Posts Tagged ‘Cabanatuan’

Then on the morning of October 5, we went ashore, and the Japs paraded us up one street and down another for at least two hours, showing us off or humiliating us before the people of Taiwan. The streets were crowded with on-lookers, and the Dragons were out in all of their brightest colors. We weren’t sure what the bright colored, large signs said as they were printed in either Japanese or Chinese, but we felt sure they meant that the Japs were the superior race; we were the prisoners, and they were the conquerors.

After parading us through the city, they marched us off to a small train which we boarded and were taken to Tychu, which was about twelve to fifteen miles from Tycow.

This train ride was different from the one that we had made in the Philippines. The size of these cars was comparable to the ones used in mines in the United States. The tracks were only about two feet apart, and fifteen men were put in each car. We were so crowded that we rode the entire distance standing with scarcely room to bend our knees. With a shrill scream from the small engine whistle, we were off again to we knew not where.

Finally we reached our destination; unloaded from the train and had about a two mile walk to our new camp. Our guards were changed at the station. These guards were mere boys, appearing to be sixteen or seventeen years old. We thought that perhaps these kids would be real easy to get along with, but we found out in short order that they were as tough as the seasoned veterans that had seen combat. The only difference between them and the guards we had had in the past, was that they seemed to be “bucking” for promotion.

It was some time in the afternoon when we arrived in the new camp and it was really hot. Here again we were required to lay out all of our personal belongings. As an example of how extreme the heat was, after being in the sun for a couple of hours, the rubber melted in a good shaving brush I had. The badger bristles were set in rubber. The rubber melted, and the bristles all shifted to one side, but I continued to use this brush until we were burned out in the last Prison camp that I was in.

With the exception of being only one tier high, the barracks we were billeted in were of the same type we lived in when we were in Cabanatuan. Our sleeping space was about two feet off the ground, and we still had bamboo slats to sleep on. There were six barracks, a cook house, and a latrine in this camp.

Advertisements

On September 17, 1942, I was in the first draft of three hundred prisoners of war to leave the camp to go as a working party to do labor for the Japanese. We were loaded into trucks and hauled back to Cabanatuan. From there we rode the same way back to Bilibid prison. We were in Bilibid for only two nights, but things had not changed except it was more dirty and the rations were still rice and onion soup.

[2]

Every one who was in camp will remember the next fellow whose name I shall not mention. He was one of the biggest operators in camp by bribe or other means. He always managed to get on the supply detail that went into Cabanatuan and always came back as if he had been to the super market, and he had drugs. The bad thing was that he sold these products at such a high price, when there were men dying whose lives he could have saved if he had given them some of the food and medicine that he had. This man had a black chow dog who ate better than any one in camp. If a person didn’t have the price to pay for the food, he would give it to his dog.

On May 27, 1942, we were marched out of Bilibid, own [sic] to the railroad track, and there we were put into box cars as if we were cattle. The railroad cars were about one-third the size of the box cars here in the U.S. One hundred of us were forced into one car, and then Jap guards were put on top of the cars. We started our trip by rail which took us to Cabanatuan. We stopped many times on this trip, but we were not allowed to get out of the box car, and we had to stand all the way as there was not room to even sit or lie down.

We arrived in Cabanatuan just before the sun went down. They moved us to a small park that was in the center of this small town. Still there was no food for the masses, but a kind old Phillippino woman did give five of us a bucket of mangos and some bananas which we divided and ate.

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.