Posts Tagged ‘shipyard’

April 17, 1945

Posted: April 17, 2015 in Uncategorized
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The next morning we were told that we would not be going to work for Mitsubichi [sic] shipyard, and we never went back after that. I have no way of knowing how much damage was done, but looking in the direction from our camp toward the shipyard, we saw huge fires burning.

Now that the shipyard was knocked out, we did not know what the Japanese would have us do. We stayed in camp just one day, and then they loaded us on trucks. Again, none of us knew where we were going, but our ride lasted about an hour. Then they unloaded us on a real swanky looking golf course. We were each given a tool to work with, and we started to strip the sod from the fairways. We cut it in strips two feet wide and then rolled it up on a “ho” pole. Then we took the sod and covered over many ammunition dumps. We worked on this golf course until May 8, 1945.

My P.O.W. friends and I found this job to be quite an outing, as we had not seen or walked on the good earth for almost two and one-half years. We had a good time eating wild dandelions that tasted as good as lettuce to us.

On March 10, 1945, we were just getting to the shipyard for work when the sirens began to blow and they headed us toward what was supposed to be a shelter, but was only an open ditch. Never in my life had I seen as many planes as were in this raid. They were headed right for the shipyard, and it looked like we were going to be blasted off the face of this earth. The planes just kept coming. They seemed to use Fujiyama as a landmark for the take-off point for bombing. Every man in camp, including the guards who were in command, thought, “Man, this is it!” There was lots of anti-aircraft firing as our planes began to get closer. Aluminum foil was being dumped from the planes, and later I found out that this was done to foul up the Japanese radar and height finders. Just as we thought the end had come, they kicked left rudder and headed for Tokyo. I have no way of knowing how many planes were in this flight, but there were planes as far as the eye could see to the north and to the southwest. There were planes of all sizes, and it was not long after the first planes were past us that we could hear the heavy bombing that was taking place over Tokyo and fires started to burn. It was not long until the whole of Tokyo was ablaze.

February, 1945

Posted: February 25, 2015 in Uncategorized
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In February there were only twenty-five raids. Between working at the shipyard and our time in camp, it kept us on the move.

February 12, 1944

Posted: February 12, 2014 in Uncategorized
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On February 12, 1944, I went back to work in the shipyard. Time went by much faster when one was working. I was back in the swing of things again – trading and hitting the swill boxes again, getting what extra food that I could find. I began to feel better and to gain some weight.

Still our biggest concern was the lack of food. What food we got here was horrible. I found better food in the swill boxes in the shipyard than they gave us. Still we went through the motion of eating three times a day. The total amount of food we received in one day’s time was the equivalent of three barley or rice balls the size of a tennis ball, and the soup was flavored with egg plant. The condition that it came to us in was the worst part. There were two days that I just could not eat what they brought, and there were several other men justlike [sic] me. The food was rotten. In one ration, I counted fifteen rat droppings. After two days of not eating, I decided if I was going to survive, I would have to eat it. So by separating the rat droppings from the grain, I then ate the grain. We just called the bugs and worms that were in the grain extra protein, but the rat droppings I could not eat.

My buddy, Charlie Sweatman and I became well known in camp for being the spice traders. There was one Japanese civilian in the shipyard who befriended us “stuck his neck out” for us. We would find out what he wouldlike [sic] to have, and then we would have to do a lot of “tall trading” sometimes to get what he wanted. We got a fair exchange for whatever we traded. Thinking back on our trading days, we made one trade that paid us well. Another Jap civilian asked the Jap that we did our trading with if he could get some flints for his cigarette lighter. Sweatman and I went to work hunting some flints, and after two days in camp found a Dutchman who had two flints. By doing dome [sic] hard bargaining, we traded eight cigarettes for the two flints. We took them back to the shipyard and traded them for ten cans of pepper and ten cans of Curry Powder. Our big problem now was to get this “loot”back [sic] into camp. Never before had we had this many cans of spices to take back to camp, so we had to figure a way to conceal them inour [sic] clothes. No sooner had we arrived in camp than the guard in charge ordered us to open ranks; this meant we would have inspection. We always marched to and from work in columns of five. When we were trying to smuggle anything into camp, Sweatman and I would always take the inside rank and march side by side. He had seven cans of spices, and I had the other thirteen. Three cans of spices I hid in my swill or garbage bag and the remaining ten cans were secured on my body. I had found two old sleeve holders in the shipyard, and those I fitted above my ankles and below my knees, so I carried five cans on each leg. When the Japs searched us, they did a thorough job of searching the body, but they never felt between the ankle and then knee, so this is where I carried most of the loot into camp. Also, if I was in the first row to be inspected, I would pass back to Sweatman, and he would pass to me if he was searched first. Through this procedure we managed to smugglelots [sic] of things into camp, but we lost lots of stuff also and suffered punishment for it.

Every prisoner learned the art of trading one thing for another due to the fact that we had no money, with very few exceptions, and those who did have could not spend it. Cigarettes were money in camp, as one could trade them for just about anything in camp. When we first arrived in camp, one could buy or trade fifteen cigarettes for one ration of rice. By the time we left Camp D-1, one could get a ration of rice for two or three cigarettes. There were three prices on just about everything that one bought or traded for. First was the price in camp; then a second price in the shipyard, and then the high price occurred when one took something out of the camp and traded for an item in the shipyard, and then brought it back into camp. The reason for this was that one ran the risk of losing it when he left camp, for we never knew when we would have a “shake down,” and if the Japs found it, they took it away from you, and you got slapped around for trying to get something out of camp. If you got caught trading in the shipyard with the civilians, you not only lost what you were trying to trade, but you got punished by the guard more severely than in Camp. Then the third chance was when we came back to camp. The price then increased about five times, as each time one ran the chance of losing everything that he had invested, plus the severe punishment that the Japs “dished out.”

In this camp we had bed bugs, fleas, lice and the biggest and hungriest mosquitoes I’ve ever seen. At Tinko, all the time the Japs were calling roll call, they would stomp their feet to keep the fleas off their legs and shoes. The bed bugs at on us most of the time when the lights were off. They were hard to find as there were so many cracks and slits in the mats that we slept on. They could hide, and we had nothing to combat them with. Head lice and body lice were a very common thing. I was fortunate enough to have a job in the shipyard, so that I could take my clothes off once a week and put them on one of the furnaces that I worked on. I boiled the clothes to kill the knits [sic] of the lice, and therefore, I was able to keep the lice to a minimum on my body and in my clothes.

There was the Benjo, which is Japanese for toilet. This Benjo was located on the north end of our compound, and it was a twelve “holer”, or should I say twelve splits in the floor. These splits were about eight inches wide and about sixteen inches long. It became quite an art to have a bowel movement in this Benjo and to dodge the splash back. Sometimes we find strange things amusing. I guess I got more laughs out of this than anything that I saw or witnessed while I was in prison camps. Sometimes the laugh was on me, however.