Pvt. Lester Irwin Tenenberg
    Pvt. Lester I. Tenenberg was born on July 1, 1920, to Mr. & Mrs. Gus Tenenberg and lived at 1209 West Sherwin Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.  As a student, he attended Lane Technical High School and after high school, he worked at the Liquid Carbonic Company.
    In September, 1940, Les knew that it was only a matter of time before he would be drafted into the army.  To prevent this from happening, and to have a say with whom he served with, Les joined the Illinois National Guard's 33rd Tank Company in Maywood, Illinois.  The reason he did this is that the company was going to be federalized for one year.

On November 28, 1940, the company boarded a train for Fort Knox, Kentucky, as Company B, 192 Tank Battalion.  Here Les had the privilege of serving the company as its first cook.  When other members of the company completed baking school, he trained as a tank crew member and qualified as a tank driver.
    A typical day started at 6:15 A.M. with reveille, but most of the soldiers were already up so they could wash, dress, and be on time for assembly.  Breakfast was from 7 to 8 A.M. which was followed buy calisthenics from 8 to 8:30.  After this, the remainder of the morning dealt with .30 and .50 caliber machine guns, pistols, map reading, care of personal equipment, military courtesy, and training in military tactics.
    At 11:30, the tankers got ready for lunch, which was from noon to 1:00 P.M., when they went back to work by attending the various schools.  At 4:30, the tankers day ended and retreat was at 5:00 P.M. followed by evening meal at 5:30.  The day ended at 9:00 P.M. with lights out, but they did not have to be in bed until 10:00 P.M. when taps was played.

    After Fort Knox, Les and the other members of the company were sent to Louisiana to take part in maneuvers from September 1 through 30.  To Les, these "maneuvers" were somewhat of a joke because the 192nd had few tanks.  Without knowing it, the 192nd had already been selected for overseas duty in the Philippine Islands.  After the maneuvers, they were ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft. Knox as they had expected.  On the side of a hill, the members of the battalion were informed that they were being sent overseas from six months to six years.   Those men who were 29 years old or older, were allowed to resign from federal service.

    The reason for this move was an event that took place in the summer of 1941.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf 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 that a large radio transmitter.  The island was hundred of miles away.  The squadron continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles before returning to Clark Field.  When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.
    The next day, another squadron was sent to the area and found that the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat that was seen making its way to shore.  Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was poor, the boat escaped.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
    The battalion traveled west by train to Ft. Mason in San Francisco.  Arriving there, they were taken by the ferry, the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  At Ft. McDowell, they were given physicals and inoculated by the battalion's medical detachment.   Those men found to have a minor medical conditions 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.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27.  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.   The ship arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2 and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
    On Wednesday, 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, another transport, the S.S. President Calvin Coolidge.  Sunday night, November 9, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th.  During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Dateline.  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 shot off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out the smoke was from a ship that belonged to a friendly country.
    When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila the next day.  At one point, the ships passed an island at night and 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., most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.
   At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they had what they needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner, which was a stew flung into their mess kits, 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 as they prepared to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.  
    On December 1, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers.  Two crew members had to be with their tank at all times and received their meals from food trucks.

    On December 8, 1941, members of the battalion were leaving the mess hall when they were informed of the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  The tank companies were brought up to full strength at the perimeter of the airfield with the half-tracks being moved into position at the airfield.   He and the other tankers watched the attack on Clark Field since most of their weapons were useless against airplanes.  They fought the best they could with weapons that were not designed to fight aircraft.        
    The tank battalion received orders on December 21 that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.   Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas.  When they reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.   On December 22, Lt. Ben Morin's tank platoon was ordered north to Lingayen Gulf to engage Japanese troops landing there.  The tank of Sgt. Willard Von Bergen, which Les was a member of the crew of, was one of the tanks in the platoon.        
    About two miles south of Agoo, Morin stopped the platoon and asked an American officer where the Japanese where.  The officer told him about a mile up the road.  The tank platoon continued up the road.  Morin's tank was hit by a shell on the left side of the hull.  The hit knocked the door loose in front of his driver's, Pvt. Louis Zelis, position.  Within seconds, a second direct hit tore the door away and left it dangling over the front slope plate of the hull.  Morin signaled Pvt. Zelis to pull off the road to the right to take them out of the line of fire.  Ben did this to give his crew the chance to put the door back in place before continuing the attack.
  
  
  While the tank was stopped, a Japanese medium tank charged down on Morin's tank from concealment.  The Japanese tank struck Morin's tank full in the left front at the driving sprocket.  Pvt. Zelis backed onto the road again and tried to go forward.  Since the left driving sprocket was sprung out of line, it was jammed in the track.  The motive power of the right track pulled Morin's tank off the road to the left.  More shells struck the tank on the right side of the hull and in the right rear.  One shell pierced the armor and entered the battery case causing the engines to stop.  The radio and forward guns went dead, and the engine caught fire resulting in smoke entering the fighting compartment.
    The remaining three tanks having no way of communicating with Morin's tank withdrew from the area.  They did so believing that the crew was dead.  Just after Morin's tank was disabled, Von Bergen's tank had an armor piercing shell go through its turret.  Just before this happened, Von Bergen, who was standing in the turret, bent over to talk to his driver.  Von Begen later died as a POW.

    On December 23 and 24, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta, where the bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River had been destroyed.  The tankers made and end run to get south of river and ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening but successfully crossed at 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 holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27.  The tankers were fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27, and December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29. 

    The tankers were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27, and at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29.  On December 31/January 1, the tanks were stationed on both sides of the Calumpit Bridge when they received conflicting orders, from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff, about whose command they were under and to withdraw from the bridge.  The defenders were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5 which would allow the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan.  General Wainwright was unaware of the orders.
    Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River and about half the defenders withdrew.  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.
    At 2:30 A.M., the night of January 5th/6th, the Japanese attacked at Remlus in force and using smoke as cover.  This attack was an attempt to destroy the tank battalions.  At 5:00 A.M., the Japanese withdrew having suffered heavy casualties.
    The night of January 6th/7th the tanks withdrew into the peninsula with the 192nd holding its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross the bridge, and then cover the 192nd's withdraw over the bridge.  The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan, before the engineers blew up the bridge at 6:00 A.M.
    The next day, the battalion was between Culo and Hermosa and assigned a road to enter Bataan on which was worse than having no road.  The half-tracks kept throwing their rubber tracks and members of 17th Ordnance assigned to each battalion had to re-track them in dangerous situations.  After daylight, Japanese artillery fire was landing all around the tanks.
    A composite tank company was formed, the next day, under the command of Capt. Donald Haines, B Co., 192nd.  Its job was to protect the East Coast Road north of Hermosa open and to stop Japanese tanks attempting to use it to overrun the next defensive line that was forming. While in this position, the tanks were under constant enemy artillery fire.  The rest of the tanks were ordered to bivouac south of the Abucay-Hacienda Road.
    When word came that a bridge was going to be blow, all the tanks were ordered out of the area, which included the composite company.  This could have resulted in a catastrophe, but the Japanese did not take advantage of the situation.
    The tanks bivouacked south of the Pilar-Bagac Road and about two kilometers from the East Coast Road.  It had almost been one month since the tank crews had a rest and the tanks had maintenance work done on them by 17th Ordnance.  It was also on this day that the tank platoons were reduced to three tanks per tank platoon.  The men rested and the tanks received the required maintenance.  Most of the tank tracks had worn down to bare metal and the radial engines long past their 400 hour overhauls.
    It was at this time the tank battalions received these orders which came from Gen. Weaver: "Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying in position and firing at visible enemy until further delay will jeopardize withdrawal.  If a tank is immobilized, it will be fought until the close approach of the enemy, then destroyed; the crew previously taking positions outside and continuing to fight with the salvaged and personal weapons. Considerations of personal safety and expediency will not interfere with accomplishing the greatest possible delay."
    The battalions were sent to cover the junctions of the Back Road and East Road with the Abucay-Heicienda Road on January 25th.  While holding the position, the 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, fought its way to the position at 3:00 A.M.  One platoon was sent to the front of the the column of trucks which were loading the troops.  The tanks provided heavy fire so that the infantry could withdraw and inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese.
    Later on January 25, both the 192nd and 194th held a defensive line on the Bakanga-Cardre-BaniBani Roads until the withdraw was completed at midnight.  They held the position until the night of January 26/27, when they dropped back to a new defensive line roughly along the Pilar-Bagac Roads.  When ordered to withdraw to the new line, the 192nd found that the bridge at Balanga, that they were suppose to use had been destroyed by enemy fire.  To withdraw, they had to use secondary roads to get around the barrio and tanks were still straggling in at noon.
    The tank battalions, on January 28, 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, while the battalion's half-tracks were used to patrol the roads.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.
    Companies A & C were ordered to the west coast of Bataan while B Company - which was held in reserve - and 17th Ordnance held the southern shore of Bataan.  The tankers were awake all night and attempted to sleep under the jungle canopy, during the day, which protected them from being spotted by Japanese reconnaissance planes.  During the night, they were kept busy with repeated threats both on and off shore.
    The tank battalions, on their own, took up the job of protecting the airfields at Cabcaban, Bataan, and Mariveles, since Japanese paratroopers were known to be available.  The tanks and half-tracks were well hidden in the jungle around the airfields and different plans were in place to be used against Japanese forces.  There was only one major alert in March when 73 Japanese planes came over the area.

    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.
     At the same time the company took part in the Battle of the Points on the west coast of Bataan.  The Japanese landed troops but ended up trapped.  One was the Lapay-Longoskawayan points from January 23 to 29, the Quinawan-Aglaloma points from January 22 to February 8, and the Sililam-Anyasan points from January 27 to February 13.  The defenders successfully eliminated the points by driving their tanks along the Japanese defensive line and firing their machine guns.  The 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts followed the tanks eliminating any resistance and driving the Japanese Marines over the edge of the cliffs where they hid in caves.  The tanks fired into the caves killing or forcing them out of them into the sea.

    In February 1942, B Company was also given the job of defending a beach, along the east coast of Bataan, where the Japanese could land troops.  One night while on this duty, the company engaged the Japanese in a fire fight as they attempted to land troops on the beach.  When morning came, not one Japanese soldier had successfully landed on the beach.
    After being up all night, the tankers attempted to get some sleep.  Every morning "Recon Joe" flew over attempting to  locate the tanks.  The jungle canopy hide the tanks from the plane.  Walter Cigoi aggravated about being woken up, pulled his half-track on the beach and took a "pot shot" at the plane.  He missed.  Twenty minutes later, Japanese planes appeared and bombed the position.  Frank took cover under a tank.
    After the attack, the tankers found Richard Graff and Charles Heuel dead, and Francis McGuire was wounded.  Another man had his leg partially blown off.  The tankers attempted to put the man in a jeep, but his leg got in the way.  To get him into the jeep, his leg was cut off by T/4 Frank Goldstein. 
    The soldiers were hungry and began to eat everything they could get their hands on to eat.  The Carabao were tough but if they were cooked long enough they could be eaten.  They also began to eat horse meat provided by the 26th U. S. Cavalry.  To make things worse, the soldiers' rations were cut in half again on March 1, 1942.  This meant that they only ate two meals a day.
    The Japanese also were dropping surrender leaflets with a scantly clad blond on them.  The Japanese would have been more successful at getting the Americans to surrender if the picture had been hamburger, since the men were so hungry that they most likely would have surrendered for a good meal. 

    In March, the amount of gasoline was reduced to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles except the tanks.  This would later be dropped to ten gallons a day.  At the same time, food rations were cut in half again.  Also at this time, Gen. Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that a platoon of tanks be sent to Corregidor.
    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.  On April 7, 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, was attached to the 192nd and had only seven tanks left.
    It was the evening of April 8 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."      

     On April 9, 1942, the men of Company B were ordered to destroy their tanks and other equipment that could be used by the Japanese.  With this order, Les and the other men of the company became Prisoners of War.

    Les took part in the death march.  On the march he was accompanied by Bob Martin also of B Company.  Les would first be held as a POW at Camp O'Donnell which was an unfinished Filipino training base that was pressed 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.

    Les, like other POWs, wanted to get out of the camp because of the number of POWs dying each day. The detail, later known as the "Lumban Bridge Detail" rebuilt bridges that had been destroyed during the American retreat for the Japanese Engineers.  This detail was also under the command of Lt. Col. Ted Wickord the commanding officer of the 192nd Tank Battalion, and left Camp O'Donnell on May 1, 1942.
     Once out of the camp, the POWs were broken into four detachments of 250 men each.  Les' detachment was sent to Calauan.  There, the POWs were amazed by the concern shown for them by the Filipino people. The townspeople arranged for their doctor and nurses to care for the POWs and give them medication.  They also arranged for the POWs to attend a meal in their honor.
     When the bridge was finished, the detail was next sent to Batangas to rebuild another bridge.  Again, the Filipino people did all they could to see that the Americans got the food and care they needed.  Somehow the Filipinos convinced the Japanese to allow them to attend a meal to celebrate the completion of the new bridge.
    Once again, the people of the town did what ever they could to help the Americans.  An order of Roman Catholic sisters, who had been recently freed from custody, invited Lt. Col. Wickord and twelve POWs for a dinner.  Wickord picked the twelve sickest looking POWs.
    The last bridge the POWs rebuilt was at Candelaria.  At this barrio, the POWs slept in a coconut mill with a fence around it.
    When the POWs finished the bridge, they were sent to Cabanatuan which 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 one was 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.  The POWs on the farm detail would have to go to a shed each morning to get tools.  As they left the shed, the Japanese guards thought it was great fun to hit them over their heads.
    The camp hospital consisted of 30 wards that could hold 40 men each, but it was more common for them to have 100 men in them.  Each man had approximately an area of 2 feet by 6 feet to lie in.  The sickest POWs were put in "Zero Ward," which was called this because it was missed by the Japanese when they counted barracks.  The Japanese put a fence up around the building to protect themselves and would not go into the area.  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.

    Shortly after arriving in the camp, a work detail was organized to go to San Fernando and he went out on it.  The POWs on the detail collected scrap metal that was to be sent to Japan.  Disabled vehicles were tied together with rope, and one operational vehicle would pull the disabled ones.  A POW was assigned to each vehicle and "drove" it to San Fernando. 
   After the detail ended the POWs were sent to Cabanatuan where in Les' case he worked on a farm.  The detail was under the command of "Big Speedo" who spoke very little English.  When he wanted the POWs to work faster, he told the POWs "speedo."  Although he was known to have a temper, the POWs thought he was fair.  Another guard was "Little Speedo" who was smaller and also used "speedo" when he wanted the POWs to work faster.  The POWs also felt he was pretty fair in his treatment of them.  "Smiley" was another guard who always had a smile on his face but could not be trusted.  He was the meanest of the guards and beat men up for no reason.  He liked to hit the POWs with the club.  Any prisoner who he believed was not working hard enough got knocked over with it.  Any prisoner who he believed was not working hard enough got knocked over with it.  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.

   If a prisoner was late or missed a detail, that POW was made to kneel on a ladder with a pole placed behind the knees to cut circulation.  The prisoner stayed like this until he fell over.    

    On July 23, 1943, Les was boarded onto the Clyde Maru.  The ship sailed for Santa Cruz, Zambales, to load manganese ore.  After a three day stay, it sailed again and arrived at Takao, Formosa, on July 28th.  It remained in port until a nine ship convoy formed.  On August 5th, the convoy left Formosa. 

    The next day the POWs left the ship and were marched to a train station.  They boarded a train and took a two day ride to Omuta, Kyushu.  The POWs disembarked the train and formed lines.  They were marched eighteen miles to their new camp.  Eighteen men too ill to walk, were driven to the camp.

    In Japan, he was held at Fukuoka Camp #17, which was located near the town of Omuta.  The camp was surrounded by a ten foot high wooden fence with barbwire on top.  The barracks for the POWs at the camp were 16 feet wide by 120 feet long.  Each one was divided into ten rooms which were shared by four to six POWs each.  
    The POWs worked in a condemned coal mine.  They worked bent over since they were taller than the average Japanese miner.  At the mine, each prisoner was expected to load three cars of coal a day.  The POWs worked 12 hour work days in areas of the mine which had cracks in the ceiling indicating a cave-in might take place.  One area was known as the "hotbox" because of its temperatures.  To get out of working, the POWs would intentionally have their arms broken by another POW.
    Daily meals consisted of seven spoonfuls of water and one fourth a cup of very poor quality watery rice a day.  To supplement their diets, the prisoners also ate dog meat, radishes, potato greens and seaweed.  To get a meal, when entering the food line, the POWs had to shout out there number, in Japanese, and another man would put a nail in a hole opposite the man's number on a board.  The nails remained in the board until all the POWs had been fed.
    Corporal punishment was an everyday occurrence at the camp.  The guards beat the POWs for slightest reason and continued until the POW was unconscious.  The man was then taken to the guardhouse and put in solitary confinement without food or water for a long period of time.
    On one occasion in November 1944, shirts had been stolen from a bundle, sent by the British Red Cross, from a building.  The Japanese ordered all the POWs to assemble and told them that they would not be fed until the shirts were returned.  The men who stole the shirts returned the shirts anonymously, and the POWs received their meal at 10:00 P.M.
    During the winter, the POWs, being punished, were made to stand at attention and had water thrown on them as they stood in the cold, or they were forced to knee on bamboo poles.  It is known that the POWs were made to stand in water and shocked with electrical current.  At some point, two POWs were tied to a post and left to die.  This was done they had violated a camp rule.

    It was at Camp #17 that his friend, Bob Martin, would save Les' life.  Bob had been injured and assigned to work in the camp kitchen.  Bob would sneak food to the prisoners being held in the camp's internal guardhouse.
    Life at Fukuoka #17 was hard and there were prisoners who would steal from other prisoners, especially clothing.  To prevent this from happening, the POWs would "buddy up" with each other.  While one man was working in the mine, the POW who was not working would watch the possessions of the other man.
    In addition, the sick were forced to work.  The Japanese camp doctor allowed the sick, who could walk, to be sent into the mine.  Men who had one good arm were made to lift heavy loads.   He also took the Red Cross medical supplies meant for the POWs for his own use and failed to provide adequate medical treatment.  Food that came in the packages was eaten by the guards.
    During his time at the camp, he suffered from beriberi.  While he was there, the camp was hit by bombs from American planes.  The American section of the camp was badly damaged, so they moved in with the British and Dutch POWs.
    On August 9, 1945, some of the POWs saw the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.  Those who saw it described that it was a sunny day and that the explosion still lit up the sky.  The pillar of smoke that rose from the bomb was described as having all the colors of the rainbow.  Afterwards, the POWs saw what they described as a fog blanketing Nagasaki which seemed to have vanished.
    The POWs went to work and talked to the Japanese civilians who spoke about how those, who had survived the blast, would touch their heads and pull out their hair.  They stated these Japanese died within days.  They also told of how they heard about a detachment of Japanese soldiers sent into Nagasaki to recover victims and how its members suffered the same fate.
   When the POWs came out of the mine, they found that the next shift of POWs was not waiting to go to work.  That night, the POWs were made to stand at attention for two hours.  They all had their blankets because they believed they were going to be moved.  Instead, they were returned to their barracks.  The next day, when it was their turn to go to work, they were told it was a holiday, and they had the day off.  They knew something was up because they had never had a holiday off before this.
    Finally, the POWs were gathered in the camp and told that Japan and the United States were now friends.  They were also told to stay in the camp.  They also found a warehouse with Red Cross packages and distributed the packages to the camp.  One day, George Weller, a reporter for the Chicago Daily News entered the camp.  He told the POWs that there were American troops on Honshu.

   One of these prisoners was Les.  Bob did this knowing that he was risking his own life.  The two men would stay friends for the rest of their lives.    In September of 1945, Les was liberated from captivity by the occupational forces of the American military. 

    Les was returned to the Philippine Islands and received medical treatment.  He was returned to the United States, at San Francisco, on the U.S.S. Hugh Rodman arriving on October 8, 1945.  He was then taken to Letterman General Hospital for additional treatment.
   
In 1947, Les would change his last name to "Tenney," which is what many of the other POWs had called him in the camps.  Les would go to college and become a professor of finance and insurance at Arizona State University.
    After he retired, he wrote the controversial book My Hitch in Hell about his time as a POW.  Lester Tenney passed away in Carlsbad, California, on February 24, 2017.  He was the last surviving National Guard member of B Company and possibly the last surviving member of the company.





 


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