Posts Tagged ‘shanghai’

This is the third day, and as the sun is coming up over Manila Bay there is no doubt but what this is going to be another one of those hot, long days. We never knew from one day to the next what each day would hold for us.

At approximately 8:30 a.m. Sgt Downing came up to me and asked that I go with him. I asked, “What for?” He told me that I would help him and some of the other demolition squad dig out the booby traps that we had set for the defense of the Rock. When he asked me to go do this after all the bombs and shells had completely changed the terrain, I knew how dangerous it would be. I was not about to stick my neck out or get my head blown off for the Japs, so I told Downing to tell the Japs that he could not find me. To this day, I have not heard from any of the men that went on that detail.

Here I should like to recognize the twelve Marines in my Service Co., Maintenance Dept., with the Fourth Marine Regiment in Shanghai, China. In addition to Major Williams, a wonderful and great man in battle, others were Pfc. Don Wittke, Cpl. McCormack, Sgt. Blumpkie, Pfc. Rivers, Cpt. Downing, Cpl. “Frenchie” (cannot recall his name); Cpl. Winters, Sgt. Andrews, Sgt. Mize, two others whose names I cannot recall and myself.

On December 24, 1941, all military personnel with the exception of a Navy Chief, Major Williams and we twelve men in the demolition squad were evacuated from Olongapoo, P.I. We were left behind to demolish the submarine base there, and we completed the job on Dec. 26, 1941. From there we were sent to Corregidor, and came aboard the Rock on Dec. 28, 1941. Under the wonderful leadership of Major Williams, we twelve men had the job of setting personnel mines and booby traps until April 9, 1942, when Bataan fell. Immediately the 4th Navy Battalion Reserves were formed with Major Williams as commanding officer. He picked Downing, Mize, McCormick and me to be assigned in charge of a company of Navy boys to teach them brush warfare. Later some of the Navy men credited us with saving their lives from the training routines we taught them.

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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.