Posts Tagged ‘colonel sato’

It is hard to try to explain the situation in Malinta Tunnel at this time, but I will try. I know that there will be many who will not believe the story that I am about to relate, but with God as my witness, it is all true.

I can never forget the condition of our men as Colonel Sato told us we were Prisoners of the Emperor of Japan. Looking around, I could see our men tired, hungry, thirsty; some were still bleeding from wounds that they had received out on Monkey Point, and others were dying from wounds that they had received. The bewildered look on everyone’s face seemed to say this just has not happened to me. This has got to be a dream; it is not real. But, it was not a dream, and it was Real. Just as Col. Sato passed within a few feet of me, my hand unconsciously went to my gas mask cover, from which I had thrown away the gas mask early in the morning, and filled it with hand grenades. To my surprise I found one grenade still in the case. My first thought was to pull the pin and to throw it into the Colonel’s face and kill him and as many other Japs as I could, but by this time, the whole Jap army seemed to be coming into the Tunnel from the east end. I knew that I could have killed him and maybe two or three more, but I also realized that if I had thrown it, every man in the Tunnel would have been killed. So instead of throwing the grenade as my first impulse was, my hand slipped to the buckle holding the gas mask cover, and I unfastened it and let it slide to the ground.

We were not too long in the Tunnel when they ordered us out into the entrance on the west end. Here we were made to sit down, and then it seemed that all of the Japanese air power had cut loose. The Jap soldiers were waving the Japanese flag and yelling “Bonzi,” which meant victory. We were forced to sit there and to watch them bomb and strafe gun positions on Topside and Middle Side that were still firing, because their communications had been cut, and they had not received the word that we had surrendered. This went on for at least one and one-half hours. We sat there and watched our own men blasted into eternity. In the meantime, the Japanese artillery had zeroed in on these places, and both Topside and Middle Side seemed as though they were going to disintegrate. Bombs are hell, but going through artillery fire is ten times worse than bombs.

We were then told to get back into the Tunnel, and there we spent much of the night. Still we had not had anything to eat nor anything to drink. During the night I managed to get out of Malinta Tunnel over into Queens Tunnel, which was the Navy part of the tunnel. It was here that I found some cans of figs, and that was what I ate. The air pumps in the Tunnel had been knocked out, and the water pumps had long been knocked out, but I was fortunate to find in one small record tunnel a can of water of which I drank my fill and filled my canteen. Then I told others about the water, and it was soon gone.

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.