Posts Tagged ‘Japs’

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.


If we saw any place that we could slow up production, we did. Some of us were caught and punished, but not too many of us were punished as severely as a Marine buddy of mine by the name of R. Sparks. He said that he was not responsible for it, but the Japs blamed him and he paid for it the hard way. This incident happened in 1944 also, as things were getting scarce as I have already mentioned. Sparks was in the electrician gang, and they were doing the wiring of ships and other things around the shipyard. They and their Honjo went to get a piece of cable which I understood was one inch in diameter, and it was the main control cable for the ship for communications and signaling and warning devices. The sad part about this was that the cable had to be in one continuous length. Sparks was told to cut the cable into [sic], and he did. When they took the cable to fit it into place, the cable was five feet short. Whether Sparks cut it short on purpose or whether it was the Honjos mistake and he blamed it on Sparks, I don’t know. But when Sparks was brought back into camp, he had been beaten so badly that his whole head looked like a piece of ground hamburger. Then they put him in the brig, which was a small jail not tall enough to stand in, and not long enough to lie down in. He not only spent time in this jail, but he was cut off of water and food, and then was forced to work. This was when the temperature was quite cool at nights, so they did allow him one blanket.

The thing that upset the Japs so badly was that there was not enough cable left to make the hook up, and this delayed them for a few days, because they had to get the wire from some other place. Both in camp and out of camp, we never knew what would provoke the Japs to beat up an individual or take a whole squad of men out and punish them.

May 18, 1943

Posted: May 18, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Another way we sabotaged the Japs was by doing such things as stumbling when we were pouring water on large pipes that had to be beat. It would take one or two hours to get the pipe heated just right for bending, depending on the size of the pipe. When we stumbled the water splashed, cooling the pipe down to where it had to be put back in the furnace. We bent everything up to three inches by hand, and this was where we really caused a lot of extra work for the Japs. When we looked just a little, we would yank hard and that would be just a little too much, so back into the furnace the pipe would have to go. Another part of our job on the bending table was to fill the pipes with sand and gravel so that the pipes would not collapse as they were bent. Here we could do just a little sabotaging by not tamping the gravel and leaving air pockets. This was accomplished by slipping rags or paper into the pipe and putting the gravel on top. When the pipe was heated, it destroyed the paper or rag, whichever the case was, and the pipe would bend flat. It took a long time to heat and pound a flat pipe back into the round pipe it was in the beginning.

I was put to work on a bending table which was a square of heavy iron, measuring approximately twenty feet square and one foot thick with holes that were spaced six inches apart. To make a bend, one would use heavy steel pins that were placed in the holes at the desired place. These four tables had four winches that were used. On the cat head of each of these was a large rope used to help bend large pipe. We bent pipe varying in sizes from one-half inch to fifteen inches. Each group of workers had their own unique way of sabotaging the Japs. When we first went to work, all four of these winches were in working order; when we left Mitsubishi shipyard, only two of them worked. Our sabotaging was so slow that they could not say we were responsible. One a week someone in the pipe shop, and usually one who was working on the bending table would gather up a small amount of emery dust that he had picked up at the grinding wheels and deposit it into the oil cup that oiled the large electric motors that ran the winch or cat head. He also put a small amount into the gear box. After a few treatments like this, the old thing just up and quit working, and by 1944 the Japs were finding it difficult to get needed items. The reason we knew this was that on our way to and from work, we could see that they were salvaging all the iron metal they could. We noticed their taking stirrups out of telephone poles and removing all metal that they could from bridges and other places on our route of travel.

When I was working in the Pipe Bending shop, it was a lot harder to find food or get anything that we could trade than it was when we were hauling pipe. There were usually from one to three guards in the huge building. There were four bonding tables on the west side. When we first went to work in this shop, they wanted me to become a welder. I had done a little of this kind of work and thought it might be a little lighter work than another type of job. As soon as I found out that they didn’t provide us with any goggles, I became very dumb and could not even cut a straightline [sic]. I purposely fouled up as much as I dared, so the Japs decided I would never be a welder and gave up on me. I was well pleased with my flunking the course, because I witnessed some of the ill effects of the welding without colored goggles. We called them Dinkie eyes that were burned by the torch or getting a flash from an arc welder. Some of our men almost went blind from exposure to the welding process.

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.”

The Onnatta Maru lifted anchor about 6:30 a.m. on May 24, 1942, and it took us about four hours to travel from the south dock of Corregidor to the “Jumping Off” place. We were then unloaded into landing barges of the Japs and taken to Paranaque Beach. There we were made to jump off the barge into the water with whatever belonging that we had been able to salvage from the Rock. I well remember when I jumped off into the water with my bundle of material things on my head. When I first hit the water, I went completely under with bundle and all. When I came up, I found that by standing on my tip toes, that the water was up to my chin. The bundle was quite heavy, but I hung on and made it to the beach and on up to Dew Boulevard.

We then were reassembled in groups of one hundred men and in columns of four, with Jap guards flanking us on either side. I do not know the distance from where we started to Old Bilibid Prison, but it was between two and three miles. (It seemed a lot farther than it actually was.)

We were a sad looking sight as I remember it. Each man was trying to carry his few personal belongings. All were wet, and the rags used for bandages on wounds were dripping with water and blood. Many wounds had not healed, and others had re-opened and blood was oozing from the wounds. Some men were barely able to move under their own power, and others were being helped by their buddies. The Japs were ever present with their fixed bayonets, jabbing and prodding us along.

I do not know how we looked to the Philippinos on this Sunday morning, but we could see that in us and in the fall of the Rock that their last defense had failed, and that they were at the mercy of the Japanese, the same as we were. The Philippinos showed their sorrow in their faces and would come out and offer us a bit of food and give us the old Victory sign.

I do not know whether any drowned coming ashore, but just before we got to Bilibid Prison, one of the officers died, and many passed out and had to be carried the rest of the way.

After our arrival in Bilibid, we were set off in different groups and then we got our first cooked food. It was a rice gruel; mostly water with just enough rice to make a paste. Then to top it off, we had leek soup, which was mostly water, but it did have an onion or leek flavor. My stay in Bilibid lasted only three days. Here I was fortunate enough to acquire some sulfa tablets for five pesos per tablet. I believe that these tablets saved my right leg as the wound on that leg had become badly infested. Our stay in Bilibid was short, but I was tired and hungry and in favor of moving to another place, hoping to get away from the sick and wounded and finding a place that had some food. This was not the case, however, as conditions got worse.

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.