|William Anthony Hauser
| Pfc. William A. Hauser was born
on December 3, 1920, in Chicago, Illinois, to Frank J.
Hauser & Carrie Martern-Hauser and was the
youngest of the couple's five children. With his
two sisters and two brothers, he was raised at 30
South Thurlow Street in Hinsdale, Illinois, and
attended Hinsdale High School. He worked at
International Harvester, as a mechanic, in the
manufacturing of farm machinery.
Bill joined the Illinois National Guard in September of 1940, and was called up to active duty on November 25, 1940. At Fort Knox, Bill trained with the other members of B Company until he was transferred into the newly formed Headquarters Company of the 192nd Tank Battalion in January 1941. During his time at the fort, he trained as a motorcycle messenger.
In the Summer of 1941, the 192nd was sent on maneuvers in Louisiana. Bill believed that these maneuvers helped to prepare the battalion for the Philippines because the soldiers learned to get on the road and move out within the time limit given to them.
After the maneuvers the battalion members expected to return to Ft. Knox, but received orders to report to Camp Polk, Louisiana. It was on the side of a hill the battalion learned that they had been selected by General George S. Patton to go overseas. Bill and the other members of the battalion were given leaves home to say their goodbyes. They returned to Camp Polk and prepared for duty overseas. They were given M3A1 tanks to replace their M2A2 tanks and half-tracks to replace their reconnaissance cars.
After loading the tanks and half-tracks onto flat cars, the battalion traveled west by train to San Francisco, California. Arriving there, they were taken by ferry to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. At Ft. McDowell, on the island, they were given physicals and inoculated. Those men found to have a minor medical condition were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, as part of a three ship convoy and arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd. The soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island. On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes. During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon. The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke. It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly country.
Arriving at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water before sailing for Manila. At one point, the ships passed an island at night. While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout. This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they would soon be at war. The ships sailed the next day and entered Manila Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20th. They docked at Pier 7 later in the day, and at 3:00 P.M., the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. Those assigned to trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section of the battalion remained at the pier to unload tanks.
At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward King who apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field. He made sure that had what they needed and that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner. Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
During the next two weeks, Bill and the other men assigned to reconnaissance cleaned their guns, loaded ammunition belts, and made reconnaissance runs up to North Luzon. In Bill's opinion, the greatest problem facing the soldiers assigned to the half-tracks was that they did not receive enough training to drive the vehicles. This would later lead to a great number of them being lost in combat.
On Monday, December 1st, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers. The 194th Tank Battalion guarded the northern half of the airfield, while the 192nd guarded the southern half. At all times, two members of every tank and half-track crew remained with their vehicles. Meals were brought to them by food trucks.
On December 8, 1941, Bill and the other members of Headquarters Company had just finished eating and returned to loading their machine gun belts with ammunition. The soldiers were well aware of the attack on Pearl Harbor and took note of the planes that had appeared above them. Bill's commanding officer gave the signal that the planes were Japanese, and his platoon was on the go within seconds.
They had gone about one quarter of a mile when the first bomb exploded. Bill's platoon proceeded to an assigned position ringing Clark Field to stop a possible Japanese paratrooper drop. The tankers would remain at these positions for several days.
After three days of guarding the airfield, Bill's half-track was ordered to "high ground" located north of the Ban Ban River. This was done so that these soldiers could provide an early warning to the American troops of attacking Japanese planes. Performing this duty, of reconnoitering the enemy, resulted in Bill's half-track being reassigned almost daily to the different tank platoons of the 192nd.
As a reconnaissance half-track driver with Headquarters Company, Bill's duty called for him to scout Japanese positions. This duty brought him and his crew under enemy strafing and bombing. It was on such duty that Bill's half-track came into contact with the Japanese for the first time on Christmas Day, 1941.
While assigned with Lt. William Gentery's C Company platoon, Bill's half-track came under fire while attempting to find a location to cross a river. His crew was ordered to retire and tanks were sent in to meet the enemy. The tanks had gone less than a mile when they ran into a Japanese ambush. Bill recalled that his half-track was fired upon by Japanese mortars. Later in another battle, Bill watched as seven or eight Japanese tanks were destroyed in a tank battle just east of Cabanatuan.
Despite suffering from dysentery and fever, he continued to fight until Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese. One morning, after post-guard duty, Bill and the other soldiers returned to their base and learned of the surrender. Not too long afterwards, his platoon was strafed by low flying Japanese planes.
The night of April 8th, the tankers were ordered to disable their tanks and half-tracks. Bill's crew did so. Leaving their camp, the reconnaissance platoon walked until they met trucks from A Company. They would stay in A Company's area until they drove the trucks to Mariveles. It was there that they were stripped of everything they had.
As a Prisoner of War, Bill started the "Death March" on April 10, 1942, and was subjected to enemy brutality and inhumane treatment. On the march, Bill was threatened and hit, but he never came close to being bayoneted or shot. At one point, he also helped Robert Parr who was having difficulty keeping up with his group.
Bill saw the dead bodies of hundreds of POWs lying along the road. He also witnessed 30 soldiers executed by the Japanese. Bill recalled that the lack of food and water were two of worse things that the POWs who were still alive dealt with on the march. What little water the POWs received often had animal feces floating in it. He recalled that at one point he and the other POWs were were held in an open field and left to bake in the sun.
At San Fernando, the POWs boarded small wooden box cars used to haul sugarcane. The cars could hold forty men, but they were packed into the cars so tightly that they could hardly breath. Disembarking at Capas, the men walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Bill arrived at the camp on April 19th. He recalled that the lack of food, water and medicine for the sick were the things that made Camp O'Donnell a death camp. Bill knew that he had to get out of the camp, so he volunteered to go out on a work detail on May 12th. Bill was sent to San Fernando to retrieve destroyed American equipment as scrap metal for the Japanese.
Most of the scrap metal was disabled American cars and trucks. To get them to San Fernando, what the POWs did was to tie the vehicles together with ropes and to an operating vehicle. A POW sat in each vehicle and drove it, behind the operational vehicle, to San Fernando.
After the scrap metal detail ended on September 20th, Bill was imprisoned at Cabanatuan. There, he spent three months digging graves in the morning and burying the dead in the afternoon.
On November 9th, Bill was sent to the Port Area of Manila and worked as a stevedore loading and unloading ships. It was on this detail that the prisoners would steal as much food and other items as they could to survive.
One day while working, Bill's fingers on his one had were crushed whe a 55 gallon drum was dropped on his hand. The Japanese insisted that the POWs wear gloves on their hands. In his opinion, taking the glove off his had was far worse than the drum falling on his hand. The Japanese doctor, who treated Bill, removed part of his ring finger making it the same length as his little finger.
The POWs also became very good at sabotaging Japanese munitions. They had lookouts who would warn them if the Japanese were coming. The Americans in the ship's holds would open a box of hand grenades; open the grenade up; dump the gunpowder down the ship's bilge; and reassemble the grenades. If they had been caught, they would have been executed.
Bill remained on this detail until February 1, 1944. On that day, Bill was sent to Bilibid Prison where he remained until April 15th, when he was returned to Cabanatuan. His time in the camp was short, and he was returned to Bilibid on June 29th in preparation of being sent to Japan.
On July 16th the POWs were boarded onto the Nissyo Maru for transport to Japan and moved and dropped anchor at the breakwater in the harbor. The ship remained there until July 23rd when it moved and dropped anchor off Corregidor at 2:00 P.M. It remained there overnight and sailed the next day as part of a convoy. On July 26th one of the ships in the convoy was sunk at 3:00 A.M. At 8:00 A.M., on July 28th, the ships reached Takao, Formosa, and sailed at 8:00 P.M. the same day, for Moji, Japan. From July 30th to August 2nd, the ships sailed through a storm, which kept submarines away, and arrived in Japan on August 4th at midnight.
Upon arriving in Japan, Bill was then sent to Omine Machi, and worked as a slave laborer in a coal mine. In Bill's opinion, the POWs were worked as they were slowly being starved to death. Bill believed that had the atomic bomb not been dropped, the prisoners would have been killed by the Japanese or would not have been able to survive another winter. When news of the surrendered reached the POWs, they remained in Omine Machi for a month living off supplies being dropped by the B-29's.
Bill was officially liberated in September 15, 1945. He and the other POWs were taken to Wakayama, Japan, where they were boarded onto the U.S.S. Consolation. Records from the ship show that Bill was in good health but was malnourished.
On September 28th, Bill arrived in Manila to be fattened up by the army. He remained at Manila until he sailed for home on the U.S.S. Marine Shark, which arrived in Seattle, Washington, on November 1, 1945. It was a little over four years earlier that Bill had sailed for the Philippines from San Francisco. Bill was sent to Vaughn General Hospital in Galesburg, Illinois, and remained at the hospital for several months. He was discharged on April 2, 1946.
After he was released from the hospital, Bill returned to Hinsdale. When he returned home, his father met him at the train station in Hinsdale. There, his father informed Bill that his mother had died while he was a POW. According to his dad, she had died from the stress caused by her worrying about Bill. His father explained to Bill that they did not know if he was alive or dead and that on several occasions, the government approached them offering them his GI insurance check. His dad said they had refused the money because they believed Bill was coming home. Bill told his dad that had he learned that his mother had died, he would have died in the camps because he would have lost hope.
Bill married Catherine Walsh, who was the girl next door. Together they raised three children. William A. Hauser passed away on March 31, 1983, and was buried at Clarendon Hills Cemetery in Darin, Illinois.
Honors given to Pfc. William A. Hauser include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the Prisoner of War Medal, the American Defense Service Ribbon, the Philippine Defense Medal, Philippine Liberation Medal, and the Philippine Victory Medal.
At Omine Machi, Bill's POW number was 404. It was his picture as a POW, taken by the Japanese, that was clicked on to view the roll call of the 192nd Tank Battalion. A larger version of the picture is at the bottom of this page. The other picture at the bottom of this page is a map he made, on part of his uniform, while he was a POW. The white on the map shows islands that had been retaken by American forces.
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