Posts Tagged ‘malinta tunnel’

In asshort [sic] time as hungry and tired as I was, I awoke. Where I had been lying was a pool of sweat and blood, and there seemed to be no air at all. I got up and milled around and found some clothes that were cleaner than mine, as I had been wearing them for four days. Right after I changed clothes, I found a bunk that did not have a mattress on it, so I “flaked” out, and again no sooner was I down Until I fell asleep. About an hour later I was awakened very abruptly by someone hitting me in the hips. I jumped up and here stood two Japs with bayonets fixed; one was hitting me with the butt of his rifle, and the other had his drawn back as though he were going to ram the bayonet through me. They both said something to me in Japanese. Their words I could not understand, but by their actions they meant for me to stand so they could search me, and had me put my hands behind my head and marched me toward the Torpedo Hatch. (This was the tunnel that the Navy used for putting war heads on their torpedoes.) I was about forty feet from this hatch. The two Japs had their bayonets to my back and forced me by prodding to move toward it. Just as we made the turn, I could see many other service men getting the same treatment that I was. Then I was forced down on my knees, and they took my shirt and all the things I had in my pockets. Then down the hatch about forty or fifty feet farther, I was forced to take off my trousers and skivvys. The only things that I now had on were my shoes and dog tags. They kept prodding me and other [sic] ahead of me on toward the entrance of the hatch, and just before I went outside, they took my shoes and socks, and there I stood as I came into this world, except that I still had my dog tags around my neck.

After we got outside, looking west along the road, I could see approximately five hundred other men just like myself. This all happened about four A.M.. Looking south from where I came out of the hatch, I could see a sheer drop of about seventy or eighty feet to the ocean below with many jagged rocks. It was at this time that I saw someone I knew, a Captain Moore of the Army who was in the company that I was in when we were called out to defend Water Tank Hill. As the day began to break in the east, we were standing there almost unbelievingly watching what was taking place before our own eyes. The Japs were tieing [sic] all men’s hands behind their backs and then sticking them with their bayonets. I saw a Jap reach up and grab hold of the ear of a Navy fellow, take his bayonet and cut the ear off even with his head. The faster they tied the men, the closer they were coming to Capt. Moore and me. I asked Capt. Moore what he thought they were then going to do, and he replied, “Wardlow, if you are thinking the same thing I am, I know that after they get us all tied up, they are going to run us over the cliff.[“] Both the Capt. and I agreed that if we were forced to go over the cliff, we would take as many Japs as we could with us. God seemed to be with us at this time, for just as the Japs were running out of rope to tie with, there was a lot of confusion as to what they were going to do next.

At this time a Japanese officer came upon us from the easton [sic] a road that had been cut out of Malinta Tunnel for trucks to travel. He yelled out something in Japanese, and all of the soldiers of the Japs stopped and stood looking at him. Several words were exchanged between them, and then what happened was almost unbelievable. The sergeant that was in charge came forward, and the officer stood him at attention and then started talking in a high-pitched voice. He then drew back his fist and knocked the sergeant to the ground. He stood him at attention twice more and repeated the same actions. I was amazed to see an officer treat one of his own this way. After this episode was over, the Jap officer told us that we could thank the Emperor for his coming by at this time. In a loud, clear English voice he explained that the sergeant had not got the word that we had surrendered, and that they being of the Emperor’s shock troops though they had really caught us all asleep, and they did not know what to do with us except to kill us all by running us over the cliff. Having narrowly escaped death, we were then told to go back into the Torpedo Hatch and get our clothes on, for we were being moved this day.

I was fortunate to find cleaner clothes than the ones that I had lost earlier that morning. I also found a pair of shoes that fit me. All of this happened by six a.m., and we were back in Queen’s Tunnel again. I then started looking for something to eat as food was becoming more scarce by the hour and water was harder to come by too. It must have been about 7:30 a.m. when we got word that we were moving out, but we didn’t know where. They started us toward Monkey Point, but stopped us at the 92nd Garage area. It was a short march, less than a mile, but Oh what a mile it was! This was on May 8, two days after the fight on Water Tank Hill. We had not buried our dead, nor had the Japs got around to burying theirs either. It was horrible to see the men that had been killed two days before, lying out there in the hot sun. They were so swollen and black, and it looked as if the button on their shirts would pop off. I well remember what I found to eat for breakfast that morning. It was a can of condensed sweet milk and a can of ox tongue. I have never eaten that combination since, but at that time, it surely did taste good.

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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.