Texas Day by Day

On this day in Texas history…

Lost Battalion shipped to Singapore

October 2nd, 1942

https://www.tshaonline.org/images/handbook/entries/The insignia of the Thirty-Sixth Infantry Division
Image taken at random from the related Handbook of Texas entry, Thirty-Sixth Infantry Division

On this day in 1942, 200 men of the Lost Battalion were shipped to Singapore as prisoners of war of the Japanese. Most of the remaining battalion members followed nine days later. The unit, the Second Battalion, 131st Field Artillery, originated as part of the Thirty-sixth Infantry Division, United States Army, in 1940 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt mobilized the Texas National Guard. The division, which soon grew to almost 16,000 men from Texas and surrounding states, reported to Camp Bowie, near Brownwood. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Second Battalion, en route to the Philippines, was diverted to Australia and from there boarded a Dutch ship bound for Surabaya, Java, to provide ground support for the Nineteenth Heavy Bombardment Group. The Second Battalion was left behind when the bomber group and other military forces were evacuated, earning the unit the title of the “Lost Battalion.” When the Japanese captured the Dutch East Indies, they imprisoned the Texans, who thus began a harrowing trip to the work camps of Burma, where the men suffered brutality and death while laboring on various building projects including construction of the famous “Bridge over the River Kwai.”

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