Posts Tagged ‘air raid’

We were still very crowded in the school house on August 14, and eating our usual rice balls. The Japanese doctors and nurses came back and dressed the wounded men. Then about 4:00 p.m. things really changed. An air raid alert went and the Jap guards and civilians in a really frightened manner rushed toward us hollering words in Japanese that meant “Rush to the mountains. Hurry!” They were so scared that they led the way, and on our own we followed. We presumed they had received word that a big attack was to occur, and they were heading for protection. They made no attempt to guard us whatsoever, so we found a potato patch and dug some and ate them. It was real noticeable how uneasy the Japs were, but we stayed until dark and no air activity occurred, so about 8:00 p.m. we all started drifting back toward camp.

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August 9, 1945 was a nightmare from 12:15 noon until 6:00 p.m., and the events of that day I shall remember the rest of my life. At 6:00 a.m. we had an early morning alert. We all took to the trenches as seventeen American planes flew over our camp, and Kamaishi. They were the carrier type planes but didn’t drop anything. The working parties fell out to go to their respective jobs at 7:00. I stayed behind still working on air raid trenches, a job I had been on since July 10. The hours passed by, but we were wtill [sic] on the alert. More planes came and went without any activity from above, but the Japs anti-aircraft opened fire on the American planes, but I could not see any damage done. I thought they had hit one plane as it broke formation and went into a spin and dropped about two to three thousand feet, but the pilot pulled it out and it got back into formation before the other planes were out of sight. About thirty minutes later three planes came back and dove on some objective on the side of the mountain opposite our camp. I don’t know what they hit, but a terrific explosion occurred a few minutes later.

The water party consisted of the trench detail of ten men and ten other camp workers made one trip for water, as we had none in camp since the shelling we went through on July 14 from Task Force 58.

About 11:45 we heard motors of planes and looking up saw two sea planes. The Japs opened AA upon them. I remarked to my buddy Jack Elkins, USMC. who was sharing the fox hole with me that we could sure stand by for a ram as those planes were from battle ships and cruisers. Lt. Braxton of the R.E. told me to get under cover for he had just seen three battle ships out at sea. He had a pair of field glasses that somehow he had managed to keep.

The first salvo of shells came over at 12:15, and they were heavy and landed just about two hundred yards over our camp. The shelling lasted for two and one-half hours. The shells were hitting in camp, around camp in the steel mill and in the city of Kamaishi. When they left, the whole place was in ruins and flames. About thirty minutes before the shelling stopped, the camp was completely destroyed. There was one sixteen inch shell and twelve smaller caliber that hit in our camp area.

There were seventy-two men in camp and only ten of them escaped serious injury. I thank God that I was lucky enough to come out with only a flesh wound and a slight burn on my forehead. On [sic] Dutch man who was hurt on the shelling on the 14th of July burned to death. A Marine by the name of Earl Gaskins, a close buddy of mine, was burned while still in the air raid trench.

It was horrible to see the condition of some of the men and the way they were burned. We fought fire and carried out what food we could that was stored in the Air Raid trench as it caught fire, but the food was the only thing saved in the whole camp. I threw a blanket over my head and retrieved Lt. Baxter’s medical bag as it contained all of the medical instruments we had in camp.

While the shelling was still going on and our camp was burning, we took to the river and to the water front. There I could see the ships going by and firing as they went. We, the few able-bodied, carried the wounded and dying out to the water front and rendered what first aid we could. We did not have any medicine for treatment, so the best we could do was to tear up the clothes we were wearing and try to wrap them to keep the air from the burns. We stayed in this area until the shelling was over, then we returned to where the camp had been and started making places to bed down the wounded men. During the night three other men died from the burns they had received. Two were Englishmen and the other a New Zealander.

The only chow we had that night was what we could salvage in the ruins of the camp. Three other fellows, Jack Elkins, Buddy Gaffey, Doyle Warner and I made it out all right. Warner and I were the most able-bodied of the four, so we set out to get chow. There were four hogs that had burned to death in camp. We cut off a hind leg, got some burned rice from the location of the store room, and got some sugar that was in the Jap’s store room. Then we got some leeks and some marble-sized potatoes and made a pretty good stew. We all ate our fill, and I can truthfully say that I have never tasted anything that tasted better in my life, as I was the fullest and felt most contented I had since becoming a prisoner of war. What we did not eat, we gave to the other sick and wounded men. The above statements will give you some idea of what happened on that miserable date. Also, the following sketch of the camp will show you what little protection we had.

Camp Sketch

July 15, 1945

Posted: July 15, 2015 in Uncategorized
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July 15 was a terrible day as none of our men came back from the works yesterday, and it and it [sic] was a long night, not knowing how many of our men had been killed and wounded. We spent the day cleaning up the camp from the shelling that occured [sic] the previous day. That afternoon, we men on the air raid detail were called to do another job. We were assigned the job of burning the bodies of the five men that were killed on the 14th. First we went down by the river that was on the south side of our camp to pick up drift wood and stacked it about two feet high, and then we found some tin that had been through the fire the day before. We put this on top of the wood, then we laid three of the bodies on this. We placed more wood and more tin, and then the other two bodies were put on top of this and more wood. We then poured oil over all of it, set the fire and burned the bodies. The Japs said this was for our health’s sake that they had us burn the bodies. It was not a pleasant task. After the bodies were completely burned, the Japs told us to get the ashes of the bodies, and they would bury them. I never did know whether they buried them or not, but it was another hard day in prison life.

July 7, 1945

Posted: July 7, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Our first air raid in this camp was on July 7, 1945, and they became more frequent as the days went by.

We did not know where we were going, but at 2 A.M. on May 14, we were unloaded in a place called Kamaishi, and were marched to our new camp called Sendai No. 1 (This is the place we were picked up after the war.)

When we arrived in camp those already there were mostly Dutch and Canadians. There was one blac kman [sic] from South America there too, and all had been fighting with the Dutch and the Javanese. Although we did not know any of these men, we soon got to know one another real well.

They could not believe the reason that we were there was that we were bombed out in Yokohama. They told us that [sic] had not had as much as an air raid alert. This was hard for us to believe, also.

A new camp and a new job! We went to work for the Sumatori Steel Co. This work was entirely different from the shipyard work. We had three different jobs here; some of the men were put to work in mines; others worked in the steel mill, and the detail I was in worked in the saw mill. The work here was much heavier that [sic] what I had been doing previously, but it was outside work.

 

On March 10, 1945, we were just getting to the shipyard for work when the sirens began to blow and they headed us toward what was supposed to be a shelter, but was only an open ditch. Never in my life had I seen as many planes as were in this raid. They were headed right for the shipyard, and it looked like we were going to be blasted off the face of this earth. The planes just kept coming. They seemed to use Fujiyama as a landmark for the take-off point for bombing. Every man in camp, including the guards who were in command, thought, “Man, this is it!” There was lots of anti-aircraft firing as our planes began to get closer. Aluminum foil was being dumped from the planes, and later I found out that this was done to foul up the Japanese radar and height finders. Just as we thought the end had come, they kicked left rudder and headed for Tokyo. I have no way of knowing how many planes were in this flight, but there were planes as far as the eye could see to the north and to the southwest. There were planes of all sizes, and it was not long after the first planes were past us that we could hear the heavy bombing that was taking place over Tokyo and fires started to burn. It was not long until the whole of Tokyo was ablaze.