47 Days on the Hell Ship

by  George L. Curtis

 

a remembrance of the experiences of unwilling passengers
on a voyage to Japan in the Winter of 1944-1945

 

Originally written and typed in the Summer, 1947 ~ Final editing by Michael Doty, November 2009

 

 

 

                        Table of Contents

 

 

Introduction....................................................................................... iii

 

Photographs.................................................................................... viii

 

47 Days on the Hell Ship, version 1.................................................... 1

 

47 Days on the Hell Ship, version 2.................................................. 21

 

Deposition by George Curtis, 11 January 1946................................ 71

 

Deposition by George Curtis, 12 January 1946................................ 81

 

Deposition by Major Robert E. Conn, Jr.......................................... 87

 

Testament by Cmdr. James Wanger................................................. 98

 

Testament by Capt. W. M. Silliphant................................................ 99

 

Response to Claim by George Curtis.............................................. 100

 

Response by George Curtis to Government Letter.......................... 101

 

George Curtis Honorable Discharge from Army, 1919................... 102

 

Note: the entire contents are not posted here on the website.
Those omitted (for reasons of space only) are Version 1 of the account and some of the testaments
and depositions. Anyone interested in the documents may contact me
(webmaster, Linda Dahl) or the contributor, Mike Doty.

 

 

 

Introduction

            In a way, the pages that follow are a labor of love . . . and a most unexpected one, at that.  For 38 years following his death in 1971, I thought that these manuscripts herein, written by my great-uncle, George Curtis, had been lost.  A few weeks ago, my sister suggested that we reduce the content belonging to my mother, George's immediate niece.  I was given, among other things, a small metal box that my sister said contained things belonging to Uncle George, things she hadn't looked at in quite some time.  The next day, I opened the box and among the small number of mementos and a few photographs were the manuscripts that I was aware of as a teenager in the 1960s, had even partially read, but had been told were missing and presumed lost or stolen.

              There were two typewritten versions of George's remembrances of his harrowing experiences in the Philippines in WW2 on old 7 X 10-inch typing paper.  My sister maintains that George could not type very well and that our mother, in the summer of 1947, typed up the drafts from handwritten copy that I have now transferred to computer format which the reader is about to view.  Additionally, there was an early photocopied booklet of a handwritten account of the same events.  Since they end at a prison camp in Jinsen, Korea (near Inchon) rather than in Japan, and since George never mentioned that he was interned in Korea, I believe this handwritten account was by another person and I have not included it in this document.

            The pages that follow are difficult to read, and even more difficult to comprehend.  From the vantage point of the year 2009, it is difficult to imagine that these inhumane events took place.  With the numbers of people who were unwilling participants in these events now being depleted each year by death, it will be more and more difficult to keep these memories alive so that they not be repeated.  I certainly hope, like Holocaust Deniers today, that a class of people does not arise anywhere who will maintain that what you are about to read is fiction.  Trust me, it is fact.  As a teenager, when I first became acquainted with Uncle George, he would enthrall us with tales of his experiences, and with place names that have stuck with me in the intervening 45 years until these manuscripts were found, places like Cabanatuan, San Fernando, Bilibid.  Living across the street from us at the same time was a survivor of not only the Bataan Death March, but also the same camps at Cabanatuan, and his memories were so searing that he refused to discuss them.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

            I do not know a great deal about the early life of Uncle George, my grandmother's older brother.  He was born on 1st March 1893 in New Bedford, Massachusetts.  His parents, Manuel E. and Maria Cardoza (their last name was Americanized to Curtis by immigration officials upon entry), were immigrants from Portugal who ran a small farm outside New Bedford following Manuel's robust life as a whaler.  With seven children, Manuel and Maria required them all to work on the farm.  When George was a lad, his father, Manuel passed away and my uncle's farm duties increased.  When he was old enough to make decisions on his own, George and his older brother, John (known in the family as Jack), moved together to Manhattan about the year 1914.  George eventually fell into a job that would become his occupation:  car mechanic and later salesman.  Even in 1914 in New York City, he was good at it.

            Then, for the first time in his life, world events caught up with him.  After the United States declared war on Germany in April, 1917, George either enlisted or was drafted into the US Army.  Sometime after his unit was deployed in France in late summer, 1918, they suffered a German gas attack. In September, 1918, two months before the Armistice, George, by then a first sergeant, volunteered to run messages back and forth between the trenches and headquarters. His bicycle trips in this dangerous mission drew intense German fire, according to a contemporary article in the New Bedford newspaper. George was cited for bravery by the American command in October 1918, and also awarded the French Croix de guerre. 
Upon his demobilization and honorable discharge, issued in 1919, he returned to selling cars.

            He didn't tell me too much of the inter-war years, but apparently he moved around quite a lot taking up new positions with more and more responsibility as befitted his talents.  Suffice it to say that around 1937, he was offered the position of general manager at a Packard dealership (quaintly named the Estrella Auto Palace) in Manila, Philippines, and he took it.  Since he was not married at the time, the move was an easy one.  George told me he rather enjoyed Manila and especially working with Filipinos, and apparently the dealership was a successful one.  There is a photo of a smiling George with his staff, probably taken at a Christmas party around 1939 or 1940.  There is also a photo of George and his staff surrounding Jack Dempsey, the famous ex-boxer, taken in Manila around the same time.  Everyone was happy in these photos, seemingly unaware of the ominous war rumblings from Manchuria and China

            Just hours after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, they attacked the Philippines (which, due to the International Dateline, took place on December 8th).  The chaos in Manila and other cities must have been frightening.  Soon after the fighting started, George took a job as a civilian employee installing radio and telephone operations for army airfields in Bataan.  It was in Bataan that a desperate, last-ditch effort was made to hold on until promised reinforcements arrived.  The Bataan campaign lasted two months, February to April, 1942.  As defense crumbled, George, still a civilian, evacuated once again, this time to the island fortress of Corregidor at the mouth of Manila Bay.  While holed up there, the Death March of the first American prisoners captured on Bataan was beginning, including the man who lived across the street from me in the 1960s.

            Gen. MacArthur had already been evacuated on orders of Pres. Roosevelt.  Conditions for my uncle, for Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, and the others still holed up inside Malinta Tunnel on Corregidor, being subjected to daily poundings by Japanese shells, can only be imagined.  On 6th May 1942, the inevitable happened:  the full surrender of the American forces remaining on Corregidor.  George, along with hundreds of other US prisoners, was first incarcerated in an old garage near the Malinta Tunnel, according to testimony he gave to an investigator for a special tribunal in Manila following the war.  Finally, the Japanese shipped the survivors to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan to see, in George's words to me, if they, too, could survive the Death March.

            After enduring that 60-mile forced march from Mariveles to San Fernando, Pampango, and then on Luzon's only real railway line, George testified that he was transferred to Old Bilibid Prison in Manila, a dungeon-like fortress relic from the Spanish colonial days.  For the next two years, he was shunted between Bilibid and the camps that ringed Cabanatuan, with a brief stint at Clark Field as a laborer on the airfield.

            As the tide of battle turned against Japan, their authorities in Tokyo decided that they did not want evidence of prison camp atrocities to become known. 
As MacArthur's forces began their attack on the Philippines at Leyte and Cebu in the autumn of 1944, the Japanese decided to empty the prison camps of able-bodied men and eradicate the rest, an order that was unevenly carried out.  This is where the story in the manuscripts picks up.  After being moved to Bilibid once again, George was finally placed on a Japanese freighter/liner named the Oryoku Maru on 13 December 1944 along with 1,618 other prisoners. Less than two days out of Manila, the Oryoku Maru was sunk by American naval bombers and the surviving prisoners had to swim for shore near the former American Navy base at Subic Bay.

            After more ghastly experiences back on Luzon, the survivors were placed on another pair of ships, the Enoura Maru (known to the prisoners only by the number on its stack, #2) and the Brazil Maru (known as #1).  These ships made port in Takao (The modern spelling of the port is Kaohsiung), Formosa (modern name:  Taiwan), about a week later.  More bombings by American planes followed.  More deaths.  George and his unfortunate companions were transferred to the single remaining ship (the Brazil Maru) for the harrowing two-week journey to the port of Moji (the name Moji was discontinued when it was merged with other surrounding towns in 1963 and renamed Kitakyushu), near Fukuoka, on the southern island of Kyushu, Japan, arriving in the dead of winter with hardly any clothing.  There were barely 300 survivors (by George's account and testimony of others; another report puts the figure at 450) from the original 1,619 who left Manila 47 days previously, an attrition rate of 80%.  Hence the title George chose for his book, "47 Days on the Hell Ship."

            George and the others who could walk were required to work in coal mines for the Mitsui Company in Omuta outside Fukuoka.  They never saw the sunlight and were paid a penny a day, which they didn't receive until after the surrender of Japan.  He was so weakened by the experience in the mines that he couldn't recollect much about Japan's surrender, other than the guards bowing to them and not requiring them to work anymore.  It was several weeks before American troops and doctors with the arriving occupation forces opened the camp in September 1945.  It took several months to nurse the skeletal survivors back to health.

            After being nursed back to some semblance of health on Kyushu, it appears that George was first repatriated to Manila.  This may have been his request so that he could possibly find some of his belongings, including his prized gun collection (which had disappeared entirely).  While in Manila in January 1946, he gave testimony, similar in form to a deposition in civilian court, to the War Crimes Investigating Detachment which was collecting information that was later used in war crimes trials for the atrocities committed under Japanese occupation (see Appendices).  Several of the names given in the manuscript, "47 Days," were punished with prison terms or even death.  An accounting of some of these names can be found at http://home.comcast.net/~winjerd/Oryoku.txt.

            From Manila, he arrived in Ohio in mid-February 1946 just in time to see my parents' marriage ceremony.  Then, in his new persona as the jovial uncle, he appears in home movies happily smoking a pipe outside his sister's (my grandmother) house and poking fun at my mother.  Soon thereafter, he finally made it back to his beloved New England and the seacoast at New Bedford.         

            He eventually found his way back into the car business.  For a while, though, he was married to a somewhat wealthy woman from Santa Monica, California, and they bought a farm on the outskirts of Oroville, near Sacramento where he raised hay, alfalfa and olives.  George, however, was too much the free spirit and the marriage, possibly not his first, did not last.  I first became aware of him when he moved to Carlsbad, just north of San Diego, and, at about the age 70, returned to selling cars.  He would come to our house for visits and my sister and I found him the funniest human being.  I remember that he would impishly cheat at Scrabble, inventing nonexistent words and trying his best to pass them off as real unless we forced him down by using a dictionary.  He, nonetheless, had us in stitches.  It was his constant humor that endeared him to us . . . that, and the stories he would tell of events far away, events that I had a hard time fathoming.

            It was while he was living in Carlsbad that the actor Anthony Quinn heard about the manuscripts.  He contacted George and told him he wanted to make a movie of it.  The negotiations dragged on for several months but finally broke down on a key point:  Quinn wanted to water down some of the gruesome content, and George would not relent.  "It is what it is," was his explanation to us.

The last time I can recall seeing George was following the first of a series of strokes when my mother drove, with me as company, to Carlsbad to take George to Navy Hospital in San Diego to recuperate. Following this, I went to university in Santa Barbara and never saw him again. He was eventually admitted to VA Hospital in Westwood, Los Angeles, where he died on 22 July 1971 while I was teaching in Australia.  He is buried at Los Angeles National Cemetery next to Westwood.

            It was while George was home in New Bedford in 1946 and 1947 that he started his handwritten recollections of his experience on the hell ships.  The experiences were still fresh in his mind, fresh enough that he was very specific in describing the daily food intake the prisoners had.

            For reasons unknown to me, two separate accounts were typed up (with the typing probably done by my mother while she cared for me, her new six-month-old son) which you are about to read:  The first version is told in the third person somewhat like how an official report might appear.  Subsequent to editing and typing this first version into my computer, it was revealed to me that this version was actually a rewording of the newspaper account written by famed journalist, George Weller.  Weller worked for the Chicago Daily News and talked his way into Nagasaki with the first batch of occupation troops.  He also visited Uncle George's camp #17 at Omuta nearby and interviewed many of the freed prisoners.  From these transcripts, he serialized an account of their hell ship voyages which appeared in several US newspapers (I found it in the Los Angeles Times beginning on 14 November 1945).  Weller's son, Anthony, found the original uncensored reports and published them in 2006, along with his father's reports from Nagasaki (which were censored in 1945 almost out of existence) in his book, "First Into Nagasaki."  My uncle apparently was shown the 1945 newspaper stories and wrote his own story, embedding his own facts into Weller's superb account.  Perhaps my uncle did this to practice his own writing.  With apologies to George and Anthony Weller, I am leaving Uncle George's first account in this document, but the reader should take note that the writing is not strictly his own.

             The second, a longer version, and original to my uncle, is told in the first person and is in the form of a diary.  However, it is a retrospective diary since no writing during the events would have been possible.  As I read it, I could hear my uncle's voice arising from the words like smoke and flame coming from a match.
Note: This is the account that is posted here on the website.

            At the time of the hell ship voyage, Uncle George had already spent two-and-one-half years as a POW of the Japanese and had developed a hatred of them spawned by what he had seen firsthand.  Even in the 1960s when I knew him, he loathed the Japanese.  In his accounting he usually referred to them as "Japs" and "Nips," and occasionally as "slant-eyes."  From the vantage point of 2009, these terms are universally seen as racial stereotyping, offensive, or worse.  I have decided to maintain the references as they were written in 1947.  This is, after all, a historical record, not a reflection of modern values.

            The reader should also be prepared for constant references to bodily functions such as defecation.  It is important to keep something in mind. The world of these unfortunate men had been reduced to: their constant desire for food, water, and cleanliness; their aches, pains, sicknesses; wounds, beatings, and daily humiliation at the hands of their guards.  All this was mixed in with normal bodily functions now often reduced to painful elimination or ruinous dehydration caused by runaway diarrhea.  To say the least, these passages are difficult to read.  It is not for the squeamish.

            I am not sure if my uncle completed high school, and I am certain that he never attended college or university.  However, he possessed a fairly wide vocabulary, probably obtained by a fair amount of reading in his spare time during his lifetime.  His simple eloquence notwithstanding, I found it necessary to judiciously edit what I read.  Especially with the diary version, there was limited use of punctuation and paragraphing, creating massive Faulkneresque run-on sentences.  I also changed some words to avoid duplication or to clarify the meaning.  I tried not to change the meaning, such as sharpening a viewpoint against the Japanese treatment.  I also avoided massive rewrites and thus sifting the text through my own mind.  I wanted the narrative to speak for itself; it is powerful enough on its own.

            I corrected or replaced misspelled words and tried to unify where possible.  For instance, the port on Formosa was interchangeably identified as Tacao and Takao.  I opted for the latter.  Even though the formal name of that island is Taiwan, I used Formosa because that was in common usage at the time.  In places where I could not identify a word, I either made a best guess or left it as is accompanied by [ed. sic] to flag the conundrum.

            The carbon copies of depositions George gave on 11th and 12th January 1946, newly released from captivity (along with another deposition given on 24 September 1945 by a Major Robert Conn, a copy of which was found in my uncle's belongings.  Perhaps the two of them were friends and Conn gave him his copy.) give further details of the horrors the American prisoners of war faced.  Since the Army reporters made very few apparent mistakes in their task of typing the testimony, I had an easy job transcribing those texts.  I included these depositions for the history student who wants to do a bit of research.  There are minor discrepancies between the testimony given in early 1946, just released from imprisonment in Japan, and the texts of the two narratives, written and typed in the summer of the following year, 1947.  I leave it to the reader to decide which texts are the closest to the true sequence of events.  That is the essence of research.

            I also included two brief testimonials by fellow prisoners of war, confirming that they knew George in the Philippines or in Japan, or both, and that he suffered along with them.  For general interest sake, I included George's honorable discharge from the army in 1919 (notice how flowery their handwriting was in those days).

            For a sobering look at a complete list of names of prisoners who boarded the Oryoku Maru in Manila and their known fates up to liberation, go to the website, http://www.west-point.org/family/japanese-pow/Erickson_OM.htm.  Mr. Erickson has done a marvelous job of compiling and updating this list.  Another website, http://www.lindavdahl.com/, is dedicated to Camp #17 at Omuta, Kyushu (a satellite of a series of camps centered around Fukuoka).  This is the camp where Uncle George spent the final six months of his captivity and where he and the few survivors remaining were rescued by American occupation forces.

 

Michael Doty November 2009   Re-editing completed January 2010

 

 

   Photographs:

 

 

File:Oryoku Maru.jpg             Brazil Maru  

 

 The hell ship, Oryoku Maru, (fare left) under attack on 14 or 15 December 1944 off Olongapo Point.  The smoke rising from the stern area is probably from the bombing by American planes.  Notice that the ship appears to be dead in the water.  (In the full, grainy photo from the US Navy, the Olongapo base is visible just below the bottom of the photo.  The ship is facing south, with its port side facing the shore.   Photo credit: www.oryokumaruonline.org)

The hell ship, Brazil Maru, in happier days, passing through the Panama Canal on 26 March 1940.  This ship was known to the prisoners only by the #1 painted on its stack.  (Photo credit: www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2003/winter/hell-ships-2.html)
 


Notice that the Oryoko Maru appears to be dead in the water.  (In the full, grainy photo from the US Navy, the Olongapo base is visible just below the bottom of the photo. 
The ship is facing south, with its port side facing the shore.  Photo credit:  www.oryokumaruonline.org)

 

 

http://www.oryokumaru.net/pictures/wada.JPG     Mr. Wada, (left) the hunch-backed Japanese interpreter, loathed and feared by the prisoners. 
This photo was probably taken while in American custody following the war.  (Photo credit: www.oryokumaruonline.org)    

 

                                                                          

File:Old bilibid.JPG


Old Bilibid Prison, Manila, Philippines. 
This photo was probably taken in the 1930s.

 





 

 

 

The Oryoku Maru

 

Photo of the Oryoku Maru in its pre-war glory days on the Tokyo-Sydney run.  (Photo from www.oryokumaruonline.org)

 

http://home.comcast.net/~japanpow/Recovery/Fukuoka/Moji05.jpg
The former cinema at Moji, Kyushu; the first building the arriving prisoners were herded into.

 

Toshino
1st Lt. Junsaburo Toshino.  Photo probably taken at trial in Tokyo following the war.  (Photo fcredit:  www.oryokumaruonline.org)

 

http://www.mansell.com/pow_resources/camppics/fukuoka/fuku-17/fuku17-std/fuku17-17.jpg              C:\Users\Michael\Pictures\George Curtis Photos\2009-11-23\Scan10002.JPG         http://home.comcast.net/~japanpow/Recovery/Fukuoka/Omuta09.jpg

                     Fukuoka Camp 17 photo after liberation in 1945              My great-uncle, George Lester Curtis.             Another view of Camp #17 near Omuta, Kyushu
                             (Photo from www.lindavdahl.com)                                 From the look of the US Army-issue shirt,        (Fukuoka system).  Photo probably taken in
                                                                                                           this could be a "liberation" photo taken a few     December 1945 following the evacuation of all
                                                                                                          months after release from Camp #17. These          prisoners. (Photo from www.mansell.com/pow-index.html)
                                                                                                       photos seemed to be common procedure, but were
                                                                                                      taken after the former POW was nursed back to some
                                                                                                     semblance of health.  (Photo from Curtis' private collection)
 

 

 

C:\Users\Michael\Pictures\George Curtis Photos\2009-11-23\Scan10001.JPG

Photo, probably of a Christmas party in 1939, with ex-boxer Jack Dempsey (in dark coat, center) as guest of honor. 
 Filipinos are mostly staff of the Estrella Auto Palace.  Others are probably connected with the club in which the photo was taken. 
George Curtis is top row, center, over Dempsey's right shoulder, in white coat, dark tie.  (Photo from Curtis' private collection)

 

Hellship Account Begins ~ October-November 1944

            The Philippine prison camps were being cleaned out and all healthy prisoners were being sent to Manila to the old Bilibid Prison for shipment to the Japanese Islands.  It was October 19th, 1944, that those of us well enough were put aboard trucks and sent on our way.  This was the last contingent and some of us, although considered well, were only just able to make it.  The trucks being used were very similar to our American Chevrolet or Ford, of about 2-ton capacity and of approximately 140-inch wheel base.  They had rear dual tire equipment with platform bodies, with vertical sides to a height of some two feet.  In each were packed better than forty men and what little personal belongings each possessed.  It was terribly crowded, with not even enough room for us to sit down.

            On the morning of our departure, I was working at the old bake shop at the north end of the camp at Cabanatuan.  Most of the men that were at this camp had left a day or two previous and those of us that were left were under the impression that the Japs would not try to get any more of us out from the Philippines, but this thought was soon dispelled, for at as early as 04:00, a runner from the camp commander's office was sent to have those designated to go to be at the main gate ready to leave as soon as the trucks were ready and the final inspection was over.  Most of us had small stores of canned goods left from what we had horded from a small issue of Red Cross items that were doled out to us late in January and early February, among them corned beef, spam, and other small containers of concentrated foods.  For the past month, we were issued dried corn that the prisoners had grown on the farm that was a part of this camp.  We had ground this up and a few of us had held on to it expecting just such a move.  We were told that we could take with us any two cans of food that we might have.  This meant that those of us that had more than the two cans were soon finding their friends to give them any surplus items that we couldn't eat or carry along, rather than have some Jap confiscate these items for themselves or to sell to some of the remaining prisoners.

            The night before, we were told that we would leave in the morning, so most of us were ready.  Early on this day, our Quan [ed. - sic] group did away with all we could in the line of food.  Being with the bake shop, it wasn't difficult to whip up a pan of corn bread that I had ready before daybreak and handed it out to some of the men that were scheduled to leave on this trip.  Many of the men had me bake different concoctions for them made up of rice, corn, and different vegetables that they had raised in their little gardens in the camp enclosure:  squash, tomatoes, okra, tililum and papaya, along with the rice and corn that we had been hording for months, both mixed and cooked.  Most of us were really for the past few days considering that we had been on a two-times-per-day rice issue for the past few months. 

            While we were partaking of this feast, word came to be ready to leave.  Gear and duffle were quickly gathered; groups were formed, and we were marched down to the main gate.  Word was passed around that final inspection would be at 7:00.  Also, earlier in the morning, we baked a batch of corn bread, baking it very dry.  The ingredients were merely corn, a little salt, and a very little water.  It was more or less a corn hard-tack, hardly eatable unless soaked in liquid.  It didn't taste too good either, but in case the Japs forgot to feed us, it would at least help to stave off the pangs of hunger that many of us, having suffered through them, didn't want to experience again.  These emergency rations we wrapped up in pieces of old cloth and concealed on our person.  Frankly, most of us felt a trifle uncomfortable with the foods we had consumed consisting or rice, corn bread, corned beef, and vegetables during the past few days.  Had orders not been issued to the contrary, most of us could have taken along a little more of the horded small supplies we had on hand, but the men at the hospital were going to be well-supplied for a while, at any rate.  They needed these few items of food that we were able to leave for them, and most of us were not too anxious to go through the possible punishment that the guards might dole out were we caught with more than we were told we could take along.

            During the inspection, some of us lost a few pieces of clothing that we had also saved for such an emergency as we figured we were about to go through.  It was a little short of noon when we saw several formations of American planes as they headed west from the Pacific side of the island and going in the direction of Clark Field, an American airfield before the invasion of the Japs, and they certainly looked as though they were out for blood.  The Jap driver of our truck paid little attention to them at the time, but a little later, a few of our pilots left the formation and zoomed in our general direction.  We thought we were in for it and so did our driver, for he veered so sharply for the shelter of a spreading mango tree that two of our men were rolled from the truck.  These men were not badly hurt and were soon aboard with us.  The planes came rather low and either they didn't see us under the tree or we were too small a bait for them to bother with for they started to climb and soon joined the formation they had left.  Several times in the past week we have been able to see our planes from the camp scouring the territory around Baler Pass and Cabanatuan.

            Shortly after noon, we stopped by the side of the road and most of us started to eat a part of the rice that had been issued to us before we left the main camp at Cabanatuan.  We were not allowed to leave the trucks, but the Jap guards took turns at relieving themselves and relaxing on the ground near the trucks and eating quite comfortably from their canisters of fish and rice.  It was difficult for most of us to do much eating, being packed so close together.  We couldn't very well relieve ourselves either, as the only place possible was over the side of the truck and most of us couldn't get there.  Some of us did manage to eat a little of the corn and rice so that we were not hungry today so far.

            About 16.00, we arrived at Bilibid.  Everyone there was excited over the continual air raids by our planes, the bombing was exceedingly heavy today with Nichols Field and the Port Area getting a good going-over.  At Bilibid, it was very crowded with some 2000 men, about 400 of whom were sick and bed patients, and they took up an awful lot of room in several of the buildings set aside for them so that we that were well enough had to bed down where possible.  Friends that were captured at Corregidor, and those that took the memorial Death March saw each other for the first time since the beginning of the concentration of the prisoners by the Japs. Some were separated upon entrance to Bilibid following movement from the old 92nd Garage [on Corregidor], and some after the horrible ordeal at Camp O'Donnell.  Many of our friend have died at the different labor camps in different parts of the Philippines:  Clark Field, Zablan Field, Nichols Field, Bataan, Palawan have the graves of a great many that fought with valor the last days of the attempts to hold off the invaders.  Most of the men are sober and thoughtful of the trials and sufferings that they will possibly go through before they land in Japan, if they ever do.  The thought occurs to a few of us that perhaps, if the Americans continue their bombings of Manila, the Japs won't be able to get ships in and out of Manila Bay and we will not have to take the dreaded trip to wherever we are to go.  Most of us hope that, after talking to some of the Dutch prisoners who were aboard a Jap ship en route to Japan that was sunk off the northern coast of Luzon, that we will never be shipped out.  The hardships, lack of ventilation, and lack of food for the period that they were on board for that trip makes one wonder how many of us will survive a similar ordeal.  A few of them, some thirty of about 1000, are with us and if we do go, they'll probably be with us.

            We are finally grouped together and assigned to different sections of the old hospital building.  Each man has a space of about 18 inches by 7 feet on the concrete floor.  Most of us have one blanket, but no other bedding equipment is issued, and we bed down soon after dark.  The entire building is packed leaving an aisle of about 3 feet.  I am assigned my spot on the main deck of this two-story building about halfway in from the main entrance.  There are close to 1500 men in this building.  Most of the time we are allowed out of doors, but during air raids all must be inside and the corrugated iron sheets that take the place of windows are shut tight.  At these times there is practically no ventilation and the dust kicked up by most of us that are nervous, and the heat makes the whole building most unbearable; it's stifling, and perspiration just runs off you.  The food is as bad as the rumors we had from some of the men that were assigned to the trucks and have made a few trips to and from Cabanatuan.  The rule of the day is two meals:  one in the morning at about 07.00, and another at about 16.00.  In the morning, a little less than a canteen cup of lugao (rice cooked and stirred while cooking so that it is practically a paste); sometimes there are traces of fish; sometimes a piece of some fibrous green vegetable; now and then we are issued a -cup of watery soup made from a woody vegetable; tomato skins with the bad spots; or a spoonful of dry, stinking fish.  It didn't take most of us long to finish up what little food we were able to bring with us from Cabanatuan. 

            Some of my friends here attached to the hospital administration have been most generous with what foods they were able to bribe the Jap guards to bring in.  [PhM1C. Roland E.] "Pete" Going, [CPhM. John C.] "Stud" Ulmer, "Kid" Clark [Ed. could be referring to Pfc. Robert A. Clarke, since most officers would not carry the nickname "Kid"], "Boats" Reynolds {Ed. this could refer either to Maj. Gilbert H. Reynolds or Cpl. John B. Reynolds, more likely the latter], and a few of the doctor prisoners have been doing their best to get the most needy men supplied with what little food they had put away for themselves for a rainy day, they being here for the entire period of their incarceration and being able to make some contacts with the outside civilian Filipinos.  They have really done a great deal toward supplementing our meager food supply.  Ed Short [Capt. Edward Leveridge Short] and I have been most fortunate in that we know many in Manila.  Of course, most of the Americans and British of our acquaintances are interned at Santo Tomas, but notes smuggled out to them through one of the Jap guards brought in to us quite a bit of mickey-mouse money and we were able, through this same Jap, to get purchases of monge beans and some other items in the camp.  Usually we would eat only half of our morning ration of rice till the afternoon issue; then we would mix whatever we had with this portion and a half and we could at least lie down for the night with a partly full stomach.

            Capt. Stevens' [possibly referring to Capt. Lee E. Stevens] wife is outside and through the same Jap contact was made with her.  Very often she sends in food and money.  For the first time in over two years, I had a piece of hamburger that was sent in, and, although it was made of caribao meat, it certainly was delicious and the rice went down so much better.  Ed Short's wife is in Manila, too.  Once or twice, we had a note from her and a little food, but Ed thought it best not to let her communicate with him for fear that the messenger would be picked up and her life wouldn't be worth anything if this were to happen; or she would be made to take the trip to Santiago from where very few returned.

            The mosquitoes are terrible here.  Just millions of them and none of us, well maybe a few, have nets.  We had them, such as they were, at Cabanatuan, but they were so infested with bed bugs and lice that they wouldn't let us bring them along; not that there aren't bed bugs and lice here, but the Japs are funny people.  Mosquitoes carry Dengue Fever which is very bad here in Manila.  The concrete floor is hard and dirty and very little sleep is had.

 

            Almost two months have passed since we were loaded aboard trucks at the Cabanatuan prison camp.  Since then, more than twelve men of our going-away group have died.  There is a small burial plot just back of the building we are quartered in and it is filling up rapidly.  When I was last here some ten months ago, the area extended along the north wall for approximately one hundred and fifty feet.  It wasn't completely used up at that time, but now that area is doubled in rows and they are running the graves some 200 feet down the west wall, the entire place occupied with recent burials.  If we don't get more food or medications for those of us that are left, I'm afraid that practically the entire north end of camp will be used as a burial ground.  Practically everyone here has had Dengue Fever in the past two months.  Sores are breaking out on most of us, big ugly sores, Guam blisters, and they are most uncomfortable and give forth a disgusting odor.  The doctors here do a marvelous job with what they have to work with, but the lack of the proper food is the main cause of these ailments.

            Everyone has lost a considerable amount of weight and most men are exceedingly weak, especially in the arms and legs.  Most men are suffering from constipation due mostly, I am told, from the lack of bulk in their diet.  A bowel movement once a week is considered the average.

            Father Duffy conducts Mass here every morning under the big Monge tree in the north end of camp.  Also, a chaplain holds services for the other denominations regularly.  It is surprising how many men attend both these services, and it's quite a sight to see the men sprawled in all manner of positions attempting to absorb every word of those spoken by the chaplains.  A few tears are shed, too, when mention is made of those at home.

            The Manila area has been bombed almost weekly, but of late our planes haven't been too active.  It's almost two weeks since they have been around and most of the men are greatly discouraged.  Most of us feel that if the airplane activity is continued, the Japs won't be able to take us out of here.  Leaving now is getting to be a nightmare and at all gatherings the hope and prayer is that our planes will again start their activities so that they can't move us.  With the quiet of the past two weeks, the Japs are going ahead with their plans of starting us on our way.  Some of the men and officers have been issued Jap wool coats and breeches.  We have had our "slipshod" final physical examination by the Japs and a quantity of Red Cross medical supplies is set aside to be taken aboard the ship we are to sail on.  The men are disposing of what American and Philippine currency they were able to hold onto in buying items of food from some of the Jap guards.  For $10, one can get a canteen cup of raw mango beans; for $20, a canteen cup of brown sugar.  Very few items are picked up, though, for very few of us have any money.

 

December 13th, 1944 (Wednesday)

            Today, we were most unlucky.  On the previous day, at about 18.30, we were told that the leaving detail would be ready to shove off at 08.00.  We were to be awakened at 04.00 to be issued at that time a combined meal equivalent to breakfast and supper.  None of the buildings had lights and the scramble of some 1500 men in the dark was a madhouse.  We had to put together our few belongings and line up outside of the building for a final man-check.  Last night, some of us sat out in the front of the building in the starlight and ate the balance of what little food we had saved.  It wasn't much, but it sure was good.  About midnight we retired, praying that our planes would come over in the early morning to at least postpone our leaving.  We fell in for count at about 07.00 and spent several hours checking groups and counting off.  There were actually 1619 of us ready to leave.  Many of us were in such poor shape that it was a wonder if they all would survive the two-mile hike to the pier.  It wasn't until 09.30 that they let us break ranks when something happened to detain our departure. 

            Our duffle was left at the place we had in line and we were told to be ready to fall back in line at a minute's notice.  Most of us went to visit those we knew at the hospital and some went to spend a few more minutes with their friends for a few last words.  Most of my friends were in the group to go out, except for the boys that were attached to the hospital staff, among them congenial Doc McKissick and Boats Reynolds, the latter giving me better than a cup full of cooked mango beans.  Our equipment was cut down to a minimum so that all I had was a blanket, two shirts, a pair of socks, a pair of short khaki pants, two bars of soap, a tooth brush, a tube of tooth paste, a razor, shaving cream, about a cup of raw corn, a small can of Vienna sausage, and a GI sweater.  These I had rolled up in my blanket.  On my person, I had a pair of long khaki pants, a khaki shirt sleeveless, a pair of cotton socks, a pair of GI shoes and a sun helmet issued to me while I was working on the airport at Cabanatuan some ten months ago.

            It was at about 11.00 that we were ordered to fall in.  After another quick check, we were started on our way to the main gate and on our way to the pier.  The column was nearly three blocks long and divided into the usual Jap groups of 100 men.  There seemed to be a great amount of activity on the streets of Manila, a lot more than I had any idea there would be.  The streets were lined with native Filipinos and Jap soldiers; many of the natives unknown to the guards gave us the V-for-Victory sign as we passed.  There were few automobiles among the traffic, but many bicycles, push carts, and a type of carramata that wasn't in Manila before the war.  This latter vehicle had bodies similar to the old carramata, but the wheels were evidently those of confiscated American automobiles, drawn by the usual small Filipino pony; some were drawn by what looked like racing thoroughbred British horses.  Very few whites were among those watching us pass but now and then I'd see the face of a Spaniard or German that I had seen in Manila before the war.

            Our march took us to Quezon Blvd., across the Quezon Bridge, and around the south side of the Walled City.  There were soldiers everywhere.  The town itself was a mess.  Grass was nearly knee high in the once beautiful Luneta.  And near the Statue of Rizal a troop of Jap cavalry bivouacked.  It was the filthiest and stinkiest place I have ever seen in and around this area.  Flies were everywhere, and while we were passing this area, one could see the amount of ruin and devastation that the Japs had caused since they took over the city.  True, there were few buildings damaged by shell fire from the Japs when they came in, but the majority of the most unpleasant sights were caused by the lack of attention to these sections.

            We turned to the right along Kutiback Drive, then turned west to the Port Area.  The rear of the Manila Hotel with its multitude of flowers and blossoming trees from before the war was now a shambles.  The grass was overgrowing everything and the beautiful tennis court of pre-war days was the storage area of junk and discarded American Army supplies.  Practically all the business buildings along the hike had been hit at some time or other since the last day I was in Manila on the 28th December 1941.  Pier 7 was warped from a fire that was caused by the Jap bombing around Christmas 1941; no repairs had been made and the front of this structure was a mass of scars where the Japs had ripped down the columns to obtain the structural steel contained therein for shipment to Japan.  I know this latter to be true for I was on a Jap work detail at one time and we were loading this material on a Jap freighter.  The roadway all along the march was in deplorable condition.  How the Jap trucks were able to maneuver about the city without breaking their springs is a mystery.

            The street cars evidently had not been operating for some time and the cars and equipment were piled all along the march.  We were marched to the extreme end of Pier 7 and lined up in our usual groups of a hundred men in each group.  We were told that we would be loaded aboard as soon as some civilian Japanese women, children, and a scattering of what appeared to be old and wounded Japanese soldiers were put aboard.  Among this group of civilians seemed to be a number of younger women in the neighborhood of 20-odd years, of a better type than the women the Japs brought in from the Home Islands for their soldiers.  They appeared more intelligent and were handled with a little more respect than those that went aboard a little earlier.  These last wore a sort of uniform with long pants and a jacket that was closed at the neck, somewhat like the tunic worn by our soldiers in the First World War.  Whoever they were, they received a lot of attention from the crew of the steamer they were boarding.

            Manila Bay was full of hulks of ships sunk, some American, but mostly what looked like Jap freighters.  They were all over the Bay, both inside and outside the breakwater.  Inside the breakwater, I counted 64 ships, and as far as the eye could see, toward Cavite was another 50-odd.  Pier 7 was a wreck and the more one looked about, the more one saw what the amount of damage done to what was the longest pier in the world.  On the north side of Pier 7, three ships were tied up.  One looked as though it had a hard time keeping afloat; the other two were rather modern looking in design and in much better shape as far as paint and the exterior were concerned.  All were equipped with anti-aircraft weapons.  In fact, they were bristling with armament.

            After some time, we were started toward the larger of the three ships, the Oryoku Maru.  It was of about 8,000 tons with three full outside promenade decks.  Aft the decks were covered to the stern.  Some of the men that were conversant with shipping were of the impression that the Oryoku Maru was used prior to the war as a Japanese luxury liner plying between the West Coast of the United States to the Orient and Australia.  The women and children that we saw boarding the ship were put on the lower decks, probably for better protection in case of bombing.  Three weeks had elapsed since the last bombing of the Manila Bay area and most of us were hoping, now that leaving was inevitable, that we would get away before the bombing started in again.

            It was nearly 17.00 when we despaired of getting any food from the Japs and started to eat the food that we had saved from the morning issue.  It was directly after this that we started to board.  Our group of some 800 men was put in the rear hold.  There was another group of some 200 men going down a hold just forward of the bridge.  The rest of our men of the transfer were being placed just forward of where this last group was disappearing below.  We were three decks down a wooden stairway to the deck below, then down a steel ladder to the lower deck, then down another steel ladder to the bowels of the ship.  It was hot and stuffy in this hole with no means of ventilation except the air that came in through the open hatch.  This ship had possibly been used by the Japs to transport troops for there were five or six portable blowers arranged at different spots in the hold that we were in, but these were not connected now nor could attempts to get them to work prove successful.  They kept piling men into this hold till it was so crowded that about all one could do was stand on one's feet.  I have lived in New York City for several years and the way they were shoving us in reminded me so much of a rush hour at one of the subway stations there with those husky subway guards practically putting their knees into the backs of passengers to jam as many as possible into the trains.  I was fortunate in that I was among the last of the group to enter the rear hold.  Some of the first to go down were so crowded up under a sort of platform that had been installed to make two tiers of the area from the deck to the top of the compartment, that long before the ship got under way they were sending some forward under the hatch to revive them.

            It was most awful down there.  One couldn't lie down; you could sit if the whole group would go down together sitting in front of another man with his knees stuck up under your arm pits.  There was nothing in this rear hold but a few pieces of wood that had been ripped down by our men to make a little more room where those temporary tiers had been built fore and aft in the hold.  None of the men were issued life preservers; but the civilian passengers aboard as well as the guards that were in charge of us each had them.

            It was just getting dark when Wada, the Jap interpreter, stuck his head over the side of the hatch to tell us that they were going to issue a ration of food and for the detail to be ready to come topside to bring it down to us.  The detail was immediately formed under Commander Bridget and in a short while this detail came over the side with about ten buckets of rice and several pans of an eel-like fish about the size of one-inch-long shoe string potatoes.  Our gang had not had time to organize with the result that the dividing of this issue was very poorly done and some of those further back in the hold were not served.  Then, too, it was dark with no artificial light anywhere.  By this time, the ship was under way.  We couldn't see anything but we could feel the vibrations, and by looking straight up through the hatch at the stars we could tell that the ship was moving.  We didn't go very far for soon the vibration ceased and we evidently drifted out in the bay beyond the breakwater for the greater part of the night.

            It grew rather cold during the night which was some relief after the stifling period we went through soon after boarding.  Most of us by this time were terribly dehydrated as no water had been issued to us since what we had prior to our departure from Bilibid.  Word was relayed to Wada of our need for water, telling him that we could do without food for the time being, but it was essential that we have water or many of us would die.  In answer to these requests, a little water was sent down, about 3 gallons in a five-gallon can.  Of course, very few were able to have any; only those that the doctor prisoners in our hold deemed necessary.

            This was a terrible night and little sleep was had by anyone although toward morning, when it cooled off a bit, I did manage to doze off for a short time.  All in all, the 13th was a very depressing day for us, starting on our way to Japan and under the trying conditions that we were to go through in this awful ship, with little prospect of even being fed or given the necessary amount of water to survive.  Then, too, our prospects of an early release as prisoners were gone and we could only look forward to a couple more years at the hands of the Japs in some slave prison camp in Japan, or a watery grave from the attack of an American submarine or airplane.  December 13th surely was an unlucky day for us.  At any time we may expect an attack from some of our own planes, and this big liner that we were on would be good bait for those of our boys that were trained Stateside to rid the Pacific of Japanese shipping and the transport of additional Jap troops to the Philippine Islands and other Pacific theaters.  We had a rumor to the effect that a large carrier of one of the American task forces [ed. this was the USS Hornet] was off the coast of Luzon in the Pacific attempting to bottle up Manila Bay.  It seemed logical, so momentarily we expected to be attacked, and we hoped that it would be soon, too, before we got too far away.  Even though we could be hit, some of us would be close enough to get ashore.  True, many of us would be killed in a bombing, but that didn't faze us; we didn't want to go to Japan.

 

December 14th, 1944 (Thursday)

            Well, we didn't have long to wait.  The gray of dawn was just approaching when a commotion was noticed coming from the Japs on the upper decks.  Air raid warnings were being broadcast and the little slant-eyes were excited.  I didn't hear anything, but our boys must have been looking us over.  When I boarded this ship, I took particular notice to see if the Japs had markings of any sort that this ship we were about to board had prisoners of war on it.  There was not a marking of any sort.  Perhaps our boys did come down to see just what type of ship this was that we were on.  At any rate, nothing happened when this first air raid warning took place.  The Japs opened up with their AA and the concussion from this firing gave us quite a start.  It wasn't until about 08.00 when things really began to happen.  At this time, a large number of our planes came over to dive bomb and strafe.  Our detail was top-side getting an issue of food when the attack started.  One man was hit but they managed to get it all into the hold before any serious damage was done.  Everyone got back as far as possible from under the hatch and piled what few belongings they had in front of them for protection from flying shrapnel.  Fragments of bullets were ricocheting down into the hold causing a number of casualties.  During a couple of lulls, food that was brought down earlier was served mixed with a little debris from above.  This was the beginning, and the rest of the day was a nightmare.  The bombing and strafing continued through the entire day until about 17.00.  At least eight or ten separate raids were made.  Usually a large group of planes, some 30 to 40, would work us over for about 20 to 30 minutes followed by a short interval of half an hour or so.  Then it would start over again.

            At first impression, I thought that the greater amount of activity from our planes was concentrated at the other ships of our convoy, probably trying to silence the AA of our escort vessels, but we never knew just what was going on.  One of the men that went topside on one of the chow details reported seeing a Japanese destroyer and a gunboat, one off either side of our bow.  Then, too, there were the other two ships that were tied up to the pier when we boarded our ship, the Oryoku Maru.  We may have hung around drifting last night to fill in a convoy that was building in Manila Bay for the past few days.  The Jap gun crews above us kept up a steady fire from their 50-caliber machine guns, 3-inch pom-poms, and 37-mm. rifles.  We could hear heavy firing from the other ships, too. 

            I spent the better part of the day on the deck just under the hatch.  I tried earlier to get back a little further but the air was so foul and it was so hot that I chose the possibilities of being hit by a stray bullet rather than suffer through the stifling heat back under the hatch bulkhead.  About the only way I could be seriously hurt was if a bomb was to enter the compartment where I was, and if one were to enter the hold through the open hatch, even those in the far corners of the compartment wouldn't be saved.  Most of our casualties of this day's activity were caused by stray bullets and the fragments of stray bullets ricocheting from the bulkhead that was the upper half of the hold.  All day, most of us knew death was very close.  One man next to me was praying continuously.  During the thick of the bombing, someone started the Lord's Prayer and all joined in.  Somehow after that we felt a great deal better.

            I think most of the bombing and strafing was concentrated on the bridge and on the AA just to the starboard of the hold we were in.  It was quite odd when I think of it:  As the raids went on and on, I got very drowsy sitting there in the hold in that stuffy air.  I could sleep easily between raids, just coming to enough to take my bearings.  Late in the afternoon, we heard that we were headed south toward Manila, and a little later I heard the anchor mechanism and I think we stopped.  In a short while, another attack was launched and this time it seemed as though the bombs were hitting the ship a trifle nearer our hold than they were during the earlier raids.  Perhaps our escort vessels had been knocked out and now our boys were trying to put the finishing touches on the ship we were on.  The larger caliber guns aboard seemed to be out, but the 50-caliber machine guns and the pom-poms kept up a steady fire.  During the early afternoon, there seemed more lulls, but at about 16.30 they made what seemed to be the heaviest attack of the day.  I felt at least three hits:  one up near the bridge and two astern.  Often during the day, bombs had hit the water close enough to throw a spout of water to the upper deck and some of it coming down into our hold.  Certainly a lot of fire comes from one plane in a dive.  Bullets were rattling on the plates of the ship, some causing sparks that entered the hold, and we were also sprayed with seawater. 

            They had sent down about four 5-gallon cans which were to be used for feces and urine.  During the air raids, we were not allowed to empty them so that they ran over.  Feces and urine were everywhere.  Most of the men were suffering from dysentery or diarrhea.  It goes without saying what an awful mess we were compelled to be in.  The Jap guards refused to empty these cans and would not allow us to send a detail to do the job.  Commander Bridget was the officer in charge of our hold and he did an excellent job in trying to keep order and to build up morale to the extent that I don't think I was ever awake when he wasn't up on the ladder leading out of the hold doing all that was humanly possible.  During the last few bombings, most of us actually wanted the ship to be hit for we knew that now we were close to shore and if we were hit and sunk, some of us could make it to land and out of this awful hell ship.

            Late in the day, I thought we were anchored again and close to shore and I didn't want the ship to get away north during the night.  At just before sunset, we upped anchor and started toward the east.  We could guess the direction by watching the faint flow of the fading sunset on the mast above at the top of entrance to the hold.  After a bit we headed south, then west for quite a distance before finally turning north again, having made a complete circle.  After traveling north a considerable distance, we again anchored at about 20.00.  None of us could understand the maneuver.  Just about this time, a chaplain in a subdued voice led us in the Lord's Prayer.  I believe all of us Protestant, Catholic, and Agnostic appreciated the fact that we were blessed to have lived through this day and we wanted to thank God for our deliverance.

            Being anchored let no air into the hold at all and the men are getting fretful.  This was a dreadful night.  The lack of food plus no issue of water have some of the men in a deplorable mental and physical condition.  The results are beyond the power of imagination.  Commander Bridget and several other of the older officers attempted to quiet the men but it was an almost impossible task.  All night long the commands of "Quiet, men!" and "At ease!" were repeated over and over again.  Men went stark mad.  Others resorted to blood sucking.  Many men, due to their extreme thirst, would grab canteens that had been used as urinals and drink the contents without thought of the results this would bring on.  Due to the threats of the Jap guards to throw hand grenades into the hold if the men were not quiet, it was necessary to muffle many men who were completely out of their heads and creating the most disturbance.  In some instances, this action resulted in the death of the man.  The hold can best be described as a sweltering mass of thirsty, fear-stricken, mad human beings.  Chips Bolan, a naval corpsman, was acting up so badly that those selected to keep order were commanded to tie him up to the escape ladder.  This seemed to quiet him for awhile but it wasn't very long before he started in with the most awful yells.  On a few occasions, the Jap guard came to quiet us and this time he thrust his rifle over the side of the entrance and we all thought he would empty its contents at random at us lying on the deck.  One of the men went over again to quiet Chips and he got a painful kick in the groin that flattened him.  Then the warrant officer put in charge by Commander Bridget had to take over with the result that he had to knock Chips unconscious.  Unfortunately, he hit him too hard for the blow killed Chips and he was carried topside.

            This was not the only death that occurred at the hands of our men.  Another young lad went out of his head and began calling to the Japanese sentry and attempting to get up the ladder to get at him.  The gist of his shouts was that he had suffered all that he intended to and that he would kill the dirty bastard or die in the attempt.  In order to protect the majority of those of us in the hold from threatened hand grenades, it was necessary to quiet this man; such effort being too great for the blow killed him.  Several stabbings occurred among the men, mostly to get what little water that the victim had held onto.  All told I believe seven men were found killed, not to mention the 38 that died from suffocation in this rear hold.  Among them were some of the hardest working naval doctors we had aboard and my good friend Calvin Coolidge, and Commander Heddy.  All last night, the dead were passed over our heads as we sat on the deck at the base of the ladder, and we had a hard time of it getting those in the back up front due to the crowded conditions in the hold.  So far, we have had no water or food, but maybe we'll be hit early in the morning and be either killed or make shore; anything, or any place but this stinking hole.

            During the night, there was a great deal of running around on the upper decks.  The Japs seemed terribly excited.  A fire had started somewhere on the starboard side of the ship just abaft of the bridge and it seemed to be near the entrance to the hatch of the hold we occupied.  Smoke was being wafted to the area we were in and the men became more frenzied.  Several tried to rush the ladder leading topside and it took all of those that were keeping a cool head to ward off a mad, screaming mob from rushing the ladder and making their way to the upper decks where they would surely have been slaughtered by the Japs on guard.  After a bit, some semblance of order was restored, but there was still a job to do keeping those few wounded and frightened men from bringing on retaliation if any of these men were allowed to stick their heads over the hatch entrance.

            The crackling of flames was getting louder and the swishing of the hose manned by the Japs could be heard quite audibly.  The commotion topside was getting worse for awhile, too, but with it all, most of us kept our heads and in a couple of hours things seemed to be under control and the fire was put out.  Some of us started to get a little more comfortable, lying down in some instances with our feet on each others' shoulders.  Several of those who had passed away were now on the upper decks and there seemed to be a little more room than on the previous night.  There seemed to be a lot of shouting by the Japs and we thought we could hear voices coming from a short distance away, probably from Jap sailors on some boats or launches that were drawn up to the side of our ship.  No food or water has been served to us this day and, with all the commotion, I didn't blame the Japs for making us go without food, but they might have sent down a little water.  We don't know where we are, but it must be somewhere near shore for we can hear the put-put of smaller water craft coming and leaving the side of our ship.  The Japs are still wearing life-preservers.  Being anchored, it is getting terribly hot and some of the men are going nuts again.  They have attempted to make a check on the number of men missing and, so far, the nearest figure is about 30.  We all think that the women and children are being taken off for we could hear the voices of women and crying of children now and then.  We could also hear the voices of some of the men in the other holds.  They, too, were having a time of it, for occasionally the command of "Quiet!  Pipe down!" in English, comes to us from above over the other noises.

 

December 15th, 1944 (Friday)

            Today dawned with a great amount of activity.  I dozed off, but no doubt the activity continued through the night.  I felt a little better; at least we were still anchored and that meant that, possibly after all, we would not leave the Islands and that we were somewhere off the Philippine coast.  To me, the ship seemed to be in fair condition.  It had moved under its own power last night and we were only hoping that the ship couldn't get away.  Although we felt that the wounded soldiers, as well as the women and children had been removed, we still had an inkling that the Japs might still attempt to get us out of the Philippines and that we would be kept on board.  We fully expected the American planes to return at dawn and finish the job.  The Jap soldiers were obviously excited.  Wada was around trying to quiet us and those forward, for we could hear his squeaking voice now and then.  He came to the head of our hatch and stated that in an hour or two the ship would be brought to a pier and we would be put ashore.  He gave orders that we were to leave everything and come topside with only pants, shirt, canteen and mess-kit when we were told to leave the hold.

            Shortly after this announcement, he returned to tell us that we might take our shoes if we carried them, but we were not to wear them.  It was still dark and most of us were stirring around making preparations for going ashore, now realizing that we were to swim for it.  Packs were unwrapped and men were stuffing what few valuables they had on their person or tying them up in small pieces of rags and tying them around their waist, under their pants, or filling their pockets with tooth brush and a few toilet articles.  Anyone that had anything eatable was passing it around knowing that we couldn't get by with any bulk items.  Someone had saved a can of Klim and I had about a couple ounces given to me.  As thirsty as we were, it was difficult to swallow and I nearly gagged getting what little I had down, but somehow I managed.  My water canteen was empty, of course, but I let it stay on my belt and picked up another that had been discarded and snapped it to my belt, being sure that the tops were tight.  I knew that they would give me buoyancy were I to tire in the water if we were to swim and we were too far from shore.  None of us were too strong before we started on this trip and since we boarded this hell hole, what with the lack of water and food, plus the anxious hours that we had gone through since the evening, we were in no condition to be in the water a very long time.  By now, very few had any food left from the meager supply they had taken along with them from Bilibid.  In my blanket roll that I had opened, I had remaining a little tobacco and papers.  I tried to roll a cigarette and smoke it thinking it might quiet my nerves, but the first drag gagged me and I gave it up as a bad job and left the remaining tobacco I had on the deck with the balance of my remaining things.  However, I made a neat roll of these items thinking that later, if we did return to the ship, I stood a chance of retrieving these articles.

            It was just about daylight when the interpreter, Wada, came to the top of the hatch.  The ship was still anchored.  He said that we were to go ashore and to line up in groups of 25.  Arrangements for the sick and wounded were made and they were told to make ready to go in the first group along with strong-enough men to handle them should they be compelled to hit the water.

            This first group was about ready to leave when the Japs started getting excited again with shouts and orders that gave us the impression that the Americans were on their way and had been sighted.  We tried to clear the hatch opening as much as possible but we were still too crowded and I could only get my back up against the bulkhead directly under the open hatch.  We heard the motors of the planes and probably the boys were just looking us over for on this first run no bombs were dropped.  There didn't seem to be any firing from the gun just over the hatch, so probably this had been knocked out of commission on the last run our boys made yesterday when they started that fire on the starboard side just abaft of amidships.  Also, this first run of planes may have been pursuits clearing the air of any Jap planes that may be hovering in this area.  At any rate, we had a breathing spell.  In a short while, another flight came over.  From where I was, I could see one group of five planes up about 10,000 feet going from the starboard to the port.  The AA on our ship didn't open fire this time and I was under the impression that they may have been Jap planes for, at that height, I couldn't distinguish the type very well.

            Shortly after, another flight crossed my vision.  Then another, and all this time not a shot was fired from the planes or our ship.  Some started to figure that the Japs had removed the AA during the night.  Our decks appeared lifeless and with no activity, our boys may have thought that the ship had been abandoned for it did seem to be listing slightly.

            About half an hour had elapsed since the first warning had been given, but now everything was more or less quieted down and Wada returned to tell us to start the first group of 25 up the ladder to go ashore.  They went on their way, dragging the sick and wounded with them.  They hadn't left the hold more than ten minutes when the second batch was called for.  They were part way up the ladder when the guard at the top of the companionway excitedly ordered them back.  In a very short while, we could hear the drone of many planes.  I managed to get to the spot just under the hatch opening and sat down.  As I did so, I looked up through the opening and several planes wee peeling from their formation and heading for our ship and we all felt that this time we were in for it.

            It was evident that this attack was different than any we had gone through before.  The bombs seemed to be heavier and the concentration seemed to be on this ship we were on.  I saw one of the boys peel off and it seemed he was headed directly for this particular hatch.  His machine guns were spurting flame and I could follow the tracer bullets.  They were leaving my vision to land forward.  At about some 1500 feet, he pulled out of his dive.  I saw the two bombs leave his plane, wobble a minute, then head for the ship.  I followed the flight of the missile, fascinated, and it seemed that it was heading right for this hold.  It didn't, though.  It landed so close that it knocked the planks loose that were partially covering the hatch along with three I-beams.  I must have passed out for awhile, and when I came to I couldn't move.  The hold was practically clear of men and I was pinned down so that I couldn't move.  Men were over me removing a beam that was laying across my legs and they felt numb.  Another piece of debris was across my back and that, too, felt as though something was wrong.  After a bit, I was liberated and I found that at least no bones were broken but I could hardly move my left leg.

            The hold by now was full of smoke and there was a definite list to the ship toward the port side.  There were many dead and wounded men under the debris, how many I don't know.  I was able to aid a little in clearing some of the wreckage from the men pinned under the hatch covers and the I-beams and I am sure that there was no living person in the hold when I started to make it to the ladder to get out.  My leg still bothered quite a bit, but my head was clearing.  When I reached the deck, very few remained on board.  I still had my belt on with the two empty canteens attached to my belt, but I started to look around for a life preserver as there were many scattered on the deck.  Dead were everywhere, mostly Jap soldiers, and the decks were littered with personal belongings of both American prisoners and Japanese.  Some of the Japs were still on board and I saw one firing his rifle at objects in the water on the starboard side, probably our men that had left the ship on that side instead of the port side that was nearer the shore.  I sneaked out of his sight and headed toward the port rail where I could see a ladder leading down to the water.  On the way, I encountered an American and gave him the preserver I had picked up and aided him to the ladder and started him on his way down.

            Nearby was another American in rather bad shape claiming he couldn't walk.  I tried to lift him and we both landed in a heap.  I scouted around, picked up another life-preserver, tied it on him and hollered to some of our men on a large plank to stand by; I would help to get this man over the side.  He was a game sort and after a slight struggle he was finally got to the rail and I shoved him overboard.  The men on the plank had him hanging on with them.  I again tried to make my way down the companionway, but I just couldn't get my left leg to cooperate. 

            All during this time, Japs were on different parts of the ship firing at men in the water.  One headed my way from the starboard side of the ship.  I hid behind the bulkhead under the bridge till after he had gone down the companionway to the water.  I then headed aft almost opposite to the hatch I had escaped from and leaped overboard.  When I landed in the water, I was stunned for a moment but soon recovered.  It was odd, but I could use my leg and I started to swim toward shore.  Men were everywhere in the water.  The ship was listing badly and all were hollering to get clear should she roll and start under.  Somehow or other this warning didn't bother me and I kept up a slow steady swim.  Shore was about 500 yards away.  It was a beautiful sunshiny day and the green shore, blue water and sky, and the fresh air after our dark, oppressive hold was startling and beautiful.  The ship seemed to be floating when I glanced back, only slightly lower in the water and listing a bit more to the port.  After a little while in the water, the shoes I had about my neck started to impair my progress in that the laces kept tangling around my arms, so I abandoned the only pair of shoes I had.  The hollering that the ship was about to sink was disconcerting, but I didn't hurry for I didn't see any immediate danger for now I was some 50 yards away.

            I felt myself getting weaker and as I came abreast of a 2X4 about 5-feet long, I grabbed on to it to aid my buoyancy.  The feeling now in the cold clear water was indescribably pleasant and it made me feel better after the conditions we had gone through for the past 48 hours.  It was my first swim since before the war way back in December 1941, but I felt safe although quite weak in the water.  Looking back at the ship again I was amazed at the extent of damage done by the different bombings.  A large portion of the stern was completely blown away and the ship looked as though it should be in the scrap heap and not still floating in these beautiful surroundings.  There was hardly a section that was not pitted, twisted, or bent by the bullets and bombs.  What a waste, from the beautiful ship we had boarded the day before yesterday. 

            By now, I was up to several men making toward the shore.  One old fellow was having an awful time trying to make headway aboard a large contraption made of wood that had probably been blown from the ship.  He said he couldn't swim, but he was very cooperative and very calm.  I tried to pull one of the planks from this object that he was hanging on to.  I believe it was part of a latrine that the Japs had lashed to the side of the ship for use by the Japanese men passengers.  I couldn't get it off so I let him have the piece of 2X4 that I had just picked up and he again started toward shore.  Close to him, I came upon another man, excruciatingly thin, who was having a hard time of it.  He had no floating support.  Nearby was yet another prisoner on an exceptionally large hatch plank on which he was making fair headway.  This latter man bitched like hell when I aided the nice thin man over to cling to the plank and I ignored entirely the ravings of the man who claimed it was his plank.  There was nothing Plankman could do about it and they finally, in unison, started hand-paddling toward shore.

            I kept swimming rather slowly, conserving my strength.  My leg started to act up a bit, so I kicked along with my right leg and scanned the water looking for any more weak swimmers that I might come upon.  Planes came flying over again but terribly high up, but I was hoping that I would be on shore should they start another run to sink the ship.  I didn't want to be in the water if they started bombing again for I was not sure what effect a bomb landing in the water would have on a swimmer.  When I was half way to the shore, four planes came from nowhere flying no more than a few hundred feet above the water which was filled with frantically shouting and waving Americans.  One peeled off, came still lower and definitely dipped his wings in recognition of us.  After that, I felt sure that there would be no more bombing for the time being at least, and I again leisurely swam on.  Again I looked back at the ship and now it was really afire.  Smoke was belching from many parts and I thought I saw flames emerging from an area about where the entrance to our former hold was situated.  Most smoke seemed to come from the stern.

            As I arrived near shore, I began to feel chilled and very tired.  I had been in the water for nearly half an hour and, for the moment, I didn't think I'd make the short remaining distance, but I managed.  As my feet touched bottom, a Navy officer helped drag me to dry land on the beach.  I tried to stand but couldn't make it.  I was completely exhausted; my leg was swelling badly and a large black and blue spot covered the area from the knee to my waistline.  It wasn't broken, though.  I remained where I had been aided on the beach, trying to get up enough strength to carry on to follow the rest of the men that seemed to be heading in the brush through an opening off the beach.  A Jap guard came over to where I lay and started to prod me on with his bayonet.  I didn't move fast enough to suit him so he jabbed a little harder.  The bayonet entered my bad leg in two places.  I didn't feel it though, but as soon as I was on my feet and laboriously making my way to follow the line of men in front of me, my leg started bleeding profusely, running down my leg and leaving a small pool of blood with each step I took.  Just as I was to turn off the beach and head through the brush, Commander Joses took me by the arm and sat me down at a place the prisoner doctors had set up to take care of those too sick or wounded to walk further.  He had the bayonet wound treated in no time and I was started on my way with the rest of the men, barefooted, and so tired and weary.

            The Japs had a great many sentries all along the path we were to follow, some in civilian dress and a few Jap marines.  The letter had their regular rifles with bayonets affixed and most of the civilians were armed with what looked like no more than a long bamboo pole with a wicked looking knife or dagger tied on the end, somewhat like a 6 or 7-foot spear.  They were an ugly-looking lot and kept prodding us along the line of march.  Frankly, they looked frightened of us, at least the civilians.  I know I felt that they were and I'd stare them down every time they started toward me.  Invariably, they'd back off and start to annoy the next man with their antics.  We walked about 300 yards to a wooded area.  Most everyone sat down and started drying out their clothing.  We didn't have very much to bother with at that.  I had all I possessed on my back:  a shirt and a pair of pants; I had lost the rest getting ashore except these items and a spoon, and the belt with the two canteens. 

            Soon a long water line was started.  I couldn't stand, so Ed Short and Stud Ulmer took one apiece with their own and joined the water line.  They were in the line fairly early and were able to get the four filled.  It was the first water since leaving Bilibid three days ago.  We had made the long march to the pier and had spent those hot, sweltering days in the hold. 

            We began to see a few friends and all considered it a miracle that any of us were still alive.  They mentioned the horrors that they had experienced in the other holds, the one way forward and the one just under the bridge.  There were about 600 in the forward hold and some 200 in the center hold.  The ones in the forward hold were on the same deck as those of us in the rear.  The men in the center hold were one deck above us.  The forward men were in about the same type of compartment as we in the aft area.  Their quarters extended way forward and aft of this compartment with sleeping shelves that had just enough room to sit up, each man overlapping the other.  The suffering in the overpowering heat was indescribable.  Also, on the second night with the heat, and ventilation even worse, the forward hold became a madhouse.  Their condition cannot be described or imagined.  Many that went mad with the heat were knocked out, too, and some of them killed by their neighbors.  The screaming, knifing, blood sucking, with feces and urine everywhere, the sick being trampled beyond recognition.  A Maj. Bud Bertz and a Col. Drummond died that way.  The temperature rose to nearly 110F and the bodies literally shriveled up from dehydration and some were unrecognizable.

            This morning, on Friday, 15th December, during the early raid, a large bomb broke through the side of the ship killing and wounding many.  So far, 300 have been reported missing.  About half of these died from suffocation, heat and dehydration; the balance actually murdered by Jap guards.  Some think that a few escaped over the starboard rail, but I doubt that very much for the Japs were on that side of the ship firing at those that left the ship there. 

            The medical officers and men of both the Army and Navy were quick to help arrange and organize a hospital area.  Among us were about a hundred severely wounded or very sick.  There were practically no medicines or dressings.  A few had first aid packets.  A few had first aid packets and these were quickly collected and turned over to the hospital activities.  A Chaplain McDonald had a very bad looking fractured jaw; a Major Gult got hold of a piece of brass wire and affixed it somehow.  About noon, American planes came back and bombed the wrecked ship, Orokyu Maru, again and some heavy bombs hit her squarely amidships.  She burst into flames almost instantly from stem to stern and, burning rapidly with many dull explosions, soon turned over and grounded.  Had we been aboard for this final bombing, very few, if any, would have been saved.  Shortly after, four American planes came over, apparently looking us over.  They circled around very carefully over the area we were in.  Three of them were reported to have dipped their wings to us and we felt encouraged that at last we had been recognized, although we didn't dare wave back.

            In the latter part of the afternoon, we were moved over to a single tennis court about 200 yards away.  There was about 15 feet of space around the outside of the actual concrete court and 1500 of us were crowded in this combined area, with the 100 or more hospital patients taking up considerable room on one end.  We could all barely sit down.  To lie down, one would have to be partly on his neighbor.  There was no food today; none had been given us since Thursday morning, the 14th, however everyone did get a fair amount of water.  It's odd, but when the boys brought back my canteen with the first water, my throat was so parched that I could not swallow and most of the men I talked with experienced the same condition.  We have been in this area since nine o'clock; it's now starting toward dusk . . . and no food.  A roll call is in progress and from the best figures our group is down to 1340 from the original 1619.  This afternoon, I witnessed, I believe, the most bombing accuracy when our fliers came back and bombed and strafed areas within 50 to 100 yards on all sides of the tennis court.  These fliers knew, I am sure, that we were Americans for they would fly very low over the tennis court and dip their wings as they leveled out of their graceful dives. 

            Some of the men hadn't had any sleep for three nights and days.  All were tired and exhausted from saving their own lives and, where possible, helping the weaker ones and those that were practically out of their head.  Toward morning, alongside Pete Going, Stud Ulmer, Ed Short, and Young Clark, I did manage to fall off to sleep on the hard concrete.  During the bombing this afternoon, I couldn't get over the accuracy of those pilots.  The planes would come in steep dives, some almost vertically all around and directly over us.  Bombs were dropped close on all sides of us, tossing whistling fragments clear over us.  No one was hurt.  The majority of the planes dove right for us, dropping their bombs short of us, but the bombs kept on passing over and exploding past us.  There was no cover to be taken, so I just lay on my back and watched plane after plane diving and bombs falling.  It was as pretty a view as anyone could have of bombing and I doubt if many, if any, have ever had a better one and lived to tell it.

 

December 16th, 1944 (Saturday)

            Today was another miserable day with stifling heat, but we were getting water and the little rest that we were able to get since we landed has helped considerably although you can see the men wasting away from lack of food.  Late this afternoon, the Japs sent in one 50-kilo sack of raw rice.  It was probably 20% short of weight due to leaks.  It took us a long time to arrange ourselves in rows for sleeping squads that we had to put off doling out this issue till later, possibly till morning.  We hoped by then the Japs would allow us containers for cooking.  I am very hungry as are all the men, and the topic is drifting around to what we wouldn't do to have a nice juicy steak with French fried potatoes and the fixings. 

            Now that we are better organized, we seem to have a little more room; not too much, but with two or three snuggling together and turning at the same time, a little sleep can be had.  It isn't as cold tonight either, for the concrete has retained some of the heat built up by the sun's rays during the day.  Col Beecher announced later in the evening that a message had been dispatched to Manila and that food and clothing was on its way to us.  We certainly hope so.

 

December 17th, 1944 (Sunday)

            The ration, if you can call it that, of raw rice was served out first thing this morning.  Each man received about 2 level mess-kit spoonfuls.  It was very dirty, moldy, and in it were some maggots.  As soon as I received mine, I soaked it in some water.  The dust and dirt came to the surface, but we didn't bother to wash it for fear of losing some of the nutriment.  Otherwise, we would have to throw the greater portion away if we got too fussy about the powderings caused by the worms working on the whole grain.

            There has been no bombing today and the weather is a little cooler, and a lot more comfortable.  The latrine situation up till today was a problem, but a detail has been assigned and things are being cleaned up and some semblance of sanitary conditions are noticeable.  We are using many 16 and 18-ounce can containers for urinating in, and then these are emptied down a drain that has been arranged.  This relieves the tension on the line that was established yesterday going outside the enclosure two or three at a time under guard.  This latter line is now only for those wanting to defecate.

            We are now drawing drinking water by squads rather than individually.  That partly removes the need for another line and is a great improvement.  We are getting our sleeping rows spaced a little better than last night which will give us a bit more room.  However, we are still not able to stretch out at night.  My leg is bothering me some but not nearly as bad as the morning we landed here.  More raw rice today; about 2 spoonfuls of the same type as the day previous.  After dark, three trucks arrived near our area and some of the boys recognized them as having come from the prison camp at Cabanatuan.  We heard they had clothing and cauldrons for cooking and, we sincerely hoped, food.

           

December 18th, 1944 (Monday)

            Today was a scorcher.  The hospital of about a hundred men were allowed to go over to an area a little distance from this tennis court enclosure to a small grove of trees to get in the shade.  This morning, I was given a shirt with long sleeves for I haven't had anything to cover up the upper part of my body.  Some men who were without pants were given old pieces of discarded clothing brought to us today by the Japs.  Most of the items seem to be clothing picked up by the Japs that had been discarded by the retreating Filipino soldiers.  At least they were not American GI issue, but we were thankful for anything that could be used to cover our bare bodies.

            We are suffering from the sun and heat, sitting out in the sun all day without any protection from the burning rays.  Last night it was awfully cold, and I finally took a little grass that I had gathered and was using as a makeshift mattress between me and the concrete and put it on top of me, trying to create a blanket.  It seemed to help a little and toward early morning I managed to get off to sleep.  We had been promised cooked chow but, as usual, the only cooking done outside of our enclosure was for the Japs.  Again we had raw rice; this time three spoonfuls per man with a half cup of salt to be divided between 57 of us.  The salt was surely needed.  Col. Beecher is having a hard time checking the roster of the living and he has been about eight men off.

 

December 19th, 1944 (Tuesday)

            Last night was the coldest we have had.  What I would have done without the shirt given to me yesterday, I don't know.  We freeze all night, and swelter in the heat all day.  For the past two days, I have been having terrible pains in my stomach but I thank God that the pain in my leg is diminishing.  I think I'm in for a case of diarrhea, but I haven't been able to have a bowel movement for the past six days or since I left Bilibid, and I have been trying to every chance I get to go to the straddle trench outside the tennis court.  I certainly hope, after seeing some of the boys that are down with the runs, that I don't have this ailment to contend with along with my bad leg. 

            The entire group was allowed to go over to the shade of the grove of trees.  They checked each person against the roster as we went through the gate.  I was in the last group and it was nearly 14.00 before I was able to get by the gate and, when we did get under the trees there wasn't any shade anyway.  I am a lot weaker today and I get blackouts when I stand.  I stagger when I walk and my leg doesn't help any.  My knees are like rubber and to cap it off I am breaking out with Guam blisters which are not too comfortable.  If something doesn't happen soon so that we can get food and a wash, we will all be beyond medical aid.  Still no bowel movement and I tried again today; perhaps the pains are from hunger.

            I had scarcely sat down when we were ordered to go back to the enclosure.  They wanted 50 volunteers to help the weaker ones back.  I couldn't help anyone, in fact Ed Short had to help me along.  A Col. Feeny [ed. perhaps he means Lt. Col. Samuel W. Freeney, USMC] was so bad off that they had to practically carry him, and he had always been the picture of health at the Cabanatuan Camp.  We had our usual raw rice and a pinch of salt issued to us when we had again settled in on the tennis court.  There were three spoonfuls of rice and a spoonful of salt this time.  We have been praying that they would serve us cooked rice today, but I guess it's a little too much to expect from these heathens.  I wonder how much longer we can stand it.  Water is plentiful, but I try to drink none after 15.00 so that I won't have to try to make it in the dark over a blanket of humans to the urinal and back.  I tried it once and it took me better than half an hour stepping between prostrate forms with my bum leg.  Practically every inch of the enclosure is covered with sleeping men with hardly enough room for one to put a foot down, especially in the pitch dark.

 

December 20th, 1944 (Wednesday)

            A week has passed since we left Bilibid, and six days since our last cooked chow.  Except for the spoonfuls of raw rice, we have had nothing to eat for this period, and this raw rice is getting worse.  Actually, a spoonful issued contains about half rice and the rest dirt, mold, insect residue, worms, rat and lizard droppings, and a few more choice items.  Try eating it without salt sometime and you can imagine what a dandy dish it is.  It is probably keeping some of us alive and I'm wondering if that's too good at that.

            It was a trifle warmer last night, but I didn't get much sleep.  The concrete is raising heck with my bony frame and it's almost impossible for me to lay on my side any longer; my hip bones protrude.  The concrete is causing unbearable pain.  In fact, sores have started to form on both sides of my skin over my hip bones.  There was a new moon early this morning and it brought to mind many moons that I have seen coming out over the ocean off Horseneck Beach in good ol' New England.  I've gotten so that I can tell rather accurate time of the night by the position of Orion.  He comes up at dark and sets about early dawn. 

            I am feeling a lot weaker this morning.  My stomach still feels restless but not quite so painful as it had a day or two previous.  Many men are coming down with dysentery and I only hope I don't get it.  I picked up a cold in the past night and now my nose is running terribly.  With a bad cold and no handkerchiefs, not even a place to expectorate, I'm in a helluva mess.  About 08.00, the Japs gave us another sack of rice and we had three spoonfuls, using up the last of the salt we were issued the other day.  22 trucks came in early this morning, so I guess we are to be moved today.  No one has any idea where they will take us to, but Cabanatuan and Bilibid feature prominently in the rumors floating around.  Frankly, I'd be more than satisfied with either place than this godforsaken tennis court.

            To save the life of Cpl. Specht of the Marine Corps whose arm was badly shattered when hit by a bomb during the last bombing of the ship, Lt. Col. Schwartz had to amputate the arm without anesthetic or medical instruments using an ordinary knife for the operation and giving the patient two small tablets of codeine after he had completed the amputation.  I don't think Specht has a chance in a thousand because gangrene had set in a day or so ago and he had been practically out of his mind for the better part of this time.

            Since we left the Orokyu Maru, we have had a few deaths and we buried our seventh this morning and another has since died.  It's a disgrace; the burial detail can only dig a shallow grave in the sand at the beach nearby.  There are many more here that won't make it now.  It's another day of stifling heat and its going to be an awful ordeal when we are compelled to put some 50 men in each of the trucks when we leave here.  I doubt if more than half of us could walk a city block to save our lives.  How they will expect us to stand a truck trip of from 50 to 100 miles on our feet is more than I can fathom, but these damn slant-eyes will try anything regardless.  Looks like many will not be able to fill their canteens before we leave for they are starting to herd us together for the departure.  A lot of the men have no canteens anyway and are using bottles or anything that will hold liquid.  I gave my extra one to Ed Short and we both split our supply of water with two other men, Stud Ulmer and Pete Going.  I sure hope we are not headed for another boat, and I certainly hope we get something to eat today.

            I have had a lot of time to meditate and pray, and I haven't neglected my thoughts of God.  In fact, my praying has been a great consolation to me, and sometimes I feel that God is watching over me and aiding through these trials.  I pray always that I'll return to the States sound in mind and body and that this horrible world conflict will cease, too.  I pray that if my time has come, that I go quickly and not linger to suffer as I have witnessed the suffering surrounding me.  I pray for strength that I will be strong enough to aid some of my fellow companions on this trip and arrive at whatever our destination is without too much more suffering.

            Well, we didn't all get away today; only about half of us.  The critically sick and wounded, group one, and a part of group two, plus a few that sneaked aboard the trucks from group three.  The balance of us remained under the trees.  I understand the figures as they now stand are 1341 accounted for on the shore after abandoning the ship, leaving 258 dead or missing from bombs and other causes.  Up to this afternoon, eight more have died from wounds, starvation and dysentery.  Late in the afternoon, we were again herded to the tennis court and, after reorganization, we that were left had a lot more room and comfort.  We had another issue of raw rice but this time better than eight level spoonfuls (those unpredictable Japs!).  I certainly hope there is not more bombing to experience before we get to our next destination.  One of the Taiwan guards said "No go Cabanatuan.  Go Bilibid, Manila," but I don't think he knows what he is talking about any more than we know where we are going.  I hope Manila, though, for some of the boys we left behind there have a fair store of extra chow.  Just to have one saucer of cooked rice would be something.  Each truck that left here carried only 35 men which is surprisingly few considering we left Cabanatuan with 40 to 50 on each truck.  Perhaps these trucks are smaller.

 

December 21st, 1944 (Thursday)

            Last night was a trifle warmer and we had some of the grass from the groups that departed yesterday left behind for us to use.  About 22.00 I struggled over to the water spigot when no one was there and, with a small piece of rag, gave myself a sponge bath and I felt a lot more refreshed.  It started to rain about midnight.  I covered myself with the grass but luckily it didn't rain very hard or long.  This is the second night that we thought we were in for a good rainstorm, but both times it rained only a little.  If we were to get a good soaking on a cold night, it would be terrible in the condition we are in.  I had pneumonia the first month of our captivity [ed. -- in 1942] and occasionally I get sharp pains from my lung area, especially on my right side.

This morning, we received another big rice issue.  This time, we had 10 spoonfuls, and, of all things, they gave us a salted fish so that when ground up, head bones and all, each man received a spoonful of meat and bones.  Uncooked of course, but our first protein since the night we boarded the Orokyu Maru on the 13th of Dec.

            Early this morning we heard some planes that looked like they were Americans, but we heard no bombing in this vicinity.  I hope we are at Bilibid and they give us an extra helping of cooked rice for our Xmas dinner, but perhaps that is asking too much.  At 09.00, we started over to the shaded area again and before we had all arrived, the trucks returned.  We waited around half an hour or so before loading.  First they put aboard Jap equipment, cooking colanders, sacked rice and tubs of fish.  Seeing all that food and cooking paraphernalia, I somehow thought that it had been sent here for us and that all our starving and suffering was entirely unnecessary and shouldn't have happened.  We were finally loaded with the food stuff and a 50-gal. drum of gasoline.  The trucks were heavily camouflaged with branches of trees.  The trucks are much smaller than the ones we used from Cabanatuan and with the 35 men plus four guards, two drivers, and all the equipment, we are jammed in and made to sit on one another. 

            There are 23 trucks in the convoy traveling east slowly over a terrible road.  The surface is completely worn off of what once was a fair highway.  Now it is full of ruts and washouts and large stones sticking up every few feet.  Prior to the war, this was a good, wide two-way road but now the jungle has overgrown the shoulders and it is hardly one lane.  Quite a change from when Col. Smith and I drove to Olongapo just a couple of years back.  The bouncing on our skinny butts was terrible and the cramping of our feet and legs was almost unbearable.  I know that when we do arrive at our destination, someone will have to help me out with my bum leg.  After we left the mountain area, the trucks were stopped and the guards got off and cut more branches that we were told to hold over our heads to camouflage the trucks.

            We arrived at San Fernando, Pampanga, at about 16.30 and, as I thought, I had to be carried by Ed Short.  I just couldn't move my leg and the other one had gone completely dead on me.  We were all herded into a Cine theatre building.  The seats had been removed and piled to the sides of the orchestra floor.  Every inch of the concrete floor space was used and some of the officers were stretching out on the old stage.  Even so, we were not nearly as crowded as we had been at the tennis court.  We had to climb out of a side window to get to the latrines and for the first time since the 13th I had a bowel movement.  Believe me, it was painful but consequently I was feeling a lot better.

            My one leg had come back to life and the left one didn't hurt too badly, not nearly as badly as it had at the tennis court.  Perhaps the rumor that we would be in Manila in the morning was having a healing effect on my entire being.  Then, too, we were issued about a half cupful of beautifully cooked rice and a little salt.  It was over seven days ago since we had any semblance of a good meal and, considering, this issue was the tastiest dish I believe I had ever had.

 

December 22nd, 1944 (Friday)

            By the time we were served chow last night, it was dark.  There are only four small windows in this building so you can imagine how very dark it is.  About half a cup of rice was issued to each man, then they had an additional issue of about three cupfuls for 35 men allowing an additional two spoonfuls extra to each man.  It was difficult in the dark to properly serve this issue so that some of the men didn't get this last additional amount.  In fact, someone stole our group's three cupfuls.  You can't blame hungry men too much, but that is the very thing we have had to contend with since Bataan fell.

            It was very hot when we bedded down for the night, but before midnight it turned quite chilly.  A draft blew on us and most all were very cold.  I'd gone to sleep about ten but awakened cold and with the chills.  I believe it was one of the longest nights for me.  I missed the bunch of grass that I had left behind at the tennis court to crawl under, and my sore rump and sorer hips made my night most uncomfortable.  This morning we each received a rice ball about the size of a tennis ball, made from the rice left over from last night. 

            Nothing seems to be happening today and it looks as though we may stay here for a few days.  They started cooking rice at about 14.00.  A Maj. Roby is in charge of the mess.  He was issued four sacks of rice, some seaweed in a box about 3'X18"X18", supposedly a two-day ration for our crowd.  Also, he later on got some camotes [sic]; not many, though.  All were issued a half cup of cooked rice in the morning and about cup in the afternoon with a small camote with the afternoon issue.  It is the first time we have anything near a maintenance diet since a week ago last Wednesday.  To most of us now, plain steamed rice with a little salt is the best tasting food in the world.  I remember a Philippine officer in Bataan telling me of the Philippine soldiers getting about a cupful of rice twice daily during the siege of that area, and how satisfied they were with their diet at that time.  Never did I realize how thoroughly we agree with him now.

            Rumors are flying that the rest of our group are bedded down in a building near here (actually, they were in the provincial jail about eight blocks from here).  It is also said that the Americans have made several landings on Mindanao and Luzon, and that the civilian population is evacuating Manila.  Several raids took place today and we think Clark Field was given a going-over again.  My cold is getting pretty bad and I hope we don't have many more cold nights such as last night was, and that we are moved out of this place where we can spend a little more comfortable Xmas.  I feel that this is a hot spot here and any minute our boys may be over to blast the place.  This town is a military headquarters (San Fernando, Pampango) for the Japs in this area.  All civilians have been moved out, and it therefore would be a good target.  We are just off the turn from the main road from Lingayen to Manila and on the main road from that ties to the road to Bataan and Olangapo.  Sometimes I think these Nips are deliberately trying to put us in hot spots hoping our own bombs will bump us off and save them the trouble and possible embarrassment.  Three have died today, among them Cpl. Specht, the boy who had his arm amputated by Col. Schwartz.

 

December 23rd, 1944 (Saturday)

            I am wondering where we will be Xmas.  Last night about 22.00, Wada, the Nip interpreter, came.  He talked with Col. Beecher and Maj. Roby for some time.  After Wada had left, we gathered from the men that we were to be moved today.  There was something about a march somewhere and something about feeding us earlier, soon after the sickest men of the group were segregated.  Soon they were loading these men aboard a truck.  This morning we found that 11 from our group and four from the group at the jail were sent from here, probably to Manila [ed. Some evidence exists that these men never made it to Manila, or anywhere else.  They may have been taken aside, beheaded, and the bodies dumped into unmarked ditches and covered over.  In short, they were never seen again.].  No one knows how, when or where the rest of us will go.

            This morning they started cooking our rice at about 02.00 and feeding us about sunrise, and what a feed!  There was a full cup of well-cooked rice, cooked with seaweed and camote and  a little salt.  It's probably the best breakfast we have had in years; usually we got lugao.  They are still cooking so probably we'll get some more before we leave.  The rumor has us leaving here at about 11.00, perhaps a little later.  We will all be glad to get out of here but we hope not for a worse place.  And we all pray that they have given up the idea of getting us out of the Philippines.  This is a dark, dismally-lighted, dirty place, dungeon-like and very depressing.  None of the men have shaved or been able to bathe, not even our hands, for the better part of 12 days.  We look a sight and smell far worse.  Many are down with dysentery, diarrhea, some are just starving to death.  My leg is bothering me a great deal, but the swelling seems to be going down.  The bandage has come off my bayonet wound but the cut seems to be healing.  I have the long pants now and they keep the flies off.  About the only thing bothering me at this time is my runny nose and there isn't a thing that I can do about it.

            All have worn the same clothes, rolling in utmost filth for the past ten days.  Some of the men have changed so drastically that one has to look twice to recognize a friend.  There is nothing we can do all day but take it easy to conserve strength and try to be ready for anything that happens to us.  Diarrhea is exceptionally bad today and the entire floor is soiled and stinking.  I think sleeping on the filthy floors has contaminated the lot of us; if not at the present, these diseases will soon break out.  We are so packed that those that are suffering from the runs cannot make it to the latrine at night.  The men are so close together that if a conscientious lad tries to make the latrine and he steps on his sleeping neighbor, even though he can't possibly help doing so in the dark, there is hell to pay.  So all night, from different parts of the cine, the cursing and swearing and hollering is terrible.

            Multiple times this morning there has been several issues of chow.  Shortly after the cupful at breakfast, they handed us a half cupful; then a little later, there was another cupful; and still later another cupful plus two spoonfuls of raw rice.  I ate a part of all this and saved the last 2 cupfuls and the raw rice for later.  All day long we were on the alert to move but nothing happened.  At about 17.00, we started to get our old places in readiness for another night in this hellhole.  Maj. Roby cooked up the rest of the rice he had on hand and with the few camotes he had left, he put it out to us along with a spoonful of seaweed.  It was a good meal.  Maj. Roby said that there were a few air raids going on while he was outside doing the cooking and that some of them were of great intensity.  That probably explains why we did not get away today.  The rumor still persists that we'll go to Manila and Bilibid.

 

December 24th, 1944 (Sunday)

            This morning we were up early after another night of diarrhea and the floors covered in filth.  We were marched to the railroad station about a kilometer away, arriving there at about 08.00.  No food was issued since last night.  At about 09.00, we were joined by the balance of the group from the tennis court.  After a considerable wait, we were loaded aboard the small, short 4-wheel Philippine steel box cars, about 175 to 200 crowded into each car.  It was just possible to stand and leave room enough at the entrance area for the four guards.  The doors on one side were bolted shut and, with all standing, there was hardly a breath of air.  But, by twisting and squeezing and wrapping legs around each other, we finally managed to get half of the men sitting down, leaving those around the sides of our box car standing.  Also, some 15 to 20 men were on the roof of each car with two guards.  These men were told to wave to any possible American planes that might take a dive for us.  Most of the cars had been shot up a bit previous to our boarding, and several near the station were total wrecks.  The station itself had been badly shot up, too, and at some recent date, bombs had all but leveled the north end.  Planes flew around even before we were put aboard, but none of them came close to us.  All of them seemed to be heading toward Clark Field.

            We finally got under way at about 10.00 and our spirits fell to a new low for we headed north instead of the expected south toward Manila.  We moved very slowly with many stops.  When passing Clark Field, the men on top of the cars reported Jap planes scattered all over, with a bombing raid going on as we were passing the area.  We rode all day and it was nearly 02.00 when we arrived at San Fernando, La Union.  During the day, the sun on my side of the car made the steel so hot that it couldn't be touched.  Perspiration ran from everyone and again, we were suffering from dehydration.

            At a way station, Capas, some men received a few swallows of water, and that was the only water received.  During the trip we couldn't move to relieve ourselves and had to use a couple of 12 oz. cans which were passed to and fro from the door where the guards were located, spilling it over everyone.  Men were passing out continuously, and we tried to pass them up somewhere near the door till they were revived.  Then, through the same motion, back to the rear of the car to allow others a breath of air.  It was so crowded that after we were under way, I was shifted till my back was up against the side of the car; it was horribly hot.  Those of us that did not pass out stood and attempted to fan a little air to the extreme ends of the car with hats, jackets, etc.  This action really kept many men alive and the fanning was kept up till we entered the Lingayen area.

            Although when the sides cooled off slightly after the sun went down, the temperature and humidity seemed not much better.  Toward the end of the trip, I got weak and slightly sick and dizzy.  It was all I could do to stand and were it not that we were packed so close together, I doubt if any of us would have been able to be on our feet.  What a Christmas Eve, but with it all I found myself humming Silent Night-Holy Night.  Finally we arrived at San Fernando, La Union, and to our surprise and great relief, we were allowed to leave the cars.  At first, we were afraid that they would compel us to remain aboard the cars until daybreak, but instead we were allowed to lie down on the cinder-covered area about the station.  It was a bit cold, and the cinders bothered us no end, but we were thankful to be off the hot cars.

 

December 25th, 1944 (Monday), Christmas Day

            At dawn, we fell in and were marched about two kilometers southeast to a schoolyard.  In many ways it seemed much nicer than anywhere we have been since we left Bilibid on the 13th.  However, there is no water, and we were forced to dig a shallow mud hole from where we got water, treating it heavily with iodine.  Shortly after our arrival, they brought us some rice cooked with salt and a few camotes, each man receiving about half a cupful.  A swell Xmas dinner, but it could have been lots worse.  After taking check, I find that I haven't taken a wash of any kind, not even my hands or face (except for my rag-bath at the tennis court), since we boarded the first ship on December 13th.  My left leg is bothering little now but the bayonet wound is festering some.  My cold is a lot better.  Possibly I sweated it out of me in the hot car.  All my teeth hurt terribly, but with it all I am a lot better off than most men.  I don't seem to be too hungry either.  A wash would help us all, but with the  water shortage, I doubt if we'll have a chance to clean up here.

            There is a lot of shipping going on in the gulf so we will probably leave here soon and boarding another boat will find most of us in a vastly different condition than when we were put aboard the Orokyu Maru.  Most of us have lost from 15 to 20 pounds.  We have had only two meals that would qualify as such since December 14th.  We have no wool clothing and very little covering of any sort.  Very few have shoes.  None have any extra food.  We have no medicines. Most everyone has ugly sores, diarrhea, swollen beri-beri feet, and some of the men are so weak that they must be helped along by those a little stronger.  Water has been quite a problem today and, up to about 16.00, each had received about cup, and after dehydrating on the train we are greatly in need of lots more.  My belly is flat as a pancake, my butt is completely gone, and my hips and thighs are merely bony protuberances and spindles.  Many have been thinking of escape but those with more level heads have talked them out of it with such remarks as:  their weakened condition; the countryside being infested with Japs; and the possibility of retaliation by the Japs visited upon those remaining.

            I have decided that my chances of living and getting back to the States are better if I carry on and make the trip to Japan.  Perhaps we will make the trip this time OK.  Anyone who decides to escape would probably not be taken alive, or, if caught, death would be the conclusion to unspeakable torture.

            Ed Short and I are sleeping on the ground under the school house.  The sick, of which we have a great many, are in the building and the majority are scattered around the school area.  We didn't get the miracle that we had hoped for:  a good meal  However many of us are now thankful that we are alive.  The Americans may land here tomorrow.  Who knows.  We have had no news since December 12th.  Just as night was falling we were given a scant cup of cooked rice apiece.  This was our entire Xmas Day fare:  cup of dirty water and 1 cup of cooked rice with camotes.  May we never have another like it.

 

December 26th, 1944 (Tuesday)

            When will our tortures end?  Just as we were about to settle down to some semblance of a peaceful night, we were routed out and again grouped in the usual groups of a hundred men each and started out of the school area.  There were about 1300 of us, dog-tired, hungry and weary men.  We walked slowly and with many halts south from San Fernando, La Union, then turned in toward the road that leads to Mirimonte and the Pero Beach area.  This is familiar territory to me.  Unloading of boats by the Japs was going on at full tilt and a steady stream of trucks, heavily loaded, passed near us.  Just as we were heading toward the dock area, an airplane was heard and all hit the ditch by the side of the road.  However there was no raid, nor were we able to see the plane because of the dark.  From all appearances, there has been a lot of bombing in this area recently for ships are partly submerged along the beach area.  Most of them seem to be tankers that are beached on the Pero side of the bay.  After standing around for the better part of three hours after approximately a 3-kilometer hike from the school house, they marched us over to the sand about 100 yards back from the water's edge and we were allowed to lie down.

            It wasn't long before most of us were asleep, all being so completely fagged.  At about 04,00 it was very dark as the moon had set and Orion was just about setting.  We were roused and Capt Farrell announced that they had rice balls to be issued.  I was fortunate to get one, but many of the men, being too weak to stand in the line, didn't get any.  As a matter of fact, there were not enough to go around or else some of the men doubled up on the line getting two balls.  It wasn't much anyway, each ball being about the size of a pool-table ball.  At about 08.00, they let us go in groups of 100 men to the beach for a dip.  It was most refreshing and it felt wonderful to be able to get a little of the two weeks accumulation of grime off.  There was no water here on the beach and we spent an agonizing day in the blistering sun and the broiling sand.  My lips were cracked and painful, and the want of water was maddening.  Very few of us had any headgear and our eyes smarted from the strong rays of the sun.

            Late in the afternoon, a detail was arranged and they were allowed to get 4 three-gal. buckets from some water supply nearby.  One trip could be made about every 45 minutes and each trip allowed cup for 20 men.  Distributing it gave each man a scant 2 spoons full.  As little as this issue was, it helped a great deal and most of us got by without too much suffering till dark.  We remained in our 100-man groups all day, using the sand behind each group for latrines.  The Japs were unloading ships all day:  new trucks, big fine-looking horses, carts for ammunition, what looked like mountain guns, ammunition, and many troops both foot and cavalry.  Two big landing barges had what looked like converted fish factories with drawbridge bows, and other ships were unloading on the beach to the south of Mirimonte.  However, the main unloading was being carried out to the north of us from San Fernando Bay.  There were some sick Jap soldiers that were probably the ones that were on the Oryoku Maru with us.  At dark we again settled in the sand on the beach for another night.  No food today except to those of us that were fortunate enough to have received the early rice ball issue at about 04.00.

 

December 27th, 1944 (Wednesday)

            At about midnight, we were called to make ready to move.  Orion was high in the sky and the moon was well up.  It took us some time to organize to the original three groups as we were when we left Bilibid.  About two hours after we had been formed, we were allowed to lie down again and we rested till nearly 05.00 when we moved in a long column toward the San Fernando dock area.  At about daylight, our group approached the pier from which the group ahead of us had been loaded on landing barges.  The unloading by this time seemed to have stopped except for a few barges that were on their way to shore from what seemed to be ships of about 8,000 tonnage.  Some of these small landing barges would come through the surf to the beach where some of the soldiers would jump into the water and hold the boat, while others would wade out and unload by carrying large bundles on their heads and backs.  The entire beach and wharf were piled with large boxes of all colors, sizes and shapes, piled in no order.  From a few we noticed that most contained small arms ammunition.  This activity would surely be a target for our planes, and we were right in the middle of it all!  There were damaged, wrecked and burned ships all over the bay and many wrecked landing barges half buried in the sand on the beach.

            The newly-landed Jap soldiers gathered curiously around us and to our hungry eyes they looked so fat and healthy, and I felt almost ashamed that they should see us Americans so gaunt, dirty, unshaven, and ragged.  After considerable delay, we were herded to the end of the pier.  The water was very rough and the landing barges would follow the wave to where the side would be almost level with the pier, then it would follow the wave down again till it was some 15 feet below the pier.  Some of the men were fortunate in that they were aboard when the wave was up, but others were cruelly shoved aboard when the water was down.  I arrived ready to board when the water was about as low as it could be and I was pushed over by the Jap guard and landed on my bad leg.  Some of the men fell overboard and were not seen again, being knocked against the pier with each wave as it came in.  At least I was fortunate enough to land in the barge and not the water.  At one time, I saw more than half a dozen of our own men in the water and it was maddening to see the young Jap soldiers laughing at our plight.  Very few, if any, that went overboard were rescued.

            There was a lot of confusion and delay but finally we headed toward the ships in the bay.  Most of our group in other barges drew alongside the larger of two anchored ships.  After chugging about for a half hour, our boat, along with another, were headed toward the smaller of the two ships, marked No. 1.  It was an older but better-looking center-engined pre-war type of freighter.  We boarded this last ship and were no sooner aboard than we upped anchor and were on our way followed by at least four other ships including the big freighter with the large number of our group, some 1,000 men.  On our ship were 236 (which, for designation purposes, I shall refer to as [Lt.] Col. [Harold K.] Johnson's Ship, as he was the senior officer on board).

            There were only five Taiwan guards with us.  Jap sick and wounded soldiers were on the decks above us.  We were two decks below.  The hatch is partially planked over except for two small openings, one about 3X5 feet and other of about 8X10 feet where a wooden stairway leads out of our hold.  The hatch directly above us is about 2/3 covered so you can imagine how dark and foul it is below where we are quartered.  It was very hot this afternoon and lying on the hot hard steel decks is miserable.  Our only consolation is that, by Jap standards, we are not particularly crowded.  We are able to lie down comfortably.

            No food or water issue has been given today although we watch the Jap sick above us get two meals of heaping bowls of rice with a goodly amount of small fish on top.  I'd say they had at least a full cupful helping each time and, along with it, a lot of hot tea.  The guards tell us that all our food is aboard the ship with the rest of our group and that they have nothing aboard this ship for us.  This means sores are getting worse and the Jap guards say that all medicines are on Ship #2, the larger one.  Our guards took pity on us and at both their meals they sent down a couple of their mess-kits full of their leftover chow.  Each man had about a teaspoonful.  It was just a teaser and I wonder if it was from pity or just to further torture us.  Col. Johnson has us well-organized now in groups of 20 men each, with a leader for each group so that if and when we do get anything to eat it will not be too hard to arrange proper distribution.

            The lack of water is again telling on most of us, especially after yesterday in the hot sun on the beach.  The guards tell us that water is very scarce on this ship as they were not able to replenish their supply after their trip from Japan to San Fernando, and they say that we probably won't get any water till we arrive in Formosa Harbor.  Most of us won't live that long.

 

December 28th, 1944 (Thursday)

            We anchored for several hours last night, and still no water, but the weather is cooler which helps a little.  The weather is quite rough today, but no one among us has been sick.  I did see a Jap sick earlier this morning, and it seems strange that a few of us are not taken down bouncing around in the bow of the ship with very poor ventilation plus the stench.  There should be at least a few of us deathly sick.  Perhaps our empty stomachs are what prevents it.

            At noon, we had our first meal since the evening of December 25th.  We were given about -cup of well-cooked barley rice and a few small eel-like fish.  It made us a bit more comfortable as the rice, of course, contains a fair amount of liquid.

            Last night, we had several air-raids and submarine scares and yesterday afternoon, I surely thought we had been hit, but I believe one of the depth charges launched from our ship went off a little too close.  We are sailing rapidly north.  It is most difficult to watch the Japs eating and smoking directly over us and still more annoying to see our own men scramble for the cigarette butts they throw down to our hold.  Our hold is dark as Hades and full of flies that breed somewhere below us.  The guards have refused to give us buckets to be used as latrines.  We are told to use a ventilator shaft just to the rear of us that leads down to the bilge of the ship.  We started to use this wondering what the ship's crew will do when they find out.  Even in the darkest corners that are occupied by a portion of my group, the flies are terrible.  They crawl over us all day, and under the hatch where a shaft of light appears the air is almost solid flies.  We had one meal of a -cup of rice today, partially flies.

 

December 29th, 1944 (Friday)

            Last night we anchored again from about 22.00 to o4.00.  Perhaps this stopping at night in some quiet bay or cove is in an attempt to avoid submarine packs.  I don't know where we are but apparently we are not far from Formosa.  About 03.00, we had a small chow issue, about 1/3 of yesterday's rice, and 2/3 of that was made up of dry burnt pot scrapings with the usual amount of flies.  This last contained practically no liquid that our systems crave so badly.  Last night, a couple of our guards brought down a cooked white rice and were attempting to trade it by cupfuls:  a cupful for a gold ring, eye glasses, watches, $5 or what have you.  Very few of us have anything to trade, but one or two were taking advantage of the offer by letting go of a keepsake or two.  A few traded mess-kit spoons, mess-kit lids, and other equipment to the sick Jap soldiers above us.  I imagine they want them as souvenirs. 

            The Japs claim that there isn't enough water aboard for cooking, that tomorrow we will be given the same food as today, and that on the following day, Sunday, we will arrive at Takao, Formosa.  I hope I can make it without water till then.  My mouth is so dry that I can hardly talk and my belly is hard and knotted.  I can only lie in my dark corner partially stretched out and pray and think and plan for the future.  Mostly, I think of food and drink, especially a heaping bucket of pure clean water.  Of all my favorites, and as usual under extremely severe circumstances, I feel that I'd like to live through this to enjoy the small comforts for the rest of my life in a small rural town near some large city which I can have a garden, chickens, and play golf.  Actually, all my ambition is gone.  I just want to eat and sleep and enjoy life.  I definitely want to live outdoors where the air is sweet and clean.  If we can only live a couple of days more and miss bombs and submarines, and start getting water and a little more food, we may yet get to Japan.  When we do arrive, I hope there is some Red Cross chow for us.

 

December 30th, 1944 (Saturday)

            Today we had the first water issue since the 26th, about -cup of rusty, dirty stuff.  However, water never tasted better.  Up to this issue, we had received less than one cup of water since we left San Fernando, Pampango, on Dec. 24th.  We have gone through the sweat in the box cars, the sunny days on the beach, and these hot and stuffy days in this hold.  It is getting steadily colder and we have the cold to suffer with now.  We are on steel decks, and our attire consists of a shirt, a pair of pants, and that's about all.  Most of us have no shoes or socks, and at night it is freezing.  We had the usual meal of about -cup of rice made up mostly of the dry pot scrapings and flies, and a little water which made me feel much better.

 

December 31st, 1944 (Sunday)

            All days are alike in this dark stinking hole.  Last evening, we had quite a submarine scare and again later at night we had another.  For some time, depth charges were put overboard, many going off very near the ship. AA guns were being shot off continuously and through the small opening of the hatch we could see the sky fairly lighted up.  For awhile, we surely thought we were hit, but again I believe a depth charge went off a little closer to the ship than they had intended.  Pandemonium broke out with the Jap sick and the noise of their screeching and hollering was very disconcerting.  Had the ship been hit, I doubt if many of us would survive.  The whole action was very scary.

            There was certainly nothing darker than the second hold down with the hatches partially closed at night.  Later in the night, we went through a bad storm.  The wind and waves were very high and this almost empty ship was tossed around so badly that we in the bay could hardly maintain our position lying on the deck.  All of us were terribly cold and huddled together for body warmth.  This morning, we were told that we were near Takao where we are to change ships.  In the scuffle last night, the ship had been hit and we were now moving under a definite list to the port.  We couldn't see whether we were leaking or not.  More worry.  I sure hope we land and don't have to swim for it again.  We are told that there will be no food or water for us today on this ship.  Still, I hope we will get some sometime today.

            At about 11.00 we arrived and anchored in Takao Harbor [ed. known after WW2 by the name Kao-hsiung or Kaohsiung.  It is located near the southern tip of Taiwan] and waited, hoping that we would be taken ashore or at least be transferred to the other ship that had the greater number of our group aboard.  We might have some chance of being given some food and water. 

            It seems to me that we are actually hated here.  Our five guards have no orders to get anything for us.  They are all 2-stripe privates and not even a noncom among them.  They are the lowest type of Japanese soldier and being Taiwanese makes them that much lower; just dumb clucks, with not the slightest semblance of intelligence on their whole countenance.  Dumb, animal-looking best describes them.  But they are most fortunate, eating well and time off to get enough sleep.  They only need one guard on duty at a time inasmuch as about all he has to do is stand at the head of the ladder, the only exit from this hole.  Today, they gave us a mess-kit of their leftovers and it amounted to about -teaspoonful per man ridiculous.  We have been rather fortunate on this ship at that only one man died.  Late this afternoon, we were given of a cup of dirty water, but no food.

 

January 1st, 1945 (Monday)

            There still seems no sign of a move for us from this ship and it seems to be listing badly, but we are tied up to the dock and out of danger.  The old bewhiskered caribao herder from Cabanatuan died last night.  He was a fine old Russian gentleman, most educated, and a Rabbi often holding services for the men of Jewish faith at Cabanatuan.  This morning we had another death, making three in the past two days.  To our great surprise, they sent down a sack of hard-tack (Japanese).  It was a hard, dry bread made into a sort of cylinder about six inches long and of an inch in diameter.  Each of us received five of them and it was the first bread since some crackers I had in the 1942 Red Cross boxes.  It tasted exceptionally good, and a change from the continual diet of rice, even though it was a little moldy and sour, but it was so dry that it took a lot getting it down with what little water we were given in the afternoon.  I ate one as soon as they were issued, another about an hour later, then two when the water was issued thinking I'd save the other two for tomorrow.

            We are suffering more and more from the cold, generally spending the nights and mornings huddled together for warmth.  We sit in line, usually three or four between each other.  Thus your chest and stomach are against the back of the one in front of you and your arms and legs around him, and your head on his shoulder.  The only trouble is that our meatless butts get exceedingly painful very quickly and it is difficult to move for relief.  The late afternoons and early evenings are not too bad and is the best part of the day.  The steel decks that we live and sleep on are like ice.  Some of us have acquired straw mats that help some, and these are our most precious possessions.  At night I sleep on it and I have cut holes for my arms and wear it during the day.

 

January 2nd, 1945 (Tuesday)

            Still on this stinking ship although the guards tell us that we are to be moved to the other ship.  I didn't think we'd get any chow today but at about 12.30, well-steamed rice and a small fish were brought down to us.  It's the first really cooked rice we have had since Dec. 28th.  They have been giving us pot scrapings, or as we call it, burnt rice.  Last night I crawled onto the wooden hatch in the center of the hold and, with my straw mat, I was fairly comfortable, even though the breeze from the partially open hatch comes down making it most drafty.  The bodies of the two most recent deaths are still on the deck with us, stripped now by men needing the clothing, and staring with their glassy eyes heavenward, skinny poor little bodies.  I wonder how much better off they are than we that still live.  We have tried to get them up out of the hold but the guards tell us to "marti, marti." 

            The men on the chow detail that get up on deck now and then say that this harbor is very long and particularly narrow.  There are many ships in the harbor and a good-sized city scattered over the hills westward.  They are now about to serve a cup of rice and a spoonful of fish for two men.  Stud Ulmer and I have a lot of fun dividing it to the last grain.  For the first time since Dec. 24th, I had a bowel movement.  It was just one solid lump about the size of a thumb and just as hard.  It was very painful but I feel better for having gotten rid of it.  My tummy feels a lot better, anyway.  The rice we received today seemed a very poor type.  It was a sort of a gumbo with some half-cooked rice added, but we are not complaining.  The little fish are very good, heads, guts and all.

            They are still talking about moving us today.  I hope to get started and get this trip over before we all die of starvation or from exposure to the cold.  At about 17.00, a launch pulled up to the side of our ship and the two bodies were removed from the hold.  The launch had two bodies from the other ship.  They on the other ship can't be doing too badly:  two deaths from about 1100 men against two deaths from our 236.  One of the Japs, a Lt. Nagi, was with the burial detail.  He asked had we eaten and we replied, "Only four times in seven days, and then very little."  This is the first interest he has taken in our group since we left San Fernando, La Union.  This Lt. Nagi seems to be in charge of getting us to Japan and we feel that he is primarily responsible for the horrible time we are undergoing.  That damn interpreter, Wada, is also to blame, and the Jap high command in the Philippines behind Nagi should be held accountable for all the suffering we have had to contend with.  No water today, and the guards say that we had food, so no water . . . the dirty stinkers.

 

January 3rd, 1945 (Wednesday)

            Another particularly bad day:  no food or water.  Just about dusk we had another death.  Everyone's nerves were at the breaking point and a terrible racket brought on by some of the men was maddening.  Through lack of food and water, the endurance was getting beyond human acceptance.  Men were getting into a frenzy and kept clamoring for and begging for water, yelling "No water yesterday; no water today," and pointing to our recent deaths and telling them that we were all dying.  After about a half hour of this, they finally sent down two buckets of dirty water which allowed each man about eight spoonfuls.  This helped, but it didn't quench our thirst or diminish the pangs of hunger..

            At about dawn, some American planes flew over and on two other occasions they were back again.  All three times the Japs opened up with everything on the ship and heavy firing could be heard from the Jap gun positions on shore or from other ships in the harbor.  I don't mind it here; if we get hit, it will be a quick death.  But if only the ship is sunk, we won't be too far away from dry land being tied up to the dock as we are.  However, there was no bombing and no further activity today.

            The Jap sick soldiers were evidently taken off this ship for I haven't seen them the past two days.  I am getting weaker and so much dirtier.  It's impossible to describe the amount of filth that is caked on us.  I expect I weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 120 or less.  There is hardly any muscle tissue left on my arms or legs and I feel myself wasting away very rapidly.

 

January 4th, 1945 (Thursday)

            The Japs expected a visit by our boys today after the looking-over they must have given them yesterday.  Ships were on the move in the harbor all night, a lot of commotion, whistles blowing, and it seemed a great deal of running around on this ship with hollering back and forth from ships that were sailing close to where we were tied up.  We are still here, though. 

            Our ship's crew finally discovered our latrine emptyings down in the hold below where we had dumped it.  There was hell to pay, as some of us expected.  Ten of us, me among them, were given buckets and sent below to clean up the mess.  It took us the better part of two hours and when we had finished, completely exhausted, those of us on the work detail were given about a -cup of slightly spoiled rice.  I ate half of mine and put the rest, about a Bull Durham sack-full, in my pocket to let it dry out and to have for later use.

            The guards told us today that we might be put ashore for a few days, but we never know what is going on and I doubt if the guards do, either.  The say we are to be fed today about noon, but I doubt it.  For the last two nights, it has been a little warmer, but toward morning it is still awfully cold.  My back and knees ache continually.  However, I am thankful that the leg swelling has gone down and the bayonet wound seems to be clearing up.  My leg is still slightly stiff at the hip and I only hope that we don't have to walk too far when we get to our destination.  I also hope this leg injury doesn't leave me with a limp that I seem to have now.  Perhaps with a little treatment, and some decent food, my troubles will disappear.  My leg seems to cut up most when I am really cold. 

            Well, miracles happen:  we received a cup of loosely-packed rice, but no water.  It is the third day in a row with only eight spoonfuls of water; but at just about dark today, we got about four more spoonfuls.

 

January 5th, 1945 (Friday)

            After the issue of the four spoonfuls of water at just about dark last night, the men appeared more thirsty than ever and again they were in a frenzy.  With pleadings and beggings, they were finally given another bucket of water which allowed each man another four spoonfuls.  It is terrible to have to plead and beg and humble ourselves so for a little water when we all know that there is plenty aboard, but the guards have said often, "Japan and America are at war.  There is no place for kindness.  If you all die, that doesn't matter."  Frankly I believe they sincerely feel that way, too, and there is nothing we can do about it.  Our men are desperate and hopeless.  In fact, most of us are sub-normal.  Just the night before last, our squad of twenty men had a ⅓-cup of water we had saved in a canteen to be issued on the following morning as it was too dark in the hold to spoon it out.  One of the men slept with it actually tied around his neck.  During the night, someone had drunk the water.  We could hardly believe it, but the water was gone.

            This morning, things looked a little brighter for the kitchen issued to us a -cup of hot water per man.  It seemed wonderful.  Now, if we get some chow, I'm sure everyone will feel a lot better and it might set a precedent by being fed two days straight.  It seemed rather quiet last night; very few boat whistles, and this leads us to believe that the many ships that were in the harbor have pulled out.

            This afternoon, we had a chow issue of one cup for 2 men of a heavy gumbo rice and a spoonful of the stinking little fish.  I went on deck to help carry down a bucket of this gumbo.  It probably weighed some 40 pounds and I was so weak that it was quite a struggle to make it across the deck and down the hold.

            This is quite a pretty port.  I saw a few ships and the pretty little villages scattered both to the east and west of the harbor, and there seemed to be a lot of activity in the water nearby our ship.  Soon after eating, we were ordered to clean up the area we occupy and be ready to leave this ship.  Jap stevedores soon came aboard and started to load the forward hold just ahead of us and began knocking out the partitions on the deck above us where the Jap sick had been.  The launch came alongside and "Air Raid," [real name:  Kazutane Aihara] one of the Jap guard slave-drivers from Cabanatuan, told us that the men on the other ship had been issued a -cup of rice per man and one cup of water for five men.  That doesn't sound too good, either, but it's a helluva lot more than we on this ship had been getting.

 

January 6th, 1945 (Saturday)

            Some of the men had a nasty time of it in the dark last night.  A 5-gal. bucket, mostly full of urine and feces (mostly urine, luckily), was spilled on the hatch cover above us.  It ran through the cracks down into the area occupied by the gang under Maj. Shanks.  Lt. Nagel and Maj. Jacobs, I believe, got the worst of it.  Shanks is a quiet little fellow and a real gentleman, but this sure set him off and he fumed and raised merry hell for awhile and no one blamed him very much.  It was an accident, of course:  The bucket was much too heavy for the two skeletons assigned to haul it topside.  One of them stumbled and this mess spilled all over our section below.  I was fortunate in that I was just under the ladder at that time about to go topside with another load.  Thankfully, it was a smaller amount and, with the help of another lad, we managed to handle it with little difficulty.  The urine spilt was concentrated as heck, due mostly to the small amount of water the men had to drink.  It went all over their faces and heads, and soaked their scanty clothing.  It went into and burned their eyes.  The Japs thought this very funny and then threw buckets of salt water down on them.  That didn't help any.  A little later, the guards sent down a bucket of salty bay water and our men managed to take some sort of wash.  Their clothing was wet and dripping, and having nothing else to put on, they had to don this wet smelly clothing and sit the cold, dreary night out and freeze.

            Early this morning, each was issued a loosely-filled cup of barley rice and again a spoonful of the stinking little fish.  If I never see another of this fish again, it will be alright with me.  And, behold!  A ⅓-cup of hot water.  They hurried us through this serving and soon we were leaving the ship.  From the deck, we had to wend our way down a very old rickety rope ladder.  Frankly, I believe they are trying to see how much we Americans can take.  We are all very weak and just the thought of having to make it on this contraption is fearsome.  We are about 30 feet from the  dock's surface but it seems like 300.  So, we shinny over the rail, grab the rope, and trust to luck.  Of the latter, we have had our share and sometimes we wonder just how long our luck will hold out.  However we all feel that we have survived a hell of a lot and it can't possibly get any worse.

            We landed on the dock and walked about 100 yards and then were put aboard a lighter ship tied up to a small tug.  There were 230 of us plus one stiff.  Our walk took us near several Formosans, among them several small children, and they all looked at us with genuine hatred.  This caused me to be convinced that Japan had gained a heap of prestige in this war by showing the Orientals of other countries that, put in the same position, the white race is no better than the lowest coolie, and, in certain circumstances, the Japs can dominate the white race.

            This is quite a city.  From the scow I could see what looked like a large Catholic church.  There were a dozen or more large ships in the harbor with a great many more smaller ones.  The tug chugged along for better than a mile to where we were compelled to climb up another ladder to the deck of the first large freighter we saw at San Fernando, La Union.  They were unloading onto a barge the same marked boxes that we saw on the beach at San Fernando.  Possibly they didn't have time to finish unloading there.

            Some little water was passed out from the tug while we were on our way here, but none of it reached me.  Some of the men nearer the side of the scow fought over the scraps of food and peelings that they fished out of the water when the guards weren't looking.  It was quite a job climbing up the ladder, and I can't see how so many were able to make it.  We climbed one at a time to the deck some 40 feet above the water, then down a steel ladder inside a tube about three feet in diameter to the decks below.  This ladder was the only entrance or exit to the hold and it was the largest hold I have ever seen.  Among us were some 1300 in this one hold.  It measured some 70' X 90' with a height of approximately 50' to the deck above.  In it was a sort of balcony some 30' up and 15' around the sides.  This upper half was to be used by those handling the sick along with a few of the higher ranking officers that were doing a good job with what we had.  On the bottom where most of us had to go, the men were arranged in lines running the full width of the hold, each two lines facing each other, making a 100-man company.  Five 20-man squads had ten men on each side.  All the workers and administration staff, including squad leaders, are to get ⅓ extra ration of food and water if and when issued.  This is a fair arrangement for those that are strong enough to help the weaker ones.  And, if those that are called upon to aid in relieving a part of the plights of some of us should weaken, God help us all.

            Each ten men occupy a space that eight men could just about sit down in, about 12 feet to a line, and each two lines have some seven feet so that, in lying down like stacked spoons, the feet of the man on one side reach over to about the chest of the man on the opposite side.  It is hot in the hold with a stinking fetid smell of men hot and weeks dirty.  The smell is nauseating, but it is so cold outside that the warmth felt good.  At that we are warm and the food is better.  We have a lot to be thankful for.  The rest of our gang on this ship were fed at least twice as much food and at least three times as much water as we had been getting on the other ship.  They say that food will be better on this ship as supplies of rice and vegetables were taken aboard at Takao.  We are to get two meals daily of rice soup and tea.  Late in the afternoon, we were issued a -cup of sticky, tough, poorly cooked barley, -cup of cabbage soup, and 1/5-cup of tea.  It's the first time we have had two cooked meals in one day since we left Manila back on Dec. 13th.  It seems so very long ago.

 

January 7th, 1945 (Sunday)

            Last night was one helluva night.  The swearing, screaming, kicking, fighting that went on was indescribable.  Things kept falling down from the balcony onto those below.  Urine and feces was dripping on us from the sick above.  It was awful.  Two men have fallen from the above, killing one and killing another that he had fallen on.  If this ship were to sink, either day or night, I doubt if there would be any survivors for it would take at least five hours for the 1300 of us to escape up the single ladder, and some of us are so weak that it would be impossible to make the climb.

            It cooled off some toward morning and I fell asleep.  This morning we were again given about a ⅓-cup of barley and a 1/5-cup each of cabbage soup and tea.  The Japs consider tea much better than water so, of course, we get none of the latter.  It finally caught up with me and last night I suffered a terrible bellyache and diarrhea.  Ed Short has had the runs for the past ten days and he is nothing but skin and bones, and many others are. too.  Some are so weak that they haven't the strength to get up to relieve themselves and the entire hold is a stinking mess.  Stud Ulmer is badly off, weak and so very thin.  I tried to get them to put him up on the platform with the sick, but it is so crowded up there now that they have no more room. 

            We have had 35 deaths on this ship so far.  We are down to a few over 1100 now.  Four died last night.  The flies are terrible . . . big, heavy, sticky ones that cover your food issue black in a few seconds and you can't help it.  They crawl all over your face, on your lips, and it gets so at times as though you want to scream.  There is no washing of hands or mess gear.  The decks are sticky with the feces and urine.  It is hot and fetid and nauseating.  There are long lines of the well ones to get to the latrines which consist of six lard tub-like buckets for better than 1000 men, sick, raving, half-crazy men on this lower deck.  Again we had the regular rice barley soup and tea issue this evening.

 

January 8th, 1945 (Monday)

            Last night was even more terrible than previously, if that is possible.  It seemed more crowded than before and men were raving, crazy mad all night.  No sleep was had by anyone and the fighting was awful with men trying to stretch out and sprawling on each other.  Some are so weak that they haven't the strength to lift themselves off their companion, should they unintentionally fall or roll on them.  How long can this keep up? 

            34 men, the Dutch and British prisoners that accompanied us from Manila, went off this ship today directly after our morning chow.  Soon after they left, we were ordered to move out of this hold.  I was near the ladder and one of the first 100 to head up the ladder.  I saw Ed Short on the platform where they were keeping the sicker of our crowd and I thought that they would move them topside later.  Some 700 had gone up and the rest remained in the hold below, most of them crowded on the upper balcony with those taking care of the sick.  We were herded to a long hatch forward and were allowed to sit down in the sun, which surely felt good after our confinement below.  The British and Dutch prisoners were there when we came up, but soon they went over the side and boarded a small barge tied up to us.  Soon the Japs started loading sugar in sacks on long bamboo racks.  They were also loading aboard a lot of cases of what looked like the ammunition boxes we had seen on the docks at San Fernando, La Union. 

            This activity went on till late in the afternoon when we on the deck were told to start back down to the same hold.  I was among the first to come up and was quite a way toward the fore of the ship.  Some 200 had gone down when they shifted the balance toward another hold in the forepart of the ship.  I went down in the latter hold.  It was somewhat like the former hold, only there was no balcony, and it followed the forward lines of the ship.  We had a little more room, but not much, still being compelled to set wrapped around each other.

            There was a little more air in this forward hold for the hatch covering area was only partially covered.  It was much lighter, too, and of course a great deal cleaner.  Those that remained in the other hold had more room now and we hoped that some of the sick could be taken care of.  It was getting dark when they sent down chow and, to our great surprise, the Japs rigged one light so that it was shining down in the hold facilitating the service of this issue.  They didn't allow it to remain on very long and as soon as the buckets were ready to be hauled topside, they turned it off and we were again in utter blackness before the issue of tea could be doled out.  This resulted in a mad rush by some of the men to steal the food and water in the buckets before it could be served.  Some of the food and a great amount of our meager supply of tea was cleaned out before order could be restored.  Some of the most reliable men and officers were designated as guards to watch over what was left and, by covering over the tubs and sitting on them, they managed to save about 2/3 of the issue for the next morning.  However, there were small riots off and on all night with some half-crazed person or group of persons sneaking up in the blackness and trying to steal the food and water by stealth or force.  Again the only way we could lie down was in packed lines between the legs of the person behind of you and with your head on his lower stomach, and his legs over your shoulder.  It's amazing how many human beings can be made to lie in a small place.  It is almost unbelievable.

            It is a lot colder in this hold now that the upper hatch is so much open.  I finally managed to get on a small wooden area directly under the ladder and, although the wind was blowing down on me and several others, we were off the steel decks and sitting up huddled together for what warmth we could make for ourselves with our bodies practically locked together.  It's odd, too, for I don't think I knew some of the men that were my nearest neighbor.  Of course, Pete [Going], Stud [Ulmer], Clark and myself were always near each other.  Little Clark is so weak now that I doubt if he'll live much longer.  We all have the runs badly and as hungry as we are, many of us are holding up on chow to try to slow up on our bowel movements. 

            My bad leg isn't bothering me a great deal, but the bayonet wound is festering and an ugly sight.  When I had the last issue of hot tea in the rear hold, I ripped off a few inches of the tail of my shirt and used it with some of the tea to give the wound a wash.  It seemed to help some for it isn't as red and I think the swelling has gone down a little.  It sure was a hell of a job going up the ladder on deck and back down to this forward hold, but I actually believe the moving around has helped some and I wish it were possible to move around down here.  I tried it once and fell over a couple of boys and the treatment dished out was not too nice.  However, most of us are only half human now; our nerves are gone and none of us have any patience with each other.  My diarrhea is making me lose a lot of precious fluid and I am so awfully thirsty all the time with the small amount of tea or water we are getting.

 

January 9th, 1945 (Tuesday)

            When will we get a break?  When some American planes came over quite early this morning just as we were serving our morning chow, pandemonium broke loose.  It was a little after 09.00 when the bombs hit us.  At first, we could hear the guns from the shore open up; then those from the ships in the harbor nearer to us started in with everything they had.  We could hear the plane motors very clearly and one dropped very close to us.  Soon the guns of this ship we are on opened up and . . . bam! . . . we are hit.  Just before the first bomb landed, I moved from the group I was sitting with toward the escape ladder.  I didn't quite make it when a bomb landed and hit one of the I-beams on the hatch opening, and another landed at the waterline on the outside of the hold we occupied.  The concussion knocked me out.

            When I came to it was horrible.  I started looking around for some of the gang and for a moment I thought that I was the only survivor.  Soon after, others that were knocked out came to and we started to help those nearest to us.  Stud, Pete, Clark, and Mason were killed outright.  In fact, I couldn't find all of them.  A Commander Wood from Washington was in horrible condition with the entire left shoulder exposed, his arm was missing, and he was wandering around in a dazed condition looking for it [ed. No such person existed.  However, records show, in the letter W who died on this day and held a rank close to Commander, these men might have been the one's Curtis noticed:  Lt. Col. John P. Woodbridge, Lt. Col. Oliver Witten, Capt. Albert Wilcox, and Capt. Milton Whaley.  Any one of them may be the unfortunate person being referred to].  Men's arms and legs were scattered all over the place and blood and gore covered me from head to foot.  A part of a person's trunk landed on top of me and I had a helluva time getting out from under it all.  Splinters had hit me in the face and legs and I, too, was bleeding badly. 

            A large I-beam had fallen in on many of the men, crushing and killing them beyond recognition.  One man came across the hold heading for the ladder with the arm of another; he was definitely out of his mind; he fell a few feet away from me on his face, dead, and I noticed a hole in his head as big as your fist.  It was horrible and gruesome.  When the bomb landed that hit the I-beam topside, the whole hold was lit up and the last I remember was sparks flying everywhere.  An odd thing happened to me:  A piece of bomb fragment about the size of a thumb and shaped something like one, tore through the lower part of my shirt, entered the right hand pocket of my pants, burned a hole in the pocket, and burned quite a large section of the upper part of my right leg.  When I came to, It was still so hot I couldn't handle it with my bare hands, so I shook it out of my pants leg.

            The hold was a shambles with the big hatch covers, some intact and some in splinters, all over the place.  Many of the men were like savage animals.  More of the loose planks were giving way and falling down on us.  During this time, many more flights of planes flew over and we expected to get another going-over.  Evidently, we were in shallow water for soon the ship floundered and water came into the hold on the port side but stopped when that side of the ship had taken in water to the depth of a foot through a gaping hole about four feet square.

            The entire port side of the ship was a mass of holes, some as big as baseballs, other than the large hole at the waterline.  After a bit, I looked myself over and found that I had been hit in several places by small pieces of shell fragments.  One piece was embedded in the right side of my nose and another piece in the tip of my nose.  They didn't hurt but these wounds were bleeding profusely, especially the one on the tip of my nose.  My legs were all bloody but I couldn't find where I had a very serious wound.  A lot of blood was being lost from these cuts but I found I could move around without too much pain and I thanked God that it wasn't worse for me.  All that were well enough now went to work to drag the dead and pile them toward the port side of the hold.  It was a miserable job, especially when you'd come to one of your old friends.  I looked all over the place but I never could find the lower part of Studs' body.  Little Clark was cut directly in half and his face actually had a smile on it.  Both Pete Going's legs had been blown off and I couldn't find them.  It seems so strange that eight of us sitting so close together when the bomb landed should find me the only one still alive.  Cmdr. Wood died.  He sure was a game person.

            After a quick check, we soon found that 250-odd had been killed and more than 100 badly wounded, not to mention those like myself that had only suffered minor wounds.  After a lot of work, we finally piled up these human bodies and hoped that the Japs would send down some medication for those of us that were alive and some badly wounded.  At present, there is no medication, no water, and no dressings of any kind.  We did manage to get a few pieces of cloth by stripping the bodies but that didn't go far.  Most of the men were only partially attired with clothing and that which is collected from the bodies of the stiffs are used to dress those of the living. 

            More planes were over during the day, but they didn't bomb near here.  Japs came around to tell us that they would take us ashore.  I certainly hope so.  It is an awful sight to have dead men staring at you all day.  It is getting dark and we are still here.  We were tied up alongside of another ship at the time the bombing took place and I can imagine what a good target these two ships offered to one of our American boys.  It's not possible to tell how badly the ship is hit, but from where I am, I doubt if it will ever be able to put to sea again.  The dead are piled at our feet, but it's funny, we hardly notice them.  We didn't expect any food today, but just before dark two buckets of barley rice and some salty pickle were sent down, but no water or tea.  Each man got about ⅓-cup.  I thank God almost continually for still being alive for this group is sure having one awful time.  But, I'll not give up hope yet and I'll see what tomorrow brings forth.  But I'm afraid that our boys will be back tomorrow to finish the job.  If they do come back, I hope I get conked quickly and not live to suffer as some of those among us are now suffering.  It's pitiful.  I'm going to try to get some sleep somehow.  I wish I had sleeping tablets right now; just enough to put me down for the night.

 

January 10th, 1945 (Wednesday)

            One of the chaplains started prayers with us last night and after he gave a very inspiring talk (it was short and to the point), he feared mostly that they would be back today to finish off this ship.  Perhaps our prayers were answered, for they didn't come back.  They have put the few hatch covers on this evening so that we should be a little warmer.  Last night, it was very cold,  about the coldest we have had.  It's really topcoat weather during the day, so you can imagine how much colder at night when the hatch covers are all off.  The wind actually whistles down on us and with what little cotton clothing we have to cover ourselves, it is a tough job to keep warm.  My knees, back, and especially my testicles ached all day and I doubt if I could live through another night like the last one.  And just imagine:  we are to go further north to colder climates!  There will be some colder weather ahead for us, I'm afraid.  The piles of some 250 bodies are still with us, and at our feet more are being added continuously.

 

January 11th, 1945 (Thursday)

            We have been told that we will leave the ship today.  A list of those of us that are alive was made and another list of those able to walk; however nothing came of it so far and we are still aboard in this stinking hole.  Late in the afternoon, a group of five Jap medical corpsmen came down with one Jap doctor.  They looked around with pads tied over their noses, painted a few of the minor wounded with mercurochrome, but wouldn't even look at the more serious cases.  It's the first human gesture, such as it was, I've ever seen the Japs make.  I didn't even let them touch me.  To hell with them; I'll make it without their begrudging help, the bastards!

            In the evening, we had rice barley and some cabbage soup, and about ⅓-cup of very weak tea.  I used part of it to again bathe my wounds.  While doing it, I pulled the piece of fragment out of my nose and now it is bleeding a whole lot more.  My finger that was hit is swelling up to beat the band, so much so that a ring I have, while I was skinny and wore on my left ring finger but shifted to my middle finger, now cannot be taken off.  I'm afraid a Jap will see it and get it at all costs, even by removing the finger if necessary.  I'll sure have to be careful and hide my left hand from now on and I certainly wouldn't let them try to treat me.  After bathing the wounds on my legs and face, I feel pleasantly refreshed, but my poor shirt had lost another length, about 4-inches worth.

            This morning, we had our usual barley rice and a piece of pickle with 1/8-cup of tea.  The barley rice that we are getting lately is cooked aboard in some kind of steamer and I believe it is cooked by just passing over live steam.  It is cooked very poorly and rapidly.  It's just a tough, gooey mess and almost impossible to chew, and I believe this is largely responsible for so much of the diarrhea.  The dead bodies at our feet are smelling pretty badly now.  I hope they take them out soon.

 

January 12th, 1945 (Friday)

            They started feeding us our usual chow early today which made us hope we were being put ashore today.  They also started a detail taking out the mangled, bloated, smelly bodies.  It was an unforgettable sight as they piled them on a freight net and hauled them topside, with pieces of some human being falling back down into the hold.  A human head dropped and spattered all over the steel deck close to my feet; it was horrible.  They had to send down the net eight times before they were all out and the stench reeking from where those bodies had lain was almost impossible to bear.  We had one of the chow buckets in the hold and with this, along with salt water dipped up from the port side hole caused by the bombing, we did manage to clean up the hold a little, but the deck was completely covered with a combination of feces, urine and blood, and we, being barefooted, had to walk in this awful mess.  A human can stand an awful lot at times.

            I slept rather well at that last night.  We had a little more room and it didn't seem quite as cold.  Diarrhea seems to have caught up with everyone now.  My nose and mouth are terribly dry.  Last night the stacked-up bodies smelled awful, and my feet were practically among them where I finally lay down to get a little sleep.  I was exhausted.  My squad sleeps and eats right next to about 40 stiffs.  The bodies are practically naked, their clothing being taken off to give to the living or used as bandages to dress the wounds of those alive.  Nine more died last night which leaves about 170 left of the 500 that came down here before the bombing.  We have little contact with those 700-odd in the hold aft that are still living, but through a little space between the bulkhead, some little information is being passed back and forth.  They started issuing some tea, but stopped suddenly.  I sure hope they start serving it again for I am terribly dry.

            The burial detail came back from the shore and said that they had cremated 150 bodies in a big furnace and buried the ashes in a single common container.  They expect to go back and do the rest of the burials tomorrow.  In the afternoon, we from the forward hold were moved to the aft hold with the rest of the survivors there.  I can't imagine how any of us are going to get any rest for they have all those remaining on what had been the platform before with the large hold below closed off.  As usual, no room to lie down.  Some of those are still in the forward hold with some more bodies that probably will be removed tomorrow, along with the badly wounded.  Only those of us that could make it up the ladder left the forward hold to join the rest living in the aft hold.  We had a good supper of the usual barley rice, a little fish, and a little portion of what can best be described as a salad of seaweed and cabbage, about two spoonfuls per man.

 

January 13th, 1945 (Saturday)

            Last night was a really bad night with many men out of their heads, screaming and cursing at the tops of their voices.  You just had to stay awake.  I spent most of the night holding down a lad that was particularly bad off.  We were indescribably crowded and I am sure no one near us did much sleeping.  This man with me was almost humorous in his hallucinations.  He was sure that he had given me two packs of cigarettes to hold for him.  He had friends in Manila that were the agents for this ship we were on and that there was an office in Takao; and if I would help him ashore he would have his friend send over beer and sandwiches for all of us.

            My biggest tragedy is that in the transfer from the forward to the aft hold, I lost my shirt with the long sleeves.  The loss of this shirt with the long sleeves leaves my arms bare up to the shoulders and may cost me my life as it gets colder.  I am going to give up trying to take care of the crazy man.  The part set aside for the sick won't let him in and I can't live through many more nights like last night.  I think I owe it to myself:  There's no use both of us dying, and he can't possibly live much longer.  I'll take him over to the hospital area and let him lie down; he is badly wounded; he has no feeling and he will not eat what little is offered to him.

            We moved to another ship today and I think it's the same one we were on with Col. Johnson from San Fernando to this harbor of Takao.  The move took the better part of the afternoon and after a careful search for sugar that some of the men had stolen from below.  We were all put aboard and we entered a hold a little amidships and one deck below.  There is a center section and two side sections double-decked with two aisles between, and there is an open space on a wooden hatch about 25'X25' in the center where they have put the sick and badly wounded.  There are 30 men in each bay above and below, in about a 14-foot square area.  It seems very crowded but possibly not as bad as last night.  It is very dark for the hatch is completely covered except for a space over the stairway leading from the hold.

            I am toward the stern of the ship.  There are no latrine facilities except for two buckets to be used by those that are too sick to go up on deck to use boxes strapped on the sides of the top deck.  Three men are permitted to go at a time to defecate and two men at a time to urinate.  In order to use these latrines or boxes, it is necessary to climb over the rail and squat down in the box.  A lot of the men are too weak to climb the rail, let alone climb the ladder leading from the hold to the deck with the result that they, not wanting to, of course, just let it happen where they are.  However this is the first time the Japs have permitted us to use the latrines on the decks.

            We had the usual breakfast before leaving the other ship, but nothing on this ship so far.  The working detail labored till long after dark bringing over the sick and wounded.  The night was the usual, with swearing, screaming, and the sick begging for water.  There is enough air on this ship anyway, if anything a little too much for it is getting so much colder.  This is the 13th, and another unlucky day.  Just a month ago we started on this trip.  Of the 1619 that started, about 1000 are still among the living.  I don't know, but I'll always be very careful on the 13th from now on for it is not a lucky day for me.  At least, however, I am alive and not suffering as some of the poor devils are that are on this hell ship.

 

January 14th, 1945 (Sunday)

            We sailed at dawn today after two weeks in Takao's harbor.  At about noon, we were fed -cup of much better-cooked rice of a red variety.  I believe my diarrhea has stopped, Thank God.  I believe not having anything to eat yesterday may have helped some and I hope that with better-cooked rice from now on, I may be completely cured of diarrhea.  My leg wounds seem to be healing and I don't limp quite so badly.  This afternoon I went on deck to urinate and I could see three ships along with several escort vessels, one very close on our starboard bow.  There was no land in sight and the sea was very choppy.  It was a dark, cold day and I nearly froze while in the box.  Late in the afternoon, we were fed again.  Three men to a canteen-cup of rice, but no liquid of any sort.

 

January 15th, 1945 (Monday)

            Passed one helluva bad night.  It was very cold, and, with my shirt now sleeveless and my pants as the only covering, toward morning I thought I was getting numb.  Bob Garcia [a civilian from Los Angeles] and Pollock [possibly Pvt. Curtis M. Polk], the two men nearest to me, seem in good shape although very thin.  Bob has shared some sugar that he picked up on the other ship and when we get nothing but rice, a small amount sprinkled on the rice sure helps it to go down better.  I tried to get the ring off my finger to trade with one of the Japs for something to eat, but my finger is so swollen that I can't get it off.  I thought I'd carry it through with me but I am beginning to think that I won't make it.  I'm getting a lot thinner and large bone sores are starting on my hips and butt from lying on steel decks.  At that, I am in a lot better condition than most of those in this hold. 

            The wooden hatch at the base of the ladder is filling up with men that a week ago looked as though they would stand the ordeal.  Laff [possibly referring to Pvt. Walter A. Laffoon], a huge corpsman, is doing a fine job helping out at this temporarily set-up sick bay.  There are many more doing a fine job with what they have to work with.  Numerous men are dirtying their clothing but there isn't anything they can do about it.  This diarrhea is terrible for it takes effect before you know about it.  The next thing you know, you have dirtied your pants.  It is more than your life is worth to get rid of any wearing apparel, and you don't have any water or facilities to have your clothes cleaned.  It is a stinking mess and the deck is just covered with it all.  One young lad, a mere boy, was conscientious enough to try to get himself cleaned up.  He tried, and when he wiped out his clothing as well as he possibly could with pieces of matting and put them up to dry, someone stole them and he froze naked all night.  He won't live long.  Many more men are going to die before this trip is over.

            Some of the men were fortunate enough to get hold of some sacks that probably contained rice from the rear of this hold.  I got one from Bob Garcia when we went on a detail to clean out the room where they were stored.  They are quite long and with the two that we have for four of us, we are quite well off, sleeping on one and using the other to cover ourselves up with.  My diarrhea has stopped for the past 48 hours, but many men are in a deplorable condition with deaths occurring continuously.  Twice a day, they have a clean-up and the stripped bodies are hauled up on deck and heaved over the side, and someone has gained an extra article of clothing.  Death is everywhere and those that appeared the stronger a day or two previously, seem to just shrivel up and pass away.

            We had ⅓-cup of red rice, with -teaspoonful of salted soybean paste, and best of all, seven spoonfuls of tea.  Bob Garcia and Pollock got some water from a donkey engine when they went topside to relieve themselves.  They gave me a few drops but it was sour and tasted of oil, but I drank it and have had no ill effects so far.  We are still in the same convoy making, I should say, about ten knots and still heading north.  If we are not held up, we may make Japan in another week, however I do expect delays for I imagine our American submarine packs are working this area.  Or, we might be torpedoed before the day is out. 

            If we don't get some clothing or bedding soon, I'm afraid most of us will die.  Today I was fortunate in finding a ragged shirt that someone had used to wipe up the deck.  I took a chance when I was up on deck to rinse it out in the filthy, part-urine water that was sloshing along the gutter of the deck.  I'm going to tie up the holes and use it to cover my back that has been very painful the past few days.  I still have a part of a broken knife I found on the deck when we were transferred to this ship.  With it I may be able to whittle out a needle and sew the sleeveless shirt to the back of the other shirt.  I have to give my back a little more covering.  They are both khaki and not too warm at their best.  Again today, we were issued about one cup of rice for three men and -cup of tea for four men.  You can trade 5 to 6 spoonfuls of water or tea for a serving of rice.  Most of the men with bad cases of diarrhea don't want to eat.

 

January 16th, 1945 (Tuesday)

            We are 48 hours out of Formosa.  I had a much better night last night, although it was cold and, earlier in the evening, snow was falling down the opening over the hatch where the sick are stretched out. The shirt I picked up and rinsed out was still wet but somehow I managed to fall asleep and didn't awaken till sometime in the early morning when Pollock started cutting up badly.  He wanted me to stay awake and pray with him.  I didn't even know he knew how to pray, but we spent the early hours of the morning praying, and around 04.00 he just died.  I slipped him out in the aisle and we had a little more room in our bay the balance of the time.  One of the boys above me died last night, too.

            I got up at daylight and made a trip on deck.  The sea was mild and the sun a big red ball, with the air still and very cold.  The dead and dying were scattered everywhere, some lying in the aisle where they were trampled during the night, with a pile of stiffs at the foot of the ladder leading out of those who died during the night in the hospital section, with feces everywhere and over everything.  The bodies were cleaned out before they finally sent down some food.

            We had the usual meal of ⅓-cup of rice and 1/8-cup of tea.  This latter that we are getting is made from brackish water and is very salty; it hardly quenches our thirst.  The sergeant in the next space is raving today; he'll probably go before nightfall.  He's using up too much energy with his rantings and waving of his arms.  Someone wanted to be baptized and a Father Cummings baptized him after the afternoon chow.  In this awful situation, it was difficult for Father Cummings to find a little pure water for the baptismal.  This man was very happy; he said that he had been wanting to become a Catholic for a good many years but had always put it off.  He wanted his wife informed that he had become a Catholic and he wished her to have her raise their family in the Catholic faith.  Someone that knew him promised to tell his wife.

 

January 17th, 1945 (Wednesday)

            The man that was baptized last evening died during the night, as did the young little fellow that lost his clothes.  The sergeant, too, in the next bay passed away.  He was an odd sort.  Affectionate as the devil just before he went, wanting to rest his head in someone's lap, anybody's, and he wanted someone to hold his hand (he was a tough 6-footer before this trip).  30 men died last night, and there will be that many more today.  Many of those that came aboard comparatively weak are dying now.  Most of the badly wounded have already passed on and I believe all the wounded, except for the most minor, will die.  I am not too sure about myself; my hand looks bad and is still badly swollen, and my whole leg is inflamed and sore.  I have started the only treatment I could think of:  I'm sucking the puss out of the sore.  I figure this warms the sore, cleans it, increases circulation, and helps drainage.  I hope I am doing right; anyway, it makes it feel better. 

            Our numbers are gradually reducing and now most bays are partially empty.  Most men have enough clothing, such as it is, and they seem to be giving us a little more chow.  This morning, we each received 8-spoonfuls of a fairly good-tasting tea and ⅓-cup of rice with a spoonful of soybean sauce.  We have been travelling through a muddy yellow ocean close to rocky islands on both sides [ed. probably part of the Ryukyu chain].  We anchored in some quiet place last night.  This afternoon, we stopped alongside of a damaged freighter.  We could hear the winches running for awhile.  Perhaps we are about to hook on to tow it.  We had the usual rice but no tea or water for our last meal today.

 

January 18th, 1945 (Thursday)

            We did take the damaged freighter in tow and had it with us all day until we pulled into our anchorage for the night.  We are making very little headway.  There was one destroyer or Jap gunboat with us this morning, but there are several with us this afternoon.  We had the usual rice and 1/8-cup of the salty tea this morning.  More and more men are dying.  I wonder when we will get to Japan.

            I had a little luck this morning coming back to the hold after a visit to the latrine on the deck.  The guard wasn't looking and I filled my canteen with hot, fresh condensed steam from the winch engine.  I took this down and a little later went back and filled another canteen and another cup of which I drank the most of.  By this time, many others of the prisoners had discovered the source of the water and started a rush toward the engine.  The guard came to life, raised merry hell and stopped it.  Frankly, I think this particular Jap guard was deliberately allowing us to get a little extra needed water, but when so many were taking it, it became so noticeable that he had to stop it to protect himself from the ship's Jap officers.  Perhaps 30 to 40 people were able to get a little extra water from this source.

            We have been continually heading to the east of due north.  Stealing is terrible and the other canteen of water that I brought down for another lad was stolen from under his head as he slept last night.  If one is not watchful, someone will jerk the straw mat out from under you or take it off while you are asleep if you are using it as a blanket.  If they get away, you can never find them.  Some will steal mats from the sick and snatch a canteen from under your head so quickly that it's not funny.  I keep everything tied to me.  Most everyone is half crazy anyway aboard this damned crate.

 

January 19th, 1945 (Friday)

            It is a relief to find that we were not towing today and our progress was slightly speedier, although still slow.  This morning, we had about twice as much tea as we usually received, about 15-teaspoonfuls, but it tasted very salty.  In the evening, we had the usual -cup of rice and again about 8 spoonfuls of salty tea.  Early in the evening, I went topside over the rail, and I noticed we were travelling alone.  No escort vessels anywhere.  We were travelling west, and several islands surrounded our ship, particularly one to the north  It seems a bit warmer and possibly we are nearing our destination.

            When I returned to the hold, there was a general cleaning up in progress and many more men were being transferred to the wooden hatch at the foot of the ladder leading out of the hold.  Among them, I saw Chaplain John E. Duffy, whom I have talked with many times.  He hails from somewhere near Fort Devens, Mass., and he has had one hell of a time since the Japs picked him up after the fall of Bataan.  He was on the Death March.  He was bayoneted several times and left for dead by the side of the road on this infamous trek suffering from the combination of the tropical heat, lack of food and medical treatment, and the brutal treatment accorded the captured, both enlisted men and officers alike. 

            Prior to the fall of Bataan, I saw Father Duffy many times.  He was in normal health and weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of 190 pounds, but now he was skin and bones and I doubt if he will live through this trip.  I talked with him and gave him a swallow of water.  He is a plucky fellow and I hope he survives.  When men are moved to this small area under the hatch, it is almost surely that they are on their way out and it is the only place that those volunteering to aid can find room enough to help those suffering the most from dysentery and diarrhea.  The volunteering corpsmen are doing all they can.  This place is worse than a pig sty and the odor is awful.  I hate to see Father Duffy go, but he is so weak, although he can just about stand up.  He sure has guts.

            For the first time in about ten days, I had my first bowel movement.  It was quite painful, but I felt a little better.  The swelling in my leg from the bombing on the Oryoku Maru is going down, but I still have a time of it making it to the deck.  The bayonet wound is still festering but not too badly.  My hand is one red blob, very painful and starting to smell.  I finally bribed one of the Japs for a cup of hot water to soak my finger in an attempt to get my ring off, telling him that I'd give him the ring for the water.  Lt. Lloyd Sherwood and I tried our best to remove the ring, but no luck.  However, the twisting and turning forced out a lot of puss but we couldn't get the ring off.  If it keeps up, I think I'll have to get something to cut the finger off for I'm afraid of gangrene setting in and then I'd have a much worse time.  We couldn't get the ring off, so Sherwood and I drank the water and somehow my finger felt better.

 

January 20th, 1945 (Saturday)

            This morning, we were in a sort of island haven.  There were several Japanese war vessels around and several freighters.  It looked as though we were about to tow a damaged freighter that looked like the one we had in tow yesterday.  We were very late getting under way today.  Stealing from the sick and wounded was awful last night in the pitch blackness.  One of the men went completely wacky after he found that someone had taken his canteen of water that he had spent so much time getting from the winch on deck, although he claims to have had the canteen tied around his neck.

            Most everyone is about half crazy and ranting sometimes beyond human endurance.  Screaming and fighting is going on worse than ever before and deaths are occurring continuously.  My little mining friend from Bagio [ed. possibly George means Baguio, a village in the mountains turned into a virtual resort by the American in the early years of the 20th Century] passed away this morning.  His wife and baby were captured and killed in Bagio when the Japs came into the territory in the mountains in Northern Luzon.  He called me over to the hatch and said he knew he wasn't going to live.

            I have now contracted a cold.  It's bad, too, for I can hardly breathe at night.  I'm most fortunate that my diarrhea has stopped for most of the men seem to be dying from this ailment, along with dysentery, of course.  It's pitiful to see how some men have wasted away, men who before we left Bilibid were in very good physical shape.  But, I have noticed that those of us that were working manually through our period of incarceration are standing the guff better than those that had rather soft jobs at Bilibid and Cabanatuan.  At the latter camp, I had it rather easy at that.  At first, I acted as perimeter guard; then a short while on the farm and airport; then luckily getting the job at the bake shop.  Although the work wasn't too laborious, I had rather nasty hours, getting on the job at the bake shop at about 4am, and while on perimeter guard duty, my hours took me out sometimes to do a round from midnight till 02.00.  Sometimes from 02.00 to 04.00.  With these late hours and without much sleep during the day, it may have taught me to conserve what little strength I had. 

            I earnestly hope that we are nearing our destination.  My leg, hand and my face are now running with puss, and with my cold and dry cough, I'm in one helluva fix.  My hips are sore, too, about the size of an egg on each hip and painful as the old harry, but at that I am a lot more fortunate than most.  We towed the freighter all day and our progress was a snail's pace.  For a late meal, we had a cup of rice, a spoon of soybean paste, but no water.  Those lousy Japs.

 

January 21st, 1945 (Sunday)

            This is the start of the second week on this ship.  Maj. Bob Nelson died last night.  He had things rather easy during the war and through the prison camp life till this trip.  It's good he went for he was out of his head and I doubt if he would have been normal again.  [Chester] Fast, the big corpsman, gave me a small Philippine issue blouse this morning and, although it is a lot too small for me, it does keep me a little warmer.  They had a rice and tea issue while I fell asleep and I didn't get any.  They were short anyway; in fact, several had to do without.  Later in the afternoon, rice was dished out again, but no water.  I'm getting dehydrated and awfully dry again, and I'm wondering just how much longer we can stand it.  I have even had a little extra water, so how those less fortunate can even stand is beyond me.  I've been cuffed a few times by the different guards when I have taken the chance to catch some of the drippings from the engine on deck.  But, what the hell, I'd just as soon be killed and get it over with than to slowly pass out suffering as I've seen some others do.

            For the first time, we were underway all night towing the damaged freighter at a snail's pace and heading north.  We occasionally pass small islands and what seems to be large sections of a mainland to the west of us.  There have been many small fishing boats that we could see today.   The sea is very yellow and calm, but it's getting much colder.

            Diarrhea is still taking its toll and I thank God that it is not with me.  Some few have started raiding the hold below us, breaking down through a ventilator near the fore part of the hold we occupy.  One of the boys gave me about two spoonfuls of sugar.  It gives me a few more calories but it seems to make me more thirsty and I'm wondering if it isn't best to leave this sugar alone.  It certainly won't prolong life, and it may contain more darn germs than the filth we are now getting.  Several of the men are eating it by the spoonful, and one of the remaining doctors advised against its greater consumption, claiming it may cause greater diarrhea and other complications.  As sweet as it is, and as nice as it will make this damned rice taste, I think I'll use it sparingly.  I've gotten this far without it; I think I'll carry on without it.  There can't be too much of it available anyway and to eat it now, and then have to go without it later, will be another detail to contend with.  To heck with it, except in a very small quantity.

            I am getting continuously weaker.  In fact, it's quite a job for me to make it topside up the ladder of about 11 steps.  If I am lying down and try to rise too rapidly, I black out completely.  It takes me a few minutes to get off the deck in easy stages, first to my knees, then onto one foot at a time.  I can take about four steps, then I must stop to catch my breath.  My cold doesn't help any, either, and I am now coughing continuously.  Perhaps I haven't too long myself and I'll find myself in the X section before long.  It's probably easier at that.  Bobbie Garcia is a strong little devil and seems to be as well off as anyone on the ship among us.  How he manages it, I don't know, but now and then he gets a few Jap cigarettes and he always shares them with those of us in the bay.  He doesn't get them too often at that.  Also, he was able to get some sugar somewhere from one of the Mexican boys that were part of the AA outfit on Bataan that hails from somewhere in New Mexico.

            Col. Beecher and his gang seem to be doing alright.  They are in the upper bay across from ours and handle the distribution of all the chow that is sent down by the Japs.  They are doing a good but thankless job and they have their hands full trying to do what they can impartially.  I wouldn't want the job, believe me!  Ted Lewin is doing a lot of good for the ailing, too, and he seems to be faring alright.  The Americans are trading anything that they have left to the Japs . . . gold rings, etc. . . . for a package of cigarettes and a little rice.  Occasionally a Jap will come around with a small can of pilchards to trade for a ring.  I'd be glad to let my ring go, although I always thought I wanted to keep it as the only personal item I have left from this rat race.  However, I still can't get it off.  We will trade anything except clothing and our small straw mats which are essential items now that it is so cold. 

            Snow is falling down the hatch opening today, and the poor sick men on the hospital hatch are suffering.  I stay under the grass mat all day, huddled as close to my bay mates as possible for warmth and think of nothing but bubbling springs, artesian wells, cool beer, warm firesides, and stacks and stacks of griddle cakes and sausage.  I think I could eat my weight of the latter. 

            One of the boys in the forward bay will die soon.  He has been out of his head for the past day, and his death is going awful hard for him.  He had some bad wounds from the bombing at Takao and one of his arms is swollen the size of his emaciated little body.  He has been a game one at that, but he is beyond help for gangrene has set in and right now I doubt if he has any feeling.  He stinks horribly.  One lad above me died this morning and the bay above has only one more left in it, and this last man is not going to be with us much longer.  He hasn't left his bay for days.

            We are still towing the freighter at a snail's pace.  This evening, we had a -cup of rice and three slices of radish pickle.  Rumors are out that we are nearing Nagasaki.  The most agonizing thing is that there is fairly good water continuously running from the winch topside, but the guards that are on duty now won't let us near it.  I took another cuffing around this morning at about 07.00, but I managed to get about a - canteen full.  It was worth it, but the wound on my leg is bleeding from the fall I had when the Jap hit me.  At that, this bleeding may help the swelling to go down.  I knew I shouldn't try to get water when the Jap is alert, but it's a helluva temptation not to let that water run out and down the deck to the scuppers when we are so badly in need and suffering for the want of liquid.  I don't give a damn. I'll take a chance every time I have the strength to get up on deck.  To hell with these lousy slant-eyes.

 

January 22nd, 1945 (Monday)

            Again, we towed the freighter for the better part of last night, anchoring toward dawn.  Last night I had wonderful dreams.  I was down in good old New England at a clambake with a large bucket of clear, cool apple cider, with a table piled high with everything that goes with a clambake:  steamed clams, chowder, tripe, sausage, lobster, sweet potatoes, and a slice of watermelon that reached from one side of the table to the other.  It was good . . . and how! . . . and waking up was a mean letdown.

            These islands that we are passing are barren.  They are high and rocky.  The escort vessels are anchored with us this morning and it is calm and very cold with flurries of snow.

            This morning, we had a -cup of rice and four spoonfuls of tea.  After having no water yesterday, the men are really badly in need of it.  25 more died last night, the boy above among them.  The aisle leading from where my bay is to the ladder is literally piled with bodies and it was all I could do to make it to the ladder over a layer of the dead in my weakened condition.  The aisles are also filled with human secretions in some low places to the extent of an inch or more and there is no way of cleaning it up.  The odor of urine and feces is almost unbearable and nauseating.  It actually seems as though the Japs are just trying to kill us off, but believe me if they start on me again, I'm sure I'll take a few with me before I go.  They beat one of the boys so badly who went on deck this morning that he died a few minutes after he was helped down in the hold by another prisoner.  If they start on me while I am on deck, I hope there is something to brain the louse with before I lose consciousness.

            Each morning, Wada, the interpreter, sticks his head over the hatch opening and inquires, "How many dead?"  I'd give anything to be able to do him in before I pass out of the picture.  From the way deaths are occurring, I think we are losing about 5% of our group daily.

            I wish I could get another jacket.  I'm so cold all the time, particularly at night.  Well, some will take advantage of the weaker, and now Col. Beecher and his staff and a couple of American interpreters seem to spend all their time trading with a few Japs.  It seems that they are having a lot more food than the rest of us and their canteens are usually full of liquid.  The lack of water, plus diarrhea and head colds, are the causes of most deaths now. 

            The nights are endless.  They start at 17.00 and last until near 07.00.  Lately, I am getting so I can hardly think and I find myself continuously praying.  My mind is a blank most of the time.  I'm cold, awfully cold during the night and praying for morning and wishing that it would come soon and that I'll be alive when the first crack of light penetrates the opening at the top of the ladder.  When it's dark, I have no conception of the time and continually drift off for a short nap till the pain in my side, back, and the throbbing of my wounds awakens me.   When I wake, I fret trying to find a spot of bony frame to lie on comfortably.  I hardly find one, but manage to drift off to sleep from exhaustion for another short period.  This continues through the long cold night amid the screams and hollering of those poor devils that seem to be suffering more than I am. 

            My friend, [a civilian, Philip J.] Joy, from a bay opposite our aisle, comes over now and then, and we whisper away about different things till we fall off to sleep for a few more fretful minutes.  Joy hails from Maine somewhere.  When we get out of this, if we ever do, I'm going up to Maine with him on a fishing trip.  Imagine a nice freshwater bass, deep-fat-fried, on the shore of some lake in Maine, with bread and butter.  I know a very pretty lake near Harrison where I once went on vacation, and I remember what a wonderful little restaurant they had nearby where they served broiled chicken and hot biscuits.  I think they called it The Barn.  Whatever it was named, it sure was swell.  Joy and I are going to look it up when we get back and have the darnedest feed, with a mountain of hot biscuits and honey (imagine: biscuits and honey!), and lots of iced tea.  As a matter of fact, we decided that that would be our first meal when we got up there:  biscuits and honey, and oodles of hot tea. 

            I'm fairly well off for clothes now.  Fast gave me another shirt and a pair of khaki pants so that now I have two pairs of pants and two khaki shirts, and a pair of shorts.  I wear them all, and during the day it isn't too bad.  I had a pair of socks, too, but they were so caked with filth that I heaved them this morning.  After no liquid for two days, in the evening they passed out -cup of tea for five men and this wasn't salty.  We didn't raise anchor till nearly 12.00 and started in a convoy toward the open sea.  Today, Jap air patrols are being seen now, so I think we are nearing the Japanese coast of one of their southern islands, probably Kyushu.

 

January 23rd, 1945 (Tuesday)

            35 died during the night.  It was snowing quite hard this morning and the snow sifted down through the planks onto the men in the hospital area.  Last night was exceptionally cold.  I don't think I can stand another night like it.  I'd like to find a little warmer place.  I am at the end of the companionway leading from the deck to the crew's quarters that are roped off from our section, and the wind whistles down this open hatch.  We can't get over there and the damned Japs allow this cover off, sometimes all day, and last night they didn't cover this rear hatch at all.  I am in the bay on the outside and the mat is a little too short to get it close to the side of me and at times I feel as though I am slowly freezing to death.  There are about four of us under the mat; one too many. 

            The treatment of the dying is terrible at times.  Often they are stripped of their clothing and shoved out in the aisle before they are dead.  Those that are taking care of the sick feel that they are entitled to the dead man's clothes, but often they can't wait till the man dies to get the articles for fear that someone else may beat them to it.  Often, when one of the sick is extremely noisy or soiling the area with feces, he will be cursed inexcusably, sometimes beaten, or he may be thrown out in the aisle where he will lie helpless, getting no assistance.  What little help is offered is usually reserved until it is time to pile up his remains to be later thrown overboard.

            We continued in the convoy today, and for the first time I was too weak to make it to the deck, staying under the mat all day.  At about 14.00, they sent us chow which was -cup of rice, but again no liquid.  I'm very weak and dizzy today and my guts are one continuous pain.  I hope I am not getting the runs again.

 

January 24th, 1945 (Wednesday)

            About midnight last night, I couldn't stand the thirst any longer and, in desperation, I labored up the ladder to the deck to try to get some water.  The guard was in a small box-like construction at the head of the gangway and he seemed asleep.  I went over the rail to the latrine box and kept an eye on him.  He didn't seem to move, so when I got back on deck again, I headed toward the winch and put my cup under the cylinder housing where the small drippings of water were more abundant.  After some time, I managed to get half a cupful when the guard noticed me.  He started toward me, but I managed to get by him and go down the ladder before he was able to administer but two glancing swipes at me.  They didn't hurt much and I had a half cup of warm, rusty water, but it was so very good.  I drank most of it and finally went off to sleep.  I heard later that several of the boys got beaten up trying to get water from the winch, but it's worth it if the Jap doesn't bash in your head with his rifle butt.  So far they haven't shot anyone for taking water on this ship, but a few of the boys died soon after a rifle beating.

            A little later in the morning, I went up on deck and got a kick for trying to pick up some snow from the deck.  It's hard to take when scooped from the tarpaulin; it's bitter and quite dirty, but it's wet.  We had no tea today and only 18 deaths.  I guess the weaker and the wounded are all gone.  Another bowel movement and the first since Friday last.  On this diet, you either have the runs or no bowel movement to speak of.  Even with formed stools we have no control of our bowel movements, and when it happens, there it is.  The amount of fecal matter inside and outside of our clothes is awful.  We are all swimming in body lice, too, but that seems a small matter to us.

            It is still snowing very hard and the temperature must be freezing, and we keep praying that this will be our last day on this hell ship.  We need warmth, water, food, and cleanliness in about that order.  At about noon today, it will be 72 hours of continual sailing without a stop.  Yesterday we were in a convoy, but today we are alone except for an escort destroyer.  There are many sailing fishing boats around us today.  This evening we had rice, about -cup, but no liquid.

 

January 25th, 1945 (Thursday)

            Last night, it was announced by our staff officers that we were on the edge of a large convoy and sailing south.  I can't understand it.  The Jap crew seems to be celebrating something, and maybe it's because we are sailing in Japanese home waters.  Now this.

            Early this morning, we were given a physical check followed by a roll call.  We anchored a good part of the night and again we are traveling with  two small escort vessels.  The sea is pretty green and it does seem a little warmer.  The shore of the islands we are passing is greener, too.  Snow is still in drifts on the decks.

            I think I am getting the runs again.  My guts are very painful and I'm feeling quite sick.  I coughed all night.  It was hard to keep warm and my hips and back pained me terribly.  We must be near the end of this trip and I won't give in now, come hell or high water.  Last night, deaths increased to 28.  We had a little chow cup, but the lousy bastards gave us no water.  I think I'll chance yet another beating and try the winch a little later.

 

January 26th, 1945 (Friday)

            We were anchored last night and traveled only a short distance today.  This morning, -cup of rice, but still no water.  However, I did take a chance on deck and got a -cupful from the winch before the guard hollered, but he didn't get a crack at me.  This evening, the chow came down much later, but in greater quantity than usual.  About -cupful and 7 spoonfuls of water per man was doled out just before dark.  We had another count by the Japs and another roll call by Col. Beecher.  I hope this means we are getting off this tub soon.  There are still some 625 of us left out of the 1619 that started on this trip.

 

January 27th, 1945 (Saturday)

      It has been two weeks since we boarded this hulk.  We anchored last night but got underway about 02.00 and traveled till about 07.00, then anchored again for
the day.  Last night I think it was the coldest we have experienced so far and it was misery.  No chow today but a small amount was handed out of rice this evening.

            Last night, I suffered agony with my game leg and my swollen hand, not to mention my hips and my sore butt.  This morning I suffered another bowel movement and didn't have time to get on deck with the result that I am again a mess and no chance of cleaning up.  We just have no control.

            Old Father Cummings died.  So did Maj. [Oscar C.] Kowalske.  Again we are diminishing  rapidly.  Somehow, after the BM, although I am horribly uncomfortable, I feel a bit better, but it is so hard for me to try to get to my feet.  Sometimes it is all I can do to stand upright, but I'm going to try to get up on my feet every time I awaken from the stupors I am having lately.  It would be awful to lie down and not be able to rise again, especially if I am conscious.

            There are about 40 bodies piled on deck and we'll not put them overboard till we start sailing again.  We had an issue of water today; most unusual, for the Japs feel that tea and hot water are the only liquids fit for drinking.  They are having some difficulty with the cooker up forward.  No rice and no hot tea or water till it is fixed, damn the luck.  About 8 spoonfuls was our water ration today.

 

January 28th, 1945 (Sunday)

            We have completed two weeks of intermittent travel from Takao.  Today, we upped anchor at dawn and apparently we went immediately into the high seas.  No land could be seen and for the first time in many days we felt a definite heavy sea swell.

            I have spent all day yesterday and most of today under the mat trying to keep warm  My hand pains me terribly and the bayonet wound is again a mass of caked puss.  I hope to God that I don't lose my leg to gangrene.  It wouldn't make much difference anyway, for if gangrene were to set in, I think I'd just lie down and pass out from starvation.  My hand seems to be coming along nicely although it is still badly swollen; not as badly as it was a couple of weeks ago.  I may lose the finger, but what's a small finger?

            We had a little hot water, about 4-spoonfuls, and a -cup of rice.  A little after this issue, tea came down.  I don't know where it went to unless the Colonel and his gang got it.  I didn't get any, anyway.  This evening, we had a fairly good rice issue:  about -cupful tightly packed.  I had a little of the stolen sugar on mine and drank some of the water I had taken from the winch earlier.  The Jap interpreter, Wada, called that we would arrive tomorrow, but he didn't say where.  We had another roll call by Col Beecher.  I sure hope we are somewhere other than this hell hole tomorrow night.

 

January 29th, 1945 (Monday)

            Last night, I nearly gave up.  I was cold and coughed the whole night through.  It didn't seem quite so cold though, but my wounds were bothering me no end.  For awhile, my backside and hips were so painful that I just couldn't stand it any longer.  I crawled out of my bay intending to get up near the hospital area to talk to somebody, anybody, but when I got to the aisle leading forward I couldn't make any headway over dead bodies piled in my path.  I tried for awhile, but soon gave it up when I became too dizzy to stand on my feet.  I sat down where I was, and my seat was a dead man but it felt so soft on my sore butt.  I must have fallen asleep, for I was awakened by someone crowding by me.  After orienting myself in the blackness, I made my way back to my own bay.  I feel somewhat better. 

            The hatch leading out of our hold is down tight now and completely covered.  No one is allowed on deck.  Two tankers were in our convoy last night, so they say.  Apparently there was a submarine scare for we fired depth charges from time to time.  We were underway all night and anchored at dawn.  Soon after dawn, we were issued rice but no water or tea.  Jap doctors came aboard, looked at our chests and mouths, and gave us the glass rod rectal test.  I suppose they found us all in good health (????).  They let American corpsmen give the tests to the many sick that can't move.  It seemed that they were a bit frightened to get too near them.

            I wonder how soon we will get ashore.  I'm still having dreams of waterfalls, springs, lemonade and the like.  What I wouldn't do for a glass of pink lemonade right now.  I still want that little house somewhere near a large city, and now in addition, I want 4 turkeys, a flock of geese, some ducks and chickens, and a dog.  And, above all, a spring outside the kitchen door with plenty of good, cold spring water the year round.

            All my wounds seem to be healing or, at least, much better, except my hand, and that is sure raising hell in the past day and night especially.  This afternoon, we pulled in at the dock at Moji, Japan, and we were well looked over by another set of doctors that came aboard.  We had a good rice issue of about -cupful, but still no water.  The last 8 spoonfuls of water this morning was all we had for the past 36 hours.  We are about to bed down for the night, and Thank God it is probably our last aboard this hell ship.

 

January 30th, 1945 (Tuesday)                        Moji, Japan

            At 24.00, they allowed a detail to empty the latrine buckets and when the detail came back down, they reported that the decks were piled with clothing and shoes of all sorts and sizes.  At about dawn, they started issuing things to Group 1:  good shoes, wool breaches, padded Japanese jackets, socks and long underwear of cotton with short drawers.  This soon dwindled to cheap  tennis shoes and outer clothing and odd this-and-that.  Most of my group and the patients got nothing.  However, Bobby Garcia managed to get a pair of shoes and a pair of tennis shoes, and he gave me the latter.

            At about 09.00 we were started on our way off the ship.  As cold as it was with ice on the ground, and as cold as we were, the crazy Japs sprayed every one of us with a solution of lysol all over our outer clothing.  It was freezing and our faces and hands were wet with the smelly stuff, but it was a much more pleasant odor than we had become accustomed to for so many weeks.  We were off the gang plank and walked about a city block to what appeared to be an old theater, but now converted to a warehouse with the seats removed.  Most of the windows were out or broken and the only section where the floor was not concrete was the small stage where we were not allowed.  We were herded into this building and compelled to sit on the concrete floor, and it was cold with the wind blowing papers that were cluttered all over the place.

            By now, we had learned to huddle together and soon we were small-packed groups in sections allotted to us.  They didn't seem to be getting anywhere, and four men died while they were getting organized.  Soon some high-ranking Japanese officers with a lot of brass and gold braid came in and held a conference with Lt. Toshino and Wada, and soon we were getting all the water we could drink.  But, it was so cold it was all I could do to swallow it, but swallow it I did.  We spent a great deal of time checking and being checked again.  It went on continuously with us sitting there in the freezing cold.  Soon, some food was brought in and stacked in little binto boxes close to where we were congregated. 

            Finally, we were turned over by our Taiwan guards to Japanese guards, and almost immediately Toshino, Wada, and the guard that were with us left the building and we were in the charge of these new Jap guards.  They seemed a little older and a lot more intelligent than those we had been accustomed to; better dressed, and a lot neater in appearance than any of the Nips I had seen before. 

            Very soon after we were taken over by these new officers and guards, things began to happen.  Ambulances entered the enclosure and those very sick were put aboard and driven away.  Groups 1 and 2 were fed cold rice that seemed to have been in containers for a long time.  Group 3, mine, was given a blanket apiece and lined up for another check before we were lined up to be marched away.  Some of the men left by truck, but in my new group of about 90 men were some awful-looking sights:  thin and just barely able to walk.  Soon we were issued binto boxes of a finely-cooked rice, about a canteen cupful, and another with several spoonfuls of the small fish, much better than we had ever received, and salted.  Also a crawfish of about five inches long, a small piece of something peppery, a few small pieces of what tasted a little like preserved dried pineapple, and several other spicy items that looked like dried seaweed.  It was a great meal for us sick, half-starved men.

            At about 17.00, we started out of the building and onto the street still in the clothes we left the ship with, and some of my group wearing no shoes with the blanket they had been issued thrown over our backs.  We certainly must have been a motley gang.  We walked about a mile to a railroad station and lined up on the concrete platform with the native children, women and older men throwing orange peelings and other trash at us.  The younger girls and children came close enough to kick a few of us in the shins and strike at us.  Soon we were broken up again, and this time about fifty were herded and put aboard a 3rd class coach that felt like the warmest place I had ever been in. 

            Directly after boarding, I heard a cheery American voice say, "Come on, fellows, cheer up!  It's only a little further and you'll all have a fire and plenty to eat!"  Soon, Jap guards in black uniforms were entering our coach and issuing a small loaf of dark bread that tasted somewhat like whole wheat and about the size of a quarter of an American 16-ounce loaf.  It tasted very good.  Soon, each was also given an American cigarette sent forward to us from some Americans that were on the same train being transferred from some other camp to the one we were being sent to.  They said that they were issued a Red Cross box for two as they left their previous camp.  We didn't see any of them, but we certainly sent word back for their thoughtfulness.

            We traveled through the night and arrived at Fukuoka sometime around 01.00 where we were again lined up on a cinder platform and again made into groups of about 40 men each.  The sicker ones were loaded on trucks first and left us.  In my group were 32 men, and soon we were put aboard trucks and on our way to another unknown destination.  Our destination was soon reached, being no more than a 20-minute ride from where we left the trains.

            It was cold, and soon we were entering the camp enclosure, our new home.  We were unloaded at a long hut that turned out to be the mess hall, unheated but clean, with some other American prisoners already with buckets and buckets of hot tea and hot soup, with another one of the same little loaves of bread for each man.  We had our fill and more than most of us could handle.  We were then sat at tables and issued complete new clothing, some of it evidently captured equipment, for among them were tunics of Australian and British issue and several coats of Dutch origin.  Anyway, each man had a suit of Japanese underwear, a Jap shirt, a soldier's suit of either Japanese, Dutch or British make, and a woolen overcoat.

            Directly after the issue of clothing we were put in groups of 20 men and for the first time since December 12th, 1944, were given a bath in hot water; so hot, in fact, that many men, in their anxiety, passed out getting in too quickly.  It was heavenly though, and it felt so good to be clean again.  After the bath we were assigned to different wooden huts where each man had a comforter and three blankets, plus a grass Jap mat to sleep on.

            As soon as we entered these huts, several of the prisoners came around to help us newcomers.  One, an Australian, was a great help in getting me squared away.  He made several trips to the kitchen for hot tea so that he could bring me some as well as have some for himself.  He told me that when a new gang arrives, they usually put on a feed and those at the camp are more than ready to help in order to get their fill as well.  It's a great feeling to be well-fed, well-bedded down, and clean for a change, at long last.

            Of the 1619 men that started on this trip, there are scattered around a little more than 316 survivors all told.  We are told that this is a hard camp to be at and only the Lord knows how many of us will live through this slave-labor post, but I've come this far and I think I'll be able to carry through till the Allies win the war, if the time of the Jap capitulation is not too far away.  I thank God that I have survived so far, and that my wounds are so much better.  I'll go to sleep without the fear of being bombed or torpedoed for the first time since we left Manila 47 days ago.

 

Ed. On this same day, 30th January 1945, the Cabanatuan camp that George Curtis and the others, described above, had left in October 1944, was liberated in a daring raid by advance elements of MacArthur's forces.  Participants were US Army Rangers, Alamo Scouts, and Filipino guerrillas, all under the command of Lt. Col. Henry Mucci.

            Those incarcerated at Camp #17 near Omuta (quite a distance south of Fukuoka, as it turns out) felt the first breath of freedom on the day Japan offered to surrender, 15 August 1945.  Those who remained in the camp finally met an American rescue party on 2nd September 1945, the same day the Japanese officially surrendered on the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Harbor.  Several weeks and months of rehabilitation were ahead for the survivors before they were placed on ships back to Pearl Harbor, San Francisco, or, in some cases such as my Uncle George, back to Manila for a brief time.  While there in Manila, he gave testimony in an inquiry over Japanese atrocities.  These depositions follow.

 

Appendix 1

Deposition by George Curtis

 

GEORGE CURTIS, after having been duly sworn, testified at 199 Manga Avenue, Santa Mesa, Manila, P. I., on 11 January 1946, as follows:

 

Q      What is your name and permanent address?

A       George CURTIS; 38 Ocean Street, New Bedford, Massachusetts.

 

Q      Were you in the Philippines at the outbreak of the war?

A       Yes.  I was working as a civilian employee in charge of communications at the army airfields in Bataan.  I made all original installations for radio and telephone operations at Mariveles.  I installed all radio and telephone equipment on Bataan airports with the help of Navy personnel.

 

Q      Were you captured by the Japanese?

A       Yes.  When the Japanese took Bataan I retired to Corregidor and was captured there.

 

Q      Where were you held by the Japanese?

A       From April 8 to April 22, 1942, I was held at the 92nd Garage on Corregidor.  From April 23, 1942 until about July 1942, I was at Old Bilibid Prison.  From July to September, 1942, I was at Cabanatuan.  Then, I was returned to Old Bilibid for a week.  From Old Bilibid I went to Clark Field as a laborer on the airfield for a period of about two months.  I was then returned to Old Bilibid suffering from malaria, beri-beri and malnutrition.  During this time in Old Bilibid, I worked on local Manila details.  In early 1944 I was returned to Cabanatuan where I worked on the airport, on the farm, and as a perimeter guard.  [Ed. The month of April 1942 is probably incorrect.  Corregidor surrendered on May 6th, not April 8th, so George's memory was probably mistaken; quite understandable, given the circumstances.]

 

Q      Did you witness any atrocities at Cabanatuan?

A       Yes.  2nd Lt. Robert HUFFCUT formerly assigned to the American High Commissioner was deliberately murdered in cold blood by a Japanese tower guard.  Lt. HUFFCUT had been merely tending his garden when the guard for no reason at all fired two shots and killed him.  It appeared the guard was taking target practice.  Another prisoner of war ran to the aid of Lt. HUFFCUT, and the same guard shot at him but missed.  Protests were made to the camp commandant by the ranking prisoner, Marine Lieutenant Colonel BEECHER.  Nothing was done about it.  Lt. HUFFCUT was buried at Cabanatuan.

 

Q      How long did you remain at Cabanatuan?

A       In early October 1944 there was a strong rumor that we were to be transferred to Old Bilibid and from there to Japan.  Within a week after the rumor became current we actually did leave for Old Bilibid.  At about8:00 o'clock in the evening of about October 16, 1944, a runner from Lt. Col. BEECHER's Office came to me and told me that I was to be ready to leave the following morning at daybreak.

 

Q      What happened the following morning?

A       Every able-bodied prisoner had been ordered transferred.  A rigorous inspection was conducted under the supervision of the Japanese commandant and Lieutenant TOSHINO, Assistant Camp Commander.  The Japanese were looking for scissors, razors, etc.:  anything that could be used for a weapon was taken.  They also took all of our letters even though the mail had been previously passed by the Japanese censor.  Notebooks were taken.  All food was taken away except enough to last for one day.  It was the most minute inspection we ever had.  We were allowed to carry personal belongings.  Lt. TOSHINO took away from me a pair of chopsticks which I had made myself.

 

Q      Were you allowed to take extra clothes?

A       Yes, if we had any we were allowed to take one suit in addition to the one we had on.  No one had any extra shoes.  No slippers were allowed.

 

Q      Did all able-bodied men leave Cabanatuan that day?

A       Yes.  Every single prisoner who was not in the hospital actually left the camp.

 

Q      What American remained in charge of the camp?

A       Major REED, Medical Corps, U. S. Army.  We called him "Death Rattle" REED.

 

Q      What time did you leave Cabanatuan on or about October 16, 1944, and how were you transported?

A       At about 9 or 10 o'clock in the morning.  We went in Japanese army trucks.  They are similar to our own 1-1/2 ton trucks.  About 50 men were jammed in each truck.  There were 14 trucks altogether.  Personal belongings, wrapped in anything we could find, were thrown into the truck with the prisoners.  There were two Taiwanese guards placed in the back of each truck with the prisoners.  A Taiwanese driver and another Taiwanese guard rode up front.  Thus there were about 50-52 guards not counting the drivers.  It was impossible to sit down; it was impossible to lie down.  We stood all the way from Cabanatuan to Old Bilibid.  The trip lasted three hours or more.

 

Q      Did you receive any food on the trip?

A       No water was given.  At the inspection, if you had two canteens, one was taken away from you.  We were allowed to take a piece of cornbread, 4 inches by 4 inches by 2 inches.  This cornbread was our lunch.  We had nothing else to eat.

 

Q      Did anyone get hurt during the trip?

A       I do not know what happened in any of the other trucks, but three men fell out of our truck when we turned off the road to seek cover during a strafing run by American Navy planes.  They made it to the truck again and proceeded with us to Old Bilibid.

 

Q      Did you ride directly from Cabanatuan to Old Bilibid?

A       Yes.

 

Q      How long did you remain at Old Bilibid?

A       Until December 13, 1944.

 

Q      What do you recall about conditions at Old Bilibid?

A       The starvation diet.  We had two meals a day:  3/4 of a cup of "lugao" in the morning and cup of rice at four o'clock in the afternoon.  85 kilos of greens were issued for 1700 men, and the greens were made up into a soup which was served with the rice in the afternoon.  The soup amounted to about canteen cup, usually less.

 

Q      Did you get two meals a day?

A       No.  Some days we had only one.  When American planes bombed Manila all the prisoners, including the kitchen detail were locked up.  The kitchen detail could not prepare the afternoon meal, and on these days we could not get a second meal.

 

Q      When did you leave Old Bilibid?

A       We were alerted on the 10th of December 1944, for shipment to Japan.  On the morning of the 13th we were in formation from ten o'clock to one o'clock in the afternoon.  At one o'clock we were marched to Old Pier No. 7 and stayed on the dock until about four o'clock in the afternoon, at which time we boarded the Oryoku Maru.

 

Q      How many prisoners were placed on board the Oryoku Maru?

A       1639.  [Ed. The figure consistently given by George in his account, and in other sources, is 1619.  The figure in the testimony is either George's mistake or one on the part of the military court reporter]

 

Q      How can you be so precise about the figure?

A       I saw the roster which gave the names and totals of all the prisoners.

 

Q      Who was the Japanese officer in charge of the prisoners?

A       Lt. TOSHINO.

 

Q      Was he the Lt. TOSHINO who had been stationed at Cabanatuan as assistant commandant?

A       Yes.  He was the one who supervised our inspection when we left Cabanatuan, and he had been there for some time.

 

Q      How many guards went on the Oryoku Maru?

A       About 20.

 

Q      Had you seen these guards before?

A       Yes.  All of them were Taiwanese selected from the regular prison guards at Cabanatuan or Old Bilibid to escort us to Japan.  They were the same Taiwanese who had guarded us in the trucks from Cabanatuan to Bilibid or were guards who were stationed at Old Bilibid.

 

Q      Do you remember any of the guards' names?

A       Only WADA.  He had been at Bilibid.  On the Oryoku Maru he acted as TOSHINO's interpreter.

 

Q      Where were the prisoners put?

A       All of us were put into holds.  I was in the aft hold.

 

Q      How many men were there in the aft hold?

A       I was in charge of counting the men in the aft hold, and when we first entered the hold, there were 729 prisoners.

 

Q      Were there any guards in the aft hold?

A       No.  At no time.

 

Q      Describe conditions in the aft hold.

A       They were indescribable.  There was no room to lie down, there wasn't even room to sit down.  We were jammed together in that hold like cattle.  The only way I could get off my feet was to sit down with my legs spread wide apart and another prisoner would then sit between my legs.  Everyone in the hold did that.

 

Q      Did you have any ventilation?

A       There was not a single port hole.  The only source of ventilation was the hatch above, and the Japanese kept that 3/4 closed.

 

Q      What facilities were provided for excretion?

A       We had about one dozen cans, quart size a few larger, which were our only latrines.

 

Q      Did you get any food the first night?

A       Yes, a little rice and dried fish.

 

Q      What happened the first night out?

A       It was the wildest frenzy I have ever seen.  Men went stark raving mad.  In their insane fury they tried to stand up and run around.  In so doing they stepped all over other prisoners.  It was more than human beings could stand.  Some who had managed to conceal knives ran amok.  To prevent them from killing other prisoners who had managed to retain some semblance of reason, we tried to knock the crazy ones unconscious.  They were so weak however, from disease and malnutrition that most of the prisoners who were struck to render them harmless actually died that night.  I remember one case of an American navy hospital apprentice who ran wild.  He killed three men, and then a Navy Warrant Officer decided that the sailor would have to be killed to protect the others.  He tried to hit him over the head with a canteen but the canteen was not heavy enough  Prisoners in the vicinity contributed water, whatever water they had to fill up the canteen and thus make it heavy enough to do the job.  Dead bodies were shuttled back and forth over our heads all night long.  You  could not endure having a dead man lying across your body, so you would pick him up and pass him over your head to get him out of the way.  In a short time he would be passed back and you would have him lying over you all over again.  I remember one prisoner, Cal Coolidge, who had been a friend of mine in Manila prior to the outbreak of the war.  Cal died in my arms and I passed him on.  His corpse must have come back to me about a dozen times that night.  I had one dead man on me for an hour.  I don't even know who he was.  There were no lights.

 

Q      What happened in the morning?

A       We took a count and found that 38 men were dead.

 

Q      What did you do with their bodies?

A       There were two Taiwanese guards stationed on deck over the hatch at the head of the ladder.  We passed the bodies up the ladder and never saw them again.  Presumably the Japanese threw them overboard.

 

Q      What happened on the morning of December 14th?

A       We were bombed by American planes.  I was hit by shrapnel between the eyes and at the tip of my nose.  Others were wounded more seriously than I, and there was blood all over the place.  Men scrambled frantically to get out of the hold, but the Taiwanese guards at the head of the ladder would not let them.  They stood there with loaded rifles and fixed bayonets.  At one point the guards fired point-blank into the hold, killing several prisoners.  Among the prisoners killed, I remember Commanders Wilson and Bridget, who were shot trying to get up the ladder.  There were many others whose names I cannot remember.  [Ed. According to the Oryoku Maru Roster website, Lt. Cmdr. Bridget survived the voyage until 9 January 1945.  There is no listing of a Cmdr. Wilson.  No one with the last name Wilson died on the 14h December.]

 

Q      Did the Orokyu Maru continue on to Japan?

A       No.  On the night of December 14th, the ship headed in to Subic Bay.

 

Q      What happened then?

A       On the morning of December 15th we were told to prepare to go ashore.  Then American planes came over, again bombed and strafed the ship, and finally the ship began to sink.  Prisoners started climbing up the ladder.  As I started to go up on deck, a bomb landed and knocked the deck gun to the right of the hatch out of commission.  Boards and I-beams fell in on top of the prisoners, killing many.  I turned back and went down into the hold, removing as much of the debris as I could, freeing many prisoners who had been pinned down.  Finally, I got up on deck.  When I poked my head over the hatchway, I saw Lt. TOSHINO blazing away with his pistol at American prisoners who were trying to get out of the forward hatch.  When he paused to reload his pistol, I darted out and leaped over the side from the upper deck.

 

Q      What time was this on the morning of the 15th of December

A       About seven or eight o'clock.

 

Q      What did you do then?

A       I found a floating plank and managed to make the beach at Subic Bay.  I saw one of the escort guards on the deck of the Oryoku Maru firing at men in the water.  Other guards on the deck were using machine guns, rifles, and pistols.  A friend of mine, [Robert] "Scotty" Lees, was among those killed by machine gun fire.

 

Q      Did you get to the beach?

A       Yes, but while I was crawling through the water toward land, one of our Taiwanese guards saw me.  He ran up and bayoneted me in the right leg.  I played possum.  When he moved on, I crawled the rest of the way and joined the other prisoners on the beach.  I was given first aid by Americans.

 

Q      What was the situation on shore?

A       There was a double row of Japanese soldiers and civilians armed with rifles, pistols, and bamboo poles with knives on the ends as spears.  The prisoners who survived were prodded along by the double row of Japanese for about half a mile until we came to a tennis court at Olongapo.

 

Q      What happened on the tennis court?

A       We lay there until the following day without food.  There were about 1300 left of the original 1620.

 

Q      Did you receive any food on December 16th, the following day?

A       Yes, we did.  We were each given [two] tablespoons of uncooked rice and four tablespoons of water.

 

Q      Did you receive any other food on the 16th?

A       No.

 

Q      Did you receive any food on the 17th?

A       Yes.  Again we received two tablespoons of uncooked rice.

 

Q      Did you get any water?

A       One-half canteen of water was provided for five men.

 

Q      Did you remain on the tennis court after that?

A       Yes.  We stayed there for several days, but I cannot recall what happened as I was too weak from loss of blood.

 

Q      What was the next thing you remembered?

A       We were taken to San Fernando Pampanga where we were put in a movie house.  We stayed there for approximately three days.  We had a lot of food there.

 

Q      What do you mean by "a lot of food"?

A       Each man had a canteen cup of rice, greens and sweet potatoes cooked together per day.

 

Q      How long did you remain at San Fernando, Pampanga?

A       Two or three days.

 

Q      Where did you go then?

A       We went to San Fernando, La Union, traveling by train for 18 hours.  No food and no water, arriving about 2:30 A. M.  We remained there for a day and were put in a school house.  From there we went to the beach at Puro.  We stayed there for two days, where we were divided into two groups.  I was in the smaller group, which boarded the smaller of two freighters in the bay.

 

Q      How were you taken to the freighter?

A       By landing barge.  The sea was very rough that day, and the barges rose and fell on the surface of the water.  When it was my turn to board the barge it was 15' below the level of the deck.  I waited for a wave to bring it back up to the level of the dock.  Because I did not move fast enough to suit the Taiwanese guard, he cracked me over the head with his rifle, and I dropped on the landing barge.  Several other prisoners fell into the water.  Whether they were picked up or not, I don't know.

 

Q      What happened next?

A       We were put aboard the two freighters in the bay.  On my ship were four Taiwanese guards and 257 prisoners.  Lt. TOSHINO, WADA, remaining Taiwanese guards, and the balance of the prisoners were on the second ship.  The guards on both ships were the same Taiwanese who had been our guards at Cabanatuan and Old Bilibid.

 

Q      What were you fed?

A       After we left Puro, we had no food or water for five days.  We pleaded with the guard to give us some food or water, but he would not.  Then we asked for permission to speak to Lt. TOSHINO or WADA on the other ship, but the guard wouldn't permit that, either.  Finally, on the sixth day, we were given two tablespoons of uncooked rice, but no water.

 

Q      What clothes were you wearing?

A       All I had was a pair of shorts.  From the time we abandoned the Oryoku Maru in Subic Bay until I arrived at Takao, Taiwan, I had no shoes, no shirt; the shorts were my only clothes.  After Takao I got a shirt from one of the prisoners who died en route.

 

Q      Was there any way of getting water?

A       There was a donkey engine on the deck, and we would try to take the rusty, greasy water which dripped from that engine.  We would stand for hours to catch the drops as they fell.  When we were caught doing this, the guards beat us.

 

Q      What were the sanitation conditions?

A       Practically everyone had diarrhea or dysentery.  There was one latrine built over the starboard side, strapped to the guard rail, and about five wooden buckets were placed in the hold.  These were inadequate, and we slept in a mass of excreta.  No bedding or blankets were furnished us, and most of the men who were not able to pick up a piece of straw matting slept on the steel decks.  Approximately 30-40 men were found dead every morning on the trip from Lingayen Gulf to Takao, Taiwan.

 

Q      What happened to the freighter on which you were?

A       It was torpedoed off Taiwan.  Though damaged, it did not sink.  The ship then put in at Takao, Taiwan.  At Takao we were put aboard another ship immediately.  It was a freighter whose number, I believe, was 536.  This freighter was bombed by American Navy planes in the harbor of Takao, and it was beached there.  About 300 prisoners had been killed in the bombing attack, and many others were wounded.  The wounded were given no treatment for two days.  We were kept in the hold of the beached ship for three days with the dead and wounded.

 

Q      Did this ship reach Japan?

A       No.  Finally we were taken off and put on another ship which took us to Moji, Japan.  Upon arrival in Japan, Lt. TOSHINO and the escort guards turned us over to the Japanese military authorities.  I saw nothing further of Lt. TOSHINO and the escort guards.
Note: On the full account George's Deposition signature/oath follows here.

 

CERTIFICATE

 

 

            I, ROBERT A. DREYER, 2nd Lt., 0-587717, Air Corps, certify that on the 12th day of January, 1946, personally appeared before me GEORGE L. CURTIS, and gave the foregoing answers to the several questions set forth; that after his testimony had been transcribed, the said GEORGE L. CURTIS read the same and affixed his signature thereto in my presence.

 

Place:   Santa Mesa, Manila,

            P. I.                                                                              ROBERT A. DREYER

                                                                                                2nd Lt., Air Corps

                                                                                                Investigating Officer,

Date:    12th January 1946                                                         War Crimes Investigating

                                                                                                Detachment

 

 

 

Appendix 2

Deposition by George Curtis

 

GEORGE L. CURTIS, after having been duly sworn, testified at 199 Manga Avenue, Santa Mesa, Manila, P. I., on 12 January 1946, as follows:

 

[Ed. The first several questions and answers in the testimony given by my uncle on 12 January 1946 appear to be identical to that given the day before.  I have no information as to why he came back on the 12th for more questions on his deposition, unless Lt. Dreyer found he required further evidence of atrocities committed by Japanese guards and others at Cabanatuan and beyond.  The repetition of questions may have been used to substantiate my uncle's base of knowledge.  What is even more mysterious is that my uncle's answers are, at first, word for word identical to his answers given the day before.  I have no explanation for this.  Additionally, no significance is revealed about the date 9th March 1944 and why questions often delved into events on that day and following.  Apparently the questioner, perhaps the same Lt. Dreyer of the previous day, was building a case against Lt. Toshino, the assistant Japanese commander of the Cabanatuan Camp.]

 

Q      What is your name and permanent address?

A       George CURTIS; 38 Ocean Street, New Bedford, Massachusetts.

 

Q      Were you in the Philippines at the outbreak of the war?

A       Yes.  I was working as a civilian employee in charge of communications at the army airfields in Bataan.  I made all original installations for radio and telephone operations at Mariveles.  I installed all radio and telephone equipment on Bataan airports with the help of Navy personnel.

 

Q      Were you captured by the Japanese?

A       Yes.  When the Japanese took Bataan I retired to Corregidor and was captured there.

 

Q      Where were you held by the Japanese?

A       From April 8 to April 22, 1942, I was held at the 92nd Garage on Corregidor.  From April 23, 1942 until about July 1942, I was at Old Bilibid Prison.  From July to September, 1942, I was at Cabanatuan.  Then, I was returned to Old Bilibid for a week.  From Old Bilibid I went to Clark Field as a laborer on the airfield for a period of about two months.  I was then returned to Old Bilibid suffering from malaria, beri-beri and malnutrition.  During this time in Old Bilibid, I worked on local Manila details.  In early 1944 I was returned to Cabanatuan where I worked on the airport, on the farm, and as a perimeter guard.  [Ed. The month of April 1942 is probably incorrect.  Corregidor surrendered on May 6th, not April 8th, so George's memory was probably mistaken; quite understandable, given the circumstances.]

 

Q      Please state in detail what you know from personal observation about the death of Lt. Robert HUFFCUT.

A       To begin with, I knew Lt. HUFFCUT and Major PRIESTLEY, both attached to the United States High Commissioner's Office in the Philippines, prior to World War II.

            It so happens that on or about October 1, 1944, I was doing perimeter guard duty at the Cabanatuan Prison Camp in Nueva Ecija.  This guard duty consisted of patrolling the path that follows along the inside barbed wire fence about 3 feet from the fence and from a distance of 150 paces.  It was my duty to warn any American prisoner of war that they were not to get within 3 feet of the inside barbed wire fence eliminating the necessity of having the Japanese guard challenge them.  This I believe was instigated by the American commander so that misunderstandings would be avoided with the Japanese guards.

            It so happens that I remember the time as being near noon insomuch as my tour of duty would expire at that time.  I distinctly saw Lt. HUFFCUT as he hit the path and I waved hello to him.  He went south probably from about 40-50 feet from where I was standing and I turned and headed north to complete my post.  I had not reached the end of my post when I heard a shot.  I heard no warning prior to the shot and when I turned I naturally faced the Japanese tower and the Japanese guard started to holler when I saw two or three men start from the barracks and head toward HUFFCUT who was at that time on his knee, hollering.  He was probably 3 feet inside of the inside barbed wire just about the edge of the pathway on his own garden.  Permission had been granted those prisoners to work these gardens that were near the inside barbed wire fence that had only been put up some 10 days prior to this incident.  I started back toward HUFFCUT and then I heard the Japanese guard start to holler "Kura," which meant stop, halt, or something similar to that.  The several prisoners of war who headed to HUFFCUT in answer to his calls stopped in their tracks, and some hit the dirt when the Japanese guard started to swing his rifle in all directions.  Directly after that HUFFCUT stood up and the Japanese fired another shot.  The shot knocked HUFFCUT down where he remained until a Japanese non-com came down the pathway from south toward HUFFCUT.  Directly after that the camp commander with an American Medical Officer and another Japanese guard came in through the American prisoners of war barracks area and stood over HUFFCUT's body.  Some 15 or 20 minutes expired and at the end of that time HUFFCUT was taken on a stretcher and over to the Japanese headquarters.  At the time I heard the first shot I was approximately 60 feet from where HUFFCUT was first hit and I probably walked another 20-25 feet toward him when I was held up by the Japanese guard.

 

Q      Will you also mention the approximate distance from where you were at the time you heard the first shot to where the Japanese guard's tower was?

A       I was approximately the same distance from the guard on the path north of the guard's tower as HUFFCUT was south of the guard's tower;  I was four or five paces north of a latrine which was very close to the path.  I cannot describe the guard who fired the shots because he remained in the tower at all times that I was in the vicinity.

 

Q      During the period from 9th of March 1944 was the amount of food furnished by the Japanese insufficient to maintain life under the existing conditions?

A       Yes.  It was a living ration but that is about all, but they expected us to work on it and that is also almost impossible.

 

Q      Did the quantity increase or decrease after March 9, 1944?

A       I noticed no increase in the amount of food given to me.

 

Q      Please describe the quarters with which the prisoners were furnished during that period.

A       The prisoners were housed in barracks with double tiers of bunks on either side of the passage way with a space of approximately 8 feet long by 4 feet wide allotted to each prisoners.  These were bunks constructed of bamboo strips made and attached by the prisoners.  The buildings were approximately 50 feet long by 20-odd feet wide with sawali sides and nipa roofs.  No doors for any of the buildings and very few of the windows were usable.  Windows being made of wooden frames with sawali coverings.  In the buildings were housed different numbers of prisoners at different times ranging from 72 down to sometimes as few as 50.  The buildings were contaminated with bedbugs and lice which we never could seem to get rid of.

 

Q      Did the Japanese make any effort to get rid of bedbugs?

A       The Japanese made no efforts but they permitted us to get hot water from different galleys and we would take the hot water and pour boiling water over the bamboo strips but the sawali and nipa were so full of them that it was only temporary relief.  No insecticides were given to us at any time.

 

Q      Will you describe the status of medical care and medical supplies as far as you know?

A       There was a Major REED who was in charge of the medical supplies at Cabanatuan and although he did everything in his power to eliminate disease and the like he was handicapped by the lack of medical equipment.  Occasionally salve, gauze and bandages for a couple of days and then would go weeks without them.  Salves and ointments and medical supplies of all sorts were given spasmodically with no regularity.  I know this because on several occasions I had had little talks with Major REED.  Cases of beri-beri and Guam blisters were very prevalent during the hot sunny days which invariably festered causing great discomfort to the individual, especially if they had to work on the airport or on the farm  All men were required to work with blisters and usually with infections as well.

 

Q      Were you provided with any clothing or footwear during this period 9th of March until October 1944?

A       For the Christmas of 1943 practically all men in camp were issued some sort of a pair of shoes.  Most of them had arrived from the States through the Red Cross.  It was not long before the shoes wore out and no others were ever issued to us.  Most of the men made and used wooden shoes which they wore back and forth and while working at the airport but at the farm we had to work barefooted by order of the Japanese.  As to clothing it so happened that I had sufficient to cover my body which consisted of two shirts and two pair of shorts.  Many of the other men I knew were running around in rags and no clothing was ever issued to us by the Japanese.

 

Q      Did you receive any Red Cross or private packages and if you did were they delivered to you in undisturbed condition?

A       Yes.  In 1943 around Christmas time we were each given 4 complete Red Cross boxes and in February 1944 we were given an additional number of cans of corned beef, cigarettes and other Red Cross items that we knew were the remains of boxes that the Japanese had taken and helped themselves first.  In addition to that I received one Red Cross package from the States given to me intact during the month of February 1944.  This Red Cross package was mailed to me personally and was the only one I received of some 40-odd boxes that I have since been told were sent to me by my family and friends in the States.

 

Q      Were you given the status of an officer when you were held as a prisoner of war?

A       I was not.

 

Q      Were you compelled during this period to work on any military installation?

A       Yes.  I was a laborer at the Clark Field Camp and also laborer at Cabanatuan Air Field building airports.

 

Q      Did you ever witness any mistreatment of prisoners of war by Japanese prison camp personnel during the period 9th of March 1944 to October 1944?

A       Yes.  Every day.  While was on the farm, men were beaten by different guards whose real names I don't know but whose nicknames were "Air Raid", "Glass-eye", "Ben Turpin", "Laughing Boy", "Big Speedo", "Little Speedo", "Donald Duck" and numerous others.  These prisoners were beaten sometimes for nothing at all.  Sometimes we were cuffed around by the hands of the guards.  Sometimes we were beaten with bamboo sticks, with two by fours, were kicked and received beatings in any way.  However, there were a lot more beatings given to the men that worked on the farm than those that worked in building the airport in Cabanatuan.

 

Q      Did you see officers administering any beatings or ordering beatings or watching such beatings during such period?

A       Yes.  On several occasions a Lt. TOSHINO was in the vicinity when beatings took place and naturally witnessed them.

 

Q      Was any policy of collective punishment used during this period?

A       On several times I have seen complete groups of 100 men given a punch, a kick or a whack over the back with a bamboo or two by four, merely because one man of that group of 100 men had stepped out of line for some reason such as getting in the wrong formation or not moving fast enough when the formation was called.  There was a bulletin at one time to the effect that if any man escaped, 10 men of that group would be severely punished and probably shot.

 

Q      Was there a canteen at the camp during the period of March to October 1944?

A       There was no definite canteen established but a Lt. Col. JOHNSON ran a commissary in camp and when the Japs felt like it they would allow him to buy bananas, papayas, sugar, onions, mango beans and other local produce.  These cases of purchase were not too frequent and one never knew when one was able to get a little extra food.  The prices, too, were out of sight and considering the average prisoner of war who was receiving 10 to 15 centavos a day, and a papaya selling for in the neighborhood of four pesos for a papaya, not much could be bought.

 

Q      Did any prisoner of war die of starvation during the period of March to October 1944?

A       For me to blame any of the deaths that took place during that period on starvation would not be correct, not knowing, but many deaths did take place from malnutrition and advance cases of beri-beri.

 

Q      Did you see any Japanese officers from prisoners of war headquarters inspecting the camp during this period?

A       The exact dates I don't remember but on two or three occasions some ranking officers from the prisoners of war headquarters from Manila would visit Cabanatuan.  In fact I remember distinctly a Japanese major came to inspect the camp.  We were on the alert for several hours and he left without even coming inside the gate.  He spent most of the afternoon at Japanese headquarters and then left at about dusk.

 

Q      Is there anything further you wish to state?

A       No. That is all.

 

Q      Please examine the sketch of the premises made from your drawing used to describe the shooting of Lt. Robert HUFFCUT, and state whether it is correct.

A       Based on my recollections, it is correct, but the distances and dimensions are simply my best estimates.
Note: On the full account George's Deposition signature/oath follows here.

 

 

Appendix 3

Deposition by Major Robert Conn, Jr.

 

ROBERT E. CONN, JR., Major, 0-331801, Infantry, being first duly sworn on oath, testified on 24 September 1945, at Manila, Philippine Islands, as follows:

 

 

Q      Will you state your full name, rank, branch, and serial number?

A       Robert E. Conn, Jr., Major, 45th Infantry (PS), 0-331801.

 

Q      What is your present home address?

A       My home address is Geneva, Minnesota, c/o my father, Robert E. Conn; also, communications directed to the Northwestern National Bank and Trust Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota, will reach me.

 

Q      From testimony which you have previously given, I understand that you were a prisoner of war of the Japanese at Cabanatuan Prison Camp from 3 June 1942 to 16 October 1944, and during the last month of your confinement there do you recall any unusual happenings relative to atrocities or mistreatment of Americans by Japanese?

A       No.

 

Q      Will you tell us in your own words generally about the conditions at Cabanatuan during the last month that you were confined there?

A       Conditions were very tense by reason of recent raids on the Island by U. S. Navy planes, and the sending of large drafts of officers and enlisted men, supposedly to Japan.  Practically no one was permitted outside the camp gates and the Japanese confined themselves to keeping a strict sentry ring around the camp.

 

Q      Tell me about the food situation at Cabanatuan during that last month?

A       The food consisted of rice, corn, casava, and a few greens.  At times a dried fish, smelling extremely foul and in many instances infested with maggots, was issued in small quantities.  The amount of animal protein was insufficient, with the result that the camp personnel was showing increased affects of malnutrition.

 

Q      During the last month of your confinement at Cabanatuan, did any outstanding instances of atrocities or mistreatment of prisoners take place?

A       No outstanding atrocities took place during that month, the more outstanding ones having occurred in the earlier dates of the camp.

 

Q      Were you compelled to work during the last month at Cabanatuan?

A       Yes, I was.

 

Q      What was the nature of this forced labor?

A       The forced labor was of a general nature for everyone in camp irregardless of rank, such as farming, wood cutting for both the benefit of the Japanese and ourselves, and general duties with regard to camp maintenance.  At this time I was acting as a cook in one of the kitchens.

 

Q      On what date were you transferred from Cabanatuan?

A       October 16, 1944.

 

Q      How many other American soldiers were transferred with you at that time?

A       During a six-day period approximately fifteen hundred (1500) Americans were transferred to Bilibid Prison in Manila.

 

Q      By what means were you transferred?

A       We were transferred in trucks, being crowded in to the extent of forty to fifty to a 1-1/2 ton truck.

 

Q      How long were you confined at Bilibid Prison?

A       I was confined there from October 16 to December 13, 1944.

 

Q      Tell us generally the conditions that existed at Bilibid Prison during your confinement there.

A       The food ration was considerably less than that at Cabanatuan, being two meals per day consisting of a canteen cup of lugao and approximately 1/3 of a canteen cup of watery, green soup.  In some instances a mess kit spoonful of pulverized dried fish was served to each man.  On one occasion we purchased from our own funds mongo beans and bananas which were issued through the general mess.  We were permitted to take one blanket with us from Cabanatuan and were required to sleep on the cement floors without beds or any materials to cover the hard floor.  The buildings were extremely crowded.  We were required to spend a considerable amount of the time indoors as the result of air raids over the City of Manila.

 

Q      Between October 16 and December 13, 1944, do you recall any beatings or mistreatment of Americans confined at Bilibid?

A       Yes.

 

Q      Please tell us about those incidents.

A       The sentries, on various occasions, slapped Americans and required them to stand at attention because they assumed the Americans had not paid due respect to them.  On another instance, I observed several Americans who had scrambled to pick up a few grains of raw rice that had spilled from a sack beaten and kicked and then required to kneel on the cement for a period of time.  I do not know how long they were required to stay in that position as I left the area to prevent the Japanese sentry from either including myself in the group or increasing their punishment to demonstrate his power and authority.

 

Q      Do you recall the names of any of the Americans that you saw mistreated in this manner?

A       No, they were enlisted men.

 

Q      Do you recall the names of any of the Japanese that administered this treatment?

A       No, I was not familiar with the sentries at Bilibid.

 

Q      Do you recall any other instances of mistreatment by the Japanese of American prisoners of war at Bilibid?

A       No.

 

Q      Were you compelled to work while at Bilibid?

A       No, I was not.

 

Q      On what date were you transferred from Bilibid Prison?

A       I left Bilibid Prison on 13 December 1944.

 

Q      Where did you go when you left Bilibid Prison?

A       I went with a detail of 1619 men to Pier #7 where we were crowded into the holds of the Japanese liner Oryoku Maru.

 

Q      Approximately how many Americans were confined at Bilibid Prison during the period of your confinement there?

A       There were a considerable number of sick, and the light ration resulted in a loss of over ten pounds per man for the group that arrived there from Cabanatuan in October.

 

Q      After your group was placed aboard the Oryoku Maru in Manila Harbor, where did you go?

A       We started sailing sometime during the evening and evidently headed for Japan, being in the hold we of course could not tell which way we were moving.

 

Q      Describe for us the general sanitary conditions on board this ship insofar as your group was concerned.

A       The only sanitary measure for the approximately 700 of us crowded into the forward hold was five 5-gallon cans to be used as urinals and latrines.  It goes without saying that this was insufficient and, also, impracticable due to the extremely crowded condition.  The Japanese refused to empty these pails, or to permit a detail of our own men to empty them, when they were full.  This resulted in fecal matter and urine being spilled in the hold, and necessitated the use by many men of their canteens and mess gear for the purpose of relieving themselves.

 

Q      Was there sufficient room in the holds for the men to all lie down and rest?

A       No, there wasn't even sufficient room for me to sit down.

 

Q      Were blankets or cots, or anything of that nature, provided for the comfort of the American prisoners of war on this trip?

A       Each prisoner of war was permitted to take one blanket with him from Bilibid Prison but crowded conditions made the use of such out of the question.  There were no other means of comfort provided.

 

Q      Was drinking water available to your group during that trip?

A       Approximately five gallons of water was issued to approximately 700 men on the evening of 13 December, and a similar amount of tea the following morning.  Many men, due to this small amount, received no water or tea, having only the water they carried with them in their canteens from Bilibid.

 

Q      Did the Japanese furnish adequate food for your group on this trip?

A       No.  We received fish and rice on the evening of the 13th, and a small issue of rice and fish on the morning of the 14th, the morning meal being issued during the air raids which resulted in mal-distribution.  That was all the food we received on that boat.

 

Q      Do you know whether the Japanese did anything toward making or designating this ship as a transport of prisoners of war?

A       I could see no evidence of marking on the ship as we entered, and I was later informed that the Japanese had no intention of so marking ships carrying prisoners of war.  The ship also was heavily armed with anti-aircraft weapons.

 

Q      How many times during the trip was the ship attacked from the air by American planes?

A       On December 14th there must have been eight separate raids during the day.  On the morning of the 15th there was one raid while Americans were still on board, and one after we had abandoned the ship.

 

Q      As a result of these air raids what measure did the Japanese take, if any, which would increase the suffering of the American prisoners aboard the ship?

A       Part of the hatch was covered, thus cutting down the amount of air available for the men.  No water or food was issued.  We were held on the ship on the morning of the 15th until the Americans had bombed it again, which procedure I was later advised by Lieutenant Colonel [E. Carl] Engelhart (who speaks Japanese fluently and obtained this information from a Japanese corporal) was deliberate.

 

Q      When the hatches were closed, was it possible for your group to empty the containers which you had been furnished for latrine purposes?

A       No.  We, on our own initiative, attempted to empty urine into the lower hold of the ship and were successful to a small degree.  However, close observation by Japanese sentries made this difficult and dangerous.

 

Q      Can you tell us the effect of the hardships encountered on this voyage upon the mental and physical condition of the American prisoners of war aboard the ship?

A       Yes.  The results were beyond the power of imagination.  Men went stark mad.  Others resorted to blood-sucking.  Many men, due to their extreme thirst, would grab canteens that had been used as urinals and drink the contents without thought to the results such would bring on.  Due to threats of the Japanese to throw hand grenades into the hold if we were not quiet, it was necessary to muffle many men who were out of their head and creating a large disturbance.  In some instances this resulted in the death of the unfortunate prisoner of war.  The hold can best be described as a sweltering mass of thirsty, fear-stricken, mad human beings.  In one instance, a large corpsman went out of his head and began calling to the Japanese sentry and attempting to get up the ladder to get at him.  The gist of his shouts was that he had suffered all that he could bear and that he would kill the dirty bastard or die in the attempt.  In order to protect the rest of the men in the hold from threatened hand grenades and rifle fire, it was necessary to quiet this man.  Due to his above average strength, it became necessary to knock him out, such effort unfortunately being too great with the result that it killed him.

 

Q      Did the Japanese deliberately kill any Americans on this trip?

A       Yes.  I did not see it personally, but I was advised by men I know to be reliable that they saw several American officers, whose names I do not know, shot as they attempted to get food from the ship as we were abandoning it on the morning of December 15th.  I was also advised that during the air raids, the Japanese corporal whose nickname was "Air Raid" fired directly into the hold, killing American prisoners of war the names of whom I do not know.  I think "Air Raid's" name is AIHARA.

 

Q      Did the men in your group receive any medical care or attention from the Japanese during this voyage?

A       No.. However, they did require some of our doctors to operate on their women and children who were injured in the strafing attacks, thus taking trained personnel away from our own cases.

 

Q      Can you estimate the number of American prisoners of war that were killed, or died as a result of mistreatment, on this trip?

A       Yes, approximately sixty (60).

 

Q      Give us the names of those that you can remember?

A       Lieutenant Colonel Conaty, QM Construction; Major Bradley, 4th U. S. Marine Corps; Captain Buboltz, 26th Cavalry; Major Burtz, Vetinary [Ed. Veterinary?  There is no one of that name on the manifest anyway.] Corps; and Lieutenant Colonel Drummond, Medical Corps.

 

Q      As a result of the air raids which you have testified about, did it become necessary for this ship to pull into a harbor?

A       As a result of the bombings, the ship pulled into Subic Bay near the Olongapo Naval Station.  Evidently during the evening the surviving Japanese women and children and civilians were taken off the ship by landing boats.  On the morning of December 15th when the American planes made their first raid for that day, no return fire from the ship's anti-aircraft guns was made.  After the first bombing, we were permitted and ordered to evacuate the ship.  Some men found life preservers in various staterooms and, in so doing, saw a large quantity of American cigarettes and American food contained in packages identical to those which were received by prisoners of war in their Red Cross packages.  Other men raided the ship's galley and reported finding large quantities of ham, chicken, ice cream, milk, candy and nuts, none of which had been available to us the two previous days.

 

Q      When the order to abandon ship was given, did the Japanese aid or assist the American prisoners of war to get ashore?

A       The only assistance that I know of that was given by Japanese soldiers was in my own instance, and in that case such was given by a Formosan who recognized me after we had struggled for some time in the water over possession of a life belt.  It was certainly evident that the only function required of the guards was to get their own person safely on to shore and to prevent the escape of any Americans that reached shore alive.

 

Q      Do you know of any Americans that were shot or killed by the Japanese while getting ashore?

A       Yes.

 

Q      Can you give their names?

A       Chaplain [Arthur V.] Cleveland, who had been paralyzed for a considerable time in prison camp as a result of diphtheria, and Lieutenant Colonel [Walter L.] Dencker, a Philippine Scout officer, were shot on a raft that was being carried out to sea by the current.

 

Q      Were the guards on this ship members of the Japanese Army or Navy?

A       Some of the guards were members of the Japanese Army; others were Formosans, used as prisoner of war guards.

 

Q      Can you give us the names of any of the Japanese guards that accompanied your group on this trip?

A       Yes.  1st Lieutenant [Junsaburo] TOSHINO; Mr. [Shusuke] WADA, interpreter; "Air Raid" whose name, I believe, is [Kazutane] AIHARA; and OUIDA [Ed. possibly Jiro UEDA], a three-star private who worked with the Transportation Section at Cabanatuan Prison Camp.

 

Q      Were the above-named members of the Japanese Army forces connected with the military police?

A       Not that I know of.  They did not wear the arm band with red characters which all military police wear.

 

Q      Which of these men do you consider responsible for the deplorable conditions existing among the American prisoners of war on the boat ride?

A       I believe Lieutenant TOSHINO and Mr. WADA are primarily responsible, and the others named are also responsible because of their refusal to convey many of our requests to the commanding officer of the detail.

 

Q      Which one was the commanding officer?

A       Lieutenant TOSHINO.

 

Q      Do you know to what unit or organization Lieutenant TOSHINO belonged?

A       During the fighting on Bataan, Lieutenant TOSHINO was a member of the Japanese unit that fought in the area known as the Tuol Pocket.  This information was obtained directly from Lieutenant TOSHINO who states that had he not been wounded he would have lost his life in that pocket as did all the other Japanese officers with that unit..

 

Q      Do you know where Lieutenant TOSHINO's home is in Japan?

A       No, I do not.

 

Q      Can you give us a description of Lieutenant TOSHINO, as to physical characteristics?

A       Lieutenant TOSHINO was approximately 5' 7", would weigh about 135 pounds, was very wiry and athletic.  It has stated that he was a member of the Japanese Davis Cup Tennis Team.  He wore glasses, and has a very pleasing personality which he used to a large extent in attempting to obtain information concerning prison camp life from different prisoners of war.  He can speak and understand some English.  Lieutenant TOSHINO was in Japan, on Kyushu, in February, 1945, as I saw him in our barracks at Camp #1, Fukuoka, about the middle of that month.

 

Q      During this boat trip, did Lieutenant TOSHINO ever come down into the hold where you men were?

A       No sir.

 

Q      Were any of your group that you knew of able to talk with Lieutenant TOSHINO about conditions?

A       No, we were not.  We protested to Mr. WADA who promised to see what he could do concerning the crowded conditions, but up to the time of the air raid no action had been taken by him.

 

Q      Did Lieutenant TOSHINO remain in charge of your group on the entire trip from the Philippine Islands to Japan?

A       Yes.  He and the entire group of Japanese that left Manila with us continued on to our final destination at Mojii [sic], Kyushu.

 

Q      Can you give us any further information about the Japanese interpreter, Mr. WADA, so that we can identify him?

A       Mr. WADA learned to speak English while serving as a houseboy for an American.  He has a deformed body, being partially hunchbacked, and is very short and slight of build.  He is about thirty-five or forty years old, wears glasses, and speaks in a high, irritating tone.  I do not know where his home is in Japan.

 

Q      Can you give us a description, or other information, about any of the other Japanese accompanying your party?

A       Yes.  "Air Raid" is approximately 5' 5", has a typical Japanese build being stocky, but his face is somewhat longer than the normal Japanese.  He wears glasses, and in all our associations with him he was very officious, attempting to monopolize all attention whenever he was around.

 

Q      What specific actions of mistreatment was AIHARA guilty of on this boat trip?

A       He is reported to have fired his rifle into the rear hold and on two or three occasions to have severely slapped Americans who were attempting to arrange improvements in our living conditions. I was in the forward hold, this information was given to me by members of the rear hold after we had abandoned ship.

 

Q      You have previously testified about the extreme hardships suffered by your group in going ashore at Olongapo; now tell us, in your own words, the things that transpired after your group had reached land.

A       We were directed to follow a Japanese guard who led us to an area near a tennis court at the old United States Marine Corps post at Olongapo which is on Subic Bay on the Island of Luzon, Philippine Islands.  In this area we attempted to hold a roll call, by groups, to ascertain who had not reached shore.  The medical personnel, using what medicines they were able to carry with them, began caring for the sick and wounded.  I specifically remember gathering sheets which had belonged to the Japanese civilians and had floated ashore, to cover the wounded so as to keep flies out of the open wounds.  Approximately 300 men required immediate attention and everyone was suffering from shock, hunger and extreme thirst.  When I first attempted to drink water, which we obtained from a spigot near the tennis court, my throat was so parched that I could not swallow, and most of the surviving men were in a similar condition.

 

The Japanese made no effort to give us medicines, or food, or to assist in the medical care.  We had reached shore at about nine o'clock in the morning, and remained in this area near the tennis court until about five o'clock in the afternoon when they crowded all of us into a single tennis court that had a wooden fence enclosure.  A roll call that evening revealed that our number had been cut from 1619 to 1400.  We were given no food, and were required to stand in line for a long time to get water from a spigot within the tennis court itself.

 

On December 16th we stayed in the tennis court for the entire day, many men being stark naked and getting severely burned from the intense run rays.  During the day, [U. S.] Navy planes returned to the area, bombing oil dumps and gun positions and strafing military personnel.  We observed what I believe to be one of the most perfect demonstrations of accuracy when these fliers bombed and strafed areas within fifty to one hundred yards of the tennis court.  The Navy fliers knew we were Americans because they would fly low over the court, dipping their wings to us.  We received no food during the 16th

 

The 17th was a duplication of the previous day excepting that late in the afternoon raw, musty rice was issued, the quantity being approximately two level mess kit spoonfuls per man.  On the 18th, a few items of old, torn, salvaged clothing was made available to us and distributed equally, by us, to the more needy cases.  The medical personnel, without assistance or supplies from the Japanese, did remarkable work in caring for the sick and wounded.  In one instance, Lieutenant Colonel Schwartz had to amputate the arm of Corporal Speck [Specht?] of the Marine Corps, without the use of anesthetic, antiseptics, or medical instruments.  On the 18th we received a small amount of raw, musty rice in the morning and approximately one mess kit spoonful of salt per man.  In the evening, two mess kit spoonfuls of raw rice were again issued.

 

On the 19th a few of the hospital cases were permitted to leave the tennis court and sit in the shade of the trees nearby for a short time.  This privilege was granted after repeated requests made by our interpreters to Mr. WADA, the Japanese interpreter.  Other events  of that day were a repetition of the previous day.  On the 20th, after the issuance of the usual raw rice ration, one-half of the personnel were placed on trucks and left the area.  On the 21st, the balance of the group, of which I was a part, were placed on trucks and taken to San Fernando, Pampanga, and crowded into an empty theater.

 

During the period we were on the tennis court, approximately eight men died from wounds, starvation, lack of medical care, and exhaustion.  Two of these men were personal friends of mine, being Captain [Dwight H.] Gribben and Lieutenant [William F.] Hogaboom.

 

While in the theater we received the first cooked food since the morning of December 14th.  On December 22nd and 23rd our men, using two cauldrons, cooked rice, camotes, and seaweed.  This gave each man approximately two canteen cups full each day.  On the 23rd we had to complete the cooking for that day by ten o'clock in the morning as the Japanese took the cauldrons away at that time. 

 

Late in the evening of the 22nd, members of the Japanese staff at Bilibid Prison in Manila visited the theater and delivered several boxes of Red Cross medicines.  They then took twelve of our sicker men, and three of the sicker of the men from the group housed in the jail at San Fernando, on truck, supposedly for Bilibid.  Some of these men were:  Lieutenant Colonel [Samuel W.] Freeney; Lieutenant Colonel [Dwight D.] Edison; Lieutenant Colonel [Ulysses J. L., Jr.] Peoples; Major [Wendell F.] Swanson; and Lieutenant [Hyman V.] Sherman.  After checking records recovered from Bilibid by the U. S. Army, I am convinced that these men were never returned to Bilibid, and I can only assume that, since they are still missing, they met the usual fate of sick prisoners of war of the Japanese.

 

On the morning of the 24th of December we were crowded into boxcars to such an extent that we couldn't sit down, and the tops of the boxcars were literally covered with prisoners of war.  This train was operated by the Japanese Army.  I also wish to state that the trucks which carried us from the tennis court at Olongapo to San Fernando, Pampanga, were Japanese Army trucks, operated by Japanese soldiers.  We arrived at San Fernando, La Union, near midnight on Christmas Eve, and spent the balance of the night sleeping on the cinder yard near the depot. 

 

We spent Christmas Day in a schoolyard, where a small amount of cooked rice and water, taken from an open well, was issued to us.  The amount of rice was approximately one canteen cup per man, and the water was equal to about one-half a canteen.  Christmas Night we moved to the beach where we stayed until early in the morning of December 27th.  One rice-ball was issued to some of the men, there not being sufficient for the entire group.  After repeated requests on the 26th, raw rice and approximately twelve spoonfuls of water, per man, was issued.  We were also permitted to bathe, in small groups, in the salt water.  Two men died on the beach.  One was Lieutenant Colonel [Howard J.] Edmonds [Edmands?], and the other a Private from the 31st Infantry [Ed. possibly Pvt. Floyd J. Moyer].  Early on the morning of the 27th we were loaded on to a large freighter that had just delivered artillery and horses to the Philippine Islands.

 

Q      Up to this point on your journey from Manila to Japan, do you know the number of men in your detail of the 1619 men who were killed or had died?

A       Yes.  1309 men were reported to have left San Fernando, La Union, by boat.

 

Q      Can you state what the physical condition, generally, was of this detail at the time they left the Philippines at San Fernando, La Union?

A       Yes.  We were extremely weak and emaciated from the lack of food and water and the terrifying experiences we had been through.  It is hard to estimate the loss in weight per man, but I am certain that I did not weigh over 125 pounds, my normal weight being 174 pounds, and I am sure that this is representative of the entire group.  We had little or no clothing; many men did not have eating equipment; practically no one had toilet articles.  The only medical attention that we had came from our own officers who had limited medical supplies and equipment.  Japanese rationing of the Red Cross medical supplies delivered to us at San Fernando, Pampanga, paid no attention to needs as stated by our doctors.  The men were suffering from exhaustion, dysentery, exposure, and malnutrition.

 

Q      Major, is there anything else that you can add to your testimony, fixing the responsibility for this mistreatment of American prisoners of war upon the Imperial Japanese Army?

A       Yes.  While on the tennis court at Olongapo, repeated requests for means by which we could cook our food were always answered with the statement that the troops stationed at Olongapo were members of the Japanese Naval Landing Parties and, consequently, would not give any equipment or food to our group which was under the control of the Imperial Japanese Army.  As I stated, this exact reply was made on several occasions.

 

Q      Do you have anything further to add to your statement?

A       No, sir.

Note: On the full account Major Conn's Deposition signature/oath follows here, dated 26 September 1945


 

CERTIFICATE

 

I, ROBERT V. KLASE, Capt., 0-1010031, Inf., certify that on the 26th day of September, 1945, personally appeared before me ROBERT E. CONN, JR., Major, Infantry, and gave the foregoing answers to the several questions set forth; that after his testimony had been transcribed, the said ROBERT E. CONN, JR., Major, Infantry, read the same and affixed his signature thereto in my presence.  Manila, Philippine Islands

     

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