All tolled, there were nearly 1000 men who played some role in the saga of the US POWs that this website is trying to relate. We know a lot about the individual journeys of a handful of them. We can infer that those stories define the experiences of all of the men in their groups. Just as fate chose the USS HOUSTON and the TXNG to be POWs, so too fate decided the group that each POW was assigned to. The death toll varied greatly among those groups. The largest group was led by LTC Tharp himself. That group suffered the most deaths as they worked the TBR in the highlands of Burma. Just a few kilometers away, the group led by Army Captain Fitzsimmons had a somewhat easier time and lost far fewer men.
Deaths among the two groups that were sent directly to Japan were relatively low as well. The Zeigler and E Battery groups suffered comparatively few losses. Late in the war men who had originally been left on Java were being transferred to Japan when their ship was sunk accounting for 19 of the 26 deaths in the Java Group.
TABLE 1: deaths by assigned Groups
|Java (includes 19 lost at sea)||26|
|E Batt (Japan)||2|
In order that their names not be forgotten, these rosters are posted according to their assigned groups. In doing so, I hope to convey a sense of the ordeal each of the men in that group underwent. It must be remembered, however, that each man’s story is unique to himself. Even within the various groups, some men – the Officers in particular – had a somewhat easier time. Among those working the TBR, there were many jobs that needed to be done in and around the camps. There were cooks and wood gatherers. A few tended gardens or herded goats or cattle. IOW, not every man was digging dirt or building bridges all of the time.
Mostly due to illness, not an insignificant number of men were shed by their initial group as those groups transited through Singapore. Many of those remained there. Others were trans-shipped to Japan or to Hintok with H Force or F Force.
It also needs to be remembered that working the TBR in either the Tharp or Fitzsimmons Groups was not the end of the ordeal for dozens of these men. While most were consolidated to the various camps in Kanchanaburi where they lived in comparative comfort, dozens were sent on the either Saigon or Japan.
It is my fervent hope that these rosters convey a sense of the ordeals that each of these groups experienced.
TABLE 2: Majority of time
|Thailand (F & H)||39|
Table 3: Assigned Group [see the MANSELL table below]
The Hintok/H-Force Party is not listed in the above Table in that it was a composite group. All 27 were originally assigned to a different group and then left at Singapore (10 from Tharp; 8 from E Batt; 2 from Zg). H-Force also included 7 Merchant Mariners.
Another aspect of military life is reflected in these records as well. Almost all of these men had nicknames. Only a few of those names have been recorded for history.
Rather than clutter these rosters with too much information, the Service of the individuals is not displayed. It is simple enough to distinguish the Sailors by their rank. The Soldiers and Marines can be distinguished by the font of the rank. For example, Army ranks are in all upper-case letters while the Marine ranks contain lower-case: ARMY Private = PVT; Marines Private =Pvt. The Services can also be distinguished by the member’s Serial Number.
I literally stumbled into the procedure to post these rosters in a readable format. They were originally MS-EXCEL files. What surprised me even more is that these lists are searchable.
To properly “perpetuate the memory and history of our dead” we must strive to have each of them properly identified. During the ensuing decades, errors have crept into the various lists that were made of these men. Transcription errors in their names and titles (ranks and rates), transposition of digits in their serial numbers all lead to a distortion of their proper identification. Another side-story that I hold dear is to identify those sets of brothers who served (and in some cases died) together.
In Section 28.8 I list the rosters of those who died prior to their comrades becoming POWs. These are long lists and prone to transcription errors. I will continue to strive to correct such errors. I, to the extent possible, return to original records and supporting documents to establish the proper spelling of each man’s name — to include their full middle names as opposed to a simple initial.
28.1 list of POW GROUPs sent to work the TBR:
|No 1 Group||18/26-June-42||Thailand||3000||x||x||x||3000|
|No 2 Group||9/15-Oct-42||Thailand||3250||x||x||x||3250|
|Williams Force||16-Oct-42||Burma||x||1497||111||190 (195)|
|No 4 Group||17/2-Oct-42||Thailand||2600||x||x||x||2600|
|5 Group 2||20-Oct-42||Drowned|
|No 5 Group||23/24-Oct-42||Thailand||1300||x||x||x||1300|
|No 6 Group||25-Oct/6-Nov 42||Thailand||8450||x||x||x||8450|
|No 7 Group||7/9-Nov-42||Thailand||1260||x||x||x||1260|
|5 Group 1||07-Jan-43||Burma||4||383||159||456 (459)|
|Java 8 Group||14Jan/5-Feb-43||Thailand||x||1250||8750||x||10,000|
|5 Group No 3||13/17-Apr-43||Burma||3||155||2831||11|
|F Force||18/30-Apr-43||Thailand||3334||3666||x||10 ( 9 later tfx’d back to Tharp Grp; 1 deceased)||7000|
|H Force||5/17-May-43||Thailand||1947||705||590||26 (27)|
|Total Burma||–||–||507||5033||5502||657 (654)||11699|
|Total Thailand||–||–||28965||7969||9383||26 (28)||46343|
|Total Railway||–||–||29472||13002||14885||683 (682)||58042|
Numbers in parentheses are my accounting; the Thailand count include Charles Mott. These are the counts of men who actually worked the TBR. Many men who were initially assigned to the Tharp (486) and Fitzsimmons (198) Grps were left in Singapore. Tharp shed 25; E Batt 12 and Zeigler 2. Only a small number of these (Th-10; E-8; Zg2), plus 7 Merchant Mariners were sent to Thailand as part of H-Force.
Debriefing interviews of liberated POWs revealed that the following USS HOUSTON crewmen were known to have survived the sinking but did not survive to be taken as POWs:
|2122064||Cumming||George H. Jr.||AMM1c|
|3755337||Schroder||John H. Jr.||MM1c|
|2741820||Gary||James C. Jr.||CFC(AA)|