Posts Tagged ‘Philippines’

We arrived in Yokahoma Bay at 7:30 a.m. on September 17, 1945, and We [sic] left the Wantuck and went aboard the U.S. Hyde. This ship is the receiving ship for all prisoners of war. I had no idea how long I would be there, but I met quite a number of old buddies that I hadn’t seen since I left the Philippines.

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The war really picked up tempo, and on July 14 from 11:40 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. we were under fire from the sea. We were told that it was Task Force 58. Five of our men were killed in this raid, – four Dutch men and one Marine we had nicknamed Sparks, who was our radio man in the Philippines. As far as I could see, the American fleet suffered no damage, but they sure did plenty in our camp and in the steel mill. Also, the gasoline refinery and the town suffered lots of damage. One big shell hit in our camp and some smaller caliber. Later in the afternoon the industrial area was bombed and strafed, and many of our men were wounded that day.

On the morning of November 13, 1942, we were moved from this camp. Of the original 300 men that left the Philippines, 288 marched back to Tichue [sic]. Three men died on the ship coming over; three died in this camp, and we left six men behind who were too sick to be moved including my good friend Joe Gear. It was heart breaking to leave these men who were so sick they could hardly hold their heads up and were so thin that one could count just about every bone in their bodies. I was certain that I would never see Joe again, but God surely took care of his [sic], as nearly two years later he turned up in Shinagow. How happy I was to see him!

Our train ride back to Ticow was like the one that we had coming to this camp; we were all crowded again into the real small train cars. Upon our arrival this time, there was an exception to the former treatment, as the Japs did not parade us up and down the streets.

It took us only ten to fifteen minutes to go from the train to the dock where we boarded a troop ship, the Dinitchie Maru. It must have had at least two thousand troops on it, but here again we were sent back into the hole of the ship to make our ride again to an unknown destination. We were aboard this hell ship for thirteen days with living conditions like they were on the ship that brought us to Formosa.

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.

Then on the morning of October 5, we went ashore, and the Japs paraded us up one street and down another for at least two hours, showing us off or humiliating us before the people of Taiwan. The streets were crowded with on-lookers, and the Dragons were out in all of their brightest colors. We weren’t sure what the bright colored, large signs said as they were printed in either Japanese or Chinese, but we felt sure they meant that the Japs were the superior race; we were the prisoners, and they were the conquerors.

After parading us through the city, they marched us off to a small train which we boarded and were taken to Tychu, which was about twelve to fifteen miles from Tycow.

This train ride was different from the one that we had made in the Philippines. The size of these cars was comparable to the ones used in mines in the United States. The tracks were only about two feet apart, and fifteen men were put in each car. We were so crowded that we rode the entire distance standing with scarcely room to bend our knees. With a shrill scream from the small engine whistle, we were off again to we knew not where.

Finally we reached our destination; unloaded from the train and had about a two mile walk to our new camp. Our guards were changed at the station. These guards were mere boys, appearing to be sixteen or seventeen years old. We thought that perhaps these kids would be real easy to get along with, but we found out in short order that they were as tough as the seasoned veterans that had seen combat. The only difference between them and the guards we had had in the past, was that they seemed to be “bucking” for promotion.

It was some time in the afternoon when we arrived in the new camp and it was really hot. Here again we were required to lay out all of our personal belongings. As an example of how extreme the heat was, after being in the sun for a couple of hours, the rubber melted in a good shaving brush I had. The badger bristles were set in rubber. The rubber melted, and the bristles all shifted to one side, but I continued to use this brush until we were burned out in the last Prison camp that I was in.

With the exception of being only one tier high, the barracks we were billeted in were of the same type we lived in when we were in Cabanatuan. Our sleeping space was about two feet off the ground, and we still had bamboo slats to sleep on. There were six barracks, a cook house, and a latrine in this camp.

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Lacking eight days, I was in Camp No. 3 for four months. I have no way of knowing how many P.O.W.’s died of either starvation or of disease, but to my knowledge, the only four men shot were the ones I mentioned earlier. This does not mean that the Japs let up on us. Someone was always getting beat up for no good reason at all. The Japs told us that we would never win the war, and that they were willing to fight a ten year war. We had no news in camp except rumors, but according to the Japs’ story, they must have sunk our total fleet five or six times while I was in this camp.

Forgotten Men

In a camp of nipa barracks,
Lost deep in the Philippines,
Are a bunch of forgotten warriors
With nothing left but dreams.

We’re fighting a greater battle now
Than the battle that we fought and lost.
It’s a battle against the elements;
A battle with life that cost.

But not it’s not how much you know,
Or how quick you hit the ditch.
It’s not the rank that you once held,
Or whether or not you’re rich.

No one cares who you know back home,
Or what kind of life you led.
It’s just how long you can stick it out
That governs your lot instead.

This battle we’re fighting at present
Is a battle against flies and diseases.
And with decent living conditions,
We’d win this fight with ease.

It’s rice for breakfast, noon and night,
And rain most every day.
Then sleep on bamboo slats at night,
With no better place to lay.

We eat from most any old tin can
We’re lucky enough to get.
And the medical supplies we ought to have,
We haven’t seen as yet.

Yes, we’re the forgotten men of Corregidor,
Fighting the greatest battle yet.
Struggling for bare existence,
Through hunger and sickness and sweat.

Those of us who do come through,
Perhaps we can prove our worth
When we tell the strangest tale yet told
Of a veritable Hell on earth.

(Written by a fellow prisoner)

On June 10 four prisoners of war were caught trying to escape. There was much talk of different ones laying their plans for escape and were about to try for a break. I was one of these groups of men that had already had our map and compass and all details worked out as to how we would get out of the Philippines and escape by the way of Borneo.

As there were over five thousand men in this camp, I did not know the ones who were caught trying to escape, but I can relate what happened to them. The Jap commandant stripped them down to a gee string and tied their hands behind their backs and placed a sign around their necks which read “We have tried to escape, and for this we must die.” The Japs paraded them all through the camp and made us fall out and see them as they marched them by, with Japs prodding them along with their bayonets. This went on for about two hours, then the men were tied to stakes that were driven into the ground with their hands and feet tied behind, and the stakes between their bodies and where they were tied.