Pfc. Joseph Herbert Twa
Pfc. Joseph H. Twa was born in Biggar, Saskatchewan, Canada, on May 26, 1919. He was the son of Wilbur Twa & Mabel Sirr-Twa. It is known that he had one sister and three brothers. While he was a child, his family moved to Eagle Creek, Indiana. He left high school after one year and was working as a farmhand in Porter County, Indiana, in 1940.
On March 13, 1941, Joseph joined the U. S. Army. His reason for doing this may have been that the draft act had just been enacted, and Joseph knew that he would soon be drafted.
Joe took his basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he trained as gunner. He was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion. The medium tank battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana in the late summer of 1941, but it did not take part in the maneuvers that were going on at the fort.
Joe and the other members of the 753rd were informed that the 192nd Tank Battalion was looking for soldiers to fill vacancies in its roster. These vacancies had been created when the older and married members of the battalion were released from military service. Joe volunteered to replace a National Guardsman and was assigned to B Company.
Joe arrived in the Philippine Islands on Thanksgiving Day, 1941. Seventeen days later, Joe lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field. He would spend the next four months working to ensure that the letter companies of the battalion received the supplies they needed to continue the fight of against the Japanese. It was during this battle that Joseph received the Silver Star.
On April 9, 1942 at Mariveles Point, Joe became a Prisoner Of War. With B Company, he made his way to Mariveles. It was from this barrio at the southern tip of Bataan that Joseph took part in the death march.
The first camp Joe was held at as a prisoner was Camp O'Donnell. As many as fifty men died a day in the camp from disease. To get out of the camp, he volunteered to go out on the bridge building detail. The detail consisted of several hundred POWs.
While working on the bridge near Calumpit, he and the other POWs were housed in a school. Their daily meal consisted of rice and fish. The POWs often were sick with beriberi, malaria, and dysentery. He and the other POWs were there from April until July 1st. They were then sent to rebuild a bridge near the barrio of Cabanatuan. Four POWs died on the trip there and where buried along the road between Apalit and San Fernando.
During the trip a POW escaped and the Japanese commanding officer selected the five largest POWs for punishment. At a schoolyard at Capalangan the five POWs were shot in front of the local Filipinos. They were buried in a field west of the school near a bean shaped pond.
When the detail ended, he was sent to the POW camp near Cabanatuan. At Cabanatuan, Joe worked on the burial detail.
While a POW in Cabanatuan, Joe was sent out on the Las Pinas work detail to POW Camp #10. This camp was at Lipa, Batangas and one of two camps that shared the designation of Camp #10. The POWs at Lipa, Batangas built runways with picks and shovels. It was also while a prisoner there that Joe was beaten by a guard for violating a rule. He was on this detail from December 12, 1942, until April 1944.
Joe was one of the first POWs sent back to Cabanatuan. He was later sent to the Port Area of Manila where he was boarded onto a transport. On September 21st, Joe and other POWs were boarded onto the Hokusen Maru. They remained inside the ship's hold for the next twelve days. The ship sailed for Hong Kong on October 3rd and arrived there on the 11th. While docked, on October 13th, the harbor was attacked by Americna planes.
On October 21st, the Hokusen Maru sailed for Formosa. During this part of the trip, four ships were sunk by American submarines. One of the ships was the Arisan Maru. Nearly 1800 POWs died in the sinking. Four of the survivors were put onto the Hokusen Maru. Later that night, October 24th, the ship arrived at Takao, Formosa. Joseph and the other POWs remained in the hold until November 8th when they were disembarked.
On Formosa, Joewas held at Toroku Camp. The POWs worked various jobs. Most worked in the processing of sugarcane. Joe remained in this camp until January 20, 1945 when many of the POWs were boarded onto the Enoshima Maru. The ship sailed oon Janaury 25th and arrived at Moji, Japan on January 30th.
In Japan, Joe was held at POW camp in the Sendai Area. Which camp is not known at this time. When the camp was closed because of fire damage, he was sent to Maibara Camp #10-B sometime around May 15, 1945. He remained there until the end of the war.
Joe returned home and was discharged, from the army, on May 10, 1946. He married and raised a family. He would later move to California. Joseph H. Twa passed away on September 29, 1991, and is in Section 42, Site 592, at buried at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California.