Posts Tagged ‘Onnatta Maru’

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.

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It was on May 23, 1942, that we finally left Corregidor, and none too soon. There were men dying every day that we were in the 92nd Garage Area from the heat, wounds, malaria, and other causes. On the 23rd of May we went aboard a Japanese ship, Onnatta Maru. I don’t know how they managed to get so many of us on one ship, but by the time we had quit coming aboard, we had standing room only. There was no food or water to be had and no sanitation. Neither was there any medicine available. We stayed aboard this ship over night, and the next morning, we weighed anchor and headed for Manila.

Corregidor Isle

I lived a while on Corregidor Isle,

Ah, that sun kissed, God cursed land

Where bomb and shell made life a hell

With death on every hand.

Then I got the thirst of the cussed

With no water to be had.

I heard men scream in that hellish dream

And watched my friends go mad.

It’s no man’s fault that water is salt

Or that the food is gone.

That guns are manned by men who are damned

To face death with every dawn.

Some hold their breath and await the death

That comes with bursting shell.

As bombers mourn, some think of home,

Or what they will do in hell.

When our bones blend with the stones,

You’ll hear the parrots cry,

“The men who owned those splintered bones

Were not afraid to die.”

Author Unknown