Affidavit Of Billy Alvin Ayers
Cpl, 7th Materiel Squadron, 19th Bombardment Group, US Army Air Corps
In re: War Crimes Trials
Perpetuation of Testimony*
Affidavit Of Billy Alvin Ayers, Cpl, 7th Materiel Squadron, 19th Bombardment Group, US Army Air Corps In re: War Crimes Trials
Perpetuation of Testimony*
Taken at : Longview, TX
Date :18 December 1946
In the Presence of: Oran J. Miller, Sp Agent, CIC, Fourth Army
QUESTIONS BY : Oran J. Miller, Sp Agent, CIC, Fourth Army
Q. State your name, former rank and serial number and permanent home address.
A. My name is Billy A. Ayers, formerly Cpl, ASN 18029998, permanent home address is 1205 West St. Marshall, Texas.
Q. Were you a prisoner of war at Fukuoka Camp #17, Kyushu, Japan, and what were the dates?
A. I arrived at Fukuoka Camp #17 on 10 August 1943 and remained there until I was liberated 10 September 1945.
Q. What is your knowledge of the mistreatment and torture of David Runge, an Australian POW, between 1 December 1944 and 31 March 1945?
A. During the latter part of January or early in February 1945, David Runge was forced to kneel on a pole for seven days and seven nights without food and about a
teacup of water each day. His feet were frozen and soon after being taken to the hospital it was necessary to amputate both feet. I did not see the amputation of his
feet but did see him in the kneeling position and saw him after his feet had been removed. Sadamu Takeda, known as the “One Armed Bandit” and Matsukichi Muta, known as “The Sailor,” were civilian guards who inflicted this punishment of Runge after receiving instructions from the camp commander, Lt. Fukuhara, to torture this prisoner.
The alleged reason for this punishment was a statement supposed to have been overheard by a Jap civilian worker to the effect that Runge said we should not work too
hard for the Japs.
Q. Did you have knowledge of the abuse and torture of Walter R. Johnson, American POW, on or about April 1945, resulting in his death?
A. Yes. About April 1945 Johnson was reported by a civilian employee to the Jap guards. After a severe beating by the guards he was placed in solitary confinement, charged with being a spy. While in confinement he was tortured by beating and was given no food, only a small amount of water. I heard that Lt. Fukuhara and “The Sailor” beat him with a rubber hose. After a few days he died as a result of the serious punishment. I do not know the names of any other Jap personnel involved in this punishment.
Q. What is your knowledge of the abuse and torture of William H. Knight, American POW, between January and June 1945, resulting in his death?
A. In March, Knight was reported to the Japanese for stealing buns, 12 in all, and was taken by Lt. Little to the Jap guardhouse for punishment. Knight was slapped and kicked by about four military guards, names of whom I do not know, and by “The Sailor” and “One Armed Bandt.” After this he was placed in solitary confinement and starved to death, in the meantime having received a number of severe beatings and other punishment such as slappings while in a kneeling position. “The Sailor” was guilty of most of these beatings.
Q. Did you witness or have knowledge of “The Sailor” or “One Armed Bandit” severely beating or otherwise mistreating other prisoners?
A. Either in December 1944 or January 1945, I witnessed the severe beating of four Dutch prisoners, names unknown to me, by “The Sailor.” It was reported that the Dutch prisoners had not worked hard enough that day and were taken to the guardhouse for punishment. “The Sailor” proceeded to punish them by forcing them to remove their overcoats, then with a pole about six feet long and three inches in diameter, he struck them at the lower end of the spinal column. He continued the beating until the four prisoners were unconscious. Another incident which took place in January 1945 involved the punishment of an American, whose name I do not recall, alleged to hae stolen a small tomato. “The Sailor” punished him by having him remove his clothing and assume a kneeling position on the ice. After throwing buckets of cold water on him, he was forced to hold bars which were connected to electric wires. “The Sailor” would then turn the current on until the prisoner became unconscious. As soon as he regained consciousness the process was repeated and this was continued for about three or four hours. In addition to this he was severely beaten, leaving bruises over his back. “One armed Bandit” on numerous occasions he punished prisoners by forcing them to hold weights over their heads or with arms extended until exhausted. He would then severely beat them. The “One Armed Bandit” on other occasions would force two prisoners to slap each other and if he did not consider the slapping hard enough would give the prisoners and example of how hard to slap. This type of punishment he gave for not saluting hm promptly enough or for wearing a hat in the barracks.
Q. What other atrocities took place at Fukuoka Camp #17 while you were there?
A. Early in 1945, an American Prisoner, Pavalocus, known as “The Greek,” (James Pavlakos) was reported selling a bowl of rice for two packages of cigarettes. He was placed in the guardhouse where he was slowly starved to death. For the first two weeks he received about a half ration of rice and a small cup of water, after this receiving a cut to about half of this amount. After the twenty-fifth day he lost his mental balance and on the thirtyfourth day died. Both “The Sailor” and “The One-Armed Bandit” participated in this punishment. During the latter part of 1944 An American POW allegedly stole a mess-kit and was taken before the interpreter who falsely interpreted to the guards and as a result the prisoner was severly beaten. I do not know the name of the POW, or guards, and cannot recall the name of the interpreter but he worked in the town of Omuta in the district of Fukuoake, Kyushu from 10 August 1943 until 10 September 1945.
Q. What was the nature of the mistreatment you received at this camp?
A. I did not receive severe beatings but did get slapped on numerous occasions. Due to the lack of sufficient food I was working in a weakened condition and as a result I suffered a broken leg because I was unable to move quickly enough from danger.
Q. Can you testify as of your own personal knowledge of facts related in this affidavit?
/s/ Billy A. Ayers
State of Texas )
County of Gregg)
I, Billy A. Ayers, of lawful age, being duly sworn on oath state that I have read the foregoing transcriptions of my interrogation and that the statements contained therein are true to the best of my knowledge and belief.
/s/ Billy A. Ayers
Subscribed and sworn to before me at Longview, Texas this 18th day of December, 1946
/s/ Eula T. Jenkins
Notary Public in and
For County of Gregg State of Texas
* Testimony was retaken after he was discharged from the Air Corps.
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