Archive for July, 2012

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Money was scarce in camp, and there was always a black market going on. The prices were high in any kind of money, whether it was U.S. or Philippino. This reminds me of the following incident. Our urinal was about one hundred yards west of the latrine. I was at the urinal when one of the  black market boys had just sold a bill of goods. In the transaction, his wallet slipped out of his hand and fell into the urinal trench. This trench was about three feet wide and ten feet long and six feet deep. Both men made a grab for the wallet, and both missed it and it sank out of sight. The blackmarketer said, “There goes all the money I have in this world.” “How much was in the wallet?” the other asked. “Five hundred pesos,” he said. It did not take long for the news to get around that there were 500 pesos in the latrine. There was soon quite a fishing party going on with sticks and wire with a drag on it, but to no avail. Later that night I had to go to the latrine. Some guy that I didn’t know was stripped naked and said that he was going to see if he could locate the wallet with his feet. Over the edge of the latrine he went up to his arm pits in the urinal that was in the pit. Money didn’t mean that much to me, and I don’t know whether he found the money or not. While a prisoner of the Japs, however, I found out that men will do things that you would not believe are possible for them to do.

I am a protestant in my beliefs, and I pray that God will forgive me for  doing what I did while here in this camp, but here again, I was not the only one that did this. The first time we had Mass in camp a Catholic priest conducted it. The word was sent out that all who wanted to take Holy Communion were to gather out front of the cook house. It was not for the sake of taking communion that I went, but it was for the thin wafer and the small amount of wine. To me at this time, it was just another morsel of food.

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When dysentery did hit me, it hit me hard. The only thing that was available to slow it down was burned rice. This burned rice was the scrapings from the pots that the rice was cooked in. But to get a canteen cup of this came high as far as prison prices were concerned. The burned rice would make a plug in your guts. Here again, through my flies that I had traded was I able to get two canteen cups of this wonderful food. And none too soon. It was ten days that I had this dysentery, and for ten days I made the trip to thee [sic] latrine and back. In one twenty-four hour period, I made this trip thirty-two times; many a time I would not get back to the barracks until I would have to turn around and go back. My condition got so bad that after each bowel movement, my guts would drop out of my rectum. Then there was the job of taking my hands and working them back up into my body so I could walk. But I never moved to the latrine, for I knew if I did, that there I would die.

We also had a terrible disease that we called “onion peel.” It was caused from mal-nutrition and formed on our testes. The itching, burning condition was almost unbearable, and the skin would peel off almost like onion skin, hence the name we gave it.