Posts Tagged ‘tinko’

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.

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After the quarantine was lifted, we were sent back to the shipyard to our respective jobs, but the order still held that we had to have fever of 102 or more before we were excused from work.

The Japanese then supplied us with some medicine called Spranchin, Phised, Phiscall and a purple liquid that was used for all cuts and boils. We had no bandages, except what we had brought into camp with us, and these were used many times over. They were removed from one sore, washed out, and then boiled to sterilize for another usage.

Another camp rule was that all heads were to be clipped. As we were lined up for Tinko or roll call each night, the sergeant of the guard would carry a pair of clippers, and if one’s hair was too long to suit him, he would clip a swath through the center of the head. If the hair was not all clipped by the next night, the person got a beating. Sometimes it was very difficult to get one’s hair clipped, as there were only two or three pairs of clippers in the whole camp, The price of a hair clipping ranged from three to twenty cigarettes, depending on the scarcity of the item at the time. Most men shaved at least once a week. I know when I first came to this camp, I had only one package of Gillette thin blades, and this pack of five blades had to and did last me for the full time I was in prison camp.

Of course, everything was not that smooth; each and every day that we went to work there were always some that were getting beat or punished for something. It was while we were in the camp compound that most of the beatings took place. Our Camp Commandant liked to how [sic] his authority best when he had his soldiers to back him up.

The Jap Army guard was changed every two weeks, and this was where old Banjo Eyes really strutted. We hated for two weeks to go by for no other reason than changing the guard. On the first Tinko after the guards were changed, they would take a whole squad of men outside and turn the guards loose on the prisoners with bamboo poles. They beat us men unmercifully, and some would be so badly injured that they could not go to work the next day.

We arrived in Moji on November 26, 1942 with 286 of us prisoners, as we lost two more on this thirteen day voyage.

No sooner had we docked until we were put ashore, and after tinko (roll call) we were marched several blocks to a ferry which we boarded to cross to the main land of Japan. Upon arrival we were again marched to a railroad station, but this time we were put aboard a passenger train. We still didn’t know where we were going, and the Japs didn’t want us to see, as all of the windows of the train were covered with heavy shades. It was on this train ride, however, that I got my first look at Fujiyama, as there was a small crack in the window shade where I was sitting. I kept looking also, trying to see the name of the town or city that we passed through.