Posts Tagged ‘Shinagow’

I shall always remember Shinagow Camp where eight men lived together in a room, and we slept on straw mats which were 2 1/2 x 5 1/2 feet in size. Canadians, Javanese, British, New Zealanders, Australians, Dutch and Americans strived to survive in this, the hardest camp of all for five months. So many unpleasant things happened that I will dwell no further on them.

Another time four flyers were brought into camp. We were never allowed to talk with them, so we don’t know whether they were from another camp or whether they had just been captured.

With a few exceptions, Shinagow Camp was much like all the other Camps we had been in. We had no work to go to each day which left us too much time to think. This was not good, and it affected us in more ways than one. We missed the men coming in from work and telling what had happened on the job that day. Also, we had no way of hearing any rumors as to how the war was going. In Camp D-1, we based our news on the rumors that came into camp. Our deductions were that a rumor that lasted for over a week was true news. Sometimes we heard that a ship was lost, or a battle was won or got a progress report on a bombing mission. If talk about those died down in a day or two, we knew it was merely a rumor, but if talk persisted, it was usually true. I don’t believe the United States ever made as many ships as the Japs sunk according to the rumors that we got while we were prisoners. It was [three unclear letters, maybe “not”] from the Japanese military that we learned the United States was losing the war, but the Japanese civilians gave us the news about the battles that were lost and the ships that were sunk by the U.S. forces. We could see for ourselves when the ships came in to be repaired that they had gone through a bombing or a sea battle, and we did lots of repair work in this shipyard. I really missed all the talk and activity in the Shinagow Camp.

It was in December that I got the surprise of my life when they brought a new man into camp. That man was Joe Gear whom we had left behind in Formosa due to his physical condit ion [sic]. It was certainly a day of rejoicing to get together again. Joe was still in real bad shape, as the diseases of prison life had really taken their toll with him. He was about ninety per cent blind and was unable to walk, but he was still alive. He now lives in Amarillo, Texas, and it is a real pleasure to visit him every time I travel through there. He still is not in good health, but he has improved immensely since he left Shinagow.

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.