Lane H.

 

Pvt. Harold Dale Lane


    Pvt. Harold D. Lane was born on November 13, 1921, in Litchfield, Illinois.  He was the son of Mary Evaline Beck-Lane & Homer Lane.  His family lived at 622 South 24th Avenue in Bellwood and later 142 South Eleventh Avenue in Maywood.  Harold attended local schools in Bellwood and was a member of the class of 1939 of Proviso Township High School, but he left school early and worked at American Can Company in Maywood.

    In 1939, Harold joined the Illinois National Guard.  On November 25, 1940, he was called to federal service when the tank company was called to federal service for one year.

    Harold trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky, for almost a year.  During this time, he qualified as a motorcycle messenger for his company.  He then took part in maneuvers in Louisiana from September 1 through 30.  After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft. Knox.  None of thesoldiers had any idea why they had not returned to Ft. Knox.  
    The battalion members learned that they were being sent overseas.  Those 29 years old or older were given the chance to resign from federal service. 
Harold received a furlough home.  It is likely that it was at this time that he married.  His wife, Adeline, in Davenport, Iowa.  The couple would setup their home at 142 South 11th Avenue in Maywood.
    The decision for this move -  which had been made in August 1941 - was the result of an event that took place in the summer of 1941.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines, when one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower altitude, noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another in the distance.  He came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island which was hundred of miles away.  The island had a large radio transmitter.  The squadron continued its flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.
     When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.  The next day, when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat - with a tarp on its deck - which was seen making its way to shore.   Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was difficult, the boat escaped.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.

    Traveling west over different train routes, the battalion arrived in Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California, and were ferried on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe to Ft. MacDowell on Angel Island, where they received inoculations and physicals from the battalion's medical detachment.  Those who did not pass the physicals were transferred out of the unit, or held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.
    The 192nd boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27th.  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 2nd and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
    On Wednesday, November 5th, 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 9th, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th.  During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line.  On Saturday, November 15th, 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 16th, 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 20th, 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, who apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field. The fact was that he had learned of their arrival days earlier.  He made sure that they had what they needed and that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner.  Ironically, November 20 was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
    Seventeen days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Harold and the other members of Company B arrived in Manila.  The battalion was deployed Fort Stotsenburg. 
At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King, who apologized that they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own.  Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service. 
    The morning of December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field.  At all times, two members of each crew remained with their tank. 
On the morning of December 8, 1941, the members of B Company were informed of the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  His tank and the others were sent to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  About 12:45 in the afternoon as the tankers were eating lunch, planes approached the airfield from the north.  At first, the soldiers thought the planes were American.  It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that they knew the planes were Japanese.
    The tank battalion received orders on December 21st that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.   Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas.  When they reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta.   The bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of river.  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 25th, 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 27th.

    The tankers were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th.  On January 1st, conflicting orders were received by the defenders who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5.  Doing this would allow the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan.  General Wainwright was unaware of the orders since they came from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff. 
    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 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
    During the withdraw into the peninsula, the company crossed over the last bridge which was mined and about to be blown.  The 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it and then cover the 192nd's withdraw. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
    Over the next several months, the battalion fought battle after battle with tanks that were not designed for jungle warfare. 
The tank battalions , on January 28th, were given the job of protecting the beaches.  The 192nd was assigned the coast line 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.

    B Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese soldiers 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 exited 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 to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole.  The driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around and grinding its way down into the foxhole.  The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.
    The Japanese lunched an all out attack on April 4 against the defenders.  The tanks became a favorite target of the Japanese receiving fire on trails and while hidden in the jungle. and could not fight back.  The situation was so bad that other troops avoided being near the tanks, and the 26th Cavalry turned down a tank company's offer of assistance in a counter-attack.
    On April 7, 1942, the Japanese broke through the east side of the main defensive line on Bataan.  C Company was pulled out of their position along the west side of the line.  They were ordered to reinforce the eastern portion of the line.  Traveling south to Mariveles, the tankers started up the eastern road but were unable to reach their assigned area due to the roads being blocked by retreating Filipino and American forces.
   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 6000 troops who sick or wounded and 40000 civilians who he feared would be massacred.  At 10:30 that night, he sent his staff officers to negotiate surrender terms.
    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."    

    On April 9, 1942, Harold became a Prisoner Of War.  He most likely took part in what would become known as the "Bataan Death March."  The march started at Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  The POWs received little food or water.  At San Fernando, they went put into a bull pin which was covered in human waste from previous POWs.
    The POWs were ordered to form 100 men detachments and marched to a train station.  There, they were packed into small wooden boxcars known as "Forty or Eights."  Each car could hold forty men or wight horses.  The Japanese put 100 men into each car.  Those who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas.
    From Capas, the POWs walked the last miles to Camp O'Donnell.  The camp was an unfinished Filipino Army training base that the Japanese put into use as a POW camp.  There was only one water spigot for the entire camp.  Disease ran wild in the camp.

    Realizing that Camp O'Donnell was a death trap, Harold volunteered to go out on a detail to Pampanga Province.  The POWs on the detail tied together vehicles which had been disabled during the withdraw into Bataan.  They drove the vehicles to San Fernando.  From there, the vehicles were taken to Manila and sent to Japan.

    At some point on the detail, Harold came down with malaria, and he also developed beriberi.  He was returned to Cabanatuan.  According to medical records kept at the camp hospital, he was admitted to the camp hospital on July 4, 1942.  He remained in the hospital until he was discharged on August 3, 1942. 
    Harold went out on a work detail to to Fort McKinley where the POWs were housed in the barracks of the 45th Infantry (Philippine Scouts).  250 POWs lived in the barracks and had to sleep shoulder to shoulder.  The POW compound was 350 feet by 150 feet.  Work for the POWs consisted of cleaning up scrap from the battle.

   At some point Harold became ill and was admitted to the hospital at Bilibid Prison on October 26, 1942.  According to medical records kept at the hospital suffering he was suffering from kidney disease.  The records also show that he was discharged on June 28, 1943 and sent to Cabanatuan.          

    On August 17, 1944, Harold and other POWs were sent to Bilibid Prison.  There, they we remained for about two weeks. During this time he was given a physical.  It was determined that he was healthy enough to be transported to Japan.  

    Harold and 1000 other POWs were taken to the Port Area of Manila and boarded onto the Noto Maru July 15th.  All 1033 POWs were packed into the ship's only hold.  These ships were known as "Hell Ships" because of the conditions that the prisoners endured.

    On July 17, 1944, the Noto Maru sailed for Takao, Formosa, as part of a convoy.  During the trip, the convoy was attacked by an American submarine.  Another ship carrying 1500 POWs was sunk.  Arriving in Formosa on July 27th, the ship anchored for the night before sailing the next day for Moji, Japan.  The ship arrived at Moji on August 3rd.  From there, the POWs were dispersed among various POW camps.

    Harold was sent to Tokyo Base Camp #1 at Omori.  There, he and the other prisoners worked in a coal mine.  The diet of the POWs in the camp consisted of barley, millet. miso soup.  Once in awhile the POWs would receive potatoes,  seaweed, octopus,  and a giant radish known as daikon. 

    Like in many other camps, the Japanese needed little reason to beat the POWs.  Many of the prisoners were beaten across the face with wooden shoes and received judo chops.  This was done as they stood at attention for hours.  One guard found it amusing to have the POWs salute trees.  If a man was ill and in the camp hospital, his food rations were cut in half.  The POWs were also put in punishment cells without adequate water or food.

    The POWs were frequently punished by being made to stand at attention, for long periods of time, during morning assembly as a collective punishment because one POW had broken a rule.  In addition, as they stood at attention, the guards would slap them and beat them.
    Harold remained in the camp until he was liberated when Japan surrendered in September of 1945.  It should be mentioned that after the war a number of POWs, from the camp, made propaganda broadcasts for the Japanese.

    Harold returned to the Philippines, by plane, for medical treatment.  It was at this time that he was promoted to staff sergeant.  Harold was boarded onto the U.S.S. Yarmouth and arrived in San Francisco on October 8, 1945.  He was sent to Letterman General Hospital for further medical treatment.
     Returning to Maywood, Harold was discharged, from the army, on December 16, 1945.  He returned to Proviso Township High School, as a student, to earn his diploma which was awarded in January 1946.  He would later reside in Rockford, Illinois, and became the father of a daughter and son.  Harold worked as a machinist until he retired and moved to New Mexico.

    Harold D. Lane died on January 22, 1994, and was buried in Section  9,  Site  1826, at Santa Fe National Cemetery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


 

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