World War II captivity of “Lost Battalion”

Texas History

By Bartee Haile

A troop ship carrying more than 500 fighting men from Texas was a week out of Hawaii on the way to Australia on Dec. 14, 1941.

National Guardsmen from Wichita Falls, Abilene, Lubbock and other towns throughout northwest Texas were drummed into federal service in November 1940. A stroke of the pen turned the weekend warriors into regular Army and lumped them together in 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery Regiment, 36th Infantry Division.

The rigorous regimen at Camp Bowie near Brownwood whipped the citizen soldiers into shape. But basic training was a picnic in paradise compared to two miserable months of tropical warfare maneuvers in the swamps of Louisiana.

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