Posts Tagged ‘bayonets’

July 12, 1945

Posted: July 12, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Our work detail changed some after we completed the water detail on July 12. The Jap guards called on us to unload a wagon load of rice that had come in for the Jap guards who were over us in this camp. We were to put it in a storeroom. A black man called Joe was on the same detail in camp with me. He was about six feet two inches tall and had a physique about like Joe Louis. I was accustomed to the balck [sic] men in the United States, so Joe’s British accent was very noticeable to me. The sacks that we were unloading were in sixty kilo bags and that was al ot [sic] of weight for me to pick up and carry, as the bags weighed more that [sic] I did. Joe handled them with ease, so he brought the sacks to me, and I was stacking them in the store room. As he handed it to me, I let it slip, and Joe jumped to catch it. In his fast movement, he accidentally hit a Jap guard that was standing in the doorway. The Jap hit him with the butt of his rifle and accused him of hitting him on purpose. Joe grabbed the rifle from the Jap, and by this time three more Japs came up and had Joe penned against the store room with their bayonets. They really worked him over, and then they took him off to the cage, which was a small room that was about five and one-half foot tall, and three feet by four feet wide. The Japs would not let anyone see him ,for he had committed the unpardonable sin when the Japs said he hit a guard. This caused quite a stir when the other work parties came in that afternoon from their duties. This was the first time anyone had been put in the cage since we arrived in this camp.

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Returning to the 92nd Garage area, four or five days after the surrender, I was again called upon by the Japs to work on a detail that was loading supplies and materials on board a Jap ship that was docked at the south dock. We were carrying Portland cement from Queen’s Tunnel, which was about half a mile. There was a large detail doing the loading. The Japs did give us some water and going in and out of the tunnel, we could manage to sneak a bite of food now and then. It was about mid-afternoon when on our way to the ship, each with a sack of cement, that I said to the four men closest to me, “Let’s take five.” (meaning a short break or rest). [sic] When I spoke, I did not see any Jap guards, but we had rested no more than three or four minutes when two Japs charged us with their fixed bayonets and marched us on down the road toward the ship that we had been loading. Here we had to pass by an old rock quarry; there was but one way in and out of this hole, and the walls must have been about fifteen or twenty feet straight up and down. The Japs forced us to go into this hole. After getting to the bottom of it, they made us move to the south edge of this hole. Not until this time did I know that there were three other Japs on the opposite rim of the hole. When one of the guards yelled something, we looked up and saw three Japs sitting behind a machine gun. The two that brought us down, and the three that were on the rim talked back and forth for a minute or so, and then one of the Japs brought over some rope. Before tying our hands behind our backs, they gave us a drink of water and offered us a cigarette. We each drank the water, but refused the cigarett. [sic] Then they tied our hands. Realizing that we were about to be shot down in cold blood, I again whispered a prayer. There was a loud shout and the guards with us moved back. The Japs on the rim cleared the machine gun, traversed it from left to right and aimed it in the pit at us. They seemed to be toying with us as a cat toys with a mouse. Then it finally happened: a loud command, and the machine gun began to fire. They fired about four or five feet over our heads. The three on the rim cleared their gun again, pushed down on the butt of the gun and laughed as though it was a big joke. The two guards in the hole with us then cut our hands loose, and told us to go back to work. I was not only scared that I would die in that hole, but believe that I came as near death that time as at any time while I was in prison.

Until the day that we left Corregidor, I had any number of minor experiences, but not any more like the two that I have stated above. I had a real bad wound now. I had been grazed by gun fire on the defending of Water Tank Hill, and the wound had not seemed much at the time, but infection had set in and my leg was beginning to look swollen and black and blue. I managed to get hold of two sulfa tablets and mashed them up and put them on my leg. This helped, but my leg continued to give me a lot of pain. It was not healed until some time later in Camp No. 3 in Cabanatuan.

In asshort [sic] time as hungry and tired as I was, I awoke. Where I had been lying was a pool of sweat and blood, and there seemed to be no air at all. I got up and milled around and found some clothes that were cleaner than mine, as I had been wearing them for four days. Right after I changed clothes, I found a bunk that did not have a mattress on it, so I “flaked” out, and again no sooner was I down Until I fell asleep. About an hour later I was awakened very abruptly by someone hitting me in the hips. I jumped up and here stood two Japs with bayonets fixed; one was hitting me with the butt of his rifle, and the other had his drawn back as though he were going to ram the bayonet through me. They both said something to me in Japanese. Their words I could not understand, but by their actions they meant for me to stand so they could search me, and had me put my hands behind my head and marched me toward the Torpedo Hatch. (This was the tunnel that the Navy used for putting war heads on their torpedoes.) I was about forty feet from this hatch. The two Japs had their bayonets to my back and forced me by prodding to move toward it. Just as we made the turn, I could see many other service men getting the same treatment that I was. Then I was forced down on my knees, and they took my shirt and all the things I had in my pockets. Then down the hatch about forty or fifty feet farther, I was forced to take off my trousers and skivvys. The only things that I now had on were my shoes and dog tags. They kept prodding me and other [sic] ahead of me on toward the entrance of the hatch, and just before I went outside, they took my shoes and socks, and there I stood as I came into this world, except that I still had my dog tags around my neck.

After we got outside, looking west along the road, I could see approximately five hundred other men just like myself. This all happened about four A.M.. Looking south from where I came out of the hatch, I could see a sheer drop of about seventy or eighty feet to the ocean below with many jagged rocks. It was at this time that I saw someone I knew, a Captain Moore of the Army who was in the company that I was in when we were called out to defend Water Tank Hill. As the day began to break in the east, we were standing there almost unbelievingly watching what was taking place before our own eyes. The Japs were tieing [sic] all men’s hands behind their backs and then sticking them with their bayonets. I saw a Jap reach up and grab hold of the ear of a Navy fellow, take his bayonet and cut the ear off even with his head. The faster they tied the men, the closer they were coming to Capt. Moore and me. I asked Capt. Moore what he thought they were then going to do, and he replied, “Wardlow, if you are thinking the same thing I am, I know that after they get us all tied up, they are going to run us over the cliff.[“] Both the Capt. and I agreed that if we were forced to go over the cliff, we would take as many Japs as we could with us. God seemed to be with us at this time, for just as the Japs were running out of rope to tie with, there was a lot of confusion as to what they were going to do next.

At this time a Japanese officer came upon us from the easton [sic] a road that had been cut out of Malinta Tunnel for trucks to travel. He yelled out something in Japanese, and all of the soldiers of the Japs stopped and stood looking at him. Several words were exchanged between them, and then what happened was almost unbelievable. The sergeant that was in charge came forward, and the officer stood him at attention and then started talking in a high-pitched voice. He then drew back his fist and knocked the sergeant to the ground. He stood him at attention twice more and repeated the same actions. I was amazed to see an officer treat one of his own this way. After this episode was over, the Jap officer told us that we could thank the Emperor for his coming by at this time. In a loud, clear English voice he explained that the sergeant had not got the word that we had surrendered, and that they being of the Emperor’s shock troops though they had really caught us all asleep, and they did not know what to do with us except to kill us all by running us over the cliff. Having narrowly escaped death, we were then told to go back into the Torpedo Hatch and get our clothes on, for we were being moved this day.

I was fortunate to find cleaner clothes than the ones that I had lost earlier that morning. I also found a pair of shoes that fit me. All of this happened by six a.m., and we were back in Queen’s Tunnel again. I then started looking for something to eat as food was becoming more scarce by the hour and water was harder to come by too. It must have been about 7:30 a.m. when we got word that we were moving out, but we didn’t know where. They started us toward Monkey Point, but stopped us at the 92nd Garage area. It was a short march, less than a mile, but Oh what a mile it was! This was on May 8, two days after the fight on Water Tank Hill. We had not buried our dead, nor had the Japs got around to burying theirs either. It was horrible to see the men that had been killed two days before, lying out there in the hot sun. They were so swollen and black, and it looked as if the button on their shirts would pop off. I well remember what I found to eat for breakfast that morning. It was a can of condensed sweet milk and a can of ox tongue. I have never eaten that combination since, but at that time, it surely did taste good.