Archive for June, 2012

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Then it happened! I had been watching and running my traps about every two hours. On this day I was put on a detail and did not get to run my traps until after I finished working, which was late in the afternoon. I made a run for the latrine to look after my traps, and both of them were gone. Someone had stolen my fly traps and my day’s catch of flies. The next day I found what was left of them. I killed what flies I caught by drowning them, but whoever it was that stole the traps tried killing them by fire as the netting was all burned off the frame. Can you imagine someone stealing flies? I could never get another net, so that ended my fly trapping while I was there in this camp.

But in prison camp, life goes on and each day some one dies, and each man seems to think only of himself and how he might be able to beat the Grim Reaper.

While trapping flies, I learned one lesson. I told myself that I would not be like so many others I had seen go to the latrine. Many of them moved their blankets to the latrine area, and I would be safe in saying that ninety per cent of them died there. Our barracks was about one hundred yards from the latrine, and there was a small draw between. The trail was kept busy twenty-four hours a day – a constant going and coming. I saw what a horrible death dysentery was.

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[See end note 2]

The next day I tore up my mosquito net and took some bamboo strips and made me two fly traps. I took these down to the latrine and set them over the hole of the latrine, with a sign on them that read, “Please replace when hole not in use.” I struck it rich the first day. I had caught fifteen tins of flies, which at that time were worth three biscuits per can. With forty-five biscuits I was in the trading business. I had a real good week of catching flies and trading. I had a good supply of cigarettes, five toes of garlic that I had traded from a fellow by the name of Hatfield. We all named him the garlic king. I don’t know where he got it, but it seemed as though about once a week he would have this garlic strung around his neck and hanging to his waist. I then converted either cigarettes or biscuits for curry powder, sugar or what we called at the time dysentery bars-unrefined sugar poured into coconut shells. I really thought that I had a good thing going; my fly traps were paying off bountifully, and I was getting extras to eat on the side and building up my medicine supply.

[See End Note 2]

By now our camp was getting better organized as to dispensing the food and water. There was one building used for the cook house, and here they cooked the rice and soup for all that were in this camp. The rations were just a  mere existence. The Japs had outside working parties, and it was good to get out of camp on one of these details. Most generally one could pick up an extra bit of food that the Philippinos would give us, if they had a chance to do so.

The flies were getting as bad as they had been on Corregidor at the 92nd Garage area. The Japs kept after us to be more sanitary so that we would stay healthy, but still the flies became worse and worse. The Japs decided to reward us by giving us a biscuit for a certain amount of dead flies. A ten ounce milk tin of dead flies was worth two biscuits. Cigarettes were getting scarce in camp, and we could trade a biscuit for three to five cigarettes. I worked hard all one morning with a home-made fly swatter and got two cans of flies, which I traded for biscuits. I ate one biscuit and traded the other one for cigarettes. Cigarettes were money in camp, and were the only pleasure that were allowed to indulge in. After two days of killing flies (getting from one to ten flies with each swat), I decided there surely was a faster way to get flies to fill a milk can. Besides, after you swatted one, he was about half as big as before he was killed.

June 15, 1942

Posted: June 15, 2012 in Uncategorized
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On June 15, the Japs divided the camp members. All of the Army were to remain on the side where I was now billeted; the Marines and Sailors were to move on the west side of a small draw in the camp. I moved to the  west side and stayed in that area until later we were moved again.

The Japs had put up a barbed wire fence around the camp, and they had guards stationed about every fifty yards apart along this fence. Our orders were to stay ten feet from the fence, and any one caught closer to the fence would be shot. The Japs were making believers of us by this time.

They left the men in this position the rest of this day and until they were taken out and shot the next day, not having had water or anything to eat.

The Japs did not want us to see the execution and made us all go back inside the barracks. The barrack that I was in was only about one hundred yards from the spot. They then lined the prisoners up in front of shallow graves, not over two feet deep, that had been dug to bury them in, and then gave the order to fire. After they had been shot by the firing squad, the Officer in charge went up and took his pistol and held the gun to their heads and shot them again. Later it was said that he did this out of the mercy for them. These men were buried near the place where they had buried the sergeant that had died upon our arrival in this Hell hole.

The order then came from the Camp Commandant that in the future, any man escaping or attempting to escape would be shot, and that the remainder of the prisoners would be lined up and numbered, and every tenth man would be shot. That stopped those of us who were planning to escape for the price was too high. Not that we were not willing to risk our own lives, but that meant that five hundred other men would die if our attempt failed.

On June 10 four prisoners of war were caught trying to escape. There was much talk of different ones laying their plans for escape and were about to try for a break. I was one of these groups of men that had already had our map and compass and all details worked out as to how we would get out of the Philippines and escape by the way of Borneo.

As there were over five thousand men in this camp, I did not know the ones who were caught trying to escape, but I can relate what happened to them. The Jap commandant stripped them down to a gee string and tied their hands behind their backs and placed a sign around their necks which read “We have tried to escape, and for this we must die.” The Japs paraded them all through the camp and made us fall out and see them as they marched them by, with Japs prodding them along with their bayonets. This went on for about two hours, then the men were tied to stakes that were driven into the ground with their hands and feet tied behind, and the stakes between their bodies and where they were tied.