Norris, Pvt. Donald C.

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Pvt. Donald Clifford Norris
Born: 5 December 1911 – New London, Minnesota
Parents: Nathan G. Norris & Eva Libby-Norris
Siblings: 6 sisters, 5 brothers
Hometown: Roseville, Minnesota
Home: 1506 Hague Street – St. Paul, Minnesota
– living on own at 19 years old
– 1940 – living in Wausau, Wisconsin
Occupation: salesman
Selective Service Registration: 16 October 1940
– Next of Kin: Eva Norris – mother
Inducted:
– U. S. Army
– 7 April 1941 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Training:
– Fort Knox, Kentucky
– Basic Training
– the training was done with First Armored Division
– soldiers rushed through basic training
– his basic training was three weeks long so he could start medical training
Typical Day
– 6:15 with reveille
– most of the soldiers were up before this since they wanted to wash and dress.
– 7:00 to 8:00 – Breakfast
– 8:00 to 8:30 – calisthenics
– Afterward, the tankers went to various schools within the company.
– training in using and maintaining 30 and 50 caliber machine guns and pistols
– training in map reading, care of personal equipment, military courtesy, and training in tactics.
– 11:30 the soldiers stopped what they were doing and cleaned up for mess – – Noon to 1:00 P.M. – mess
– Afterward, they attended the various schools which they had been assigned to schools, such as mechanics, tank driving, radio operating
– medics received training from the battalion’s doctors since the Army believed in hands-on training
– some classes were available to medics 
– a limited number of classes were available to the medics
– 4:30 – the soldiers called it a day and returned to their barracks and put on dress uniforms
– 5:00 – retreat
– 5:30 – dinner
– After dinner, they were off duty
– 9:00 P.M. – lights were out
– soldiers but did not have to turn in
– 10:00 P.M. – Taps was played.

In late March 1941, the entire battalion was moved to new barracks at Wilson Road and Seventh Avenue at Ft. Knox. The barracks had bathing and washing facilities in them and a day room. The new kitchens had larger gas ranges, automatic gas heaters, large pantries, and mess halls. One reason for this move was the men from selective service were permanently joining the battalion.

On June 14th and 16th, the battalion was divided into four detachments composed of men from different companies. Available information shows that C and D Companies, part of Hq Company and part of the Medical Detachment left on June 14th, while A and B Companies, and the other halves of Hq Company and the Medical Detachment left the fort on June 16th. These were tactical maneuvers – under the command of the commanders of each of the letter companies. The three-day tactical road marches were to Harrodsburg, Kentucky, and back. The purpose of the maneuvers was to give the men practice at loading, unloading, and setting up administrative camps to prepare them for the Louisiana maneuvers.

Each tank company traveled with 20 tanks, 20 motorcycles, 7 armored scout cars, 5 jeeps, 12 peeps (later called jeeps), 20 large 2½ ton trucks (these carried the battalion’s garages for vehicle repair), 5, 1½ ton trucks (which included the companies’ kitchens), and 1 ambulance. The detachments traveled through Bardstown and Springfield before arriving at Harrodsburg at 2:30 P.M. where they set up their bivouac at the fairgrounds. The next morning, they moved to Herrington Lake east of Danville, where the men swam, boated and fished. The battalion returned to Ft. Knox through Lebanon, New Haven and Hodgenville, Kentucky. At Hodgenville, the men were allowed to visit the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln.

– Camp Polk, Louisiana
– treated battalion members during maneuvers
Note: The decision for this move – which had been made on August 15, 1941 – was the result of an event that took place in the summer of 1941. A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines, when one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower altitude, noticed something odd. He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another in the distance. He came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of a Japanese occupied island which was hundreds of miles away. The island had a large radio transmitter. The squadron continued its flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.

When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day. The next day, when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat – with a tarp on its deck – which was seen making its way to shore. Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was difficult, the boat escaped. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.

Overseas Duty:
– ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
– received physicals from medical detachment – 25 October 1941 – 26 October 1941
– men with minor health issues held back and scheduled to rejoin battalion at later date
– other men simply replaced
U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott
– Boarded: San Francisco – Monday – 27 October 1941
– Sailed: same day
– Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii – Sunday – 2 November 1941
– soldiers were given shore leave to see the sights
– Sailed: Tuesday – Wednesday – 5 November 1941
– joined by U.S.S. Louisville and S.S. 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 which was from a neutral country, but two other intercepted ships
   were Japanese freighters carrying scrap metal to Japan.
– Sunday – 9 November 1941 – crossed International Dateline
– soldiers woke up on Tuesday – 11 November 1941
– at about this time the convoy stopped at Wake Island and dropped off B-17 ground crews
– 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 disembark ship three hours after arrival
– boarded buses for Ft. Stotsenburg
– maintenance section remained behind to unload tanks from ship
Stationed:
– Ft. Stotsenburg
– Colonel Edward P. King met the soldiers when they arrived
– apologized to soldiers about living conditions
– lived in tents along the main road between fort and Clark Airfield
– made sure they all had Thanksgiving Dinner before he had his dinner
– the dinner was a stew thrown into their mess kits
– The members of the battalion pitched the ragged World War I 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.
– The area was near the end of a runway used by B-17s for takeoffs.
– The planes flew over the tents at about 100 feet blowing dirt everywhere and the noise was unbelievable.
– At night, they heard the sounds of planes flying over the airfield which turned out to be Japanese reconnaissance planes.
– In addition, the khaki uniforms they had been issued also turned out to be a heavy material which made them uncomfortable to wear in the tropical heat. 
Engagements:
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1941 – 6 January 1942
– 8 December 1941
– lived through attack on Clark Field
– took cover since the medical detachment had no weapons to fight planes
– 13 December 1941
– inspecting aid stations
– drove jeep across Clark Field when Japanese planes attacked
– others in jeep: Capt. Alvin Poweleit, Pvt. Robert Ryan, Pvt. Earl Wheeler
– stopped jeep and it would not stop
– took cover during attack
– 14 December 1941
– medical detachment left Clark Field
– set up aid station in a dried river bed
– 21 December 1941
– medical detachment moved north toward Lingayen Gulf with rest of battalion
– 23 December 1941
– detachment at Sison being shelled
– withdrew with battalion down Route 3
– the detachment bivouac-ed
– heard tanks
– the tanks were Japanese
– packed up and went south through Urdaneta
– crossed over Agno River bridge and passed through Carmen
– 25 December 1941
– set up aid station south of Rosales
– medics checked letter companies
– bivouac bombed and strafed
– 27 December 1941
– located at Santo Tomas
– detachment slept in churchyard
– 28 December 1941
– General MacArthur ordered medics not to carry guns
– kept their guns
– 28/29 December 1941
– located near San Isidro
– area shelled for three hours
– one tank crew injured when a shell caused it to turn over
– medics noted that tank crews were in poor condition from lack of sleep and food
– 30 December 1941
– detachment did not receive order to pull out
– ordered out by Capt. John Morley
– drover trucks through Gapan
– the barrio was occupied by Japanese
– went through so fast Japanese could not stop them
– 1 January 1942
– detachment bivouac-ed north of Luog
– 2 January 1942
– treated S/Sgt. Joseph Wierzchon, C Company, who had been wounded by mortar fire
– also attempted to treat Pfc. Frank Byars while delivering a message killed by Filipino who mistook him as a German
– 4 January 1942
– medical detachment at Culis
– treated wounded of the 194th Tank Battalion
– 2nd Lt Weeden Petree shot in abdomen
– tank shot down Zero which was strafing
– 6 January 1942
– shelling destroyed 194th Medical Detachment truck
– shared what they had with 194th
– Battle of Bataan – 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– 7 January 1942
– Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Gen. James Weaver visit tankers
– MacArthur asked why the men were not in the hospital
– Dr. Alvin Poweleit replied, “Who would man the tanks?”
– later in day Japanese bombed and strafed area
– 10 January 1942
– A and B Companies, and companies of 194th assigned beach duty
– from Abucay to Lamao
– 18 January 1942
– moved back to Pilar and Balanga which were burning when they went through
– tanks inflicted heavy damage to Japanese infantry
– 19 January 1942
– dropped back to Orion
– caught wild pig, roasted it
– food truck arrived and medics ate first American food in two days
– 20 January 1942
– bivouac at 147 kilometer marker (from Manila)
– Japanese attempted landing
– 29 January 1942
– ordered to West Coast of Bataan
– start of Battle of the Points
– 31 January 1942
– Quinauan Point cleared
– a Japanese diary said the Japanese were more afraid of being hit by a grenade than of it exploding
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.”
– February 1942
– tank battalions on their own guarded airfields
– battalions also guarded beaches to prevent Japanese from landing troops
– 3/8 February 1942
– Battle of the Pockets
– several tanks disabled
– attempted to recover them
– several members of battalion wounded or killed
– 9 February 1942
– medical detachment at 218 Kilometer on West Road
– medics report tank crews in bad shape
– 11 February 1942
– moved to kilometer 205, West Road
– bombed and shelled
– March 1942
– treated tank crews for various sicknesses
– 3 April 1942
– Japanese launched major offensive
– 8 April 1942
– ammunition dumps destroyed
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.”
– 10:30 P.M. – Gen. King announced that further resistance would result in the massacre of 6,000 sick or wounded troops and 40,000 civilians
– less than 25% of his troops were healthy enough to continue fighting
– he estimated they could hold out one more day
– sent his staff officers to negotiate the surrender of Bataan
– 11:40 P.M. – ammunition dumps were blown up
Prisoner of War:
– 9 April 1942
– Death March
– Mariveles – POWs start the march at the southern tip of Bataan
– POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing at Corregidor
– Americans on Corregidor returned fire
– San Fernando – POWs put into small wooden boxcars
– each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men
– 100 POWs packed into each car
– POWs who died remained standing
– Capas – dead fell to floor as living left boxcars
– POWs walked last ten miles to Camp O’Donnell
POW Camps:
– Philippine Islands:
– Camp O’Donnell
– an unfinished Filipino training base
– Japanese put camp into use as POW Camp
– only one water spigot for entire camp
– as many as 50 POWs died each day
– Japanese opened new POW camp to lower death rate
– Work Detail: San Fernando
– POWs collected scrap metal
– became ill
– Bilibid Prison
– admitted – 10 October 1942
– malaria
– Camp O’Donnell
– sent there to work as medic
– Donald cared for Filipinos
– most of the Filipinos were released after taking an oath of allegiance
– Cabanatuan
– 28 January 1943 – arrived from Camp O’Donnell
– assigned to medical detachment
– Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
– Japanese put base into use as a POW camp
– “Blood Brother” rule implemented
– if one POW in the group of 10 escaped, the other nine would be killed
– work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens
– many were able to smuggle in medicine, food, and tobacco
– men who escaped and were later caught were executed
– daily POW meal – 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
– 18 February 1943 – transferred to Camp #3
– Note: not sure what “Camp #3” refers to
Hell Ship:
Kenwa Maru
– POWs left Cabanatuan in early March 1944
– Boarded: 6 March 1944
– Sailed: Same day
– Arrived: Takao, Formosa – 13 March 1944
– Sailed: 15 March 1944
– Arrived: Moji, Japan – 22 March 1944
– Japan:
Sendai #5-B
– POWs worked in mine owned by Mitsubishi
– Red Cross medical supplies and medicines were withheld from POWs
– POWs were beaten for the slightest reasons
– Omori Camp
– POWs worked on docks
– food and water rations randomly withheld from POWs
– no proper washroom facilities
– POWs kicked and beaten
– Red Cross medical supplies and medicines withheld from POWs
Sendai #10-B
– 20 May 1945 – camp opened
– Work: steel mill
– POWs worked without proper safety devices and were exposed to excessive heat and gaseous fumes
– many POPs became sick or were injured
– civilian supervisors beat POWs if they believed they were not working hard enough
– Japanese withheld clothing, medical supplies, medicines, and food from Red Cross packages
– appropriated these things for themselves
– Food:
– inadequate low quality rice
– POWs smuggled food into camp
– beaten if they were caught doing this
– Medical Treatment:
– POWs who reported for sick call beaten
– sick who could walk were required to work
– when they returned to camp they had to clean up the campground
– Corporal Punishment:
– POWs kicked, slapped, punched, hit with clubs and pipes
– if one POW broke a rule, the all the POWs were made to stand at attention, in the cold, for hours
Liberated: September 1945
Discharged: 10 May 1946
Married: 1 July 1946 – Marion Ryder – Atwell, Minnesota
Children: 1 son
Occupation: dairy and food inspector – Atwell, Minnesota
Died: 8 May 1995 – Sun City, Arizona

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