Theodore (Ted) Lewin
Statement of Mr. Theodore Lewin during war crime trials 1946
My name is Theodore Lewin. I live at 145 General Solano, Manila.
I was captured in Bataan between 6 and 8 April, 1942. From there I went to Bilibid Prison on 28 May 1942 and stayed until June 1, 1942. At that time I went to Cabanatuan where I stayed until on or about 14 October 1944. From there I went to Bilibid Prison where I stayed until December 13, 1944 when I set sail for Japan.
ORYOKU MARU – 13 DECEMBER – 15 DECEMBER
Prior to setting sail for Japan the last time we were fed was about 0500 or 0600 hours on the morning of the 13th. At that time we received a regular meal which consisted of “lugao”. It was a double ration of rice equaling one full canteen cup. There was plenty of water and we all had all we wanted.
We left the pier in a group of about 1600 prisoners. Col. BEECHER, a marine colonel, was in charge.
We waited in line
in the sun in Bilibid Prison for a period which I assume is about seven hours and
finally were marched out. We were marched from Bilibid Prison to where we stopped which
was formerly Pier 7, Manila. I would say a distance of about two miles. Everybody was
carrying what clothes they could. We got to Pier 7 and were marched inside. Our group
was comprised of about 1600 officers, civilians, medical, and enlisted personnel. When
we left Bilibid Prison we were marched in groups of 100. Originally there were three
groups commanded by Col. BEECHER, Commander PORTZ, and
Commander JOSEPHS who was in command of the group I was in.
We were loaded aboard the Oryoku Maru between 1700 and 1800 hours. The first group that were loaded aboard consisted of officer personnel group under the command of Col Beecher and it consisted of field officers and a few line officers about 600 and they were loaded into the forward hold. I was in the last group and I and approximately 800 were loaded into the aft hold and we completed out loading about 1730 hours.
At the time of the
loading and transfer of the men from the pier into the holds of the ship, Lt. TOSHINO
was on the second deck watching the prisoners and Mr. WADA, the interpreter was down
below directing all movements and giving orders and as a matter
AS we loaded into the holds of the ship we were packed in so tight that there was just enough room to stand and the guards in order to make room were beating men to force them back. I saw the guards strike many men with the butts of their rifles to make room.
The hatch opening in my hold was approximately 15” X 15” and I would not be able to estimate the bottom by reason of the fact that it was so dark and so crowded and I could not see. And there was so much confusion and perpetual excitement so it was difficult to determine it. There was a shelving built to our holds which extended from the bulkhead about ten feet and which ran around four sides. When I got to the hold I was physically located, standing under the hatch----to the rear of the hatch. Commander Portz was the senior officer present and was our leader at the time. As Commander Portz was in a very poor physical state and had suffered greatly that night from lack of air, Commander Bridget took over and was in command of our hold for the rest of the journey on the Oryoku Maru.
NIGHT OF DECEMBER 13TH:
The only means of air and light into our hold was from the hatch which was kept partially opened up. When I got into the hold I can best describe the placing of men as follows: The men were crowded together as tightly as they could stand one against the other. That extended up completely to the foot of the stairs coming down into the hatch. At that time no one was allowed to sit on the stairs. The men under the shelving were the first ones loaded onboard by the Japanese. There was just room for each one to sit down against the other. When we arrived into the hold there was no room in the hold and in order to make more room we threw our clothes underneath us and stood on it. We received an issue on the night of the 13th as follows: The Japanese called for a food detail or work detail and I went as a representative of my group. However, it was getting dark and the food finally got into the hold and the first 20% of the men were the only ones issued alright. After that we tried to get more and because it was getting dark and difficult to bring down the food into the hold not more than 30%of the men were issued food. The ration was issued amounted to a little fresh fish and a half canteen of rice. We got water as follows: The Japanese were going to issue it to us that night. After bringing the first bucket or two, darkness came in and they refueled to give us anymore. As a result not over 10% of the men received water. They got a canteen cup of water. We received no other food or water aboard the Oryoku Maru.
Sanitation aboard the Oryoku Maru was as follows: Two 5-gallon cans were placed below. It was impossible to move or find a place for these 5-gallon cans and therefore when the 5-gallon can were filled they had to be handed from hand to hand until where a Czechoslovakian by the name of VOLNEY who tried to have it emptied. After a long delay he was successful but he did this under the darkness so that in a short time the whole area was covered in feces and urine. Our only guards were Taiwan soldiers. Any request or shout was greeted by the Japanese “Kura” which means “ Keep Quiet, Shut Up” or threats.
I would estimate the temperature in the hold this first night to have been about 115 to 130 degrees. I would also estimate that approximately 75 prisoners passed out for lack of air of whom 20 died of suffocation. The rest were saved through the help of friends. When a man passes out he was almost sure dead. He was suffocated. When a man passed out he would be passed over from hand to hand to where there was air. Navy doctor by the name of WELCH was sitting on the steps near Commander BRIDGET and was attempting to issue instructions how to best preserve a man’s life. He had a small kit of medical supplies which he carried and attempted to use in the worst cases. He stated that these 20 men died of suffocation. During the night of the 13th I can describe the condition in the hold as following. During the night of the 13th the men were screaming, fighting, cursing and a few officers made an attempt to restore some type of order but because it was impossible to move in this crowded condition nothing could be done. People cried for lack of air in pitch darkness. During the cursing, screaming, and fighting there was a civilian by the name of McKENZIE who was knifed by a man next to him. McKENZIE could be heard shouting “My God this fellow is killing me” but nobody knew where he was. The next morning he died. (Who is McKenzie?)
I was told by Col. SHWARTZ when I was in the tennis court at Olongapo that a regular army lieutenant colonel whose name I do not now remember was suffering from asthma very badly. As they were loaded on board the Oryoku Maru in the forward hold he was among the first there. He immediately got into a terrible asthmatic attack and coughing due to the dirt and manure left my the horses which were unloaded. Col. SCHWARTZ went looking for medicine in an attempt to do something for him. In desperation he called up to Mr. WADA telling him that this man should be brought on deck or he would die to which Mr. WADA replied “Let him die”. He died that night.
On the morning of December 14th we were attacked by planes. A food detail had gone up to get some rice about 0600 hours. Then we heard cries and warning was issued by the Japanese hollering “Shikoki” which means “airplane”. There were four or five bursts of anti-aircraft guns and then the firing stopped. According to Commander BRIDGET, who was sitting on the steps and could see the activity, it was a patrol plane. About an hour later we were attacked by navy dive bombers. The attack lasted almost continually until between 1600 and 1700 hours that afternoon. The ship was hit time and time again by bombing and strafing and as I saw the next day all the guns on the ship were knocked out. There were many near misses. Many machine gun bullets ricocheted into the hold from the strafing and I got one and showed it to Com. BRIDGET. During the day Commander BRIDGET announced that one group of 100 men in the rear hold 90% were unconscious and called for help. A civilian by the name of Jack HARE and myself went in as a team and picked one. A naval officer by the name of CHANDLER and I got him on my shoulder and carried him to a place in the hatch where there was more air available. He felt just like a roasted leg of ham. He died. After carrying this man out that afternoon both myself and HARE were in a semi-conscious state from exhaustion. HARE got wild and almost risked his life on the ladder. The Japanese were just ready to shoot him. I laid down and some of my friends took care of me. At this time I would estimate we were somewhere between Corregidor and Subic zigzagging. During the air attack Commander BRIDGET made an announcement to the men in the rear hold that the Japanese were screaming and shouting above that all Americans in the rear hold should keep still.
The night of the 14th of December was a repetition of the preceding night if not worse. The men started to get really insane. There were cases of men drinking urine. I heard men howling and shouting. Men tried to bite each others thumb; some trying to suck the others blood. I experienced a man trying to bite my thumb and I grabbed him and eventually knocked him out. The men around me were trying to get hold of him and killed him because there was no hope to quiet him. I myself was in a semi conscious conscious condition which is just like a man having a high fever seeing pictures in hallucinations and imaginations. Sleep was impossible unless you sit back to back with somebody. There was a tremendous roaring and it was impossible for men to do anything in the pitch darkness.
On the day of the 14th during the air attack we did not see WADA. In the evening I don’t remember seeing him. Neither TOSHINO of WADA ever came down into our hold while we were in the Oryoku Maru. I remember at this time the names of the following who died of suffocation:
LTC John H. Brettell, MAJ James V. Bradley, LTC Jasper E. Brady Jr., Thomas J. Coolidge and MAJ John Neiger
On the morning of
the 15th about 0300 hours WADA appeared at the top of the hatch and announced that
everybody would go ashore. He made the usual lecture about escaping and the
consequences if one escaped. He told everyone to get one pair of pants, one shirt, and
one towel. He said that we would be landed on shore. We heard that Japanese women and
children evacuated the ship just before daylight. After we received the order to
evacuate, it became daylight very rapidly and I was preparing to change my clothes. In
fact I had got myself stripped when very suddenly a plane came down on us dropped
several bombs one of which fell into our hold. One of the bombs hit the deck. The
explosion caused the girders and hatch covers to fall down covering men up, injuring
and wounding many in addition to the ones who were hit by shrapnel. The planes which
hit the deck were visible from the edge of our hatch. I would estimate that in our hold
as a result of the explosion about 150 men were either killed or injured. Many man were
under the hatches and girders while some attempts were made by me to release them but
it was almost impossible. The men were in very weakened condition and
We left the ship
about 0930. When I got up on deck I was immediately searched for water. I struggled
into a corridor and saw a
Immediately following the explosion of the bomb in our hold the men started to scream and shout and raised general and four Taiwan soldiers reached the edge of the hold and fired what I assumed to be ten shots. It was impossible to shoot into the hold without hitting anyone by reason of the fact that the place was a mass of human beings. However, I do not know who was hit.
When I jumped into
the water I was in a very weakened condition. The water revived me and I felt so
refreshed that I took my time
Men were roaming
all over the ship searching for food. And through a friend of mine, Frank, who worked
for the government civil service who was also looking for food he related to me an
incident which he saw that Lt. TOSHINO shot an American coming into one
I left the ship and swam for the shore. About ten Japanese which I identified as marines were firing across the water. While I was swimming to the shore four American planes came over. The Americans who had reached the shore under the instruction of Col. BEECHER all stood up and waved their hands and shouted. One plane left a squadron of four and dropped down within a range I would say a thousand feet dipped her wings in recognition and got up and joined back with the squadron and left. The ship had been completely evacuated by the Japanese.
TENNIS COURT AT OLONGAPO: DECEMBER 15TH – 21ST :
We were assembled
on the beach and directed by the Japanese to march up a road which lead us to a tennis
court. It was near a little farm about a quarter mile from the beach. We were seated
around under a tree to the edge of the road and everybody’s on ly concern was getting
water which was plenty. We finally marched into the tennis court between 1100 and 1700
hours at that time we arranged
The tennis court
was an ordinary double tennis court, a part of which was designated for a hospital
where the patients were put in.
When I arrived at
the beach at Olongapo, I saw Colonel Shwartz. He ran to meet me and stated that in his
opinion I had lost about
Schwartz said the
conditions in his hold was such that men were collapsing, passing out and in general
resembling the conditions of
While we were at
the tennis court we received the following food and water. There was one spigot from
which water was flowing.
soldiers were cooking for themselves and there was a farm around us with vegetables and
there were many Filipinos passing along the road to Olongapo and back. The city of
Olongapo was there I assume. The Japanese had a place for cooking food for themselves
under the trees and there were pots available for the Japanese. However, every time
Col. BEECHER would speak to
Some trenches were
dug outside the tennis court and the men were allowed to line up to go there to
urinate. There were about 50 or 60 men in line each day waiting to go to the toilet. In
many cases the men were forced to defecate while waiting in line. On the tennis court
where there was no cover at all it would get burning hot in the daytime and the men
were suffering from sunburn. The doctors requested time and time again to move the sick
and after many requests the more seriously sick were placed under the trees about 50
feet from the tennis court.
While we were in the tennis court it had been my opinion that about 20 men died. They were buried outside the gates of the tennis court. Col. SCHWARTZ told me in a conversation that we had that men were dying from malnutrition and exposure and a general weakened condition. Col. SCHWARTZ and I are close friends. I have known him, mixed with him during all the years we were at Cabanatuan. Col. SCHWARTZ spent his time with me when he was not working with the sick.
There was a marine
who was wounded in the arm by schrapnel on board the boat and became in a very very bad
condition. It became necessary to get the arm off in order to save his life. Col.
SCHWARTZ removed the arm on the tennis court with the aid of a knife and
During this time Lt. TOSHINO never visited the tennis court as I recall. WADA was the continually. He was the boss at the gate. He was issuing instructions to Col. BEECHER. BEECHER made continuous requests from WADA for food for the sick and requested that they be removed out there where they could be taken care of. WADA told him they would be moved when the time came. I knew this from BEECHER. BEECHER told me that. Anything that BEECHER would hear from the Japanese he would announce it to the men so that everybody there would know and to raise their morale.
TRIP TO SAN FERNANDO, PAMPANGA:
On December 20th in the morning about 50% of the men left by truck and went to San Fernando, Pampanga where they were quartered in a place we later learned as the provincial jail. I, together with the balance of 50% of the men left also on the 21st of December and we went by motor truck to San Fernando where we were quartered in a cine theater. I stayed at this place until the 24th of December. Col. BEECHER was still in command of our group
There the Japanese started issuing rice to us. They gave us some pots and allowed us to start cooking our food. There we received about a canteen cup or maybe a triple more of rice mixed with camotes. There was a toilet in this theater with a running spigot and we formed a waterline. And by keeping regulation and order everybody received enough water. Several men died in the theater building. One of whom was a marine, SPECHT, a commander LITHENTHORPE, but the exact number I don’t know. Commander JOSEPH told me that Commander LITHENTHORPE died of malnutrition and exhaustion.
(Who is Lithenthorpe??)
INCIDENT OF DECEMBER 23:
About 1100 o’clock at night WADA came to the door and wanted 6 or 11 men who could not walk saying they would be taken back to Manila. The number of men requested were given to him by Col. BEECHER. Among them was Lt. Col. FREENEY. They were taken by truck and that was the last time we ever heard of them.
TRAIN RIDE FROM SAN FERNANDO, PAMPANGA TO SAN FERNANDO, LA UNION: DECEMBER 24 – 25:
We marched to the
train and loaded onboard in box cars. We heard WADA instruct BEECHER that 170 – 180 men
would be put in the boxcar which was actually physically impossible. However he allowed
40 men who were the sickest to be placed on top of the car.
In the box car the condition was such that we were so crowded together and it was almost impossible to breathe. The heat was terrific. Everybody was in a very very bad condition. Many men got unconscious. When a men got unconscious we would pass him from hand to hand to the door of the box car with the permission of the Japanese guard. However the men were so dehydrated and sweating so much in the car and very few men could urinate. A Colonel beside me, Col. WARNER, had dysentery and was in very bad condition and passed out from dehydration and nothing could be done to prevent him from defecating all over. From conversations I later had with people who were in the other box cars I learned that conditions were about the same.
SAN FERNANDO, LA UNION 25 DECEMBER UNTIL 27 DECEMBER:
We arrived at San
Fernando, La Union around 5:00 o’clock in the morning and it was bitter cold. We all
got off the car in my group.
That night at dusk
we received some more food. About 9:00 o’clock that night we received orders to line up
in formation and we were marched to the beach. WADA said we were going aboard ship.
When we arrived at the beach we waited till dawn to be loaded. The Japanese issued some
rice but only 50% of the men received food. We stayed on the beach till the morning of
the 27th so that in all we spent two days and two nights on the beach. While we were on
the beach the first night we received no water. BEECHER made many requests to both WADA
and TOSHINO which were all ignored. On the second day a water detail was allowed to go
and get water
While I was in the beach a man by the name of Bill PIERCE formerly representing the Paramount Company was in such bad condition in the beach lying in the sun and when he died he was almost black. I saw this and I attempted to help him as others did. I would say that he died of exposure and dehydration. In the meantime in the beach many cases of dysentery started to develop. I don’t remember them dying there but at the time they were being dragged on the boat, I heard several men attempted to drink salt water while they were on the beach.
BOAT TRIP FROM SAN FERNANDO TO TAKAO, FORMOSA:
On the morning of the 27th, I together with a group of 236 men loaded aboard the Brazil Maru. The balance of the men loaded aboard the Enoura Maru. We were separated because the loading of the men was taking a lot of time and the Japanese seem to be in a great hurry to clear the harbor. We arrived in Takao, Formosa on 31 December 1944 and laid in the harbor until the 6th of January and at this time we were transferred to the main boat.
During the trip
from San Fernando, La Union we received the following food and water. I would estimate
the first days we received no regular issue of food. Upon requests for water we were
told that there was no water onboard. However, above the hatch the Japanese wounded
were receiving tea water almost upon request. We received approximately during all the
time we were onboard about two canteen cups of rice each and I would say that the water
we received during all the time was a canteen cup. TOSHINO had one Taiwan guard
representing him. Colonel JOHNSON was in charge of the group.
We had many deaths
onboard due to malnutrition. A civilian by the name of KALOCKKO, he died of
We were transferred to the Enoura Maru on the 6th of January. At that time we were assembled with the balance of the men in one big hold which had two levels. It was quite crowded that it was impossible to sit down or stretch out and you could barely squeeze enough room to have sitting space. The men were sitting back to back. The commanding officer of the group at this time was Col. BEECHER. The commanding officer in the lower level was Commander BRIDGET. In conversation which I had with friends who were in the Enoura Maru when they set sail from La Union to Takao they told me of the conditions aboard ship and they said the men in the bottom hold had been living in a very unsanitary condition. They were suffering from mental strain.
At the time I arrived on board the ship the second level was jammed with men suffering from dysentery due to the fact that rice served to us was impossible to digest and being without water and weakened condition they started to die at a rate of 10 to 20 a day.
On the day of January 8th the Japanese had moved 500 men into the forward hold. The reason for this was the Japanese intended to load the ship with sugar. Late that afternoon they proceeded loading sugar. They lowered them to the main hold. As it got dark they covered the hold up to the hatches. The soldiers instructed the men that anyone seen going to the main hold would be immediately shot.
Meanwhile the rest of the men who were not loaded in the forward hold were crowded in the second level. The flies in the ship augmented cases of dysentery. It seems there were millions of them. The hold was previously used by horses and was filled with horse manure.
The first night,
8th of January, in spite of the instructions to Col. BEECHER, someone sneaked to the
main hold and began taking sugar. Next morning just before dawn, Col. BEECHER realizing
that when the Japanese saw this mess there would be a lot of trouble. So he got a
volunteer detail to go down and sweep the sugar that was scattered around. He
instructed the detail to tie the sacks and clean the place as much as possible.
Meanwhile he had somebody posted to watch.
After the bombing
WADA looking down in the hatch saw an American navy chaplain by the name of McMANUS
eating sugar. He slapped him very severely which punishment I personally saw.
I remained in the center hold. I was working on a detail with a marine lieutenant by the name of KEENE. We were called to one corner
of the ship to
straighten the hatch cover and move some dirt. They had just started to serve food when
planes appeared. There had
In my hold the fragments came in. The explosion collapsed the hatches and many more fell to the bottom of the ship. Those that were still alive were brought up. A doctor, Lt. Col. SULLIVAN, immediately started first aid. There were few bandages and those with shirts gave up their shirts to be used as bandages. A request was almost made at once to WADA who came around but nothing was sent down. Through a hole in the bulkhead of the ship by climbing up I was able to peer into the forward hold and I saw a mass of people piled up in distorted positions. I could hear the moaning and could see the suffering of the people. The people seemed to be moving in slow motion trying to help one another. The people from our group could not go there.
The second day
following the bombing we were sent up on deck to carry food for our hold. TOSHINO never
came through our hold
We stacked the dead in our hold and they were left there as WADA told BEECHER that they could not be thrown into the harbor. They were stacked there for days like cord wood. At the end of this period the bodies smelled very bad. We carried these bodies by rope to the deck of the ship and then lowered them to the barges. Lt. GWEN and 20 men under Japanese guards carried the bodies to the cemetery. While these bodies were being unloaded, Mr. WADA was standing about four or five feet from me and every time a dead body would be brought up he would clap his hands indicating great delight.
The day before we left the ship a bunch of Japanese who seemed to be enlisted medical men came to our hold with their usual white clothes and started treating men with minor wounds. They refused to touch the serious cases. They were requested to treat the serious cases but they never bothered to answer.
I was on a food
detail carrying some buckets of food. This bucket was filled with rice and weighed
about 100 lbs. This was intended
(Who is Kotero?)
The men in the forward hold were consolidated with men in our hold. They were transferred to our hold in the afternoon of January 12th. We stayed with the ship until the 13th of January at which time by reason of the damage which the ship received we were transferred by barges to Brazil Maru.
BRAZIL MARU – JANUARY 13-30:
We left Takao
harbor on the 13th of January and arrived in Moji, Japan and the 31st of January. When
we left Takao there were approximately between 800 and 900 Americans alive.
The climate was very cold. At that time I was wearing a pair of blue denim shorts and a shirt, short sleeves. I traded my ring with a Japanese merchant sailor for two straw sacs. I made a sort of blanket out of these sacks. The men attempted to trade with the Japanese sailors their rings for a glass of water. The Japanese sailors would also trade food for cigarettes. WADA prohibited all trading. He warned us against trading. There was a Japanese sailor who was stood at attention because he was caught trading with the Americans.
The men upon going up on deck would attempt to take water. When the guards would see them they would be struck with rifle butts. In the ship that was bombed I saw WADA beat men taking water from the winches. BEECHER was continually requesting WADA for help and WADA would always tell BEECHER to send the roster up or no food or water would be given.
Col. BEECHER was still our commanding officer and he was located by the hatch and I was with Col. SCHWARTZ and we were using the same sack. The men would steal these rice sacks by going below the hold. During the night they would empty the sacks and use them as mats. 20% of the men had rice sacks.
The men were dying
at a rate of 15 to 20 a day. When a man died his clothes were stripped off his body.
Nobody received water to
Many times on this trip while together with Col. Schwartz he and I had discussions as to the death rate on this ship and he told me that the death rate was due to dehydration and malnutrition, also due to general weakness and bitter cold.
An instance that I
remember clearly was Chaplain BROWN, protestant chaplain. He came to me and
showed me a little gold object
WADA was very
uninterested in the death rate and one day while BEECHER was explaining the death rate
WADA paid no attention
When we arrived at
Moji, Japan early in the morning the men were told to get up and form into groups. The
men were ordered up. We put on Japanese uniforms. We were given army shoes. Everybody
received a uniform.
When we first
arrived in Japan, a Japanese officer who I estimate to be a major of lieutenant colonel
came down and inspected the hold. He stopped and appeared to be astounded at what he
When I left Manila
I weighed about 170 lbs. and when I arrived in Japan I weighed about 122 pounds. Most
of the men weighed 80 to
I was told by Col. SCHWARTZ after liberation that his group was sent to to Fukuoka of about 200 men, 50 of whom who died. He said they all died of the same reason as the others.
When we marched off the ship I would describe the survivors as follows. The men were all emaciated. The Japanese people who came out to see the men were astounded by their appearance. A group of dock workers coming to the dock when they saw these men coming off the ship carried the weakest to the warehouse. All of these men were walking in a very slow stumbling manner.
From all I can
gather from conversations with officers and survivors who had been in other camps that
the total number of 1600
/s/ Theodore Lewin
Subscribed to and sworn before me this 30th day of January 1946.
/s/ Leonard M. Rand
War Crimes Prosecutor
Note: Ted Lewin is mentioned in several books, all stating the same theme of his personality as a Prisoner of War.
the Dead" by U.S. Army Physician John R. Bumgarner: from page 130-131
"We got another rumor that the hospital (at Cabanatuan) was going to be further reduced. It was indeed reduced to about 400 patients and the number
of doctors reduced to twelve. I was one of those eliminated from the hospital staff, and was given a trivial job as pay clerk to deliver to the civilians in the camp their monthly pay. One of those civilians for whom I performed this service was Ted Lewin, former owner and operator of a well-known night club in Manila. I delivered him his check each month; he accepted it and signed for it with no evidence of enthusiasm. Ted had his own clever operators in Manila who took care of him. He was known about camp as a double-dealing crook and was reported to have bribed enough persons in control to be able to live in relative luxury. He was reported to have evaded many unpleasant details by crossing a palm here and there with money and food. He and his cronies were referred to as Ali Baba and his forty thieves. He was well fed, well clothed and well groomed, and had a number of willing "strikers" who for his handouts took care of him. he was the only POW I ever observed smoking a fine Havana cigar. I wondered at the time if Mr. Lewin, after the war, would be able to recoup his fortunes in Manila.
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