Pvt. Norman A. Paul was born on April 15, 1913, in Valders, Wisconsin, to Robert Paul & Mary Bremer-Paul. He had two sisters and five brothers. Norman left school after the eighth grade to go to work on the family farm, and he also worked as a truck driver.
Norman was inducted into the U.S. Army on April 7, 1941, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training. He and the other selectees trained with the 1st Armor Division as members of one of its companies. The men received their condensed basic training from a composite group of officers and enlisted men from the 192nd. In some cases, basic training was as short as three or four weeks before they joined the battalion permanently.
A typical day for the soldiers started at 6:15 with reveille, but most of the soldiers were up before this since they wanted to wash and dress. Breakfast was from 7:00 to 8:00 A.M., followed by calisthenics from 8:00 to 8:30. Afterward, the tankers went to various schools within the company. The classes consisted of .30 and .50 caliber machine guns, pistol, map reading, care of personal equipment, military courtesy, and training in tactics.
At 11:30 the soldiers stopped what they were doing and cleaned up for mess which was from noon to 1:00 P.M. Afterwards, they attended the various schools which they had been assigned to on January 13, such as mechanics, tank driving, radio operating.
At 4:30, the soldiers called it a day and returned to their barracks and put on dress uniforms and at five held retreat followed by dinner at 5:30. After dinner, they were off duty, and lights were out at 9:00 P.M., but they did not have to turn in until 10:00 when 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. It was at this time, the selectees for all the companies joined the battalion.
At 7:00 A.M. on Monday, June 16, the battalion was broken into four detachments for a three-day tactical road march. The most important part of this march was to train the soldiers in loading, unloading, and setting up the battalion’s administrative camps. It also prepared them for the Louisiana maneuvers which they were scheduled to take part in during September.
The battalion 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 were the battalion’s kitchens), and 1 ambulance. The battalion 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 on Wednesday, June 18th through Lebanon, New Haven, and Hodgenville, Kentucky.
In late August, Paul was sent to Louisiana and assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion. During the maneuvers, the battalion did not participate in them. After the maneuvers, National Guardsmen, 29 years old or older were released from federal service, and replacements came from the 753rd. One of the replacements who was assigned to A Company was Paul.
The battalion traveled by different trains to San Francisco, California, were they taken on the ferry, the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Cox e, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they received inoculations and physicals, and those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island. They were 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 from San Francisco on Monday, October 27, at 9:00 P.M. 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. They arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2. 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 11. 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. Two other intercepted ships were Japanese freighters carrying scrap metal to Japan.
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, the tankers were met by Gen. Edward P. King, who welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed. He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to live in tents. The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived. He made sure that they had Thanksgiving Dinner – which consisted of stew thrown into their mess kits – before he left to have his own dinner.
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 from the engines as they flew over 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.
The day started at 5:15 with reveille and anyone who washed near a faucet with running water was considered lucky. At 6:00 A.M. they ate breakfast followed by work – on their on the tanks and other equipment – from 7:00 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. Lunch was from 11:30 A.M. to 1:30 P.M. when the soldiers returned to work until 2:30 P.M. The shorter afternoon work period was based on the belief that it was too hot to work in the climate. The term “recreation in the motor pool” meant they actually worked until 4:30 in the afternoon.
For recreation, the soldiers spent their free time bowling or going to the movies on the base. They also played horseshoes, softball, badminton, or threw footballs around during their free time. On Wednesday afternoons, they went swimming. Men were given the opportunity to be allowed to go to Manila in small groups.
At Ft. Stotsenburg, the soldiers were expected to wear their dress uniforms. Since working on the tanks was a dirty job, the battalion members wore coveralls to do the work on the tanks. The 192nd followed the example of the 194th Tank Battalion and wore coveralls in their barracks area to do work on their tanks, but if the soldiers left the battalion’s area, they wore dress uniforms everywhere; including going to the PX.
On December 1, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. From this time on, two tank crew members, or half-track crew members, remained with each vehicle at all times and received their meals from food trucks. The reason this was done was the tankers were supposed to use their cannons as anti-aircraft guns.
The morning of December 8, 1941, Capt. Walter Write informed his company that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japanese, and the tank crews were put on alert full alert around the airfield. Many of the men thought that this was the start of the maneuvers. At 8:30 A.M., American planes took off to intercept any Japanese planes. At noon, the planes landed to be refueled and were lined up near the mess hall. The pilots went to lunch.
The tankers were eating lunch when planes were seen approaching the airfield from the north at about 12:45. Many of the tankers counted 54 planes as the planes approached the airfield. As they watched, what was described as “raindrops” began falling from the planes. It was when the bombs began exploding on the runways, the tankers knew they were Japanese.
The members of A Company lived through the bombing of Clark Field. During the attack, they could do little since their guns were not made to use against planes. For some reason, not known to the tankers, the Japanese did not attack the tanks. The few planes that did had their bombs explode between the tanks.
That night, the tankers lived through several more air raids. Most slept under their tanks since it was safer than sleeping in their tents. They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed for the next three and one-half years.
Since another attack was expected, vehicles were dispersed and camouflaged. The tanks remained around the perimeter of Clark Field to prevent a paratroop assault. The soldiers had no idea if an invasion would soon follow.
On December 12, the company was sent to the Barrio of Dau so it would be close to a highway and railroad and protect them from sabotage. They remained there until they were ordered north to rejoin the other companies of the battalion.
On December 23 and 24, the company was in the area of Urdaneta, where, that the tankers lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write. After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get south of Agno River after the main bridge had been destroyed. As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening but successfully crossed 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 held the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks were asked to hold the position for six hours; they held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27.
On a road east of Zaragoza, on December 30, the company was bivouacked for the night and posted sentries. The sentries heard a noise on the road and woke the other tankers who grabbed Tommy-guns and manned the tanks’ machine guns. As they watched, a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac. When the last bicycle passed the tanks, the tankers opened fire on them. When they stopped firing, they had completely wiped out the bicycle battalion. To leave the area, the tankers drove their tanks over the bodies.
At Gumain River, the night of December 31 to the morning of January 1, the tank companies formed a defensive line along the south bank of the river. When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts. The Japanese were taking heavy casualties, so they attempted to use smoke to cover their advance, but the wind blew the smoke into the Japanese. When the Japanese broke off the attack, they had suffered fifty percent casualties.
At Guagua, A Company, with units from the 11th Division, Philippine Army, attempted to make a counterattack against the Japanese. Somehow, the tanks were mistaken, by the Filipinos to be Japanese. The 11th Division accurately used mortars on them. The result was the loss of three tanks.
On January 1, the tanks of the 194th were holding the Calumpit Bridge allowing the Southern Luzon Forces to cross the bridge toward Bataan. General Wainwright was attempting to hold the main Japanese force coming down Route 5 to prevent the troops from being cut off. General MacArthur’s chief of staff gave conflicting orders involving whose command the defenders were under which caused confusion. Gen. Wainwright was not aware these orders had been given.
Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River. 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.
After this, the company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga. It was there that they lost a tank platoon commander, 2nd Lt. William W. Read. The company returned to the command of the 192nd on January 8, 1942.
On January 28, the tank battalions were given the job of protecting the beaches. The 192nd was assigned the coastline from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan’s east coast. The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.
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 back 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 used to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole. The driver gave the other track power resulting in the tank going around in a circle and grinding its way down into the foxhole. The tankers slept upwind of their tanks so they would not smell the rotting flesh in the tracks.
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 of 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.
The company’s last bivouac area was about twelve kilometers north of Marivales and looking out on the China Sea. By this point, the tankers knew that there was no help on the way. Many had listened to Secretary of War Harry L. Stimson on short wave. When asked about the Philippines, he said, “There are times when men must die.” The soldiers cursed in response because they knew that the Philippines had already been lost.
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. His troops were on one-quarter rations, and even at that ration, he had two days of food left. He also believed his troops could fight for one more day.
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 driver was from the tank group and the white flag was bedding from A Company.) Shortly after daylight Collier and Hunt returned with word of the appointment. It was at about 6:45 A.M. that 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.”
The tank crews circled their tanks. Each tank fired an armor-piercing shell into the engine of the tank in front of it. They also opened the gasoline cocks inside the tank compartments and dropped hand grenades into the tanks. Most of the company waited in their bivouac for the Japanese to make contact, while others attempted to reach Corregidor which had not 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 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’s surrender. 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 – accused him 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.
On the morning of April 9, 1942, the members of A Company circled their tanks. Each tank fired one armor-piercing shell into the engine of the tank in front of it. The tankers next opened up the gasoline valves and dropped hand grenades into the turrets.
It was at that time that Paul and other members of his company made the decision to attempt to reach Corregidor. According to other members of his battalion, they found a boat and were able to get its owner, by the point of a gun, to take them to Corregidor. As they approached the island, they kept signaling with a flashlight, until they received a response that told them how to navigate the minefield. While he was on the island, he sent a telegram home telling his parents he was okay.
It is not known what Paul did on Corregidor, but it is known that he became a Prisoner of War when the island was surrendered to the Japanese on May 6, 1942. The POWs remained on the island for two weeks before they boarded barges and were taken about 100 yards from shore. The POWs jumped into the water and swam to shore and marched to Bilibid Prison. How long he remained at the prison is not known, but he was later sent to Cabanatuan.
It was in May or early June that his parents received a message from the War Department.
Dear Mrs. M. Paul:
According to War Department records, you have been designated as the emergency addressee of Private Norman A. Paul, 36,206,283, 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
On June 13, the Japanese selected 200 POWs for a work detail at the Port Area of Manila. The POWs were used as stevedores to load and unload ships. At first, the POWs were first housed in a warehouse which was poorly lit and ventilated. The bathroom and kitchen facilities were also poor. The Japanese finally housed the POWs in the Port Terminal Building across the street from Pier 7. Once this was done, more 200 more POWs were added to the detail.
It was while he was in the hospital that his parents received a second letter from the War Department. No copy of the letter has been found, but this is an excerpt:
“The last report of casualties received by the War Department from the Philippines arrived early in the morning of May 6. Through this date, Private Norman A. Paul 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.”
Around April 1943, his parents received another message from the War Department that he was a Prisoner of War. The public list was released on July 2, 1943.
REPORT JUST RECEIVED THROUGH THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS STATES THAT YOUR SON PRIVATE NORMAN A PAUL IS A PRISONER OF WAR OF THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT IN PHILIPPINE ISLANDS LETTER OF INFORMATION FOLLOWS FROM THE PROVOST MARSHALL GENERAL=
ULIO THE ADJUTANT GENERAL=
The telegram was followed by this letter.
The Provost Marshal General directs me to inform you that you may communicate with your son, postage free, by following the inclosed instructions:
It is suggested that you address him as follows:
Pvt. Norman A. Paul, U.S. Army
Interned in the Philippine Islands
C/O Japanese Red Cross, Tokyo, Japan
Via New York, New York
Packages cannot be sent to the Orient at this time. When transportation facilities are available a package permit will be issued you.
Further information will be forwarded you as soon as it is received.
Howard F. Bresee
Chief Information Bureau
While this was going on, events were taking place in the Philippines. The detail was disbanded on July 15, 1944, and most of the POWs from the detail were boarded onto the Nissyo Maru, the same day and remained in the hold for two days before the ship sailed. At first, the prisoners viewed this as a means of escape from life in the camps. They would later regret this belief. The POWs were put into the hold of the ship back to back while standing up. When the hold was full, the Japanese closed the hatches.
The ship sailed for Japan on July 17, 1944. There was very little water and no sanitary facilities. For the men in the hold, food was not as important as water. Men began going crazy and would attack each other for the smallest reasons.
During the voyage, the prisoners heard a “bang” under the ship. They assumed that it was a torpedo from an American submarine. Another ship in the convoy, the Hakusan Maru, was carrying 707 POWs was hit by torpedoes resulting in the deaths of almost all the Americans. The attack took place at 3:00 A.M. The POWs did not know it, but they were under attack by a wolf pack made up of the U.S.S. Crevale, U.S.S. Angler, and U.S.S. Flasher.
The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on July 27, and sailed the next day for Moji, Japan. From July 30 to August 2, the ship sailed through a storm that kept it safe from submarines. On August 3, the POWs were issued clothes. The ship finally arrived at Moji on August 4th at midnight, and the POWs were unloaded from the ship at 8:00 A.M.
The POWs formed 100 men detachments, and Norman’s detachment was taken by train to Nagoya #7-B. The POWs in the camp mined zinc and lead. During his time as a POW, his parents received a POW postcard from him once a year. The last one was received during July 1945, six months after it had been written.
According to records kept at the camp, Pvt. Norman A. Paul died from chronic bronchitis on Tuesday, July 24, 1945. His body was taken to a crematorium and the ashes given to the camp commandant. Emerson Rex, on October 12, 1945 – of A Company – met with Norman’s parents and told them of his death. This was the first news they had of Norman since receiving a letter from him written during January 1945. It is not known when they received official notification of his death from the War Department. On December 16, 1945, his parents held a memorial service for him at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Curtiss, Wisconsin. He was posthumously promoted to Technician Fifth Grade.
After the war, Norman’s remains were positively identified. At the request of his family, his remains were returned home in September 1948, on the U.S.A.T. Sgt. Morris E. Crain, with the remains of 79 other soldiers from Wisconsin. His ashes were buried in Section C–25, Site 14284 at Fort Snelling National Cemetery on November 24, 1948.