storm. They
were issued new
clothing on August
3rd before the ship
arrived at midnight,
August 4th at
Moji. At 8:00
in the morning, they
disembarked and were
marched to a
remained there until
they were formed
into detachments and
taken to the train
boarded a train and
rode it to various
camps along the
Lacy's case, he was
taken to Osaka Camp #3-B , which was also
known as Oeyama.
The POWs in the camp worked in a nickel mine and
at a smelter owned by Nippon Yakin Kogyo
and at the Hachidate Branch Nickel
Refinery as laborers. They also were marched
nearly six miles to another nickel mine.
He stated the camp had a POW population of 650
POWs. 400 hundred of the POWs were British
and the remaining POWs were American.
With a pick and shovel, he and the other POW's
had to extract ore from the mine 10 to 12 hours
a day. When they loaded a car, they next
had to push it to the railroad track that ran
past the mine. The prisoners had to work
in all types of weather and in snow as deep as
six feet deep. To protect the prisoners'
feet from the elements, the Japanese supplied
them with rubber boots.
In May 1945, the first B-29s appeared over the
camp. The bombings became more frequent.
On July 30th,
was a nearby
town were the
POWs worked on
ran over the
camp, two POWs
weeks later, a
raid on the
night until it