Posts Tagged ‘bataan’

On May 28, 1942, we were made ready to march to our new camp. The Jap in command told us that those of us who had canteens would be permitted to fill them with water, and that they, the Japs, would not carry any water for us. We had very little time to fill the canteens and to fall in columns of four to start the march to our new Camp. We did not know how far we were to march, but we did know that we would march without any rest. In May the sun is very hot there and the temperature got well over the hundred degree mark. We found out later that it was twenty kilometers (12 1/2 miles) to Camp No. 3. (After comparing notes with men that had been on the Death March to Camp O-Donald after the fall of Bataan, we went through a part of what they suffered.) I cannot give full details of this march because we were many in number, and from where I was in the line of march, I could not see all that went on. I do know that two of the men died on the March. Others drank their water too soon after we started, and some of them fell out of the line of march and drank water from buffalo wallows along the road. I did see men fall with weakness and sickness, only to be prodded on with the bayonets of the Japs. I have stated earlier that I was not one to drink much water, so my canteen saw me all the way, and I shared a little with one other man. The two men that died on the march were killed by the Japs, because they were too weak to get up. After seeing them beaten and stabbed with a bayonet, we made every effort to carry those that were too weak to walk. We passed by Camp No. 1. Our men in the Camp waved to us, but we were not allowed to talk. The same thing happened when we passed by Camp No. 2. Finally we arrived in Camp No. 3, where I stayed until September 17, 1942.

On arriving in the Camp, the first thing that the Japs had us do was to move out for inspection of the material things that we had brought with us this far. The next instance I am about to relate will always remain in my memory. I did not know any Japanese language, nor did the majority of the men there with me. Every order was given in Japanese and then interpreted into English by the Jap interpreter; most of us had a hard time understanding him, and he became very mad because we couldn’t. We were at open ranks and were told to place everything we had in front of us and then stand back while the Japanese soldiers inspected our belongings. The inspection lasted about one and one-half hours, and they were getting close to me. A Marine gunnery sergeant was in line, three men down from where I was standing. When the Jap guard bent down to inspect the sergeant’s items, the sergeant went berserk. He reached over and hit the Nip and told him to keep his dirty Jap hands off his things. We were all taken by surprise and momentarily stunned. The Japs came running to the aid of their fallen comrade, and all started at the sergeant with gun butts flying. This did not stop him, however, as he fought with the strength of twenty men, knocking Japs, guns and all every which way and kept yelling, “Come on you, Japs, I can whip you all.” Four other men and I tried to get hold of him, but he tossed us off like we were mice. We were afraid that the Japs would either shoot him or run a bayonet through him so we were trying to help him. It took us at least five minutes after the first on-rush to get him down on the ground and to keep the Japs from doing him harm. By this time the Jap interpreter came up and wanted to know what was going on. We told him that the man was sick and had gone mad. The sergeant died of convulsions while we held him. This was the first man I saw go berserk, but later in prison life, I saw others, and I don’t know of a more pathetic way to die. This was also my first death to witness in this camp, but by the time that I left this camp, I had seen hundreds die.

The sergeant who had just died was carried away and buried in a shallow grave that was dug my [sic] other prisoners in the back of the camp.

The rest of us were moved to the barracks that we lived in.

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This is the true story of my life while I was a Prisoner of the Japanese, and it dates back to the day in my life when Corregidor fell into the hands of the Japanese on May 6, 1942.

I was a Marine working as a regimental plumber (Pfc Specialist 4) in the Fourth Marine Regiment, stationed in Shanghai until November 27, 1941, when we were evacuated to the Philippine Islands. Our Service Company was abolished and we were the Demolition Squad until the time Bataan fell on April 9, 1942. We were then assigned to the Fourth Navy Battalion Reserves on Geary Trail, under the command of Major J. F. Williams. The Fourth Navy Battalion consisted of the Army, the Navy that had come on the Rock (Corregidor) after the fall of Bataan and four of us Marines from the Demolition Squad selected by Major Williams. The Marines were Sergeant Myes, Sergeant Downing, Sergeant McCormick [1], and myself, a corporal at that time. Each of us was assigned a company and our job was to teach the Navy how to fight in the brush.

We had only three weeks to train them, and I can say truthfully that Major Williams was a man to admire and to fight under. Sure we had it tough, but with his leadership, we shaped the Navy Battalion into a real fighting team.

Word came through at midnight, May 5, 1942 for the Fourth Navy Battalion to move out to Monkey Point as the Japanese had already formed a beach head, and we were to go and defend this part of the Island, and to drive the Japs back into the ocean.

I [sic] took us three hours to travel about one and one-half miles. We had to go through heavy artillery fire all the way. Our orders were to defend Water Tank Hill. The fighting was ferocious, and by the time the white flag of surrender was going out, my Battalion had suffered eighty per cent casualties. (We had been under constant bombardment and shell-fire since April 9, 1942.) It was about twelve noon on May 6 when we were told to throw down our arms, but we were to destroy all of the weapons that we could. This was done by throwing away the bolts in our rifles and bending the barrels of all fire arms that we could.

Our orders after that were to withdraw into Malinta Tunnel, and here it was that General Wainwright surrendered all the personnel which consisted of the 4th Marines, Army, Navy, and civilians that were on Corregidor (the Rock) at this time. This also included the surrender of Fort Frank, Fort Drum, and Fort Hughes.

It was near 4 P.M., May 6, 1942, when Colonel Sato of the Japanese Army came marching through the Tunnel and told us that the war was over and that we were prisoners of the Emperor of Japan. This is where I would like to start to tell you of Three Years, Four Months and Nine Days of Hell while I was a prisoner of the Japanese.