Sgt. Howard Ronald Lang
Born: August 28, 1918 – Saint Paul, Minnesota
Parents: August and Marie Lang
Siblings: 3 brothers, 2 sisters
Hometown: Route #1 New Brighton, Minnesota
Employment: Civilian Conservation Corps
Selective Service Registration: 16 October 1940
– Contact: Mrs. August Lang – mother
– U. S. Army
– 20 March 1941
– Fort Knox, Kentucky
– Camp Polk, Louisiana
– assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion as a medic
– joined the 192nd Tank Battalion as a replacement for a man released from federal service
– received orders for duty in the Philippines because of an event that happened during the summer.
– a squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots noticed something odd
– he took his plane down and identified a buoy, with a flag, in the water. He came upon more flagged buoys that lined up – in a straight line – for 30 miles
to the northwest, in the direction of a Japanese occupied island, with a large radio transmitter, hundreds of miles away.
– the squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field
– when the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day
– The next day – when planes were sent to the area – the buoys had been picked up and a fishing boat – with a tarp covering something on its deck – was
seen making its way toward shore.
– communication between the Air Corps and the Navy was poor, so the boat escaped
– the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines
– battalion travels by train, over four different train routes to Ft. Mason north of San Francisco, California
– each company rode on one train
– the tanks followed on a second train right behind the first train
– some men from the company were on this train
– taken to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay by the ferry the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
– October 25 and 26 – physicals were given by the battalion’s medical detachment
– some men released
– others held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date
– replacements fill these positions
– Boarded: 27 October 1941 – U.S.S. General H. L. Scott
– Sailed: same day
– Arrived: 2 November 1941 – Honolulu, Hawaii
– arrived in the morning
– soldiers received shore leave
– Sailed: – Wednesday – 5 November 1941
– took a southerly route away from main shipping lanes
– joined by the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and the U.S.A.T. President Calvin Coolidge
– smoke was seen on the horizon
– Louisville revved its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it intercepted the ship
– the ship was from a neutral country
– Sunday – 9 November 1941 – crossed International Dateline
– soldiers woke up on Tuesday – 11 November 1941
– Arrived: Guam – Sunday 16 November 1941
– the ship loaded with water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables
– Sailed: next day
– passed Japanese held island in total blackout
– Arrived: Thursday – 20 November 1941 – Manila Bay – 7:00 A.M.
– soldiers disembarked ship three hours after arrival
– boarded buses for Ft. Stotsenburg
– maintenance section remained behind to unload tanks from the ship
– Ft. Stotsenburg – Philippine Islands
– 5:15 A. M. – reveille
– hygiene – the lucky man washed by a faucet with running water
– 6:00 A.M. – breakfast
– 7:00 to 11:30 A.M.
– Noon – lunch
– 1:30 to 2:30 P.M. – worked
– the shorter afternoon work period was based on the belief that the climate made it too hot to work
– the tankers worked until 4:30 P.M.
– the term “recreation in the motor pool” was used for this work time
– followed the example of the 194th Tank Battalion on doing this
– 5:10 – dinner
– after dinner, the soldiers were free to do what they wanted to do
– the soldiers spent their free time bowling, going to the movies,
– they also played horseshoes, softball, badminton, or threw a football around
– on Wednesday afternoons, they went swimming
– men were allowed to go to Manila in small groups
– the battalion wore fatigues to do the work on the tanks
– the soldiers were reprimanded for not wearing dress uniforms
– they continued to wear fatigues in their barracks area to do their work
– if the soldiers left the battalion’s area, they were expected to wear dress uniforms
– 1 December 1941
– tanks ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field
– two tank crew members had to stay with the tanks at all time
– 194th guarded the north end of the airfield and the 192nd Tank Battalion guarded the south end
– meals served to men at the tanks by food trucks
– those not assigned to a tank or half-track remained at the command post
– Battle of Luzon
– 8 December 1941 – 6 January 1942
– tank battalions last units to disengage from Japanese during withdrawal to Bataan
– 12 December 1941 – Barrio of Dau
– guarded a road and railway
– 23/24 December 1941
– Urdaneta. Pangatian Province
– while outside barrio the company’s commander Captain Walter Write was killed
– the tanks were not allowed to withdraw, they almost were captured
– tanks made an end run to a bridge in the Bayambang Province over the Agno River
– 25 December 1941 – tanks held the south bank of Agno River from Carmen to Taehyung
– held the position until 5:30 A.M. until December 27
– prevented the Japanese from crossing
– 30 December 1941
– A Company wiped out a Japanese Bicycle Battalion that rode into its bivouac at night
– the company had bivouacked on both sides of a road
– a noise was heard – the tankers grabbed Tommy-guns and stood behind their tanks
– as they watched the bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac
– the tankers opened up with everything they had
– when they ceased fire, the entire battalion had been wiped out
– A Company attached to 194th – east of Pampanga
– withdrew from the area
– 2nd Lt. William Read killed during withdraw
– Battle of Bataan – 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– 27 December 1941 -at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan
– 28 and 29 December 1941 – at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan
– 31 December/January 1 – the tanks were stationed on both sides of the Calumpit Bridge
– received conflicting orders, from Gen. MacArthur’s chief of staff, about whose command they were under
– ordered to withdraw from the bridge
-they were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5
– this would allow the Southern Luzon Forces to enter Bataan
– General Wainwright was unaware of the orders
– the orders caused confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges
– 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
– 2 January to 4 January – 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 5/6, the Japanese attacked at Remedios in force and using smoke as cover
– The attack was an attempt to destroy the tank battalions
– at 5:00 A.M., the Japanese withdrew having suffered heavy casualties
– January 6/7 – that night the tanks withdrew into the peninsula
– the 192nd held its position so that the 194th could leapfrog past it and cross the bridge
– the 194th covered the 192nd’s withdrawal 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
– assigned a road to enter Bataan on which was worse than having no road
– the half-tracks kept throwing their rubber tracks
– the 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 Hanes, B Co.
– its job was to protect the East Coast Road north of Hermosa and keep it open
– it was also to stop Japanese tanks attempting to use the road 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
– word came that a bridge was going to be blown up, all the tanks were ordered out of the area, including 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
– almost one month since the tank crews had a rest and the tanks had maintenance work done on them by 17th Ordnance
– most of the tank tracks had worn down to the bare metal
– the radial engines were 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.”
– 25 January 1942 – the battalions were sent to cover the junctions of the Back Road and East Road with the Abucay-Hacienda Road
– the 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, fought its way to the position at 3:00 A.M. – – — one tank platoon was sent to the front of the column of trucks which
were loading the troops
– the tanks provided heavy fire so that the infantry could withdraw
– 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
– the withdrawal was completed at midnight
– the tanks held the position until the next night
– 26/27 January 1942 – they dropped back to a new defensive line roughly along the Pilar-Bagac Roads.
– ordered to withdraw to the new line
– the 192nd found that the bridge at Balanga had been destroyed by enemy fire
– to withdraw, they had to used secondary roads to get around the barrio
– tanks were still straggling in at noon the next day
– The Battle of the Points
– on the west coast of Bataan
– Japanese troops landed ended up trapped
– Quinawan-Aglaloma point from January 22 to February 8
– Sililam-Anyasan point from January 27 to February 13
– the defenders successfully eliminated the points
– drove their tanks along the Japanese defensive line firing their machine guns
– the Japanese had dug “spider holes” among the roots of the trees
– made it hard to eliminate foxholes
– the tankers could not get a good shot at the Japanese
– The 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts followed the tanks eliminating any resistance – – drove the Japanese Marines over the edge of the cliffs
– they hid in caves
– the tanks fired into the caves killing or forcing them out of them and into the sea
– 27 January 1942
– tanks held the position for six hours to allow a new line of defense to form
– tanks and self-propelled mounts inflict 50% casualties on three Japanese units
– 28 January 1942 – beach duty
– prevented the Japanese from landing troops on Bataan
– The 192nd was assigned the coastline from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan’s east coast
– the battalion’s half-tracks were used to patrol the roads
– Battle of the Pockets
– 23 January 1942 – 17 February 1942
– wiped out Japanese troops cut off behind the main line of defense
– used two methods to do this
– one was to have three Filipinos ride on the back of a tank
– each man had a sack of grenades and dropped one into the foxhole when tank went over it
– usually one of the three grenades exploded
– the second method was to park the tank with one track over the foxhole
– the driver gave power to the opposite track
– the tank went around in a circle dragging the unpowered track
– the unpowered track ground into the dirt
– the tankers slept upwind of their tanks
– they did not want to smell rotting flesh
– the Japanese sent soldiers with cans of gasoline against the tanks
– they attempted to jump onto the tanks and pour gasoline into the vents on the back of the tanks
– attempted to set the tanks on fire
– the tankers tried to machine-gun the Japanese before they got to a tank
– the other tanks would shoot them as they stood on a tank
– they 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 popped and wounded the men inside the tank
– the stress on the crews was tremendous
– the tanks rotated into the pocket one at a time
– a tank entered the pocket
– 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
– 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 suffocated inside the tank, by the Japanese.
– they through dirt openings into the tank
– after the Japanese had been wiped out, the tank was turned on its side
– the crewmen were removed and dirt emptied out of the tank
– the tank was put back into use
– the battalion received one of its Distinguished Unit Citation for its performance during the battle
– 1 March 1942
– rations were cut in half again
– the soldiers ate anything they could get their hands on to eat
– Carabao was tough but if it was cooked long enough it could be eaten
– the Japanese also were dropping surrender leaflets with a scantily clad blond on them
– a leaflet with a hamburger and milkshake would have been more effective
– the amount of gasoline in was reduced to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles except the tanks
– Gen. Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that a platoon of tanks should be sent to Corregidor
– Wainwright declined
– 3 April 1942
– Japanese launch new offensive
– tanks sent into various sectors to stop the Japanese advance
– 6 April 1942
– four tanks sent to support the 45th Philippine Infantry and 75th Infantry, Philippine Scouts
– one tank knocked out by anti-tank fire at the junction of Trails 8 & 6
– other tanks covered withdraw
– near Mt. Samat ran into heavy Japanese force
– the tanks withdrew to Marivales
– 8 April 1942
– Gen. Edward P. King decided that further resistance was futile since approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to fight
– 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
– His troops were on one-quarter rations, and even at that ration, he had two days of food left.
– 6:30 P.M. – order went out. “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.”
– 10:30 P.M. – the decision was made to send a white flag across the battle line
– 11:00 P.M. – the company is given a half-hour to leave the ordnance depot before the ammunition dumps are destroyed
– 11:40 P.M. – ammunition dumps were blown up
– At 2:oo A.M. April 9, Gen. King sent a jeep under a white flag carrying Colonel Everett C. Williams, Col. James V. Collier, and Major Marshall Hurt to meet
with the Japanese commander about terms of surrender.
– The white flag was bedding from A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion
– Shortly after daylight Collier and Hunt returned with word of the appointment
– the tankers received this message over their radios at 6:45 A.M. on 9 April 1942
– circled tanks and fired an armor-piercing shell into each tank’s engine
– opened gasoline cocks and dropped grenades into the crew compartment
– as King left to negotiate the surrender, he went through the tank group and spoke to them
– he told them he was going to get them the best deal he could get
– he also said, “When you get home, don’t ever let anyone say to you, you surrendered. I was the one who surrendered.”
– Gen. King with his two aides, Maj. Cothran and Captain Achille C. Tisdelle Jr. got into a jeep carrying a large white flag
– They were followed by another jeep – also flying another large white flag – with Col. Collier and Maj. Hurt in it
– As the jeeps made their way north they were strafed and small bombs were dropped by a Japanese plane
– The drivers of both jeeps and the jeeps were provided by the tank group and both men managed to avoid the bullets
– The strafing ended when a Japanese reconnaissance plane ordered the fighter pilot to stop strafing
– About 10:00 A.M. the jeeps reached Lamao where they were received by a Japanese Major General who informed King that he reported his coming to
negotiate a surrender and that an officer from the Japanese command would arrive to do the negotiations
– The Japanese officer also told him that his troops would no attack for thirty minutes while King decided what he would do
– After a half-hour, no Japanese officer had arrived from their headquarters and the Japanese attack had resumed.
– King sent Col. Collier and Maj. Hunt back to his command with instructions that any unit inline with the Japanese advance should fly white flags
– Shortly after this was done a Japanese colonel and interpreter arrived.
– King was told the officer was Homma’s Chief of Staff and he had come to discuss
– King attempted to get insurances from the Japanese that his men would be treated as prisoners of war, but the Japanese officer – through his interpreter
– he was accused of declining to surrender unconditionally
– At one point King stated he had enough trucks and gasoline to carry his troops out of Bataan
– He was told that the Japanese would handle the movement of the prisoners
– The two men talked back and forth until the colonel said through the interpreter, “The Imperial Japanese Army are not barbarians.”
– King found no choice but to accept him at his word
– 6:45 A.M. – the order “CRASH” was sent for equipment to be destroyed
Prisoner of War:
– 9 April 1942
– remained in bivouac until the Japanese made contact with them
– ordered to Mariveles
– Mariveles – POWs started the march at the southern tip of Bataan
– POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing at Corregidor
– the Japanese guards only walked a predetermined distance
– to finish faster they made the POW move at a faster pace
– Americans on Corregidor returned fire
– Filipinos put containers of water along the sides of the road
– the POWs could scoop the water into their canteens without stopping
– the water saved many lives
– the POWs put into a metal building
– sat in human waste
– they received their first food
– San Fernando – POWs put into small wooden boxcars
– boxcars were known as “forty or eights”
– each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men
– 100 POWs packed into each car
– POWs who died remained standing since they could not fall to the floors
– Capas – the dead fell to the floors as living left boxcars
– POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O’Donnell
– Camp O’Donnell
– 1 April 1942 – unfinished Filipino training base Japanese put into use as a POW camp
– Japanese believed the camp could hold 15,000 to 20,000 POWs
– POWs searched upon arrival at camp
– those found with Japanese money were accused of looting
– sent to guardhouse
– over several days, gunshots heard southeast of the camp
– POWs who had money on them had been executed
– Japanese took away any extra clothing from POWs as they entered the camp and refused to return it
– since no water was available for wash clothing, the POWs threw soiled clothing away
– clothing was taken from dead
– few of the POWs in the camp hospital had clothing
– POWs were not allowed to bathe
– only one water spigot for the entire camp
– POWs waited 2½ hours to 8 hours to get a drink
– water frequently turned off by Japanese guards and the next man in line waited as long as 4 hours for the water to be turned on again
– the Japanese always had a sufficient supply of water
– Breakfast – ½ cup of soupy rice and occasionally they got some sort of coffee
– Lunch – ½ mess kit of steamed rice and a ½ cup of sweet potato soup
– Dinner – the same as lunch
– mess kits could not be cleaned
– POWs had to carry water 3 miles from a river to cook their meals
– second water spigot installed a week after POWs arrived
– slit trenches overflowed since many of the POWs had dysentery
– flies were everywhere including in camp kitchens and food
– the camp hospital had no water, soap, or disinfectant
– the senior POW doctor wrote a list of medicines he wanted to treat the sick and was told by the camp commandant, Capt. Yoshio Tsuneyoshi, never
to write another letter
– Tsuneyoshi said that all he wanted to know about the American POWs were their names and numbers when they died
– refused to allow a truckload of medicine sent by the Archbishop of Manila into the camp
– 95% of the medicine sent by Philippine Red Cross in a truck was taken by the Japanese for their own use
– a second truck of medicine sent by the Red Cross was turned away
– the Japanese took what they wanted from the cookies and fruit brought by the Philippine Red Cross for the POWs and gave what was left to the POWs
– POWs in the camp hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow
– the floor was covered in human waste
– there were only primitive supplies improvised by the POWs to clean the floor
– operations on POWs were performed with mess kit knives
– only one medic out of six medics – assigned to care for 50 sick POWs in the hospital – was well enough to work
– as many as 50 POWs died each day
– the floor was covered with human excrement
– the POWs made improvised cleaners to clean it
– each morning dead were found everywhere in the camp and stacked up under the hospital
– in an attempt to stop the spread of disease, the dead were moved to one area
– the ground under the hospital was scraped and covered with lime to clean it
– the dead were moved to the cleaned area and the area where they had lain was scraped and covered with lime
– usually the dead were not buried for two or three days
– inadequate number of barracks
– POWs slept under buildings and on the ground
– those who did sleep in a building slept as many as 80 POWs in buildings designed to house 40 men
– Work Details:
– if a POW could walk, he was sent out on a work detail
– the less sick from the hospital had to dig latrines
– given one canteen of water that was expected to last for three days
– on the details, they did road construction, loading, and unloading trucks, and carrying goods on their backs
– men returned to camp and died
– POWs on burial detail often had dysentery and/or malaria
– the next morning the dead were often sitting up in the graves
– wild dogs dug up the dead
– Japanese opened a new POW camp to lower the death rate
– In May, his family received a message from the War Department
Dear Mrs. M. Lang:
According to War Department records, you have been designated as the emergency addressee if Sergeant Howard R. Lang, 36,206,280, who, according to the latest information available, was serving in the Philippine Islands at the time of the final surrender.
I deeply regret that it is impossible for me to give you more information than is contained in this letter. In the last days before the surrender of Bataan, there were casualties which were not reported to the War Department. Conceivably the same is true of the surrender of Corregidor and possibly other islands of the Philippines. The Japanese Government has indicated its intention of conforming to the terms of the Geneva Convention with respect to the interchange of information regarding prisoners of war. At some future date, this Government will receive through Geneva a list of persons who have been taken prisoners of war. Until that time the War Department cannot give you positive information.
The War Department will consider the persons serving in the Philippine Islands as “missing in action” from the date of surrender of Corregidor, May 7, 1942, until definite information to the contrary is received. It is to be hoped that the Japanese Government will communicate a list of prisoners of war at an early date. At that time you will be notified by this office in the event that his name is contained in the list of prisoners of war. In the case of persons known to have been present in the Philippines and who are not reported to be prisoners of war by the Japanese Government, the War Department will continue to carry them as “missing in action” in the absence of information to the contrary, until twelve months have expired. At the expiration of twelve months and in the absence of other information the War Department is authorized to make a final determination.
Recent legislation makes provision to continue the pay and allowances of persons carried in a “missing” status for a period not to exceed twelve months; to continue, for the duration of the war, the pay and allowances of persons known to have been captured by the enemy; to continue allotments made by missing personnel for a period of twelve months and allotments or increase allotments made by persons by the enemy during the time they are so held; to make new allotments or increase allotments to certain dependents defined in Public Law 490, 77th Congress. The latter dependents generally include the legal wife, dependent children under twenty-one years of age and dependent mother, or such dependents as having been designated in official records. Eligible dependents who can establish a need for financial assistance and are eligible to receive this assistance the amount allotted will be deducted from pay which would otherwise accrue to the credit of the missing individual.
Very Truly yours
J. A. Ulio (signed)
The Adjutant General
– 1 June 1942 – POWs formed detachments of 100 men
– POWs marched out the gate and marched toward Capas
– Filipino people gave POWs small bundles of food
– the guards did not stop them
– At Capas, the POWs were put into steel boxcars and rode them to Manila
– the train stopped at Calumpit and switched onto the line to Cabanatuan
– POWs disembarked the train at 6:00 P.M. and put into a schoolyard
– fed rice and onion soup
– original name – Camp Pangatian
– Philippine Army Base built for the 91st Philippine Army Division
– put into use by the Japanese as a POW camp
– actually three camps
– Camp 1: POWs from Camp O’Donnell sent there in an attempt to lower the death rate
– Camp 2: two miles away
– all POWs moved from camp because of a lack of water
– later used for Naval POWs
– Camp 3: six miles from Camp 2
– POWs from Corregidor and from hospitals sent there
– camp created to keep Corregidor POWs separated from Bataan POWs
– Corregidor POWs were in better shape
– January 1943 – POWs from Camp 3 consolidated into Camp 1
– Camp Administration:
– the Japanese left POWs to run the camp on their own
– Japanese entered camp when they had a reason
– in early June, four POWs were caught trying to escape
– they were made to dig their own graves and stand in them facing a firing squad
– after they were shot, a Japanese officer took his pistol and shot into each grave
– Blood Brother Rule
– POWs put into groups of ten
– if one escaped the others would be executed
– housed in the same barracks
– worked on details together
– each barracks held 50 men
– often held between 60 and 120 men
– slept on bamboo slats without mattresses, covers, and mosquito netting
– diseases spread easily
– no showers
– Morning Roll Call:
– stood at attention
– frequently beaten over their heads for no reason
– when POWs lined up for roll call, it was a common practice for Japanese guards,
after the POWs lined up, to kick the POWs in their shins with their hobnailed boots because they didn’t like the way the POWs looked
– Work Details:
– two main details
– the farm and airfield
– farm detail
– POWs cleared land and grew camotes, cassava, taro, sesame, and various greens
– Japanese took what was grown
– Big Speedo – spoke little English
– in charge of the detail
– fair in the treatment of POWs
– spoke little English
– to get POWs to work faster said, “speedo”
– Little Speedo
– punished POWs by making them kneel on stones
– also used the “speedo” when he wanted the POWs to work faster
– always smiling
– could not be trusted
– meanest of guards
– Airfield Detail:
– Japanese built an airfield for fighters
– POWs cut grass, removed dirt, and leveled ground
– at first moved dirt in wheelbarrows
– later pushed mining cars
– Air Raid
– in charge
– usually fair but unpredictable
– had to watch him
– Donald Duck
– always talking
– sounded like the cartoon character
– unpredictable – beat POWs
– POWs told him that Donald Duck was a big American movie star
– at some point, he saw a Donald Duck cartoon
– POWs stayed away from him when he came back to camp
– Work Day: 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
– worked 6 days a week
– had Sunday off
– Other Details:
– work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens and plant rice
– they also were frequently hit with a pick handle, for no reason, as they counted off
– POWs on the rice planting detail were punished by having their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on
– the POWs had to go into a shed to get the tools, as they came out, they were hit on their heads
– if the guards on the detail decided the POW wasn’t doing what he should be doing, he was beaten
– many POWs on details were able to smuggle in medicine, food, and tobacco into
– 26 June 1942, six POWs were executed by the Japanese after they had left the camp – went to buy food and were caught returning to camp
– the POWs were tied to posts in a manner that they could not stand up or sit down
– no one was allowed to give them food or water
– they were not permitted to give them hats to protect them from the sun
– the men were left tied to the posts for 48 hours when their ropes were cut
– Four of the POWs were executed on the duty side of the camp
– the other two were executed on the hospital side of the camp
– Burial Detail
– POWs worked in teams of four
– carried 4 to 6 dead to the cemetery at a time in litters
– a grave contained from 15 to 20 bodies
– daily POW meal
– 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
– rice was the main staple, few vegetables or fruits
– Camp Hospital:
– 30 Wards
– each ward could hold 40 men
– frequently had 100 men in each
– two tiers of bunks
– sickest POWs on the bottom tier
– each POW had a 2 foot by 6-foot area to lie in
– Zero Ward
– given the name, because it had been missed when counting wards
– became the ward where those who were going to die were sent
– fenced off from other wards
– Japanese guards would not go near it
– POWs sent there had little to no chance of surviving
– medical staff had little to no medicine to treat sick
– many deaths from disease caused by malnutrition
– hospitalized – Wednesday – 8 July 1942 – dysentery and malaria
– discharged – Tuesday – 22 September 1942
– while he was hospitalized, his family received a second message from the War Department. The following is an excerpt from it.
“The last report of casualties received by the War Department from the Philippines arrived early in the morning of May 6. Through this date, Sergeant Howard R. Lang had not been reported as a casualty. The War Department will consider the persons serving in the Philippine Islands as “missing in action” from the date of the surrender of Corregidor, May 7, until definite information to the contrary is received.
“Efforts to secure prisoner of war lists from the Philippines have not been successful to this date due to the lack of communication and the fact that the Japanese Government has not yet given permission for the Swiss representative and the International Red Cross delegates to make visits to prisoner of war camps in the islands. When the lists of prisoners are received, we will clear the name of your son and send you any additional information that we may have.”
– 21 September 1942 – three POWs recaptured who had escaped and brought back to the camp
– 12 September 1942 – the POWs had escaped
– their feet were tied together
– their hands were crossed behind their backs and tied with ropes
– a long rope was tied around their wrists and they were suspended from a rafter
– their toes barely touched the ground
– their arms bore all the weight of their bodies
– they were subjected to severe beatings by the Japanese guards
– the punishment lasted three days
– tied hand and foot and placed in the cooler for 30 days
– the diet was rice and water
– one of the three POWs was severely beaten by a Japanese lieutenant
– “Blood Brother” rule implemented
– if one POW in the group of 10 escaped, the other nine would be killed
– POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
– 29 September 1942 – three POWs executed by the Japanese
– stopped by American security guards
– the guards were to stop escapes so other POWs would no be executed
– the Japanese heard the commotion
– during questioning, the POWs were severely beaten for two and a half hours
– one man’s jaw was broken
– taken to the main gate and tied to posts
– their clothing was torn off them
– beaten for the next 48 hours
– at the end of three days, they were cut down and thrown into a truck
– POWs were shot in a clearing in sight of the camp
– October 1942 – The Japanese needed 1000 POWs to go on a work detail to Davao
– 24 October 1942 – the POWs were marched to the barrio of Cabanatuan
– they were loaded into boxcars, and sent by train to Manila arriving in the afternoon – During the trip, the doors of the boxcars were left open so there was
– they arrived at Manila but remained in the boxcars until after dark
– after dark, they were marched through the empty streets to Bilibid Prison
– Once at Bilibid, they were fed mutton soup and rice.
– The next day they were assembled in 100 men formations
– marched to the Port Area of Manila where they boarded the Erie Maru
– The hold was divided into box spaces and twelve men were assigned to each box.
– There was only enough room in a box for six men to sleep at a time.
– The POWs quickly became infested with bedbugs and lice.
– The hold smelled from the gasoline that was being stored in it
– it quickly was joined by the smell of human excrement.
– The next morning the POWs were fed rice and spinach soup.
– At noon, they received rice and dried fish.
– For dinner, they had corned beef and rice.
– The POWs assigned to cooking discovered the Japanese officers had a large stock of captured American pork and slipped it to the men in the holds
– many of the POWs developing dysentery
– The trip to Lasang took thirteen days
– the ship made stops at Iloilo, Panay, and Cebu, Mindanao
– At Iloilo, they buried one man who had died.
– 7 November 1942 – the POWs arrived at Lansang
– The POWs were in such bad shape that the ranking Japanese officer, Major Mida, ordered them fed.
– They ate pork and beef, rice cabbage pinch, squash onions, potatoes, and peanuts which were all produced on the farm.
– From the orchards, they were given fruit which included raw and cooked plantains. – The sick were given medical treatment and there was enough water
for drinking, bathing, and laundry.
– When the recuperation took too long, their diet was cut to rice and greens soup.
– various details. 30 men were assigned to work as carpenters
– 25 POWs worked in the orchards
– 50 POWs made rope
– 20 POWs worked the bodega (storeroom) detail, and for four months the POWs cut and picked coffee
– smaller details that took from 2 to 35 men that lasted weeks or months, while other details were continuous
– farm detail that 250 to 300 POWs worked on plowing fields and harvesting crops.
– 50 to 100 POWs were sent to a plantation and given the job of building roads.
– In the opinion of the POWs, they did more damage than good and intentionally kept the roads impassable.
– The Japanese decided that they were getting nowhere, so they sent the POWs to the ricefields to plant rice.
– 350 to 750 POWs were used in the rice fields
– The number varied because planting and harvesting took more men.
– Many of the POWs became ill with what John called, “Rice Sickness.”
– This illness was caused by a POW cutting his foot or leg on a rice stalk.
– The POW developed a rash and suffered from severe swelling.
– If a POW bruised himself, the bruise developed into an ulcer.
– Most, if not all the prisoners, suffered from malaria.
– the sick received adequate water and food
– the rations were cut if the recovery took too long
– In April 1943, the POWs working conditions varied.
– The treatment the POWs at this time changed.
– Those POWs working the rice fields received the worst treatment.
– They were beaten for not meeting quotas, and there were misunderstandings between the POWs and guards.
– In addition, the translator could not be trusted to tell the truth.
– Many of the POWs became ill with what was called “Rice Sickness”
– This illness was caused by the POWs cutting their feet or legs on rice stalks
– They developed a rash and suffered from severe swelling.
– If a POW bruised himself, the bruise developed into an ulcer.
– Most, if not all the prisoners, suffered from malaria.
– Beatings were common
– usually, the guards slapped the POWs in their faces
– On occasion, there were severe beatings.
– This occurred if the Japanese suspected the POWs were planning an escape.
– The POWs were still receiving three meals – which were measured – with a sardine tin – a day
– they received one water buffalo a week but they were being worked harder and longer
– At times, after the POWs had slaughtered the water buffalo and had it ready to cook it, the Japanese made them bury it.
– Trees at the experimental farm were loaded with bananas, oranges, and other fruits – these fell to the ground and rotted since the POWs were not allowed
to eat them
– 4 April 1943 – Capt. William Dyess, LTC Melvyn McCoy, Maj. Stephen Mellnik, Maj. Michael Dobervitch, and another POW escaped
– the 600 remaining POWs from their barracks were moved to another compound
– their rations reduced and they were confined to quarters
– they were physically abused
– they were not allowed to sit down
– The Japanese commanding officer ordered and allowed collectives punishment on all the POWs.
– If the POWs were found to have food on them when they returned from work, they were brutally beaten.
– At night the guards walked through the barracks a poked the sleeping POWs with bamboo poles to disrupt their sleep.
– two other POWs escaped
– 22 other POWs were confined to the guardhouse for ten days.
– They were made to stand at attention all day in the cells.
– The cells were eight feet long and three and one-half feet wide.
– Eleven prisoners were put into each cell
– At night they were beaten with sticks when they attempted to lie down
– They were fed one meal a day of rice with a little salt.
– The Japanese ended the detail at the farm
– 2 March 1944 – the POWs to Lasang
– The POWs thought that it would not be as bad as the farm; they were wrong.
– The barracks of the POWs were only 400 yards from the airfield.
– The POWs believed this was done so if American planes attacked, they would kill their own countrymen.
– 550 POWs either built runways
– other POWs were sent to a quarry to mine coral for runways
– The POWs dug out the coral, broke it up, and loaded it onto trucks that were driven to the airfield.
– When the POWs slowed the pace of their work down, the Japanese resorted to torture to get them to work.
– American forces got closer to the Philippines
– 6 June 1944 – many of the POWs boarded trucks
– 6 June 1944 – POWs were taken by truck to Lasang
– hands tied and shoes removed to prevent escapes
– Yashu Maru
– POWs put in forward holds
– remained in holds for six days
– Sailed: Lasang, Mindanao – 12 June 1944
– the ship dropped anchor off Zamboanga, Mindanao – 14 June 1944
– Sailed: not known
– Arrived: Cebu City – 17 June 1944
– POWs disembarked and put in a warehouse
– Sailed: unnamed ship – 21 June 1944
– POWs called the ship “Singoto Maru”
– Arrived: Manila – 24 June 1944
– POWs were taken to Bilibid Prison
– Bilibid Prison
– remained there for nearly a month
Hell Ship: Nissyo Maru
– Boarded: Manila – 17 July 1944 – boarded 8:00 A.M.
– Sailed: 18 July 1944 – dropped anchor off the breakwater
– remained there until 23 July 1944
– Sailed: 24 July 1944
– 26 July 1944 – one ship in convoy sunk by American submarine – 3:00 A.M.
– Arrived: Takao, Formosa – 9:00 A.M. – 28 July 1944
– Sailed: 28 July 1944 – 7:00 P.M.
– sailed through the storm from 30 July to 2 August 1944
– 3 August 1944 – issued new clothes
– Arrived: Moji, Japan – midnight – 4 August 1944
– disembarked ship – 8:00 A.M.
– marched to theater
– taken by train to the POW camp
– Nagoya #5-B
– sulfuric acid production
– many of the punishments received by the POWs were the result of the Japanese interpreter, Shinshi Kirio
– intentionally misinterpreted orders or outright lied so that the POWs would be beaten
– made POWs, as punishment, run in circles in the cold
– punished by being hit with sticks, clubs, fists, leather belts, shoes, ropes, belt buckles, and bamboo sticks while standing at attention
– Afterward, it was not uncommon for the Japanese to rub salt into the man’s wounds
– food rations were also cut
– made to stand at attention with their arms outstretched hold a bucket of water at arm’s length
– men were suspended from ladders – by their wrists – and beaten while they hung there
-They were made to kneel on rocks or bamboo poles with heavy rocks behind their knees or they had to squat for hours at a time.
– Cpl. Takeo Shuraki discovered that the POWs had cut two bars on a window of a bay in a barracks
– the 20 POWs who lived in the bay were questioned one at a time, in Japanese, to find out who had cut them
– This was done even though two POWs confessed to cutting the bars.
– 25 May 1945
– Toyama Camp #7-B
– also known as Nagoya #7
– The camp was built by and on the property of the Nippon Soda Company, Limited
– 6 June 1945 – opened
– located about 300 feet from its plant where the POWs worked
– The first POWs arrived on July 7.
– The camp was made up of one barracks, a kitchen and a bathroom, a camp office, and an unknown building.
– All the buildings were wood and were surrounded by a 10-foot high wooden fence.
– The POWs’ barracks was the largest building with the camp hospital at one end.
– Along the walls, were two decks of bunks which were merely platforms.
– Each POW had a 3 foot wide by 7-foot long area to sleep in on straw mattresses.
– The POWs slept on the side of the building nearest the fence until an air raid on July 30 when they moved to the bunks along the other wall
because of damage to the barracks.
– The POWs received three meals a day mostly of rice and beans with a few vegetables. Each meal was 4.8 grams and was eaten from mess kits, in the
barracks, on tables down to the POWs.
– The factory manufactured a steel alloy used in the war effort.
– The POWs were involved in the melting and forging of metal, and three types of work.
– 65 POWs worked melting the ore
– another 65 worked at forging the metal
– a final 65 did miscellaneous jobs
– One detachment worked the night shift
– A workday was 12 hours long and the POWs received two days off a month
– 1 August 1945 – the City of Toyama was bombed by American planes
– did a great deal of damage leaving only five buildings standing
– A bomb fell near the camp on July 20, blowing out windows, damaging walls, and roofs on the barracks
– the factory had a great deal of damage.
Liberated: 5 September 1945
– 6 September 1945 – taken to Yokohama Docks
– returned to Philippine Islands for medical treatment
– U.S.S. Hugh Rodman
– Sailed: Manila – September 1945
– Arrived: San Francisco, California – 3 October 1945
– former POWs were taken to Letterman Hospital
Promoted: Staff Sergeant
– 1992 – Cumberland, Wisconsin