Archive for June, 2013

Blacksleeves caught me one time while I was coming back from a smoke box that was down the aisle. There was no one smoking at that time, so I had gone for a light. I had been staying camp, as I had just got out of sick bay the day before, but I was still sick enough not to work. I was about half way between the smoke boxes and had a cigarette cupped in the palm of my hand, and it was lit. He hit me twice on the chin with his fist and then marched me over to the Jap office where he called Claude, the camp interpreter. They talked things over in Japanese, then Claude told me that I had broken a camp rule and that I must be punished for it. I was then marched to the guard house, and Blacksleeves talked to the guards. My punishment was standing at attention for two and one-half hours in front of the guard house with two two [sic] and one-half gallon fire buckets full of water. Every time I shifted my feet or moved my fingers, the guards would hit me with their fist or take off their shoe and strike me across the face or head. I stood there thinking that my guts were going to fall out, and wondered just how long I could stand this kind of punishment. I was still standing there when the working party came and many of the men knew me, so they went to our camp doctor and wanted to know why I was being punished. Lt. Braxton of the R.E. came out and talked to me and then went to the camp interpreter and wanted to know why. Claude told him that I was caught smoking out of the smoking area and that was the reason. This Aussie would stand up for the men in camp, and he did get me of, but the next day, I was not able to get out of my bunk, as I was so sore from the beatings and holding the water so long.

The Japs claimed to have caught one prisoner stealing. He was beaten severely, and then taken outside, stripped of his clothes, and the guards poured water on him. This was in the dead of winter; the man caught pneumonia and died in two days.

If we saw any place that we could slow up production, we did. Some of us were caught and punished, but not too many of us were punished as severely as a Marine buddy of mine by the name of R. Sparks. He said that he was not responsible for it, but the Japs blamed him and he paid for it the hard way. This incident happened in 1944 also, as things were getting scarce as I have already mentioned. Sparks was in the electrician gang, and they were doing the wiring of ships and other things around the shipyard. They and their Honjo went to get a piece of cable which I understood was one inch in diameter, and it was the main control cable for the ship for communications and signaling and warning devices. The sad part about this was that the cable had to be in one continuous length. Sparks was told to cut the cable into [sic], and he did. When they took the cable to fit it into place, the cable was five feet short. Whether Sparks cut it short on purpose or whether it was the Honjos mistake and he blamed it on Sparks, I don’t know. But when Sparks was brought back into camp, he had been beaten so badly that his whole head looked like a piece of ground hamburger. Then they put him in the brig, which was a small jail not tall enough to stand in, and not long enough to lie down in. He not only spent time in this jail, but he was cut off of water and food, and then was forced to work. This was when the temperature was quite cool at nights, so they did allow him one blanket.

The thing that upset the Japs so badly was that there was not enough cable left to make the hook up, and this delayed them for a few days, because they had to get the wire from some other place. Both in camp and out of camp, we never knew what would provoke the Japs to beat up an individual or take a whole squad of men out and punish them.