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Remembering World War II
Kenneth Leaman Lewis
Name: Kenneth Leaman Lewis Rank: Private First Class Service Number: 11007542 Service: C Battery, 60th Coast Artillery Regiment (Anti Aircraft), Harbor Defenses of Manila and Subic Bays, US Army Date of Birth: October 31, 1919 Place of Birth: Sackville, Westmorland Co., New Brunswick Date of Enlistment: August 6, 1940 Place of Enlistment: Boston, Massachusetts Age at Enlistment: 20 Address at Enlistment: Bristol, Massachusetts Occupation: Clay production industry Marital Status: Single Date of Death: December 14, 1944 Age: 25 Cemetery: Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Lemay, St. Louis County, Missouri Grave: Section 85 Kenneth Leaman Lewis was the son of Helena Louise "Lena" (McDonald) Lewis (1893–1955) and Cecil Reuben Lewis (1891-1968). His mother was born in Amherst, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia. His father was born in Point de Bute, Westmorland Co., New Brunswick. Kenneth had four siblings, Margaret L. (Lewis) Renaud (1914–2002), Edward Cecil Lewis (1915–1979), Vernon Joseph Lewis (1919–1982), and Harry Maurice Lewis (1922–1997). Private First Class Kenneth Lewis served with Battery ‘C’ of the US Army’s 60th Coast Artillery Regiment in the Philippines and was take prisoner with the capture of the Philippines in May of 1942. He remained a POW until his death during the Palawan Massacre (or the Puerto Princesa Massacre) on December 14, 1944, at the Palawan Prison Camp No. 10A in Puerto Princesa, a coastal city in the Mimaropa region of the Philippines on Palawan Island. In order to prevent the rescue of prisoners of war by the advancing Allies, on December 14, 1944, the Japanese herded the remaining 150 POWs at Puerto Princesa into three covered trenches which were then set on fire using barrels of gasoline. As prisoners tried to escape the flames they were shot down. Some escaped by going over a cliff that ran along one side of the trenches, but were later hunted down and killed. Only 11 men escaped the slaughter and between 133 and 141 were killed. The site of the massacre can still be visited. The massacre is the premise of the 2004 published book "Last Man Out: Glenn McDole, USMC, Survivor of the Palawan Massacre in World War II" by Bob Wilbanks. The opening scenes of the 2005 movie, "The Great Raid", also present the massacre and its brutality. Because 11 men survived the massacre to confirm the ordeal, American military leaders realized the imminent threat to other POWs and detainees. Senior commanders were determined to prevent more atrocities. With several thousand American and Allied lives at stake, the rescue of POWs and internees became a high priority. After the overwhelming success of the Cabanatuan rescue, three more raids were done in short succession. The Cabanatuan Raid took place on January 30, 1945, freeing over 500 Americans during the liberation of the camp, with the loss of 2 American and 21 Filipino guerilla soldiers. Additional successful raids included the raid at Santo Tomas Internment Camp on February 3, 1945, the raid of Bilibid Prison on February 4, 1945, and the raid at Los Baños on February 23, 1945. Combined, these raids freed over 7,000 POWs and detainees in less than a month. Kenneth was initially buried the Philippines, and his remains were received from Leyte in the Philippines and re-interred February 14, 1952, in a group burial with other another 122 American victims of the Palawan Massacre at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in Missouri. Located in Section 85 of the cemetery, the mass grave is the largest in the cemetery.
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