Capt Donald Richard Snoke

Capt Donald Richard Snoke

Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 9 Jan 1945 (aged 30)
Burial Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, USA
Plot Row Q
Memorial ID 111479356 · View Source
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Served with 59th Coast Artillery Corps,
Fort Mills, Corregidor, P.I., Captured by Japanese, May 7, 1942.
Killed off Takao, Formosa in bombing of Japanese Prison Ship January 10, 1945.Donald Richard Snoke, Captain, U.S. Army; 021971; 59th Coast Artillery (CA) Regiment, Corregidor, Philippine Islands. Missing in Action or Buried at Sea. Awarded the Purple Heart.

He was the son of Charles Edward Snoke (1876-1951) and Helen Virginia Uhrich (1883-1955). The third of seven children, he grew up in Washington, PA, and attended Washington High School, Class of 1930, and Washington and Jefferson College, Washington, PA graduating in 1935. After graduating, he attended the US Military Academy, West Point, Class of 1939, and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant (Lt). He probably attended the US Army Field Artillery School, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, after graduation.

[Probably] April 1941: Arrived Philippine Islands as a 2nd Lt, artillery. Assigned to Battery Smith (Battery F), as commander of the battery, Corregidor. There are no documents to verify when he shipped out. Documents containing the names of the passengers were destroyed by the US Government after the war. In April 1941, the USAT (US Army Transport) Republic left San Francisco, CA for the Philippine Islands. Most of the soldiers aboard were assigned to the 59th CA upon their arrival. (An account by "Herbert W. Schroer - Prisoner of the Emperor", describes himself as arriving in the Philipines on 23 June 1941, being assigned to the 59th CA, Battery F, and 1st Lt Snook as the Battery Commander. An excert from his 'statement' reads, '...I was assigned to F Battery, 59th C.A.C. First Lt. Snook was Battery Commander, later on Capt. Snook, a West Pointer and strict.... We drilled regularly. Was on barbet Gun, 12 in. bore & 35 ft rifle barrel. Also had infantry drill with full field pack. On Wed. morning we took a hike around the "ROCK" as is was called. Captain Snook was young, 30-32, 6 ft. tall or taller, and enjoyed making it rough. We'd hike on the blacktop in the tropics for 4 or 5 hours with 10 minute break every hour until he had about a quarter of the battery left. The rest had fallen out, which you could do. Then we would arrive at the Barracks and stand at attention while he gave us a speech on physical fitness. I was always sure I could stay with him walking, but I could never have made that speech afterwards.')

December 8, 1941: The Japanese attack the Philippines. US and Philippine forces fight a retreating battle from Manila to Bataan.

March 1942: Promoted to 1st Lt.

April 1942: US and Philippine forces at Bataan surrender.

Under the command of Captain Snoke, together with Battery Hearn, Smith was in action towards Bataan from 6:00 AM 8 April to 5:10 PM 9 April. There is no indication of Smith being in any action either before or after this time.

May 1942: US Army on Corregidor surrenders to Japanese forces. Prior to the surrender, Battery Smith was 'destroyed by the book'. This was done by placing an artillery shell into the muzzle of the gun along with a powder charge. When the powder was detonated, it blew off the casemate surrounding the barrel, rendering the gun useless for the rest of the war. Most POWs were transported to Camp O'Donnell, an already overcrowded POW camp. US millitary personnel were dying at a rate of 40-60 a day. Philippino death rates were much higher.

May 1942-Dec 1944: POW, remained in Philippines in Davao POW camp. Younger POWs worked in rice fields. Older POWs made straw baskets used to carry rice and other products. All POWs suffered from various diseases, insufficient water, physical abuse and a starvation diet.

13 Dec 1944: Taken from Bilibid Prison as part of a group of 1619 POWs and loaded onto Oryoku Maru, a 'hellship,' enroute to Moji, Japan, with a scheduled stop in Takeo, Formosa (now Taiwan).

14 and 15 Dec 1944: Oryoku Maru attacked by aircraft from the USS Hornet (CV12), (Navy Group 11 (VG-11), flying Hellcats, Avengers and Helldivers, receiving six direct bomb hits in the following places: left side of passenger quarters; forward section of Hold 1 on the right; center of ship on the left side; rear of the coal box; right side of passenger quarters; and a second hit on the left side of the passenger quarters. The planes also straffed the ship. Bullets entered through the open holds of the ship wounding and killing POWs. POWs were evacuated on 15 Dec by swimming to the shore. Thinking they were Japanese, pilots in the planes continued to strafe the POWs in the water. Japanese soldiers also shot at POWs from the shore. Oryoku Maru sinks in 60 feet of water. 1290 POWs survive, including Capt Snoke. (See attached Navy attack photographs.)

21 Dec 1944: POWs are taken to San Fernando, Pampanga, and confined to a movie theater and jail.

22 Dec 1944: The captors tell the POWs they may select fifteen (15) wounded and injured POWs for transport to a hospital for medical treatment. The POWs make the selections, but those selected are actually executed by beheading and bayoneted in retaliation for the sinking of the Oryoku Maru.

24 Dec 1944: POWs are transferred by box cars to San Fernando, La Union. They are packed into the cars and forced to stand. Although the cars, not designed to carry passengers, could easily accomodate 80 people, about 150 were packed in each car. The doors were closed and ventilation was limited to one or two small openings located on the side of the car near the top. No food or water was provided. Some personnel died enroute, standing in an upright position. POWs that could not fit inside the cars were assigned to ride on top of the cars, sitting in the blazing sun. Other than transportation, the reason the POWs were placed on top of the box cars was to prevent Navy airplanes from straffing the train. Upon arrival, POWs were confined to a school and later a beach. Many POWs drink sea water and die.

27 Dec 1944: POWs are loaded onto Brazil Maru and Enoura Maru, both 'hell ships.' Capt. Snoke boards the Enoura Maru and is placed in the forward hold. The Enoura Maru had been transporting livestock, and the holds still contain the excrement of the animals.

27 Dec 1944: Both Marus depart for Takeo enroute to Moji. POWs were given one ration of rice a day and about half canteen of water. One bucket was provided for sanitary use, and emptied once a day. Temperatures inside the hold reached over 120 degrees with no fresh air. Water would condense on the hull of the ship and POWs would lick this water in order to obtain a drink. POWs that died enroute were not reported by the POWs, as this would reduce the food and water rations. 300 POWs = 300 food rations. One dies, rations were reduced to 299. By not reporting a death, 300 rations would be issued to 299. Then when the body reached a level where no one could tolerate the stench, the death was reported. The bodies were dumped overboard. Additionally, POWs picked through the excrement for bits of grain to get something to eat. Some POWs went mad, even attacking fellow POWs.

1 Jan 1945: Both Marus arrive in Takeo. Eleven POWs from the Enoura Maru and five from the Brazil Maru, die in transit.

9 Jan 1945: Both ships still in Takeo when aircraft (VG-11) from the USS Hornet attack. Enoura Maru takes a bomb hit near the forward hold, spraying the area with shrapnel and causing steel girders to drop, killing over 300 POWs, including Capt Snoke. The bodies were examined by other POWs on 10 Jan 1945. Some evidently had survived but were wounded. However, due to lack of medical treatment, most of these, if not all, died of their injuries due to lack of medical intervention. By some accounts, Capt Snoke died on 9 Jan 1945, others sources cite 10 Jan 1945. (See attached Navy attack photographs.)

12 Jan 1945: Three days after the attack, dead POWs are removed from the Enoura Maru and buried in a mass grave in Takeo. Surviving POWs removed the bodies by placing them in a net, raising the net and lowering to a barge. The barge transported the dead to a spit of land, where other surviving POWs reversed the procedure and placed them in a mass grave. It was described as a scene out of Dante's Inferno. Originally, the plan was to cremate the bodies. However, due to continued air attacks, the bodies were buried. The surviving POWs, approximately 1000, were placed on board the Brazil Maru and taken to Moji. Approximately 500 died during this voyage, and by the end of the war, only 162 of the original 1619 that boarded the Oryuko Maru had survived.

1946: The bodies of the dead POWs buried in Takeo are recovered and taken to Guam. Only three are identified, none of which is Capt Snoke. The unidentified are placed in several mass graves at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punch Bowl) in two rows (Section Q)(see photo of a grave site). Captain Snoke is still listed as ‘Missing-in-Action'.

Captain Snoke's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing, Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Manila, Manila City, Philippines.

I would like to personally thank Bruce & Debbie (Tetrault) Almeida for providing a representative photo of the 'gravesite'. There are 20 such sites, all marked 'Unknown' for these deceased heroes who died aboard the Enoura Maru, that day, 9 January 1945.

Family Members

  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: PaGenieGirl
  • Added: 30 May 2013
  • Find a Grave Memorial 111479356
  • Erich Snoke
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Capt Donald Richard Snoke (22 Jul 1914–9 Jan 1945), Find a Grave Memorial no. 111479356, citing Chestnut Hill Cemetery, Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave (contributor 8) .