Daniel S. Rafalovich

 

Affidavit of POW years

 

PERPETUATION OF TESTIMONY OF DANIEL RAFALOVICH
Chief Signalman, U. S. Navy (#382 17 79)
U. S. Naval Base, Terminal Island (San Pedro), California

My name is Daniel Rafalovich. My permanent home address is #390 14th Street, San Pedro, California. I am now 26 years old; born in Butte, Montana on 25 September 1919, but have lived in San Pedro, California, for the past nineteen years. My rating at the time of capture was Seaman, first class.

I enlisted in the United States Navy on 12 March 1940 at Los Angeles, California. I was immediately sent to Honolulu and spent the next six months there. From Honolulu I was transferred to Manila and was stationed there until 7 December 1941.

On 3 February, I was transferred to the Dutch Cruiser H.R.M.S. De Ruyter for communication purposes. Our ship was torpedoed by a Japanese destroyer at 11:30 p.m., on 27 February 1942. I was in the water for about seventeen hours in a life jacket before being rescued by a Japanese gunboat. I was then taken to the Jap cruiser "Naka";
I was treated good by the Japs aboard ship.

On 1 March 1942, I was put in a landing barge and transferred to Jap Army on Java. For the next three days, all prisoners were forced to unload ammunition and supplies for the Jap Army. We were fed one or two handsful of rice daily. For five weeks, I lived in a jungle clearing with no shelter or accommodations of any kind; many prisoners died from malnutrition, malaria, and dysentery. We were given no clothing of any kind, no cigarettes, and no drinking water except what we could find in wells and holes in the ground. Nobody had any medical attention of any kind, and many of the injured died.

On Easter Sunday, we were herded into trucks and taken to Surabaja, Java, where I spent the next six months. Considering what we had just been through, we were treated fairly well here. We were given food three times a day, such as it was; the rice was from the storeroom floors, and the soup was made from scraps and roots of vegetables. Later, we were given bread made from flour that was old and had worms and ticks in it.

In October 1942, we were transferred to Batavia, Java; we traveled by train in third-class cars. I stayed in Batavia only two days. The food was very poor in quality and quantity. From here we went to Singapore.

We traveled by ship from Batavia to Singapore; all prisoners were crowded into the hold, and hatches were kept closed at all times. We spent approximately a week aboard ship; the food was terrible, and water was rationed to us about two cups per person a day.

I landed in Singapore about 1 November 1942; we were treated fairly well here. The food was some better, and none of the prisoners were forced to work. We spent only about one month here.

We left Singapore around 1 December for Japan. We traveled by ship to Japan in about seven days, kept on deck all of the time, and landed in Nagasaki, Japan, on 7 December 1942. I was taken to Camp Fukuoka #2. We were totally unprepared for the cold weather and had only tropical uniforms. During the next two months, many prisoners died from pneumonia and dysentery. The food was also a contributing factor to the deaths here; we had only rice and this vegetable soup. The food improved during the summer and the deaths declined. The winter of 1943 was a repetition of 1942. During my stay in this camp, I was forced to work in a shipyard; all prisoners were distributed among the civilians, and all worked together in the shipyard. On 1 December 1944, I was transferred to Fukuoka #1, near Fukuoka, Japan.

It was snowing when we arrived in camp; our quarters were very rudely made huts with grass walls, and we had no heat of any kind. Many prisoners died from pneumonia, the food again was very bad, and we were forced to work on an airport. We were beaten many times by a Jap guard (real name unknown), but he was nicknamed "The Beast." On the day I was transferred to Camp #17, I saw "The Beast" beat a Dutch prisoner to death.

My next move was to Camp Fukuoka #17, near Omuta, Japan. This was by far the worst camp I had been in. We worked in a coal mine, and the food was the worst I had ever eaten. The majority of the men were nothing but skin and bone; dysentery and malnutrition was common in this camp. My weight dropped from 68 kilos to 58 kilos.

About June of 1945, I stumbled and fell with a jackhammer on my shoulder; I suffered a broken hand, which I reported to our foreman whose nickname was just "The Pig." He beat me about the head and shoulders with a piece of dynamite fuse which resembled a heavy piece of wire; he then kicked and slapped me for about a half hour. I was forced to work with a broken hand. Every time he saw me, he would throw rocks and coal at me. The next day, I turned in at sick bay, and my hand was simply bandaged. As a result, I have a badly healed hand.

About July 1945, a guard whose nickname was "The Sailor" beat me across the back and buttox with a rod of iron about ten or fifteen times. As a result of this, I could not bend over or sit down for about two months. This same guard beat me across the back with a coal shovel about thirty times, and he beat me in the face with his fist until I could not open my mouth. I was given these beatings for no apparent reason. The camp commander was Captain Fukuhara, who knew about the beatings, but only encouraged them.

On 15 August, we quit work in the mine; on 19 August, we were informed the war was over. On 13 September, we were officially liberated by the United States Army. I returned to the States on 22 November 1945, after completing about 5 years of overseas duty.

(signed) Daniel S. Rafalovich

State of California
County of Los Angeles

I, Daniel Rafalovich, of lawful age, being duly sworn on oath, state that I have read the foregoing statement consisting of two pages, and that it is true to the best of my knowledge and belief.  (signed) Daniel S. Rafalovich  
Subscribed and sworn to before me at U. S. Naval Base, Terminal Island (San Pedro), Calif. this 27th day of August 1946.

(signed) Captain G. J. McMillin
U.S. Navy Planning Officer at U. S. Naval Base, Terminal Island (San Pedro), Calif., authorized to administer oaths in accordance with Appendix "E-1" Sub-par. "B", Naval Courts and Boards 1937.

 

 

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