Pvt. Harold Richard Beggs
R. Beggs was the son of Leo C. Beggs & Lydia M. Ohlinger-Beggs. He was born on
September 26, 1920, and was one of four children. As a child, he
grew up at 310 East Sixth Street in Port Clinton.
In 1939, he joined the Ohio National Guard in Port Clinton, Ohio. In the fall of 1940, Harold was called to federal service when his tank company was inducted into the regular army.
At Fort Knox, Kentucky, Harold spent nearly a year training. In the late summer of 1941, he took part in maneuvers. After the maneuvers, on the side of a hill, at Camp Polk, Louisiana, he and the other members of the battalion learned that they were not being released from federal service. Instead, they were being sent overseas.
Harold received a leave home to say goodbye to is family. When he left home, his little brother was only 17 months old. This was the last time he would see his brother for over three years. Harold returned to Camp Polk and traveled west by train to San Francisco. From Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, Harold left the United States for the Philippine Islands.
Arriving in Manila, Harold and the rest of the 192nd Tank Battalion were sent to Ft. Stotsenburg. There, they lived in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.
The morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers learned of the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor. He and the other tankers were ordered to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.
Around 11:45 A.M., the tankers watched as planes approached the airfield. When bombs began exploding they knew the planes were Japanese. Although they did the best they could, the tankers did not have the right type of weapons to fight the planes.
Harold spent the next four months taking part in a delaying action against the Japanese. During the withdraw into the Bataan Peninsula, the tanks were often the last unit to disengage from the Japanese.
Harold took part in the Battle of the Pockets. The Japanese had landed troops behind the main Filipino and American defensive line in an attempt to break it. Since the landings were scattered, the Japanese Marines were trapped in foxholes in these two pockets.
During this battle, the tankers drove over the Japanese foxholes and soldiers sitting on the tanks dropped hand grenades into the foxholes. In a matter of days, all resistance was wiped out.
On April 8, 1942, Harold became a Prisoner of War. He took part in the death march and was held as a prisoner in Camp O'Donnell. It is believed he went out on the Bridge Building Detail to Bataan. The detail was under the command of Lt. Col. Ted Wickord of the 192nd.
The first bridge the POWs rebuilt was at Calauan. After the bridge was completed, the POWs were sent to Batangas to rebuild a bridge there. They next went to Canbelaria to rebuild a third bridge. After this detail he was held as a prisoner at Cabanatuan. It is not known if Harold was held at other camps in the Philippines.
In 1944, Harold was sent to Bilibid Prison for what the Japanese called a physical. He was then sent to the Port Area of Manila. There he was boarded the Hokusen Maru on October 1, 1944 for shipment to Japan. In the hold of the ship, he was reunited with Wade Chio and Virgil Janes of C Company. Two days later on October 3rd, the ship sailed.
During the trip, Wade Chio was not doing well. One reason was that he was against one of the walls of the hold and could not get much food. To help Chio, Harold switched places with him so that he got more food. This move resulted in Harold losing his eyesight because of lack of food.
On October 11, 1944, the Hokusen Maru arrived at Hong Kong. From there, the ship sailed for Formosa and arrived there on November 11, 1944. Harold and the other POWs were disembarked and spent two months on the island. He was held on the island at Inron Temporary Camp.
Harold and Wade Chio arrived in Japan on the Melbourne Maru. The ship left Formosa on January 14, 1945, and arrived at Moji, Japan on January 23rd. From Moji, some of the POWs were later sent to Aisho Camp. In the camp, Harold worked in a copper mine. According to archival information, Harold was later transferred to Sendai Camp #8. He was once again used as a laborer in mining. He remained in this camp to the end of the war.
After he was liberated, Harold returned to Port Clinton. He was discharged, from the army, on February 9, 1946. For the rest of his life, Harold suffered partial paralysis in his legs and from impaired vision. He married Ruth E. Bluhm.
Harold R. Beggs passed away on July 22, 2001, in Oak Harbor, Ohio.