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Kentucky National Guard Memorial

Honoring Their Sacrifice

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Leonard, Hugh J. (P2, C3, L17)

Harrodsburg Tankers at Ky Derby 1937-38 - Hugh J LeonardPrivate Hugh J. Leonard, 28, of Perryville, Boyle County, died in the sinking of the Japanese unmarked prisoner transport Shinyo Maru on the evening of Thursday, September 7, 1944 off the west coast of Mindanao. Leonard was serving on federal active duty with Company D of the 192nd Tank Battalion.

Hugh was born to Jackson Hugh Leonard and Bessie Walston Leonard in Perryville on 31-Dec-1915. Hugh was married at the time of his first enlistment to Elizabeth Best of Boyle County.

Hugh enlisted in the Harrodsburg National Guard 38th Tank Company on September 21, 1936. He graduated high school and listed his civilian occupation as farming. He was promoted to Private First Class in February 1937. He was discharged on July 29, 1939 at the rank of Private First Class. He was inducted onto federal active duty with his unit on November 25, 1940 so he had returned to the Kentucky Guard at some point prior to that. 

Leonard, HIt is also worth noting that the Kentucky Vital Records Index list the birth of Jackson H. Leonard on 31 December 1915 in Mercer County to Bessie Walston Leonard. So he may have in fact been Jackson Hugh Leonard, Jr. and went by the name of Hugh. He gave his name on the enlistment papers and also signed as Hugh Leonard. His documents at induction to federal active duty list his name as Hugh J. Leonard.

Moving under secret orders, Company D arrived in the Philippines by Thanksgiving Day, 1941. War came to them when the Japanese attacked Clark Field just a few hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Harrodsburg Tankers along with the allied forces fought the Japanese valiantly without reinforcements or resupply until they were ordered to surrender in April 1942. They had delayed the Japanese Army's timetable from 50 days to four months, giving the allies vital time to protect Australia and recover from the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Hugh was taken prisoner on 9 April 1942. He survived the Bataan Death March. He was held at Camp O'Donnell, Cabanatuan and Davao, Mindanao. He was on three Hell Ships, Inter-island Steamer, Transport 86 and Shinyo Maru. The U.S.S. Paddle attacked the unmarked prisoner transport off the west coast of Mindanao and he was lost when it sank on 7 September 1944.

Of the 750 POWs who were boarded onto the ship, 82 POWs escaped and made it to shore. One man died onshore, while the remaining POWs were rescued by Filipino guerrillas and later returned to U.S. Forces in October 1944.

It is not known if Hugh died when the Shinyo Maru was hit by the two torpedoes, or if he was shot while attempting to escape the ship by the Japanese from other ships in the convoy. Since Pvt. Hugh J. Leonard was lost at sea and his name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside Manila.

leonard hugh tablet of missing

Pvt. Hugh Leonard Reported Lost On Jap Freighter

Perryville Man Was Prisoner Being Moved From Davao By Sea

    The Advocate-Messenger Danville 28 Feb 1945, Page 1

    Private Hugh J. Leonard, United States Army, husband of the former Miss Elizabeth Best of Boyle county and son of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Leonard of Perryville, who among those listed as lost on the Japanese freighter which was sunk on September 7, 1944, it was learned here yesterday by his wife, through a letter from the War Department at Washing, D.C.

    Signed by Major General J. A. Ulio, Adjutant General, the message regretted his inability to entertain a probability of Mr. Leonard's survival.

    The information available to the department was that the vessel sailed from Davao, Mindanao, on August 20, 1944, with 750 prisoners of war aboard. The freighter was sunk on September 7, 1944, by torpedoes on the western shores of Mindanao. The indications are that relatively few of the prisoners had opportunity to leave the sinking ship, and of those who did, many were killed by enemy gun fire.

    A small number managed to reach shore and close watch for others was kept for several days. The Japanese government reports all of the prisoners lost, indicating that no survivors are in the hands of that government. There is no information as to ...(Continued on Page 6)

bataanprojlogoSEE Also: Bataan Commemorative Research Project Website Leonard Hugh Bio


    Pvt. Hugh Jackson Leonard was born on December 31, 1915, in Mercer County, Kentucky, to Bessie E. Walston-Leonard and Jackson H. Leonard and was one of the couple's three sons. With his brothers, he grew up in Perryville, Kentucky. Like many young men of his time, he enlisted in the Kentucky National Guard to earn some extra money to help his family.

    On November 25, 1940, the tank company was called to federal service as D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. The company boarded 10 trucks in Harrodsburg on November 28th and its tanks were loaded onto a flatcar and taken by train to Ft. Knox. The company left Harrodsburg at 12:30 P.M. arriving about four hours later at 4:30 P.M.



The Kentucky National Guard Memorial Fund, Inc., is a recognized 501(c)(3). EIN 26-3705273

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