Archive for December, 2012

Then there was the Saturday night bath. Our bath house was on the east end of the mess hall or kitchen. The room was about twenty by twenty feet square, and in the middle of it was the bath tub. The bath tub was twelve feet long, four and one-half feet wide by four feet deep. The water was heated by a steam pipe that was put over on the inside of the tub. The tub was filled only once every Saturday night and every man had to bathe in the same water. The squadrons took turns being first to bathe; so every twelve weeks each squad had a chance of using the water first, or taking a clean bath, as we called it. After every man had bathed, then we washed our dirty clothes in the water that was left. It was pretty rough, but especially so in the winter months, as after taking a bath we had to go back into the building where we lived and it was not heated. The only fire that was ever in that building all the time we were in this camp, was the fire on the end of a cigarette.

Of course, everything was not that smooth; each and every day that we went to work there were always some that were getting beat or punished for something. It was while we were in the camp compound that most of the beatings took place. Our Camp Commandant liked to how [sic] his authority best when he had his soldiers to back him up.

The Jap Army guard was changed every two weeks, and this was where old Banjo Eyes really strutted. We hated for two weeks to go by for no other reason than changing the guard. On the first Tinko after the guards were changed, they would take a whole squad of men outside and turn the guards loose on the prisoners with bamboo poles. They beat us men unmercifully, and some would be so badly injured that they could not go to work the next day.

On December 4, 1942, we began work in the Mitsubite hi Ship yard, and the following is a schedule of each day’s work: Reveille at 5:45 a.m.; Tinko or roll call at 6:00a.m.; Chow at 6:20 a.m.; Fall out for work at 6:50, and Roll Call again at 7:00 a.m. Then we marched in columns of five for two and one-half miles for work in the ship yard. We “fell out” and reassembled for different work details. Another roll call was made and we reported to the civilian in charge regarding the number of men working on the detail each day. Each man was given a job to do or was assigned to work with a Jap civilian. Then we worked until eleven o’clock. Music would come on over the public address system, and we did five minutes of exercises in rhythm. To me the tune always sounded like “The rice is getting cold.” After the exercises, we continued with our work until twelve o’clock, when we stopped for lunch, which consisted of a box of rice that we had brought from camp in a small wooden box. In the summer months, the rice would be soured by noon, but we got used to eating soured rice. The lunch period was thirty minutes long, then we went to work again until four thirty p.m. We fell into our columns of five for the return march back to camp, and after about three more roll calls, the last one after we got back inside the camp compound, we were dismissed to go to our bunks. Then we had chow; then tinko; soon to bed, and we could look forward to the same routine the next day.