|Capt. Donald Leroy
Capt. Donald L. Hanes born August 10, 1903, in
Hoopston, Illinois, to Charles K. Hanes &
Opha D. Kincade-Hanes. His given name was Marion
Donald LeRoy Hanes, but he was known as "Don" to his
family. At some point, he legally changed his
first name to Donald which is the name that appears on
his military records. His family moved to New
Castle, Pennsylvania. While living there, he
graduated from Bethany College in Bethany, West
Donald married, Gertrude Mielke, in Wheaton, Illinois, on September 12, 1924. The couple made their home in Downers Grove, Bellwood, and later at 406 Oak Street in Maywood. They were the parents of a son, Charles. Donald worked as a machinist at a diesel motor manufacturer.
He enlisted in the Illinois National Guard on August 23, 1929 , he used Donald as his first name on his military records. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant on May 3, 1937. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on November 22, 1940, two days before the tank company was called to federal service as Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion. The company trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
As a 1st Lieutenant, Donald became commanding officer of Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion when Headquarters Company was formed in January 1941. He was promoted to captain on May 18, 1941, at Ft. Knox.
Donald took part in the Louisiana maneuvers of 1941. When the maneuvers were completed, the members of the 192nd Tank Battalion were told that their time in federal service had been extended from one to six years. After those soldiers and officers deemed to be "too old" to go overseas were released from federal duty, the battalion members received passes home to take care of unfinished business.
The battalion received orders for duty, in the Philippines, because of an event that happened during the summer of 1941. 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 in the water. He came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island. When the squadron landed he reported what he had seen. By the time a Navy ship was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
The battalion sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy. They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover. The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands. They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th for Guam. When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water. The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day.
It was about 8:00 A.M. the morning on Thursday, November 20th the ships arrived at Manila Bay. After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked. The tankers rode buses to the train station where they got out and took a train to Ft. Stotsenburg. Other battalion members boarded their trucks and drove them to fort north of Manila.
At the fort, the soldiers were met by Col. Edward 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 love in tents. The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived. He remained with the battalion until they had settled in and had their Thanksgiving Dinner.
For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons. They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts. The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
During their time at Fort Stotsenburg, they lived in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field because their barracks had not been finished. They spent most of their time readying their equipment for the maneuvers they were expecting to take part in. With the other members of his company, Donald lived through the bombing of Clark Field on December 8, 1941.
Being the commanding officer of B Company, Donald was ordered to take his company to Dau, a barrio to the east of Clark Field. The barrio had excellent roads and a rail line which could be used to move troops.
During the Battle of Bataan, a detachment of his company was sent sent to rescue the 26th U. S. Cavalry who were engaged with the Japanese. The Japanese had trapped the cavalry in a morass of rice fields. This was the first time in World War II that American tanks engaged the enemy. During the rescue, his tanks fought on terrain they were not designed to fight on effectively.
On one occasion, Capt Hanes's tank was hit from behind by a 75 mm shell. The shell's concussion knocked the crew out for an indefinite period of time. When they came to their senses, the tank was still moving but in the opposite direction.
The theory on how this had happened was that the impact from the 75 mm shell had lifted the tank and spun it around. When the tank landed, it was headed toward home. Unlikely as it may have seemed at the time, this theory was the one that the tank crew accepted.
The battle continued through the night with the crews of the tanks fighting blind. The only thing lighting the darkness was the flashes of the cannons. After one such flash, a Japanese tank loomed up out of the darkness. Capt. Hanes's tank crew fired at the tank with everything they had. They saw a streak of fire come out of the darkness. The fire grew until it was a torch outlining the riddle hulk of a Japanese tank.
A single burning Japanese soldier jumped from the tank. He quickly fell to the ground dead. None of the men remembered having any feelings about the incident. The reason was that seeing men die had become a daily occurrence and had left them numb.
At dawn, Capt. Hanes' company withdrew having accomplished their mission. Reaching a flat valley, the tanks stopped, and his men dropped off to sleep in the hot tanks. This rest did not last long because his tanks were called upon to stop the Japanese once again. The Japanese were two miles away attempting to split an American infantry regiment. Capt. Hanes' tanks engaged the Japanese, fought all day and stopped their advance. This allowed the regiment to withdraw before the tanks withdrew themselves.
It was sometime in early 1942, that Capt. Hanes was transferred to Headquarters Company. With this transfer, he gave up his command of B Company.
When the Philippines were surrendered to the Japanese, Capt. Donald Hanes became a Prisoner of War. He was first held at Camp O'Donnell. While a prisoner there, Capt. Hanes was selected for a work detail to rebuild bridges commanded by Lt. Col. Ted Wickord. When this detail was over, Capt. Hanes was sent to Cabanatuan Camp #1.
Little is known about Hanes' time at Cabanatuan. What is known is that medical records kept at the camp show that he was admitted to the camp hospital on March 31, 1943. Why he was admitted and when he was discharged were not recorded.
In the fall of 1944, Capt. Hanes was sent to Bilibid Prison to await shipment to Japan. On December 12, 1944, the POWs heard rumors that a detail was being sent out. The POWs went through what was a farce of an inspection. They were told cigarettes, soap, and salt would be issued. The POWs were also told that they would also receive a meal to eat and one to take with them. The Japanese stated they would leave by 7:00 in the morning, so the lights were left on all night. At 4:00 a.m. the morning of December 13th, Ben and the other POWs were awakened.
In the fall of 1944, Capt. Hanes was sent to Bilibid Prison to await shipment to Japan. On December 12, 1944, the POWs heard rumors that a detail was being sent out. The POWs went through what was a farce of an inspection. They were told cigarettes, soap, and salt would be issued. The POWs were also told that they would also receive a meal to eat and one to take with them. The Japanese stated they would leave by 7:00 in the morning, so the lights were left on all night. At 4:00 a.m. the morning of December 13th, Donald and the other POWs were awakened.
By 8:00, the POWs were lined up roll call was taken and the names of the men selected for transport to Japan were called. The prisoners were allowed to roam the compound until they were told to "fall-in." The men were fed a meal and then marched to Pier 7 in Manila. During the march down Luzon Boulevard, the POWs saw that the street cars had stopped running and many things were in disrepair.
The Americans saw that the American bombers were doing a job on the Japanese transports. There were at least forty wrecked ships in the bay. When the POWs reached Pier 7, there were three ships docked. One was a old run down ship, the other two were large and in good shape. They soon discovered one of the two nicer ships was their ship.
The POWs remained on the pier for hours. About noon they sat down and were allowed to sleep until 3:45 in the afternoon. At 5:00 P.M. the POWs boarded the ship.
The high ranking officers were the first put into the ship's aft hold. Being the first on meant that they would suffer many deaths. Around the perimeter of the hold were two tiers of bunks for the POWs. The heat was so bad that men soon began to pass out. One survivor said, "The fist fights began when men began to pass out. We knew that only the front men in bay would be able to get enough air." The POWs who were closer to the hold's hatch used anything they could find to fan air toward those further away from it.
The ship sailed and became a part of a convoy, MATA 37, which moved without lights. The cries for air began as the men lost discipline, so the Japanese threatened to cover the holds and cut off all air. When the Japanese sent down fried rice, cabbage, and fried seaweed, those further back from the opening got nothing.
At 10:00 P.M., the Japanese interpreter threatened to have the guards fire into the holds unless the POWs stopped screaming. Some of the POWs fell silent because they were exhausted, and others because they had died. One major of the 26th Cavalry stated the man next to him had lost his mind. Recalling the conversation he had with the man he said, "Worst was the man who had gone mad but would not sit still. One kept pestering me, pushing a mess kit against my chest, saying, 'Have some of this chow? It's good.' I smelled of it, it was not chow. 'All right' he said, 'If you don't want it. I'm going to eat it.' And a little later I heard him eating it , right beside me."
The Japanese covered the holds and would not allow the slop buckets to be taken out of the holds. Those POWs who were left holding the buckets at first asked for someone else to hold it for awhile. When that did not work, they dumped the buckets on the men around them.
As light began to enter the hold as morning came, the POWs could see men who were in stupors, men out of their minds, and men who had died. The POWs in the aft hold which also had a sub-hold, put the POWs who out of their minds into it.
On the side of the holds, water had condensed on the walls so the POWs tried to scrap it off the wall for a drink. The Japanese did allow men who had passed out to be put on deck, but as soon as they revived they went back into the holds. The Japanese would not allow the bodies of the men who had died to be removed from the holds.
The POWs received their first meal at dawn. Meals on the ship consisted of a little rice, fish, some water, and three fourths of a cup of water was shared by 20 POWs. It was 8:00 A.M., off the coast of Luzon, and the POWs had just finished eating breakfast when they heard the sound of guns. At first, they thought the gun crews were just drilling, because they had not heard any planes. It was only when the first bomb hit in the water and the ship shook that they knew it was not a drill.
At first it seemed that most of the planes were attacking the other ships in the convoy. Commander Frank Bridgit, had made his way to the top of the ladder into the hold and sat down. He gave the POWs a play by play of the planes attacking, "I can see two planes going for a freighter off our starboard side. Now two more are detached from the formation. I think they may be coming for us."
The POWs heard the change in the sound of the planes' engines as they began their dives toward the ships in the convoy. Several more bombs hit the water near the ship causing it to rock Explosions were taking place all around the ship. In an attempt to protect themselves, the POWs piled baggage in front of them. Bullets from the planes were ricocheted in the hold causing many casualties. .
Lt. Col. Elvin Barr of the 60th Coast Artillery came up to Maj, John Fowler of the 26th Cavalry on the cargo deck and said, "There's a hole knocked in the bulkheads down there. Between 30 and 40 men have already died down there." Barr would never reach Japan. The attack by 30 to 50 planes lasted for about 20 to 30 minutes. When the planes were ran out of bombs they strafed. Afterwards, the planes flew off, returning to their carrier, and there was a lull of about 20 to 30 minutes before the next squadron of planes appeared over the ships and resumed the attack. This pattern repeated itself over and over during the day.
In the hold, the POWs concluded that the attacking planes were concentrating on the bridge of the ship. They noted that the planes had taken out all the anti-aircraft guns leaving only .30 caliber machine guns to defend the ship.
At 4:30 P.M., the ship went through the worse attack on it. It was hit at least three times by bombs on its bridge and stern. Most of the POWs, who were wounded, were wounded by ricocheting bullets and shrapnel from exploding bombs. During the attack Chaplain Cummings, a Catholic priest, led the POWs in the Our Father. As they prayed, the bombs that exploded near the ship sent torrents of water over the ship. Bullets from the planes hit the metal plates, of the haul, at an angle that prevented most of them from penetrating the haul. Somewhere on the ship a fire started, but it was put out after several hours. The POWs lived through seven or eight attacks before sunset. Overall, six bombs hit the ship. One hit the stern of the ship killing many POWs.
At dusk the ship raised anchor and headed east. It turned south and turned again this time heading west. The next turn it made was north. It headed in this direction for a good amount of time before dropping anchor at about 8:00 P.M. The POWs figured out that they had just sailed in a circle. What had happened is that the ship's had been hit during the attack and the ship could not be steered.
Sometime after midnight, the POWs heard the sound of the Japanese civilians being evacuated from the ship. During the night, the POW medics were ordered onto the deck to treat the Japanese wounded. One medic recalled that the dead, dying, and wounded were everywhere.
The ship reached Subic Bay at 2:30 in the morning and steamed closer to the beach where its anchor was dropped. At 4:00 A.M., the POWs were told that they would disembark at daybreak at a pier. The moaning and muttering of POWs who were losing their minds kept the POWs up all night. That night 25 POWs died in the hold.
It was December 15th and the POWs sat in the ship's holds for hours after dawn. The first 35 POWs were taken out of the hold and went into the water. At 8:00 A.M. as the other POWs waited, the sound of A Japanese guard yelled into the hold at the POWs, "All go home; speedo!" He shouted that the wounded would be the first to be evacuated. Suddenly, he looked up and shouted, "Planes, many planes!" As the POWs were abandoning ship the planes returned and continued the attack. The ship bounced in the water from the explosions. Chief Boatswain Clarence M. Taylor who was in the water said, "I saw the whole thing. A bomb fall, hit near the stern hatch, and debris go flying up in the air."
In the hold, the POWs crowded together. Chips of rust fell on them from the ceiling. After the raid, they took care of the wounded before the next attack started. In the hold a Catholic priest, Father Duffy, began to pray, "Father forgive them. They know not what they do."
The Japanese guards and interpreter had abandoned ship, but the ship's captain remained on board. He told the POWs - with his limited English - that they needed to get off the ship to safety. The POWs made their way over the side and into the water. As they swam to shore, the Japanese fired at them, with machine guns, to prevent them from escaping.
Four of the planes flew low over the water above the POWs. The POWs waved frantically at the planes so they would not be strafed. The planes banked and flew lower over the POWs. This time the pilots dipped their wings to show that they knew the men in the water were Americans. About a half hour later, the ship began to really burn and the bodies of the dead could be seen on the decks.
The Japanese sent out a motorboat with a machine gun and snipers on it. The POWs attempting to escape were hunted down and shot. It is believed as many as 30 men died in the water.
There was no real beach, so the POWs climbed up on a seawall and found the the Japanese Naval Landing Party had set up a machine gun and had just laid flat to rest when the gun opened up on them. Those who came ashore were warned to stay in the water, but only did so when one man climbed up on the seawall and was wounded. There were also Japanese snipers in wait to shoot anyone who attempted to escape.
The POWs were gathered together and marched to the tennis court at Olongapo Naval Station which was about 500 yards from the beach. There, they were herded onto a tennis court. The Japanese packed 1300 of the POWs on the court with 100 wounded POWs taking up a great amount of room at one end. They could barely sit down and only lay down by lying partially on another man.
While the POWs were at Olongapo, a Japanese officer, Lt. Junsaburo Toshio, told the ranking American officer, Lt. Col. E. Carl Engelhart, that those too badly wounded to continue the trip would be returned to Bilibid. Fifteen men were selected and loaded onto a truck. They were taken into the mountains and never seen again. What was learned is that these men were taken to a cemetery and shot. They were buried at a cemetery nearby. The remainder of the POWs remained on the tennis courts for five or six days. During that time, they were given water but not fed.
The POWs remained on the tennis courts for nine days. During their time on the courts, American planes attacked the area around them. The men watched as the fighter bombers came in vertically releasing bombs as they pulled out of the dives. On several occasions, the planes dove right at the POWs, dropped their bombs, and pulled out. The bombs drifted over the POWs and landed away from them exploding on contact.
Since the POWs had no place to hide, they watched and enjoyed the show. They believed that the pilots knew they were Americans but had no way of knowing if this was true. But what is known is that not one bomb was dropped on them even though they could be seen from the planes.
The evening of December 16th, the Japanese brought 50 kilo bags of rice for the POWs. About half of the rice had fallen out of the bags because of holes. Each POW was given three spoons of raw rice, and a quarter of a spoon of salt.
About 8:00 A.M. on December 22nd, 22 trucks arrived at the tennis court. Rumors flew on where they were going to be taken. At about 4:00 PM, a Taiwanese guard told the POWs, in broken English, "No go Cabanatuan. Go Manila; maybe Bilibid." The guard knew as little as the POWs.
The POWs were taken to San Fernando, Pampanga, arriving there about four or five in the afternoon. Once there, they were put in a movie theater. Since it was dark, the POWs saw as a dungeon.
During their time at San Fernando, Pampanga, the POWs lived through several air raids since the barrio was the military headquarters for the area. Most of the civilians had been moved out of the barrio. Many of the Americans began to believe they had been taken there so that they would be killed by their own countrymen.
On December 23rd, the Japanese interpreter came and spoke to the ranking American officer about moving the POWs. The Japanese loaded the seriously ill POWs into a truck. Those remaining behind believed they were taken to Bilibid. The remaining POWs were moved to a trade school building in the barrio.
The next day, the 24th, the POWs were taken to the train station. The POWs saw that the station had been hit by bombings and that the cars they were to board had bullet holes in them from strafing. 180 to 200 were packed into steel boxcars with four guards. The doors of the boxcars were kept closed and the heat in the cars was terrible. Ten to fifteen POWs rode on the roofs of the cars along with two guards. The guards told these POWs that it was okay to wave to the American planes.
The POWs left the train, at 2:00 A.M., on December 25th at San Fernando, La Union. They walked two kilometers to a school yard on the southern outskirts of the barrio. From December 25th until the 26th. The POWs were held in a school house. The morning of December 26th, the POWs were marched to a beach. During this time the prisoners were allowed one handful of rice and a om canteen of water. The heat from the sun was so bad that men drank seawater. Many of those men died.
From there, the remaining POWs taken to the beach and boarded onto another "Hell Ship" the Enoura Maru. On this ship, the POWs were held in three different holds. The ship had been used to haul cattle. The POWs were held in the same stalls that the cattle had been held in. In the lower hold, the POWs were lined up in companies 108 men. Each man had four feet of space. Men who attempted to get fresh air by climbing the ladders were shot by the guards.
The daily routine for the prisoners was to have six men climb out of the hold. Once on deck, they would use ropes to pull up the dead and also pull up the human waste in buckets. Afterwards, the men on deck would lower ten buckets containing rice, soup, and tea.
During the night of December 30th, the POWs heard the sound of depth charges exploding in the water. The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on December 31st and docked around 11:30 AM. After arriving at Takao, Formosa, each POW received a six inch long, 3/4 inch wide piece hardtack to eat. This was the first bread they had since receiving crackers in their Red Cross packages in 1942. During the time in the harbor, the POWs received little water. From January 1st through the 5th, the POWs received one meal and day and very little water. This resulted in the death rate among the POWs to rise. On January 6th, the POWs began to receive two meals a day.
The ship made it safely to Takao, Formosa. It still docked the morning of January 9, 1945, when the harbor was attacked by American planes. The POWs were receiving their first meal of the day, when the sound of ship's machine guns was heard. The explosions of bombs falling closer and closer to the ship was also heard. The waves created from the explosions rocked the ship.
One bomb hit the ship and exploded in the corner of the forward hold killing 285 prisoners. The surviving POWs remained in in the hold for three days with the dead. The stench from the dead filled the air. On January 11th a work detail was formed and about half the dead were removed from the hold. The dead were unloaded from the ship, and a POW detail of twenty men took the corpses to a large furnace where they were cremated. These men reported that 150 POWs had been cremated. Their ashes were buried in a large urn. Later in the day, the survivors of the forward hold were moved into another hold.
The Brazil Maru sailed for Japan, from Takao, on January 14, 1945. After a sixteen day trip, during which it tolled another ship, the Brazil Maru arrived at Moji on January 30th. In Japan, Hanes was held as a POW at Fukuoka POW Camp #1. This camp was known by the name, "The Pine Tree Camp." But, by the time Hanes arrived in Japan, he was extremely ill. Capt. Donald Hanes died on February 5, 1945, of dysentery at Fukuoka Camp #1 in Japan. His remains were cremated and given to the camp commandant. His ashes were put into an urn with the ashes of 98 other POWs.
According to Ted Wickord, the son of Lt. Col. Ted Wickord, the Hanes family rented the apartment in the two flat that his family owned in Maywood. He had been told by his mother that he should intercept any telegram sent to Mrs. Hanes. Somehow, Mrs. Hanes received the telegram telling of her husband's death. Ted, his mother, and brother did not know this until they heard the sound of Mrs. Hanes falling to the floor after reading the telegram. Ironically, two days later a postcard from Capt. Hanes arrived stating that he was in good health.
After the war, on September 27, 1949, the remains of Capt. Donald L. Hanes were buried in Section 82, Site 1B-1D, at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. Since at that time there was no way to accurately identify his remains, Capt. Donald Hanes was buried in a mass grave with other American POWs who died at Fukuoka Camp #1. He shares his grave with 2nd Lts. Marshall Kennady, Harry Black, and Everett Preston of the 192nd.
The photo below is of the headstone of the grave at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.