Schoeneck

 

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.
    When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.  The next day, when another squadron of planes 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 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. 
    On September 8, 1941, the battalion was boarded onto the U.S.S. Calvin Coolidge, which sailed at 9:00 P.M. the same day.  The battalion arrived at Hawaii on September 13, and the soldiers were allowed ashore but had to be aboard before the ship sailed at 5:00 P.M.  It took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes, where it was joined by the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Astoria, and an unknown destroyer as its escorts.

    During the 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 ships crossed the International Dateline on September 16, and the date changed to September 18.  On September 26th, they arrived at Manila Bay at 7:00 A.M., but did not reach Manila until later in the morning.  The soldiers did not disembark until 3:00 P.M.  The maintenance section of the battalion helped 17th Ordnance unload the tanks and reattach the turrets.

    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. 
    On December 8, Charles lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield.  The bombing took place just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  At 12:45 that afternoon, planes approached the field from the north.  At first the tankers thought the planes were American.  When bombs exploded on the runways, the tankers knew they were Japanese.
    Being in HQ Company took cover during the attack since they had few weapons that could be used against planes.  When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield.  The soldiers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and anything that could carry the wounded was in use.  When the hospital filled, they watched the medics place the wounded under the building.  Many of these men had their arms and legs missing.
    That night, most men slept under their tanks since it was safer than sleeping in their tents.  They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed.  They lived through two more attacks on December 10 and 13.

    The Japanese 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 tanks left.
    The tanks became a favorite target of the Japanese receiving fire on trails and while hidden in the jungle. and could not fight back.  The 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 counter-attack.
   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."  
    For the next four months, the tankers fought to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines.  The night of April 8, 1942, the order "crash" was given and the tankers were suppose to destroy their tanks.  The next morning, they were Prisoners of War. 

    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.
    When the POWs reached Limay, officers with ranks of major or higher, were separated from the enlisted men and the lower ranking officers.  The higher ranking officers were put on trucks and driven to Balanga from where they march north to Orani.  The lower ranking officers and enlisted men reached the barrio later in the day having march through Abucay and Samal.
    At 6:30 in the evening, the POWs were ordered to form detachments of 100 men.  Once this was done, they resumed the trip north, but this time they were marched at a faster pace and were given few breaks.  When they did receive a break, they had to sit in the road until they were ordered to move.
    When they were north of Hermosa, the POWs reached pavement which made the march easier.  At 2:00 A.M., they received an hour break, but any POW who attempted to lay down was jabbed with a bayonet.  After the break, they were marched through Layac and Lurao.  It was at this time that a heavy shower took place and many of the men opened their mouths in an attempt to get water.
    The men were marched until 4:00 P.M., when they reached San Fernando.  Once there, they were herded into a bull pen, surrounded by barbwire, and put into groups of 200 men.  One POW from each group went to the cooking area which was next to the latrine, and received a box of rice that was divided among the  men.  Water was given out in a similar manner with each group receiving a pottery jar of water to share.
    At 4:00 A.M., the Japanese woke the men up and organized them into detachments of 100 men.  From the compound, they were marched to the train station, where they were packed into small wooden boxcars known as "forty or eights."  Each boxcar could hold forty men or eight horses, but the Japanese packed 100 men into each car and closed the doors.  The POWs were packed in so tightly that the dead could not fall to the floor.  At Capas, as the living left the cars and those who had died - during the trip - fell to the floors of the cars.  As they left the cars, the Filipino civilians threw sugarcane and gave the POWs water.

    The POWs 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 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.
    The Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medical supplies to the camp, the Japanese commandant refused to allow the truck into the camp.  When the Japanese Red Cross sent medical supplies 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 formerly known at Camp Panagaian.
    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.
    The POWs were sent out on work details to cut wood for the POW kitchens.  Meals on a daily basis consisted of 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, and sweet potato or corn.  Other POWs worked in rice paddies.  Each morning, after arriving at the farm, the POWs went into a tool shed to get their tools.  As they left the shed, the guards hit them on their heads.  While working in the fields, the favorite punishment given to the men in the rice paddies was to have their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on by a guard.  Returning from a detail the POWs bought, or were given, medicine, food, and tobacco, which they somehow managed to get into the camp even though they were searched when they returned. 

    The camp 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. 
    According to a diary kept by 2nd Lt. Ralph Crandall, of the 194th, Lawrence was one of the POWs put on a detail, at Cabanatuan, on June 23, 1943.  The POWs worked just two days on the detail, but their job was to move the inside fence, of the camp, so that the camp farm could be enlarged.  It is known Lawrence was still at Cabanatuan in the summer of 1944.  On September 25, 1944, he and other POWs were sent to Bilibid Prison outside Manila.

    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. 
    The ship sailed and became a part of a convoy which moved without lights.  The cries for air began as the men lost discipline, so the Japanese threatened to cover the holds and cut off all air.  When the Japanese sent down fried rice, cabbage, and fried seaweed, those further back from the opening got nothing.   The ships dropped anchor off Corregidor to load more cargo into their holds.
    At 10:00 P.M., the Japanese interpreter threatened to have the guards fire into the holds unless the POWs stopped screaming.  Some of the POWs fell silent because they were exhausted, and others because they had died.  One major of the 26th Cavalry stated the man next to him had lost his mind.  Recalling the conversation he had with the man he said, "Worst was the man who had gone mad but would not sit still.  One kept pestering me, pushing a mess kit against my chest, saying, 'Have some of this chow? It's good.'  I smelled of it, it was not chow.  'All right'  he said, 'If you don't want it. I'm going to eat it.' And a little later I heard him eating it , right beside me."

    The 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 them.
    About an hour after the ships sailed light began to enter the hold as morning came, the POWs could see men who were in stupors, men out of their minds, and men who had died.  The POWs in the aft hold which also had a sub-hold, put the POWs who out of their minds into it.
    On the side of the holds, water had condensed on the walls so the POWs tried to scrap it off the wall for a drink.  The Japanese did allow men who had passed out to be put on deck, but as soon as they revived they went back into the holds.  The Japanese would not allow the bodies of the men who had died to be removed from the holds.

    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.
    
At first it seemed that most of the planes were attacking the other ships in the convoy.  Commander Frank Bridgit, had made his way to the top of the ladder into the hold and sat down.  He gave the POWs a play by play of the planes attacking, "I can see two planes going for a freighter off our starboard side.  Now two more are detached from the formation.  I think they may be coming for us." 

    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 day.  
    In the hold, the POWs concluded that the attacking planes were concentrating on the bridge of the ship.  They noted that the planes had taken out all the anti-aircraft guns leaving only .30 caliber machine guns to defend the ship.  

    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.

    At dusk 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. 
    Sometime after midnight, the POWs heard the sound of the Japanese civilians being evacuated from the ship.  During the night, the POW medics were ordered onto the deck to treat the Japanese wounded.  One medic recalled that the dead, dying, and wounded were everywhere. 

    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."
    The Japanese guards and interpreter had abandoned ship, but the ship's captain remained on board.  He told the POWs in his limited English that they needed to get off the ship to safety. 
The POWs made their way over the side and into the water.  As they swam to shore, the Japanese fired at them, with machine guns, to prevent them from escaping.   
    Four of the planes flew low over the water above the POWs.  The POWs waved frantically at the planes so they would not be strafed.  The planes banked and flew lower over the POWs.  This time the pilots dipped their wings to show that they knew the men in the water were Americans.
 
About a half hour later, the ship began to really burn and the bodies of the dead could be seen on the decks.
    The Japanese sent out a motorboat with a machine gun and snipers on it.  The POWs attempting to escape were hunted down and shot.  It is believed as many as 30 men died in the water.

    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 later. 
   A barge was brought to the ship and the dead were placed on it.  When it arrived near shore, the POWs on the detail were too weak to carry the dead to shore, so ropes were tied to the legs of the dead and the bodies were dragged to shore where the bodies were taken to a nearby beach and buried in a mass grave.  After the war, the remains were disinterred and those who could not be positively identified were buried at the National Cemetery of the Pacific at the Punch Bowl in Hawaii.

    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.


 

 


 

 

 

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