Posts Tagged ‘sulfa tablets’

The Onnatta Maru lifted anchor about 6:30 a.m. on May 24, 1942, and it took us about four hours to travel from the south dock of Corregidor to the “Jumping Off” place. We were then unloaded into landing barges of the Japs and taken to Paranaque Beach. There we were made to jump off the barge into the water with whatever belonging that we had been able to salvage from the Rock. I well remember when I jumped off into the water with my bundle of material things on my head. When I first hit the water, I went completely under with bundle and all. When I came up, I found that by standing on my tip toes, that the water was up to my chin. The bundle was quite heavy, but I hung on and made it to the beach and on up to Dew Boulevard.

We then were reassembled in groups of one hundred men and in columns of four, with Jap guards flanking us on either side. I do not know the distance from where we started to Old Bilibid Prison, but it was between two and three miles. (It seemed a lot farther than it actually was.)

We were a sad looking sight as I remember it. Each man was trying to carry his few personal belongings. All were wet, and the rags used for bandages on wounds were dripping with water and blood. Many wounds had not healed, and others had re-opened and blood was oozing from the wounds. Some men were barely able to move under their own power, and others were being helped by their buddies. The Japs were ever present with their fixed bayonets, jabbing and prodding us along.

I do not know how we looked to the Philippinos on this Sunday morning, but we could see that in us and in the fall of the Rock that their last defense had failed, and that they were at the mercy of the Japanese, the same as we were. The Philippinos showed their sorrow in their faces and would come out and offer us a bit of food and give us the old Victory sign.

I do not know whether any drowned coming ashore, but just before we got to Bilibid Prison, one of the officers died, and many passed out and had to be carried the rest of the way.

After our arrival in Bilibid, we were set off in different groups and then we got our first cooked food. It was a rice gruel; mostly water with just enough rice to make a paste. Then to top it off, we had leek soup, which was mostly water, but it did have an onion or leek flavor. My stay in Bilibid lasted only three days. Here I was fortunate enough to acquire some sulfa tablets for five pesos per tablet. I believe that these tablets saved my right leg as the wound on that leg had become badly infested. Our stay in Bilibid was short, but I was tired and hungry and in favor of moving to another place, hoping to get away from the sick and wounded and finding a place that had some food. This was not the case, however, as conditions got worse.

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Returning to the 92nd Garage area, four or five days after the surrender, I was again called upon by the Japs to work on a detail that was loading supplies and materials on board a Jap ship that was docked at the south dock. We were carrying Portland cement from Queen’s Tunnel, which was about half a mile. There was a large detail doing the loading. The Japs did give us some water and going in and out of the tunnel, we could manage to sneak a bite of food now and then. It was about mid-afternoon when on our way to the ship, each with a sack of cement, that I said to the four men closest to me, “Let’s take five.” (meaning a short break or rest). [sic] When I spoke, I did not see any Jap guards, but we had rested no more than three or four minutes when two Japs charged us with their fixed bayonets and marched us on down the road toward the ship that we had been loading. Here we had to pass by an old rock quarry; there was but one way in and out of this hole, and the walls must have been about fifteen or twenty feet straight up and down. The Japs forced us to go into this hole. After getting to the bottom of it, they made us move to the south edge of this hole. Not until this time did I know that there were three other Japs on the opposite rim of the hole. When one of the guards yelled something, we looked up and saw three Japs sitting behind a machine gun. The two that brought us down, and the three that were on the rim talked back and forth for a minute or so, and then one of the Japs brought over some rope. Before tying our hands behind our backs, they gave us a drink of water and offered us a cigarette. We each drank the water, but refused the cigarett. [sic] Then they tied our hands. Realizing that we were about to be shot down in cold blood, I again whispered a prayer. There was a loud shout and the guards with us moved back. The Japs on the rim cleared the machine gun, traversed it from left to right and aimed it in the pit at us. They seemed to be toying with us as a cat toys with a mouse. Then it finally happened: a loud command, and the machine gun began to fire. They fired about four or five feet over our heads. The three on the rim cleared their gun again, pushed down on the butt of the gun and laughed as though it was a big joke. The two guards in the hole with us then cut our hands loose, and told us to go back to work. I was not only scared that I would die in that hole, but believe that I came as near death that time as at any time while I was in prison.

Until the day that we left Corregidor, I had any number of minor experiences, but not any more like the two that I have stated above. I had a real bad wound now. I had been grazed by gun fire on the defending of Water Tank Hill, and the wound had not seemed much at the time, but infection had set in and my leg was beginning to look swollen and black and blue. I managed to get hold of two sulfa tablets and mashed them up and put them on my leg. This helped, but my leg continued to give me a lot of pain. It was not healed until some time later in Camp No. 3 in Cabanatuan.