Posts Tagged ‘ship’

Due to the lack of close supervision by the Japanese inspector, one group of men working on a detail riveting steel plates of ships together, did not buckle down one hole [sic] plate that was below water line. The Japs launched it in the afternoon, and when we got to work the next morning, the ship flooded and sank during the night. I did not see this, but one of the men on the detail told me about it, and said they really got hell for it.

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I don’t know why or how I was picked out of the rest of the prisoners, but I got a “break” while I was aboard this ship. The second day out to sea, the Japs let a few of us at a time come up on deck and get some fresh air. It was a real treat to get to breathe fresh air and to feel the breeze blow in your face. We were then told to go back below, and just as I started to climb down into the hole, a Jap came to me and motioned for me to come with him. It was the first time that I had had a Jap even think a good thing, let alone have one do something nice for me. I went with him to the galley of the ship, and he offered me a large cup of coffee. I was rather dubious of it and first refused to drink with him. He seemed to sense that I thought he might be trying to poison me, so he took the cup from my hand and poured about half of it in his cup. Then he drank and offered me again to drink with him. This time I did not refuse. The coffee was so sweet that it tasted like coffee syrup. My system was so run down from the lack of sugar and salt that it tasted like honey. By the time I had drunk two cups of this, I was really thirsty for some water, so he went into the galley and brought me a cup of ice water. This all happened within a period of about thirty minutes, and then using the best English that he could speak, he asked me if I would like to work in the galley. I did not hesitate to answer in the affirmative, as I had rather do most anything than go back into the hole of the ship.

The nice thing about this new job I had fallen into was that I could sleep part of the time on the deck of the ship. By working in the galley, after the second day aboard this ship, I can truthfully say I got more food to eat. Also, I enjoyed being on the deck of the ship so I could see what was going on.

On September 20, 1942, we were marched down to the dock off Dewey Boulevard and went aboard the Jap ship Lima Mar. In this group there were three hundred enlisted men, nineteen colonels, and three generals. It was while going aboard this ship that I met a sailor by the name of Joe B. Gear, who later became a good friend. The thing that attracted my attention to Joe was the fact that somehow he had managed to hold on to a mattress all this time, and also the remark that he made about the officers who had gone aboard before us. The officers had their orderlies, and there were sure some optimistic ones. The had enough baggage as if they were going first class, and I saw two bags of golf clubs going up the gang plank. Knowing the Japs, I doubt if those officers ever got to play any golf. On this ship there were also two thousand Japanese troops.

After we boarded the ship, we were all quartered in the bilge of the ship. We were below the water line, and, the air was so thick and musty that one could hardly breathe. In the area where we were quartered, the ship hole was made two tiers high with about four and one-half feet of head room between the top and the bottom. These were divided into twenty-five feet squares, and each of these squares housed twenty-five men. There were two small wattage light bulbs that gave off a faint glow in the hole. There were no toilet facilities and no place to get a drink. It was here in these conditions that I spent my first night, wondering where we were going and what would be the fate of all the other men and myself.