MILITARY BIOGRAPHY OF LOUIS GOLDBRUM

I enlisted in the US Army Single Corps in April of 1941 as a photographer and was stationed in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. I was attached to the First Aircraft Warning Co. under the command of 1st. Lt. Robert H.  Arnold. We were sent to the Philippine Islands, arriving there in early August 1941. We lived in a tent city in Ft. Williams McKinley. My assignment was to photograph present and future sites for our Radar Installations, before, during and after completion.
On December 8th, 1941 I was with the Air Warning Unit in Bangui, the North Western part of the Island of Luzon, P.I. We got word of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor by radio and because our position was indefensible, we were ordered to search for the nearest US forces and join them.
After floundering around (because we traveled mostly by night) we met a Mr. Walter Cushing, who was the owner of a small gold mine in the area. He was familiar with the territory and the natives. He invited us to join him. Mr. Cushing left us to rest and get acquainted with our new conditions and returned a week later telling us he was commissioned as a Major. He also brought us radio reports listing several of Arnold’s men.

I was promoted to Sergeant, as were several others. Two were made Corporal’s. Cushing having been put in command over Arnold did not go well and so there was dissension among the group. Cushing was “Gung-Ho”. He hated the Japs and wanted specific orders. By agreement they decided to split up. I elected to go with Cushing, as did several others.
Under Cushing, we engaged in very successful ambushes, in Candon, Tagudin, in Ilocus Sur Province and in Lamunan Province in Abra. This greatly boosted the morale of the natives in the area and they supplied us with food and lodging which was greatly needed, as this was January and February 1942.
Major Cushing was very restless and left to reconnoiter the territory. During this trip, he was caught and killed because he swore never to be captured.
Soon afterward we ran into a Major Blea Capayes, who invited us to join him.  Since we never saw or heard of Lt. Arnold, we decided to accept.
On late March 1942, I accompanied Major Capayes to Lubugan in Mountain Province. After conferring with him for several days, we received orders to proceed to the Abra, I locus Sur and I locus Norte which were to be our sectors of command.
At this time I was promoted to 1st Lieutenant, later disputed and not affirmed after the war. Proceeding to our destination, we passed Cushing’ s gold mine. With the help of area natives I discovered Cushing’s hidden cache of dynamite and blasting caps. Two of his former employees who were knowledgeable with the proper use of explosive, agreed to join us.
For the next year we were able to successfully keep the Jap forces from entering our sector searching for food and supplies. This earned us the thanks and loyalty of the natives. With the dynamite, we mined and blew up bridges whenever we learned the Japs were coming. We ambushed them as well as the bridges.
After the fall of Corregidor, the last message we received was thanks for our efforts and we were ordered to suspend all operations and lay low. We disbanded our troops (mostly natives) and told them to divest themselves of all military recognition, return home and wait till we need them. Capayes left with a small cadre of his constabulary. I decided to proceed south to join another group. With me came two American Corporals and a Filipino Lieutenant.
On the third morning of our trip we awoke and found ourselves surrounded by a Jap patrol. The Lord was with us because the patrol was commanded by an American born, raised and schooled Jap, who was visiting his grandparents in Japan when the war started. He was drafted into the Japanese army.  But he did not hate us. He ordered his men to treat us honorably, by their Bushido code. We were captured unaware and did not surrender.
I was separated from the other members of my group and sent to Bilibid prison in Manila, where I was questioned, beaten and made to suffer many indignities. When they were tired of me, they put me in a tiny cell in the isolation part. They were afraid to put me else where thinking I would attempt escape. I had no contact with any other American until July 24, 1943, 4 days after my 22nd birthday. They then took me out of my cell, allowed me to bathe and gave me a salve to put on the sores that were all over my body. They gave me a pair of shorts and a shirt, and a pair of single toe sneakers. With my hands tied behind my back I was marched to the Port of Manila and there made a part of a group of 500 Americans being sent to Japan. At this time we did not know what we were being sent there for.
We were placed in a tiny hold in the ship with no water, toilet or other facilities. When we were underway, the hatches were closed and with the lack of ventilation and toilet facilities, it soon became unbearable. Many suffered from dysentery, seasickness and other illness. The stench also soon was unbearable.
After several days, the Japs opened the hatch and let us come up in small groups. We were given small amounts of food. Water was rationed, but we were able to bathe from buckets of seawater and relieve ourselves over the side. On August 19, 1943, we arrived in Port Moji, in Kyushu Japan. We were boarded on the trains and arrived in Omuta, Japan. Next we were told we were to work in the nearby Mitsui, coalmine. Now we knew why we were sent to Japan.
Thus started two years of slavery, compounded by starvation, beatings and injuries. My left hand was crushed in a cave in. We got very little rest and on the rare days we had off work detail, the Jap guards harassed us.
We were finally liberated after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I reached the US in October 1945 and during the next year and a half I entered three VA hospitals, which repaired my starved body and my mind.
When I was declared well enough, they miraculously repaired my crushed left hand.
Louis Goldbrum


I met my wife of 56 years in December of 1946. We were married in January of 1947.

I was discharged in April 1947. We have three children and six grandchildren.
I went into the retail business as a shoe salesman and retired 39 yrs. later. I lived in Brooklyn, New York for the next 39 years and moved to Florida in September 1995.

EVERY MORNING WHEN I WAKE, I THANK THE LORD FOR SELECTING ME AS ONE TO SURVIVE AND RETURN HOME FROM A LIVING HELL.

GOD BLESS AMERICA!  

With sadness I make note that Louis, my friend and my hero, passed away on 11/01/2006

Louis Goldbrum's Hell Ship Account        Louis 's Military Account Summary

 Biographies Page     Main Page