2nd Lt. Lawrence S. Schoeneck
2nd Lt. Lawrence Schoeneck was born in Saint Joseph, Missouri, in 1913. He was the son of John S. & Stella M. Schoeneck. With his sister and brother, he grew up at 1218 North 8th Street in St. Joseph.
It is known that he joined the Missouri National Guard's tank company in St. Joseph. In November 1940, the tank company was designated as B Company, 194th Tank Battalion, but because of a strike n the lumber workers, the barracks for the battalion could not be built. The company was not officially called to service until February 10, 1941, when it traveled to Fort Lewis, Washington, where the tank battalion was formed. Lawrence went to the fort as a sergeant but was sent to Officers Candidates' School while at Fort Lewis. Upon completion of the program, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and reassigned to Headquarters Company of the 194th.
It is known Lawrence was married, and his wife, Ada, moved to Tacoma, Washington. The couple resided at 615 1/2 South G Street while he was training at Ft. Lewis. After he went overseas, his wife resided at 1239 East Valley Boulevard, Rosemont, California.
On August 15,
1941, the 194th received orders, from Ft. Knox,
Kentucky, to go overseas. Earlier in 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 in the water. He
took his plane down and identified a flagged
buoy and saw another one 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 returned to its flight plan south to
Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.
The 194th, minus B Company,
was sent to Ft. Mason in San Francisco,
California, and ferried, on the U.S.A.T
General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on
Angel Island were the members of the battalion
were given physicals and inoculated by the
battalion's medical detachment.
voyage, on several occasions, smoke from unknown
ships were seen on the horizon. The
cruiser revved up its engines and intercepted
the ships. On each occasion, it turned out
that the ship belonged a friendly country.
The battalion rode buses to Fort Stotsenburg and taken to an area between the fort and Clark Field, where they were housed in tents since the barracks for them had not been completed. They were met by Gen. Edward P. King, commanding officer of the fort who made sure they had what they needed. On November 15, they moved into their barracks.
Being assigned to HQ, Lawrence remained behind in Manila, with the company, to unload the tanks. Because the hold was not very high, the turrets of the tanks had been removed so they would fit into the hold.
The M-3 tanks that the battalion had were new to them. The fact they arrived in the Philippines, in late September, allowed the tank crews to learn about their tanks. They were still training at Ft. Stotsenburg the first week of December 1941.
On December 1, the
194th was ordered to its position at Clark
Field. Their job was to protect the
northern half of the airfield from
paratroopers. The 192nd Tank Battalion,
which had arrived in November guarded the
southern half. Two crew men remained with
the tanks at all times and received their meals
from food trucks.
lunched an all out attack on April 3. On
April 7th, the 57th Infantry, Philippine Scouts,
supported by tanks, attempted to restore the
line, but Japanese infiltrators prevented this
from happening. During this action, one
tank was knocked out but the remaining tanks
successfully withdrew. C Company, 194th,
which was attached to the 192nd, had only seven
The company remained in its
bivouac until April 10 when the Japanese
arrived. Lawrence now was officially a
Prisoner of War. HQ Company was ordered
the next day, to move to the headquarters of the
Provisional Tank Group, which was at kilometer
marker 168.2. At 7:00 P.M. on the 10th,
the POWs were ordered to march. They made
their way from the former command post, and at
first found the walk difficult. When they
reached the main road, walking became
easier. At 3:00 A.M., they were given an
hour break before being ordered to move again at
4:00 A.M. The column reached Lamao at 8:00
A.M., where the POWs were allowed to forage for
food before marching again at 9:00.
walked the last eight kilometers to Camp
O'Donnell which was an unfinished Filipino Army
Training Base. 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
hospital was composed of 30 wards. The
ward for the sickest POWs was known as "Zero
Ward," which got its name because it had been
missed when the wards were counted. Each
ward had two tiers of bunks and could hold 45
men but often had as many as 100 men in
each. The sickest men slept on the bottom
tier. Medical records from the camp show
that Lawrence was hospitalized on April 8,
1943. No illness or date of discharge was
recorded on the records.
On December 7, a list of POWs was posted, and the POWs went through a physical. On December 12, the POWs heard rumors that a POW detail was being sent out, and that they would receive cigarettes, soap, and salt. They were told they would leave Bilibid at 7:00 A.M., so the lights were left on all night.
At 4:00 A.M., the POWs were awakened, and at 8:00 A.M., roll call was taken. After it was finished the POWs were allowed to roam the compound. The men were fed and ordered to fall-in. Afterwards, they were marched to Pier 7 at Manila. During the march down Luzon Boulevard, they saw that the street cars had stopped running and that many things were in disrepair.
At the harbor, the POWs saw that American planes were doing a job on Japanese shipping. There were at least forty damaged ships. When they reached Pier 7, the POWs saw three ships. One ship was run down, while the other two were in good shape. One of the nicer ship was theirs. They also noticed a large number of Japanese men, women, and children waiting to board the ship.
The POWs were allowed to sit, and many of them fell asleep. At 5:00 in the afternoon, the POWs were boarded onto the Oryoku Maru and put in one of the ship's holds. 700 POWs including the high ranking officers were the first put into the ship's forward hold. Being the first on meant that they would suffer many deaths. The center hold held 100 POWs, while the remaining 800 were put in the rear hold. Around the perimeter of the hold were two tiers of bunks for the POWs. The heat was so bad that men soon began to pass out. One survivor said, "The fist fights began when men to pass out. We knew that only the front men in bay would be able to get enough air." The POWs who were closer to the hold's hatch, used anything they could find to fan air toward those further away from it.
After the POWs
were boarded the ship moved to a point in Manila
Harbor and waited there while the other ships in
the convoy were loaded. During this time
the POWs received little food of water and
during the first two nights, in the ship's
holds, 50 POWs died.
Japanese covered the holds and would not allow
the slop buckets to be taken out of the
holds. Those POWs who were left holding
the buckets at first asked for someone else to
hold it for awhile. When that did not
work, they dumped the buckets on the men around
The POWs received their first meal at dawn which consisted of a
little rice, fish, some water, and three
fourths of a cup of water was shared by 20
POWs. It was 8:00 A.M., off the coast of
Luzon, and the POWs had just finished eating
breakfast when they heard the sound of
guns. At first, they thought the gun
crews were just drilling, because they had not
heard any planes. It
was only when the first bomb hit in the
water and the ship shook that they knew it
was not a drill.
The POWs heard the change in the sound of the planes' engines as they began their dives toward the ships in the convoy. Several more bombs hit the water near the ship causing it to rock Explosions were taking place all around the ship. In an attempt to protect themselves, the POWs piled baggage in front of them. Bullets from the planes were ricocheted in the hold causing many casualties.
Lt. Col. Elvin
Barr of the 60th Coast Artillery came up to Maj,
John Fowler of the 26th Cavalry on the cargo
deck and said, "There's
a hole knocked in the bulkheads down
there. Between 30 and 40 men have
already died down there." Barr
would never reach Japan. The attack
by 30 to 50 planes lasted for about 20 to
30 minutes. When the planes were ran
out of bombs they strafed.
Afterwards, the planes flew off, returning
to their carrier, and there was a lull of
about 20 to 30 minutes before the next
squadron of planes appeared over the ships
and resumed the attack. This pattern
repeated itself over and over during the
At 4:30 P.M., the ship went through the worse attack on it. It was hit at least three times by bombs on its bridge and stern. Most of the POWs, who were wounded, were wounded by ricocheting bullets and shrapnel from exploding bombs. During the attack Chaplain Cummings, a Catholic priest, led the POWs in the Our Father. As they prayed, the bombs that exploded near the ship sent torrents of water over the ship. Bullets from the planes hit the metal plates, of the haul, at an angle that prevented most of them from penetrating the haul. Somewhere on the ship a fire started, but it was put out after several hours. The POWs lived through seven or eight attacks before sunset. Overall, six bombs hit the ship. One hit the stern of the ship killing many POWs.
the ship raised anchor and headed east. It
turned south and turned again this time heading
west. The next turn it made was north. It
headed in this direction for a good amount of
time before dropping anchor at about 8:00
P.M. The POWs figured out that they had
just sailed in a circle. What had happened
is that the ship's had been hit during the
attack and the ship could not be steered.
The ship reached Subic Bay at 2:30 in the morning and steamed closer to the beach where its anchor was dropped. At 4:00 A.M., the POWs were told that they would disembark at daybreak at a pier. The moaning and muttering of POWs who were losing their minds kept the POWs up all night. That night 25 POWs died in the hold.
It was December 15 and the POWs sat in the ship's holds for hours after dawn. The first 35 POWs were taken out of the hold and went into the water. At 8:00 A.M. as the other POWs waited, a Japanese guard yelled into the hold at the POWs, "All go home; speedo!" He shouted that the wounded would be the first to be evacuated. He then looked up and was sad, "Planes; many planes!" As the POWs were abandoning ship the planes returned and continued the attack. A bomb hit the ship's stern and a fire started. The ship bounced in the water from the explosions. Chief Boatswain Clarence M. Taylor who was in the water said, "I saw the whole thing. A bomb fall, hit near the stern hatch, and debris go flying up in the air."
In the hold, the
POWs crowded together. Chips of
rust fell on them from the ceiling.
After the raid, they took care of the wounded
before the next attack started. In the
hold a Catholic priest, Father Duffy, began to
pray, "Father forgive them.
They know not what they do."
There was no real beach so the POWs climbed up on a seawall and found the the Japanese Naval Landing Party had set up a machine gun and had just laid flat to rest when the gun opened up on them. Those who came ashore were warned to stay in the water, but only did so when one man climbed up on the seawall and was wounded. There were also Japanese snipers in wait to shoot anyone who attempted to escape.
The POWs were gathered together and marched to the tennis court at Olongapo Naval Station which was about 500 yards from the beach. There, they were herded onto a tennis court. While the POWs were on the tennis court, a Japanese officer, Lt. Junsaburo Toshio, talked to the the ranking American officer, Lt. Col. E. Carl Engelhart, that those POWs too badly wounded to continue the trip would be returned to Bilibid. Fifteen men were selected and loaded onto a truck. They were taken into the mountains and unloaded at a cemetery. There, they were shot and buried.
The remaining POWs stayed on the tennis courts for nine days. The POWs were given water but not fed. They also watched American planes attack the area around them. Since they had no place to take cover, they had no choice but watch. They believe the pilots knew that they were Americans, but they had no way to confirm this.
The POWs watched as the planes came straight down vertically at them. The planes would pull out of their dives and release their bombs. On several occasions, the planes dove right at the POWs, releasing their bombs, and pulled out of their dives. The bombs drifted away from the POWs and exploded when they hit the ground.
Since they had no place to hide, the POWs could do little more than watch the show. They believed that the pilots knew that the men of the tennis court were American, but they had no way to prove this. What they did know is that not one bomb was dropped on the tennis court.
The evening of December 16 the Japanese brought 50 kilo bags of rice for the POWs to eat. About half the rice had fallen out of the bags because of holes. Each POW received about three spoonfuls of raw rice to eat and a quarter spoon of salt.
At about 8:00 A.M. on December 22, the POWs were boarded onto trucks> Rumors flew about where the POWs where going to be taken. A Taiwanese guard said to the POWs, "No go Cabanatuan. Go Manila; Maybe Manila." The guard knew as little as the POWs.
The POWs were taken to San Fernando, Pampanga, where they lived through several attacks by American planes. The reason for the air raids was the military headquarters for the area. Most of the civilians had been moved out of the barrio. The POWs were housed in a movie theater in the dark. Some compared this to being in a dungeon. Many of the Americans began to believe that they had been taken there so that they could be killed by their own countrymen.
On December 23, at about 1:00 P.M., the Japanese interpreter came to speak to the ranking American officer about moving the POWs. Those POWs who were seriously ill or wounded were loaded into a truck. The remaining POWs believed these men were taken to Bilibid. The remaining POWs were moved to a trade school in the barrio.
After 10:00 A.M. on December 24, the remaining POWs were taken to the train station. The POWs could see that the station had been hit by bombs and that the train cars they were to be loaded onto had bullet holes from being strafed by American planes. Four guards and 180 to 200 POWs were put into each boxcar. The doors of the boxcars were kept closed and the heat was unbearable. In addition, fifteen POWs and two guards rode on the roofs of each car. The guards told the POWs that they should wave to the American planes.
On December 25, the POWs disembarked from the cars at San Fernando, La Union, at 2:00 A.M. They walked to kilometers to a school at the southern outskirts of the barrio. The POWs were held in the school house overnight. The next morning the POWs were marched down to a beach. During their time on the beach the POWs were given a handful of rice and a canteen of water. The heat was so bad that some of the men drank seawater. Some of these men died.
The remaining POWs were put on barges and taken out to another "Hell Ship" the Enoura Maru. The POWs were put into three different holds. The ship had been used to haul cattle, and the POWs were put in the same stalls that the cattle had been held in. In the holds, the POWs were lines up in companies of 108 men. Each man had four feet of space. Men who climbed the ladders to get fresh air were shot by the guards.
The daily routine was for six POWs to climb up on deck, and using ropes, pull out the dead. The men also pulled out buckets of human waste. Afterwards, they would lower ten buckets of rice, soup, and tea to those in the holds.
During the night of December 30, the POWs heard the sound of depth charges exploding in the water. The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on December 31 and docked around 11:30 in the morning. After arriving at Takao, each man received a six inch long, 3/4 inch wide piece of hardtack to eat. This was the first bread the POWs had to eat since they had received Red Cross parcels in 1942.
During the time in the harbor, the POWs received little water. From January 1 through 5, the POWs receive one meal a day. This resulted in the death rate among the POWs to rise. On January 6th, all the POWs from the Brazil Maru were put in the Enoura Maru's forward hold. It was also on that day that the POWs began to receive two meals a day.
The morning of January 9, the POWs were receiving their first meal of the day when they heard the sound of machine guns. The explosions of bombs falling closer and closer to the ship were also heard. The ship rocked in the water from the waves created by the exploding bombs.
One of the bombs hit the ship and exploded in the
corner of the forward hold killing 285 POWs.
This was the hold that Lawrence was in.
During this attack he was wounded. The
surviving POWs remained in the hold for three
days. The stench from the dead was
terrible. The Japanese finally organized a
detail and removed the bodies three days
On January 13th, the remaining POWs were put on the Brazil Maru. The ship sailed the next day for Moji, Japan. During the final leg of the trip to Japan, the ship towed another ship that had been damaged. The situation is the holds was bad and as many as 30 POWs died each day.
It was during this time on January 22, 1945, that 2nd Lt. Lawrence Schoeneck died from wounds he received during the attack on the Enoura Maru. After his death, his body was pulled from the hold by a rope and thrown into the sea.
Of the 1619 POWs who had boarded the Oryoku Maru on December 14, 1944, approximately 459 were alive when the detachment finally reached Japan on January 29, 1945.