Pvt. Lloyd J. Richter was born on July 29, 1913, in Marshall, Minnesota, to Edward Richter & Rose Schoell-Richter. He was known as “James” to his family and called “Shadow” by his friends. In 1930, he was living in Iowa and working on his uncle’s farm.
At some point, Lloyd moved to Janesville, Wisconsin, and joined the Wisconsin National Guard. His tank company was federalized in September 1941 and officially activated on November 25. On November 28, the company boarded a train for Ft. Knox, Kentucky.
A typical day for the soldiers started in 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 and 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 the late summer of 1941, the 192nd was sent to Louisiana, to take part in maneuvers from September 1 through 30. According to members of the battalion, during the maneuvers, they broke through the defensive perimeter of General George Patton’s Blue Army and were about to overrun his headquarters when the maneuvers were suddenly canceled. After the maneuvers, instead of returning to Ft. Knox, they were ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, not knowing why. It was on the side of a hill, that they were informed that they were being sent overseas. The day they received this news was the day that they were scheduled to be released from federal service. Those men 29 years old or older were given the opportunity 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 a Japanese occupied island that a large radio transmitter. The island was hundreds 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. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
After the companies were brought up to strength with replacements, the battalion was equipped with new tanks and half-tracks with came from the 753rd Tank Battalion. The battalion traveled over different train routes to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California, where they were taken by the ferry, the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe to Angel Island. At Ft. McDowell, on the island, they received physicals and inoculations. Men found with minor medical conditions were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
The 192nd 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 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.
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 Gen. Edward P. King. The general apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield. He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner – which was a stew thrown into their mess kits – before he went to have his own.
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.
The morning of December 8, 1941, the officers of the battalion were called together and ordered to have their tank platoons deployed to the perimeter of Clark Airfield. They were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The tanks took assigned positions around the airfield to stop Japanese paratroopers. At 8:30 A.M., American planes took off and patrolled the sky. At noon, the planes landed and were parked in a straight line outside the mess hall so the pilots could get lunch.
As the tankers sat in their tanks, all morning long, they watched as American planes filled the sky. At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch. The tankers were also having lunch when planes were seen approaching the airfield from the north. They had enough time to count 54 planes. Many of the tankers speculated that the planes were American. They then saw what looked like raindrops falling from the planes. It was when bombs began exploding on the runways that the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese.
After the bombers were through, they were followed by Japanese Zeros. The Zeros strafed the airfield and fort. Some of the tankers manned their .50 caliber machine guns and fired on the planes. It was reported that they shot down as many as nine planes. After the attack, the tankers saw the carnage done by the planes.
After the attack, the company was sent to the Barrio of Dau so it would be close to a highway and railroad. From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River. There, the tanks, with A Company, 194th held the position.
On December 23 and 24, the company was in the area of Urdaneta. It was there, 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. They 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.
A Company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga. It was there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt. William Reed. The company returned to 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.
A Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese Marines who had been trapped behind the main defensive line. 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 had left the pocket.
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 spinning around and grinding its way down into the foxhole. The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.
On another date, the tanks of A Company had bivouacked for the night when the guards heard a noise down the road. They awakened the other tankers and the men manned their guns. As they watched a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac. They opened fire with everything they had. According to members of the company, there was a great deal of confusion, noise, and screaming. Then, there was silence. They had completely wiped out the bicycle battalion.
Company A was next assigned the duty of protecting the west coast of Bataan from Japanese invasion. It was during this duty, that they would engage the enemy, who had landed troops behind the Filipino and American lines, in what was to become known as the Battle of the Points.
The Japanese had landed soldiers behind the main defensive line on Bataan on January 22 at Quinauan Point. The troops soon were surrounded in their beachhead with no way out. When the Japanese attempted to land reinforcements, they were landed on the wrong place creating a second pocket on Anyasan Point. Both points were wiped out. On March 2 or 3, during “The Battle of the Points.” The tanks had been sent in to wipe out two pockets of Japanese soldiers.
On April 9, 1942, 7:00 A.M., Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese. The night before, the tankers were given the order “Crash.” The members of A Company circled their tanks and each tank fired an armor-piercing round into the tank in front. They next opened the gasoline valves in the tanks and dropped grenades into each tank. The soldiers waited for the Japanese to make contact. When the Japanese did, they were officially Prisoners of War.
A Company started the death march at Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan. They made their way north to San Fernando. During the march, they received no water and little food. At one point, Lloyd was shot in his thigh with a bullet from a pistol by a Japanese guard. Once they reached San Fernando, they were herded into a bullpen. In one corner was a trench for the POWs to use as a washroom. The surface of the trench moved because it was covered with maggots. A Japanese medic treated Lloyd’s leg wound at San Fernando.
The POWs were ordered to fall in. They formed detachments and marched to the train station. There, they were packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane. The cars were known as “Forty and Eights” because each car could hold forty soldiers or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car. The heat in the car was stifling and many POWs died. They remained standing until the living left the boxcars at Capas. From Capas, the POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O’Donnell.
Camp O’Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army Training Base that the Japanese pressed into use as a POW camp. There was one water faucet for the entire camp. Disease ran wild in the camp and as many as 50 POWs died each day. Those POWs assigned to the burial detail worked day and night to bury the dead. Since there was a high water table, the POWs would hold the bodies down with poles until the bodies were covered with dirt. Frequently, when the detail returned to the cemetery to bury more dead, the wild dogs had dug up the bodies, or the bodies were sitting upright in the graves.
On June 1, 1942, the POWs formed detachments of 100 men each and were marched to Capas. There, they were put in steel boxcars with two Japanese guards. At Calumpit, the train was switched onto another line which took it to Cabanatuan. The POWs disembarked and were taken to a schoolyard where they were fed cooked rice and onion soup. From there, they were marched to Cabanatuan which had been the headquarters of the 91st Philippine Army Division and was known as Camp Pangatian.
The camp 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 surrendered 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.
Lloyd was sent to the camp, but he went out on a work detail on June 21, 1942, to Manila. Most of the POWs on the detail worked as stevedores on Pier 7. Lloyd was given the job of driving a truck.
One of the best things about the detail was that the POWs were fed beef once in a while. At some point, he requested to be sent to Cabanatuan since he wanted to see other members of A Company. After being in the camp for a while, he regretted the decision.
Lloyd went out on the Las Pinas Detail, in September 1943, to build runways for the Japanese Navy. The Japanese had no plans on using construction equipment. Instead, they intended the POWs to do the work with picks, shovels, and wheelbarrows.
The detail was under the control of the Japanese Navy and welfare of the POWs was of no concern to them. They only concern they had was getting the runway built. If the number of POWs identified as being sick was too large, the Japanese would simply walk among the POWs, at the school, and selected men who did not display any physical signs of illness or injury. Men suffering from dysentery or pellagra could not get out of work.
The POWs were divided into two detachments. The first detachment drained rice paddies and laid the groundwork for the runway, while the second detachment built the runway. When most of the work was done in July 1944, most of the POWs were returned to Cabanatuan, but he did not remain there for long since name appeared on a roster of POWs being sent to Japan. Trucks arrived at the camp and the POWs were driven to the Port Area of Manila.
During his time on the detail, Lloyd had a malaria attack that lasted five days. About three weeks after recovering, he had a relapse which confined him to bed for four weeks. After he recovered, he never had another malaria attack. He also at some time developed a kidney infection.
In July 1944, the detail was ended and the POWs were taken to the Port Area of Manila. Once at Pier 7, they were boarded onto the Nissyo Maru on July 17 at 8:00 A.M., and the Japanese attempted to put them all in one hold. When the Japanese realized they could not fit all the POWs in one hold, they opened a second hold.
The ship was moved on July 18 and anchored at the harbor breakwater from July 18 to July 23. At 8:00 A.M. on the twenty-third, at 8:00 A.M., the ship moved to a point off Corregidor and dropped anchor at 7:00 P.M. The next morning, the ship sailed as part of a convoy which attempted to avoid American submarines by hugging the coastline of Luzon.
At 3:00 A.M. on July 26, one of the ships, the Otari Yama Maru, was hit by a torpedo from the U.S.S. Flasher which was a part of a three-submarine wolf pack made up of the U.S.S. Crevale, the U.S.S. Angler, and the Flasher. When it exploded the POWs saw the flames from the explosion shoot over the hatch of the hold. Several other ships were sunk. The remaining ships in the convoy reached Takao, Formosa, at 9:00 A.M on July 28.
At 7:00 P.M. on July 28, the ships sailed again. From July 30 to August 2, the convoy sailed through a storm. The next day the August 3, the POWs were issued new clothes. The ship arrived on August 4 at midnight at Moji, Japan. The POWs did not disembark the ship at 8:00 A.M. They were marched to a movie theater and held there in the dark.
The POWs formed detachments and marched to the train station. From there, they rode a train to the various POW camps along the line. Raymond arrived at a new POW camp known Osaka #3-B also known as Oeyama Camp. The POWs in this camp worked in a nickel refinery at a tin smelting plant and were involved in the manufacturing of corrugated tin. The only other member of A Company in the camp was William McAuliffe.
The POWs in the camp worked in a nickel mine owned by Nippon Yakin Kogyo and at the Hachidate Branch Nickel Refinery. With a pick and shovel, he and the other POW’s had to extract ore from the mine. When they loaded a car, they next had to push it to the railroad track that ran past the mine. The prisoners had to work in all types of weather and in snow as deep as six feet. Other POWs were required to walk nearly six miles to another nickel mine.
Other POWs were also assigned to do stevedore work at Miyazu Harbor and on a detail referred to as the carpentry detail. The prisoners unloaded food, coal, and coke from ships for a nickel refinery at the Miyazu docks. The food they unloaded was bound for the Japanese army so the POWs would steal a couple of pocketful of beans every day.
The Japanese enforced collective discipline in the camp. Sometimes workgroups would be punished, other times larger groups of POWs were punished, and there were times all the POWs were punished. On one occasion a workgroup of twelve POWs was made to stand at attention for two hours before they were forced to swallow rope which caused them to throw up. This was done because the Japanese believed they had stolen rice. When none was found, the Japanese fed the POWs rice and sent them to their barracks.
On December 6, 1944, the entire camp was placed on half rations because one POW had violated a rule. The entire camp again was put on half rations on January 7. At various times a portion of the POWs was put on half rations. 80 to 90 POWs were put on half rations on March 7, 1944, while 60 POWs were put on half rations on April 7 and made to stand at attention in heavy rain.
Beatings were a common event and the POWs were beaten, punched, slapped, hit with sticks, and kicked. During the winter, they were made to stand at attention in sleet and snow for long periods of time. The POWs were also forced to run as far as two and one-half miles. When one or a few POWs were being punished it was not uncommon for the other POWs to have to hit the POWs. They also were forced to kneel and hold a heavy object, like a log, over their heads. One POW, who took the blame for breaking into a warehouse was forced to squat with a pole behind his knees and hold a log over his head until he passed out.
Since a certain number of POWs had to report for work everyday, illness was not an excuse for getting out of work. The camp POW doctor’s recommendation that POWs not work, because they were too ill, was overruled by a Japanese medical corpsman, and men suffering from dysentery or beriberi were sent to work.
Red Cross packages were withheld from the POWs and the Japanese raided them for canned meats, canned milk, cigarettes, and chocolate. These items were seen by the POWs in the camp offices. The clothing and shoes sent for POW use were also appropriated by the Japanese.
In May 1945, the first American B-29s were seen when they attacked Miyazu. On July 30, B-29s bombed Miyazu again. During the attack, the POWs working the docks were forced to work during the air raid. Since the bombing run ran over the camp, two POWs were killed. About two weeks later, a massive air raid on the town took place and lasted all night until it ended about midday.
Lloyd was liberated on September 9, 1945, and returned to the Philippines for medical treatment. He was also promoted to sergeant. He then returned to the United States on October 15, 1945, and returned to Janesville. He was discharged on May 18, 1946.
The POWs were liberated from the camp on September 9, 1945. Lloyd was returned to the Philippines for medical treatment and was promoted to sergeant. He then returned to the United States on October 15, 1945, at San Francisco on the U.S.S. Storm King. Lloyd was sent Mayo Hospital in Galesburg, Illinois, for treatment for his kidney ailment. He was given a 21 day leave home and returned to Janesville, Wisconsin, and was discharged on May 18, 1946.
On May 25, 1948, Lloyd was subpoenaed to give testimony against Tomoya Kawakita. Kawakita was an American citizen who worked as an interpreter for the Japanese at Osaka #3-B. He was charged with treason for torturing, taunting, and beating the POWs. He was called “Efficiency Expert” by the POWs for his beatings. Kawakita was found guilty and sentenced to death. President Dwight Eisenhower reduced the sentence to life in prison. Kawakita, after serving ten years, was later released when Alcatraz closed. He was deported to Japan.
Lloyd Richter married Mary B. Turner on April 25, 1946, and worked as a carpenter. He became the father of a daughter and son. He spent the rest of his life in Belvidere, Illinois.
Lloyd Richter died on June 26, 1985, at the Veterans Administration Hospital in North Chicago, Illinois. He was buried at Belvidere Cemetery in Belvidere, Illinois.