Pvt. Lester Owen Watson
At this time, very little is
known about Pvt. Lester Owen Watson. What is
known is that he was born on June 26, 1916, to
Harold and Minnie Watson in Missouri, and the
family would later live in Jennings, Kansas,
before moving to Illinois. With his brother
and sister, he grew up at 908 West Saint Charles
Road in Maywood, Illinois, and attended Proviso
Township High School. He left school after
two years and worked at a company that
manufactured steel drums, where his job was to
spray paint them.
Lester joined the Illinois National Guard's 33rd
Battalion Tank Company which was headquartered
in an armory on Madison Street in Maywood.
On November 25, 1940, the company was
federalized and sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for
training. It is not known what specific
training he received, but in January 1941,
Lester was transferred to Headquarters Company
when it was formed with men from the four letter
companies of the battalion.
The 192nd was
Hugh L. Scott
and sailed on
as part of a
For many, it
would be the
last time that
ever see the
and had a two
so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the
As they prepared to die, a car pulled up and a Japanese officer got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail. After talking to the sergeant, he got back in the car and drove off. The sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
Later in the day, the POWs were marched to a school yard in Mariveles and again ordered to sit. Behind them were Japanese artillery pieces. The guns were firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum. When the two American strongholds began returning fire, the prisoners found themselves in the line of fire and shells began landing around them. Five POWs who hid in an old brick building were killed when it took a direct hit. When the barrage ended, three if the four Japanese guns had been destroyed.
made their way
the east coast
The first five
miles of the
little food or
One night as
being given a
for the men.
At 8:00 A.M., the POWs disembarked and
were taken to the train station where they were
taken by train to various POW camps along the
line. In Japan, he was held as a POW at
POW Camp. The POWs in the camp were
used as miners in a zinc and lead mine. It
was at this camp that he would be liberated in
late 1945. The POWs in the camp were not
officially liberated until September 7th.
After Lester was liberated he wrote his first
letter home since he had been taken a POW.
He was unaware that the letter, addressed to his
mother, would not be read by her. His
mother had passed away on September 10, 1944.
Lester was discharged on February 26, 1946, and returned home to Maywood. He later moved to Hillside, Illinois. Lester O. Watson died on January 15, 1993, in Oak Park, Illinois.