Posts Tagged ‘Lima Maru’

I did not like the camp commandants and did not take the trouble to learn their names, but in this camp we really had a sadist in command. Out of the three hundred men that left the Philippines, two hundred ninety-seven came to this camp. We were all enlisted men and the top rank were gunnery sergeants and Navy Chiefs. I do not know where the generals and colonels went, as I did not see them after they went aboard the Jap ship Lima Maru.

We were housed fifty men to a barracks and were assigned a living space of two and one-half feet by six feet. We each were given three bowls- one for rice, one for soup, and one for hot water. Each bowl had a star on the inside of it, about half an inch below the rim. Later in prison life, these stars became a device for more precise measurements for both the soup and rice.

This camp was our induction for later prison life. It was here that we were instructed to report each squad in the Jap language. It was not a question as to whether you wanted to learn the language or not; it was how fast you learned it, and the faster you learned, the fewer beatings you got.

Our barrack’s leader was a Navy Chief, J. Orr, who was in our group. We had reveille at 5:45 each morning, ate breakfast, cleaned up the dishes, and policed the grounds before we “fell out” for the working party. Our work was to build a dike along side a river that flowed about one mile from our camp. Each man was given an A Ho pole with two baskets that fit, one on either side of the pole, and these were loaded with rock which we carried and dumped wherever the Japs had us to unload them.

The next morning early, the boat began to lift anchor, and we were on our way.

It was now daylight as the Japs opened the hatch and said that it was time to eat breakfast, which was no different from any other meal. The food was lowered down on a rope attached to a large woven basket. We could never tell what time of day it was by the type of meals given us, as we ate the same food for every meal, and this same token held true throughout my entire prison life.

We still had no idea where we might be going. The rumors were running wild as to where we were headed. Some said Japan; others said we were heading for China, and others thought Korea. All of these rumors were wrong, as we landed in Tyeow, Taiwan. I had never heard it called by that name, as the island is better known as Formosa.

We were aboard the Lima Maru for sixteen days, traveling seven hundred miles. I have often wondered how we must have looked from the deck of the ship, as in my mind, we were a group of human beings, living like so many cattle or pigs shoved into and [sic] over-crowded space. I know there were three men who died on the trip, and their bodies were just pushed over the side of the boat into the ocean.