Posts Tagged ‘Navy’

September 15, 1945. Yipee! The ships that came for us were in the harbor! The Fourth Division Marines are the ones who came and picked us up. Was I happy? I should say so. Who wouldn’t be after all these years of war and waiting? The officer in charge was Commander Simpson of the Navy. He said, “Men, you are the last ones for us to pick up, and we have been working hard, so get ready and let’s go aboard.” He didn’t have to tell us but once!

As we went aboard we were told to pull off all our clothes and throw them overboard. Then we went through a decontamination process – a spray mist of some form of medication. We then showered and were given a new issue of underwear, a new suit of khaki and a sailor hat.

We went through an interrogation process – were asked a lot of questions about prison life and were asked to write out statements in regard to the treatment of the prisoners in our camp. I did this and turned it over to the Navy Intelligence Officer. After boarding the U.U.S. [sic] Rescue, a Navy hospital ship, we had our first meal under Old Glory. It wasn’t a big meal, but consisted of honest to goodness good vegetable soupbread [sic] and butter and coffee and sugar. The bread tasted as good as cake, and I must have eaten at least a half pound of butter. It sure looked good to see FREE men and women, and when I speak of women, I refer to the nurses. They were white, wore clothes and had shoes on their feet. They also wore lipstick and rouge. The sicker men were kept aboard the Rescue ship, but I then went aboard the A.P.D. Wantuck, a Navy landing ship. We had supper and afterwards I saw the first movie I had seen in over three and one-half years. The title was “Stage Door Canteen,” and I enjoyed every minute of it.

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The next day, August 27, we had another visit from our Navy boys. By parachute they dropped cigarettes, magazines, newspapers, and two pilots dropped their emergency rations. Out of the fags that were dropped, each man received two packages of Chesterfields. Oh, but it was great to know that we would all be going home soon. It was a great day for all hands, but we were expecting a bigger day tomorrow.

Then on August 19, 1945, the Japanese turned over the command of the camp to our allied officers. We had roll call instead of tinko, and later in the day our camp was turned over to Captain Grady of the U.S. Army. Roll call was conducted by grouping the men in the different branches of service; Marines in one group; Navy in one and the Army in another. The British and the Dutch were lined up the same way, and the civilians were to themselves. I did spend one hour that day building fence around our compound.

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.