Prisoner # 31
Camp No. 17 Omuta, Japan
Lyle H. Jensen enlisted in the United States
Army on 10 September 1940 at Omaha, Nebraska.
Upon enlisting he was immediately transferred to
McDowell, Angel Island, California. Shortly
thereafter he was transferred to an overseas assignment in the Philippine
Islands. Upon his arrival in the
Philippine Islands on 1 November 1940, he was assigned to the Harbor Defenses of
Manila and Subic Bay – being stationed at Fort Mills, Corregidor Island.
He was assigned to the 60th CAC (AA), “E” Battery and
later was reassigned to the Regimental Headquarters Battery of this artillery
Upon the outbreak of hostilities with Japan
on 7(8) December 1941, Lyle fought in the defense of the Philippine Islands
until the surrender of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East to the
Imperial Japanese Military Forces on 6 May 1942 at Corregidor.
Following the surrender of the American
Armed Forces in the Philippine Islands, he was interned in various prisoner of
war camps at Corregidor, Cabanatuan Camp No. 3, Lipa, Bilibid
Prison Hospital, and Cabanatuan Camp No. 1 until July 1943.
In July 1943, Lyle was included in a group of 500 American prisoners of
war who were taken to Japan for continuing internment.
This group of prisoners was transported to Omuta, Kyushu, Japan – here
they were interned in Camp No. 17 (Omuta).
While interned in the prisoner of war camp
(Camp No. 17) in Omuta, Japan, he was subjected to forced labor in the coalmines
of the Mitsui Mining Company. Such
enforced labor, which was of extremely long work hours in the coalmines was most
physically demanding – the working conditions in the mines were most dangerous
and unsafe – the internment camp living conditions were hardly better than
adequate or primitive.
Prior to the cessation of the ongoing
hostilities, Lyle’s weight had declined to approximately 95 pounds and if the
armed conflict has continued another six months, he would have most surely
succumbed due to overwork and lack of adequate nutrition.
Aside, from the starvation diet and the inadequate living conditions –
the greatest or most perceptible danger to him and his fellow POW’s
encountered, was the ever present possibility of serious injury or death from
work related accidents while working
in the coal mines. He was most
fortunate in this respect, his injuries were not too serious – although he
sufferer several broken bones in the hand, crushed fingers, severe lacerations
of the hands and legs, and other resulting injuries from the premature
explosions while in the coal mines.
On 15 September 1945, the American
Occupational Forces in Japan liberated Lyle and his fellow POW’s of Camp No.
17. He departed Japan, via
Nagasaki, and arrived in San Francisco on 1 November 1945.
Lyle was medically retired from the United
States Army in June 1954 with the rank of Warrant Officer (Junior Grade).
Following his medical retirement, he was employed as the Senior Draftsman
for the Post Engineer at Fort MacArthur, San Pedro, California until his Federal
Civil Service retirement in June 1982.
Lyle passed away in June 1997 and was survived by his wife, Caroline and his three children, Peggy, Paula, and John.
Click on photos below for full size image and description.
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