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2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery, The Lost Battalion

Discussion in 'Land Warfare in the Pacific' started by JCFalkenbergIII, Jan 24, 2009.

  1. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    This unit was mentioned in the Louisiana Manuvers thread. I thought people might find some more info on it intersting :).

    2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery
    The Lost Battalion

    The 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery was mobilized on 25 November 1940, along with the 36th Infantry Division, Texas National Guard, and was sent to Camp Bowie at Brownwood. Originally intended to be part of a force to be sent to reinforce American troops in the Philippine Islands, the Battalion was detached from the 36th Infantry Battalion and sailed on the USS Republic on 21 November 1941. The ship was diverted from the Philippines when Pearl Harbor was bombed on 7 December 1941, and landed on the island of Java in the Dutch East Indies on 11 January 1942, to reinforce Dutch, British and Australian troops already there.
    The Japanese landed on the island and the Dutch surrendered on 8 March 1942 after token resistance. The entire Battalion was taken prisoner. The Battalion (less Battery E) and the survivors of the cruiser USS Houston, which had been sunk off the Java coast, were sent to Burma, Thailand or Japan to work for the Japanese as slave laborers. They worked on the "Burma-Siam Death Railway" building a railroad through the jungle and in the coal mines, docks and ship yards in Japan and other southeast Asian countries. They spent 42 months in captivity suffering humiliation; torture, both mental and physical; starvation and disease (without medication).
    Five hundred and thirty two soldiers of the Battalion, along with 371 survivors of the USS Houston were taken prisoner. Six hundred and sixty eight were sent to Burma and Thailand and 235 to other locations. Altogether, 163 soldiers died in captivity and of those 133 died working on the railroad. Many more died as a result of diseases contracted while in captivity after the war.
    For almost three years, no one heard from any of the members of the battalion, hence the name, "Lost Battalion."

    WWII Summary History: 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery, The Lost Battalion
     
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  2. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    The stories of their individual homecomings are heart renching too....I found myeself turning to the last chapter of the book Prisoners of the Japanese just to see who survived and how. . One of the only books I have read back to front and am glad I did.
    No nation could ask for more.
     
  3. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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  4. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    A truely emotional book but very factually driven. I've read much on Pow's in the Asian theatre, biased mostly on my own countrymen and Commonwealth folk and civilians.
    I find all books hard to read on the subject but force myself to read on. Changi, the railway, the islands, lots I know.

    But if any of my American cousing have to choose one book to read on your own guys that suffered so much then this is the book to read.

    America has much to be thankful for that it can produce such folk just as I feel for my own, the Americans and how they suffered and handled their deprivations have nothing but admiration from me.

    Maybe some who want to admire the uniforms of the enemy in ww2, or give kudos to the more barbaric divisions and the regiments of their nations enemy in ww2 should be forced to read such materials.

    There is not harm in admiring your enemy, our own tropps did so, I admire some of the enemy forces in ww2, many fought with great gallantry and showed much humane treatment of others when the chips were down.

    Many didn't and some of our own may not have done so either.
    But it is well to remember our own, who suffered for us before we rush off into admiration of SS divisions who proved time and again what they could do to our own when they felt they could.

    America like its allies produced fine sons in ww2. We need to remember that more and more before we praise SS divisions whos role was to kill Americans, Canadians, British, Australians, Norwegians, French, Russians, Greeks, Yugoslavians, Ukrainians, and I've run out of ink...
     
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  5. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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  6. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    You seem to keep having that problem LOL :p
     
  7. JJ Karwacki

    JJ Karwacki New Member

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    Here is a summary I recently put together regarding the us POWs who worked the Thai-Burma Railway:

    I have been collaborating with the Thai-Burma Railway Centre in documenting the US POWs who were enslaved WW2.
    The best data I can find via multiple sources is that 708 US POWs were in Thailand or Burma of whom 131 (18%) died there. 65 of those were ARMY, 62 were Navy & 4 Marines.

    The US POWs were barely 1% of the military prisoners who worked the railway. Most were British (29,472; 48%), then Dutch (17,985; 29%); Australians (23,002; 21%); for a grand total of 61,142.

    The US POWs came from only two groups: survivors of the sinking of the USS Houston (CA-30) in the Straits of Sundra in Feb 1942 and members of the 131 Field Artillery Rgt who had been deployed to the island of Java in late 1941 to assist the Dutch Army. Most of the Dutch prisoners were Army captured at the same time when the island was overrun by the Japanese. The British and Australians came mainly from the fall of Singapore. Only 373 members of the USS HOUSTON crew of 1063 survived the sinking and all were taken prisoner as they made their way ashore. Just over 250 of those Sailors (241) and Marines (19) were eventually sent to Burma and/or Thailand to build the railway. They joined the 448 Soldiers from the 131st FA. That makes for a total of 708 US POWs who were sent to Thailand-Burma of whom 577 (82%) survived the ordeal.
     
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