to perpetuate the memory and history of our dead

3.0 WHO were they*

There were a total of 988 men involved in this saga. Of those, 171 (17%) did not return. There were 35 men who for various reasons were not taken captive; of those, 8 (23%) died. Of the 953 POWs, 790 were liberated while 163 (17%) died during captivity.

A total of 687 worked the Thai-Burma Railway in some capacity; 554 (81%) were liberated while 133 died as result of that experience. The majority of the TBR POWs worked mainly in Burma; 455 with the Tharp Grp and 193 under Fitzsimmons. Another 39 were eventually attached to the F or H Forces; 20 of those were originally assigned to Tharp but were left in Singapore. Seven men from E Battery (left in Singapore) were also in the Hintok group as well as 2 from Zeigler. Seven were Merchant Mariners from the SS SAWOLKA. Then, of course, there was Charles Mott at NongPlaDuk.

Those who did not work the TBR were liberated from Japan (182), Java (22), Singapore (20) and other POW camps (14). [These figures do not exactly match those in the Table below because some died in those other locations.]

The highest death toll in any of the many sub-groups occurred among those who had been left in Java in 1942 but were later being sent to Japan when their Hellship was sunk. There were only 7 survivors with 16 killed.

totalsworkedFitzTharpE BattZeiglerother
35not POW 

Follow the links in the next sections to learn more about the men of the 2nd Bn 131 Field Artillery Rgt and the crew of the USS HOUSTON:

Maritime Hx:

Battle of Sunda Strait:    per Vincent P. O’Hara

In some ways, one can imagine the story of these men playing out like a Hollywood movie. There are the super-stars who stand out against the background, mentioned often for their exploits or contributions. But as in every movie there is the larger supporting cast. These men almost never get mentioned by name. But that doesn’t mean that they suffered any less or did any less. They simply fade into the background or into the jungle if you will.

Hence, I have organized the entire list of the US POWs by the various groups that they were assigned to. Except for the few unique stories, these are the Tharp and Fitzsimmons Groups that worked the TBR in Burma and the H-Force group at Hintok. [see the by-name rosters in Section 28]

There are also those whose ordeal played out in Japan or those who never left Java.

In order to properly honor them, I provide herein a list of their ranks according to which group they belonged to. It is worth restating that once under the control of the IJA, the Service of the individual meant nothing. Soldiers, Sailors and Marines were assigned to the various groups by criteria that were not always clear. Once embedded in a Group that individual was ‘locked in’. With the exception of those men who were left behind at Singapore as the various groups transited through there, each man stayed within the initial Group he was assigned to.

Following their work on the TBR, many of the Tharp and Fitzsimmons Group members were transferred to either Saigon or Japan. Others were moved to other camps like Ubon, Petchburi or on to work the Kra Isthmus Railway.

Most of the Zeigler and E Battery Groups went directly to Japan. Every group seems to have a few men who took a somewhat different path.

In Section 28, I provide lists their names and basic information by the Group that they were assigned to in order that no man be forgotten. In all 988, men suffered through this ordeal:

USCiv 3

Final status by branch:


[1] The Zeigler and E Batt Grps. Others were moved to Japan and some to Saigon after the TBR work was completed.

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