Posts Tagged ‘water’

July 8, 1945

Posted: July 8, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

July 8 was a different kind of day than just going to work so far as I was concerned. This was the day that the Japs decided to have an air raid shelter detail go to work in the Camp. They picked four men from each of the work details to build and dig air raid shelters in the camp compound. I was one of the men who werepicked [sic] from the saw mill detail. We were given a pick and shovel to dog [sic] in an area the Japs had already measured off. It was to be six feet wide, five feet deep and eighty feet long. Up until this time, there was no protection of any kind for us against bombs and shrapnel. We were not a privileged group, but the Japs stood over us at all times. We did not have running water in the camp, so every day at eleven o’clock we went across the causeway to carry water about a quarter of a mile. The guards went with us, so there was no possible way for us to get any extra food anywhere.

Advertisements

Boils and open sores were a very common thing in camp. There was no medicine for this except the purple liquid that was mentioned earlier. Dysentery and constipation were common ailments in camp. Of the two, I will take the constipation, having had both. Kidney trouble was another bad disease. There were so many men who lost control of their water with bladder and kidney infections. It was nothing unusual for a person to have to get up and go to the toilet from two to ten times at night. I don’t know where all the water came from, but I do know that none of us were drinking beer!

The 92nd Garage area is on the south shore of Corregidor, east of Malinta Hill and south of Water Tank Hill. It was here in this small area that we made our home for the next seventeen days. I can not possibly begin to tell of the things that happened in those seventeen days, but a few of the most vivid memories relate to the way we had to live. Water was the thing I missed and craved more than anything else. I was fortunate to find a good drink of water in a day; some of the men drank sea water and died from it. I have always been able to go for long periods of time without water, but here under the blazing sun of the tropics, one soons [sic] begins to dehydrate from the lack of it. Then there were flies and gnats by the millions; they would bite you and make sores; there was no insect repellant to keep them off, and when you tried to take a bite of food, you could not shoo them off. You had to take one hand and knock them off the food and hope you did not get them in your mouth. I finally devised a method whereby I could eat and keep them off the food by putting a piece of mosquito netting over my head and keeping the food under it while I ate. Also, at this time, it seemed that every man was for himself, or dog eat dog, so to speak. If you had food, you had to sleep with it or it would be stolen from you the first time you shut your eyes. One man could not find enough food for himself. I had located by [sic] good buddy, Sgt. McCormick, and we became good partners while we were there. One would stay in camp, and the other would go out and try to find food and water. The Japs did not closely confine us until three days after we moved into the 92nd Garage Area. We could roam and find what we could, but we were not allowed to get close to their supplies, and, of course, they had already taken over our supplies of food and clothing.

Getting back to the day that we were brought into the 92nd Garage Area. There were between ten and twelve thousand of us and no type of organization whatsoever. About ten o’clock that morning, I was trying to find some one that I knew when a Jap yelled at me and motioned for me to come to him. I had no other choice but to go, as he had his rifle on me. As I walked over, he spoke to me. Of course, I could not understand, but I knew by his actions that he wanted me to go with him.

It turned out that I was on the burying detail. It took us until dark that night to take care of the dead. I don’t remember just how many there were on this detail, but just about everywhere you looked, there was a detail at work. If ever I needed something to settle my stomach, it was about thirty minutes after we started this assignment. We were taking the right hand of every dead Jap by cutting it off at the wrist. I will long remember the first time I had to cut a hand off. I looked at the Jap soldier and wanted to know if he really meant for me to do this horrible thing. I can assure you that I found out that he did. He lifted up his arm and motioned with his knife he had on his belt to cut the hand off. My stomach began to roll and I wanted to vomit, as these bodies had been lying in the hot sun for two days. I picked up the hand, and the skin began to slip under my grip. I took the knife and started to saw back and forth to cut the hand from the arm. The next thing, the Jap hit me with the butt of his rifle and stuck up one hand and held one finger up and yelled “ee-pon” which meant only one cut to the hand. This detail went on until almost dark. It was one of the hardest things that I thought I would ever have to do, but later in prison life, I found out that there were lots of things that I had to do to survive. After the hands were removed from the bodies, the bodies were then stacked up and burned.

Our men who had given their lives defending the Rock were yet unburied. After all the Japs were taken care of, then we started work burying them. There was not a single American I helped bury that day that had a decent burial. Each time that we threw a dead soldier or sailor in a bomb or shell crater, I would say a humble prayer, “God be with you always.” In so many of the cases there was not enough dirt to completely cover all of the bodies, and we were forced to go to the next hole leaving a foot or a hand exposed. In one place, even one of the heads was not completely covered. This horrible day was a nightmare to me for many days afterwards. I was so tired and sick after this day’s detail, that upon my return to my bivouac in the 92nd Garage Area, I could not eat the food that my good buddy McCormick had found. Neither could I sleep for thinking of the day I had just had.

I found out later that the Japs put the ashes of the cut-off hands in earthen urns and returned them to their home land for burial in their shrines.

It is hard to try to explain the situation in Malinta Tunnel at this time, but I will try. I know that there will be many who will not believe the story that I am about to relate, but with God as my witness, it is all true.

I can never forget the condition of our men as Colonel Sato told us we were Prisoners of the Emperor of Japan. Looking around, I could see our men tired, hungry, thirsty; some were still bleeding from wounds that they had received out on Monkey Point, and others were dying from wounds that they had received. The bewildered look on everyone’s face seemed to say this just has not happened to me. This has got to be a dream; it is not real. But, it was not a dream, and it was Real. Just as Col. Sato passed within a few feet of me, my hand unconsciously went to my gas mask cover, from which I had thrown away the gas mask early in the morning, and filled it with hand grenades. To my surprise I found one grenade still in the case. My first thought was to pull the pin and to throw it into the Colonel’s face and kill him and as many other Japs as I could, but by this time, the whole Jap army seemed to be coming into the Tunnel from the east end. I knew that I could have killed him and maybe two or three more, but I also realized that if I had thrown it, every man in the Tunnel would have been killed. So instead of throwing the grenade as my first impulse was, my hand slipped to the buckle holding the gas mask cover, and I unfastened it and let it slide to the ground.

We were not too long in the Tunnel when they ordered us out into the entrance on the west end. Here we were made to sit down, and then it seemed that all of the Japanese air power had cut loose. The Jap soldiers were waving the Japanese flag and yelling “Bonzi,” which meant victory. We were forced to sit there and to watch them bomb and strafe gun positions on Topside and Middle Side that were still firing, because their communications had been cut, and they had not received the word that we had surrendered. This went on for at least one and one-half hours. We sat there and watched our own men blasted into eternity. In the meantime, the Japanese artillery had zeroed in on these places, and both Topside and Middle Side seemed as though they were going to disintegrate. Bombs are hell, but going through artillery fire is ten times worse than bombs.

We were then told to get back into the Tunnel, and there we spent much of the night. Still we had not had anything to eat nor anything to drink. During the night I managed to get out of Malinta Tunnel over into Queens Tunnel, which was the Navy part of the tunnel. It was here that I found some cans of figs, and that was what I ate. The air pumps in the Tunnel had been knocked out, and the water pumps had long been knocked out, but I was fortunate to find in one small record tunnel a can of water of which I drank my fill and filled my canteen. Then I told others about the water, and it was soon gone.