The Beginning

On May 6, 1942, on a small island in the Pacific Ocean, following a long and courageous battle to defend the Philippines, the valiant men of the 4th Marine Regiment were commanded to surrender unconditionally to the enemy.

In the long Malinta Tunnel, hungry and defeated, they huddled in despair, awaiting their fate. Though they couldn’t know it, many would die in labor camps, others would die in the infamous Bataan Death March. Others would suffer, and scrabble, and survive until they were freed more than three years later.

Among those tired, dirty, hard-fighting men gathered in the Tunnel, one man held a grenade in his hand. He watched as the enemy’s colonel approached. He felt the weapon’s weight and knew in a moment’s time he could wreak a small revenge. The man with the grenade was my uncle, Pierce L. Wardlow, just an ordinary man thrown into extraordinary circumstances.

Did he throw the grenade? Let him tell you in his own words. For the three years following that terrible night in the Tunnel, Pierce kept a faithful diary every day, sometimes writing on the backs of can labels or scraps of toilet paper. Some of it eventually was burned in a barracks fire, and he recreated it from memory. He carried it from camp to camp. He carried it home and rewrote it as a memoir.

And in 1990, he gave an onionskin copy of that memoir to his niece. Me. He commissioned me to take good care of it, and I have kept it safe all these years. Now, seventy years after the loss of Corregidor in WWII, I will be releasing his words day by day, each entry exactly 70 years from the day it chronicles.

This is for anyone who has ever been a POW, loved a POW, or just wondered what it’s like to be a POW. This is about the horrors that humans sometimes wreak on one another. This is also about companionship and survival. Most of all, this is about the people who have lived and died as prisoners of war, their voices, their stories. Starting with Uncle Pierce.

Read The Diary

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Comments
  1. This sounds very interesting. I forwarded you link to a WWII buff.

  2. curiositycat says:

    Thanks, Deidra. It’s finally May 2012, and the blog is starting to ramp up. Please remind your WWII buff friends to subscribe to hear Pierce’s story as it unfolds in the coming months.

  3. Minter Dial says:

    This is wonderful, Diedra. I will post it on my grandfather’s page (http://www.facebook.com/LtCdrMinterDial) in a few days. Just to let you know the “read the diary” link is a 404.

  4. Russell J Pace says:

    I work with his son Del in Iraq. If Del is a chip of the old man’s block, his Dad had to have been one amazing man. Your Uncle and I are Brothers in our own right. Semper Fi Pierce Wardlow! Thank you for sharing Heather, it’s a real tribute to all who have served.

    • curiositycat says:

      Hello! How wonderful to hear from someone with a personal connection to Uncle Pierce! I didn’t know him as well as I would have liked, but every time he visited our family I always felt a strong bond with him. I remember him teaching me to witch water, and I loved to hear his stories of the war. Thank you for stopping in and making the connection. Semper Fi.

    • Barbara Johnston-Osborn says:

      Del is a wonderful combination of each of his parents. Uncle Pierce was an amazing man who always was humming and whistling, loved golf (although couldn’t putt to save his game), liked to tinker with his projects and gave wonderful simple advice. I can picture him now coming to our house on Monday’s after playing golf to have supper with our family.

  5. […] My uncle Pierce L. Wardlow was among those who lived the next three years as prisoners of war. This is his story of that time.”  I nominate you for the Sunshine […]

  6. Mustang.Koji says:

    I followed notsofancynancy here to your blog of your good uncle. I hope you will not mind if I read along. It was a very bitter war…

    • curiositycat says:

      Glad to have you along! Sorry it took so long to approve your message–apparently, notifications aren’t working properly, and I just now noticed. Are you a veteran, then? Sounds like you’ve got inside tales on the war.

      • Mustang.Koji says:

        No, gratefully, I am not a veteran but my family was closely tied to the war – on both sides of the Pacific. I’m just a person grateful for their sacrifices; I believe this small, small world of today is on account of their collective sacrifices.

  7. Gail Gunter says:

    Heather,
    I was married to Del P. Wardlow for 19 years and thought I had met most of his close relatives. Were you related to Del on his mother or father’s side?

    • curiositycat says:

      Hi Gail! I’m Sharon (Wardlow) Mann’s daughter, who is John (J.O.) Wardlow’s daughter. John, as you may know, was Pierce’s brother (and therefore Del’s uncle). I’m afraid we’ve lost touch with most of that side of the family, sadly. I am so pleased to hear from you! I’ve been trying to reach Del in regard to this project, and haven’t been able to do so. Do you have any contact information on him? If so, please send me an email via this site (or at heather@heatherhead.com) so we can connect! I’m so tickled to have found you, and thanks for leaving a comment!

    • Barbara Johnston-Osborn says:

      Gail, I hope all is well with you!

  8. mila ventris ketchum says:

    My name is Mila .Pierce is my uncle.My grandmother was Dela Bryan.The last time we were with him was the only time he ever talked about the war.My husband had gone to Formosa and so they talked a little about it.That was just months before he passed away.

    • Candy Serrano says:

      Hello mila im candy, brendas daughter so i guess im on the right track. Im trying to get a copy of this diary for bonnie lou.

  9. Liz says:

    Wow, this is very interesting! I’m glad I came upon your site. I’ve recently been to Corregidor, and I saw the Malinta Tunnel – it was so heartbreaking to hear what happened there.

  10. Thanks for sharing your uncle’s POW diary with us!

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