Raymond Egner, 94, defense counsel at Japanese general's war crimes trial

September 24, 1993|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Staff Writer

Raymond A. Egner, who acted as defense counsel for Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, the "Tiger of Malaya," during the first major war crimes trial after World War II, died Aug. 29 of complications from intestinal illness at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. He was 94.

General Yamashita led the Japanese attack in 1941 against the British garrison at Singapore and by January of 1942 had won control of the Malay Peninsula.

He was convicted of allowing his troops to commit atrocities against men, women and children and prisoners of war when in command of the Philippines, and was executed in 1946.

Mr. Egner was then sent to Berlin as a judge advocate at the German war crimes trials.

After his retirement from the the Army in 1955 at Fort McClellan, Ala., he returned to his native Baltimore and resumed the practice of law at an office in the Fidelity Building.

His legal career spanned 55 years.

He was born in South Baltimore and remembered witnessing the Baltimore Fire of 1904 from Federal Hill with his father.

He attended Public School No. 92 at Charles and Ostend streets, and City College, and received his law degree from Georgetown University in 1925.

He was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1926.

During World War I, he enlisted in the Student Army Training Corps.

He enlisted in the 5th Infantry of the Maryland National Guard in 1927 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1928.

Mr. Egner joined the 29th Division during the 1930s and in 1941 was activated for wartime Army service.

He left the 175th Infantry and the 29th Division when he was transferred to the Judge Advocate General's Corps in 1943 and later served in the European Theater.

After he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1945, he was sent to the Western Pacific command in the Philippines as a member of the defense counsel team during the war crimes trials of former Japanese officers.

"He was a quiet, intelligent man whose hobby was reading," recalled Richard Herklotz, a longtime friend and national executive director of the 29th Division Association.

"Ray loved to recite from memory the poetry of Rudyard Kipling )) and Robert Service, and he did this up until he was 91," Mr. Herklotz said.

Mr. Egner had been a resident of the Meridian Nursing Center-Homewood since 1990.

He had been active in the Maryland Veterans Corps, 5th Infantry, and was a member of the 20th Division Association's Limestone Post 72, a name taken the code name of the regiment during World War II.

He earned numerous awards and military decorations, and was the recipient of the Philadelphia Liberty Bell Award from Post 92 of the 29th Division Associa- tion.

A Grand Mason, he organized a lodge in Berlin in 1946 and was a member of the Baltimore lodge, which recently awarded him a 75-year pin.

Services were conducted Sept. 1 at St. Luke's United Christian Church.

Survivors include a brother, Milton Egner of Baltimore; a sister, Amelia C. Schaub of Baltimore; and a nephew, Jack E. Manning of Millers Island.

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