Posts Tagged ‘Camp D-1’

August 6, 1945

Posted: August 6, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Things really happened fast, and between the air raid alerts and the jobs we were assigned to do, time passed rapidly. The first B-29 planes passed over our camp on August 6, but no bombs were dropped. Each day our food rations were getting to be less.

Still there was no doctor in camp, but Lieutenant Baxter of the Royal Engineers was still doing a wonderful job of taking care of the sick and wounded men. He still had to work under the same handicaps that he had been under since I first met him in Camp D-1.

We began to receive more Red Cross food and comfort kits after December 1944. This is to acknowledge the International Red Cross and to thank them for the food and comfort kits we received while in prison camps. We did not get all of the items intended for us, as the Japs had removed some items from nearly every one before they reached us. We received comfort kits on Dec. 27, 1942; April 1943; June 16, 1943; December 1943; February 12, 1944; May 3, 1944, and May 12, 1944. In October 1944 we received some clothes, and on Dec. 9, 1944 we got a Red Cross food parcel. Then on December 23, 1944, each man received a full parcel which was about the size of a man’s shoe box. Each man got another food parcel in February 1945, then on March 10, 1945, we got half a food parcel. On April 3, 1945 another half parcel, and on April 5 the remaining part of that parcel was given us. These were the last Red Cross food parcels we received while we were in Camp D-1. I can truly say that camp morals [sic] went up about a thousand per cent on the days that food parcels were passed out, as food was still our biggest concern. I’ve jumped ahead in my story, but I did want to list all of the Red Cross help that we received while in Camp D-1.

On January 12, 1944, I was sent back to Camp D-1, and it was good to be with the men I had fought with in the war. Through mutual suffering, we had so much in common. I was much weaker when I returned to camp and had lost about ten pounds making my weight ninety-eight.

I was turned into the Camp Hospital, if you could call it one, and there a Lieut. Baxter of the Royal Engineers of Australia treated me, and I credit him with saving my life. He was the only man in camp that had had any pre-med training, so the Japanese made him our Camp Doctor. I was said to have wet pleurisy. Lt. Baxter said that he would have to get some of the water off my lungs or I would die. I told him to go ahead and remove it if he could. As we had no kind of local anesthetic, it was very [sic] painful procedure. He pulled a syringe from his bag and boiled it to make it sterile. It was a two-way suction type. He stuck it in between two ribs in my back and started working it back and forth, pumping out the fluid. Another patient helped him while they drew out one and one-half canteen cups full of the greenest, foulest fluid I have seen. I nearly passed out during the process. This was done the third day that I was back in Camp D-1. I began to get better, but was in the hospital for eleven days after that. I put my faith in God and my fellow man, and it pulled me through.

Another time four flyers were brought into camp. We were never allowed to talk with them, so we don’t know whether they were from another camp or whether they had just been captured.

With a few exceptions, Shinagow Camp was much like all the other Camps we had been in. We had no work to go to each day which left us too much time to think. This was not good, and it affected us in more ways than one. We missed the men coming in from work and telling what had happened on the job that day. Also, we had no way of hearing any rumors as to how the war was going. In Camp D-1, we based our news on the rumors that came into camp. Our deductions were that a rumor that lasted for over a week was true news. Sometimes we heard that a ship was lost, or a battle was won or got a progress report on a bombing mission. If talk about those died down in a day or two, we knew it was merely a rumor, but if talk persisted, it was usually true. I don’t believe the United States ever made as many ships as the Japs sunk according to the rumors that we got while we were prisoners. It was [three unclear letters, maybe “not”] from the Japanese military that we learned the United States was losing the war, but the Japanese civilians gave us the news about the battles that were lost and the ships that were sunk by the U.S. forces. We could see for ourselves when the ships came in to be repaired that they had gone through a bombing or a sea battle, and we did lots of repair work in this shipyard. I really missed all the talk and activity in the Shinagow Camp.

I have told of only a few of the many things that happened in Camp D-1. There was so much suffering from sickness and diseases. The most common disease was beri-beri. There were two kinds of it, the wet beri-beri and the dry Bberi-beri [sic]. Of the two, the dry was the hardest on the men and some died from it. The difference was that in the wet beri-beri the bones became soft, and when one pressed on the shin bone, the impression would last for hours before it came back to normal. One always had a “washed out” feeling like the sooner you died, the better off you would be. This was the kind that I had. Dry beri-beri had lots of pain and burning to go with it. There were many nights in the winter that men would go to bed with their feet in small wooden tubs filled with cold water, and in no time at all the water would be hot. A number of men had this type disease, and it was nothing unusual for them to find that a toe had dropped off during the night. There was one man in my squad who lost three of his toes in this manner. The little toe would drop off first, and then the other smaller toes would follow in order.

Early in 1944 a Marine by the name of Robinson whose number was 986 was having trouble with his urinal tract. He just could not pass water, and there were no catheters in camp. This man died a horrible death as each hour you could see his stomach swelling larger and larger, until he finally burst and then died.

Every prisoner learned the art of trading one thing for another due to the fact that we had no money, with very few exceptions, and those who did have could not spend it. Cigarettes were money in camp, as one could trade them for just about anything in camp. When we first arrived in camp, one could buy or trade fifteen cigarettes for one ration of rice. By the time we left Camp D-1, one could get a ration of rice for two or three cigarettes. There were three prices on just about everything that one bought or traded for. First was the price in camp; then a second price in the shipyard, and then the high price occurred when one took something out of the camp and traded for an item in the shipyard, and then brought it back into camp. The reason for this was that one ran the risk of losing it when he left camp, for we never knew when we would have a “shake down,” and if the Japs found it, they took it away from you, and you got slapped around for trying to get something out of camp. If you got caught trading in the shipyard with the civilians, you not only lost what you were trying to trade, but you got punished by the guard more severely than in Camp. Then the third chance was when we came back to camp. The price then increased about five times, as each time one ran the chance of losing everything that he had invested, plus the severe punishment that the Japs “dished out.”