Bertrand

2nd Lt. Donald Ray Bertrand


   2nd Lt. Donald R. Bertrand was born in Roswell, New Mexico, on August 8, 1919.  When he was two, his parents, Thomas Bertrand & Mary Pope-Bertrand, moved their family first to Estherville, Iowa, and then to Maywood, Illinois.  In Maywood, he, his brother, and two sisters were raised at 205 South 8th Avenue and attended Emerson Grade School.  He graduated from Proviso Township High School in 1939 and worked as a receiving clerk at a paper good company.

    Donald joined the 33rd Tank Company of the Illinois National Guard to fulfill his military obligation.  On November 28, 1940, Donald left Maywood for Fort Knox, Kentucky, for training. At Fort Knox, Donald learned to operate the all the equipment used by the 192nd.  He attended radio operators school and qualified as a radio man.

    When Headquarters Company was formed, in January 1941, Donald was assigned to the company as the technical sergeant in the reconnaissance platoon.  From September 1st to 30th, the 192nd was sent to take part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  When the maneuvers ended, the 192nd Tank Battalion was ordered to report to Camp Polk, Louisiana.  The members of the battalion had no idea why they were being sent there.  What they were told, on the side of a hill, was that they were being sent overseas.  He returned home on leave and got engaged to Evelyn Crowe. 

    While there, the battalion received orders for duty, in the Philippines, because of an event that happened during the summer of 1941.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a buoy in the water.  He came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island.  When the squadron landed he reported what he had seen.  By the time a Navy ship was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
    After the companies were brought up to strength with replacements, from the 753rd Tank Battalion, for the men released from federal service, the battalion also received the 753rd's tanks.  The companies of the battalion traveled over different train routes to San Francisco, California, and were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  On the island, the battalion's medical detachment gave the soldiers inoculations and physicals.  Those who had minor medical issues were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Some men were simply replaced.  Donald left the United States as a sergeant.

    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S. A. T. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27th.  During this part of the trip, many tankers had seasickness, but once they recovered they spent much of the time training in breaking down machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP.   The ship arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
    On Wednesday, November 5th, the ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  It was at this time it was joined by, the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and, another transport, the S. S. Calvin Coolidge.  Sunday night, November 9th, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th.  During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line.  On Saturday, November 15th, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The Louisville revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it shot off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out the smoke was from a ship that belonged to a friendly country. During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly country.
    When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila the next day.  At one point, the ships passed an island at night and did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  The ships entered Manila Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20th, and docked at Pier 7 later that morning.  At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.
    At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized that they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field.  He made sure that they had what they needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner.  It should be mentioned that Thanksgiving Dinner was a watery stew slung into their mess kits.  Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
    Seventeen days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Donald and the other members of Company B arrived in Manila.  The battalion was deployed Fort Stotsenbeurg. 
At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King.  The general apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own.  Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.

    In the Philippines, Donald received a battlefield commission as an officer and reassigned to C Company.  He was made a tank platoon commander.  On December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  From this time on, two tank crew members, or half-track crew members, remained with each vehicle at all times and received their meals from food trucks.
    On December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  From this time on, two tank crew members, or half-track crew members, remained with each vehicle at all times and received their meals from food trucks.
    On December 8, 1941, December 7th in the United States, the members of B Company heard the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Many of the men believed that this was the start of the maneuvers they expected.  At 8:30, the planes of the Army Air Corps filled the sky in every direction.  At noon, the planes landed, to be refueled, and the pilots went to lunch.
    At 12:45, while the tankers were having lunch, planes were seen approaching the airfield from the north.  They had enough time to count 54 planes in formation.  As they watched, what appeared to be "raindrops" fell from the planes.  When bombs began exploding on the runways, they knew the planes were Japanese.
    When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield.  The soldiers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and anything that could carry the wounded was in use.  When the hospital filled, they watched the medics place the wounded under the building.  Many of these men had their arms and legs missing.
    That night, most men slept under their tanks since it was safer than sleeping in their tents.  They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed for the next three and one half years.

    On December 16, 1941, Donald and Lt. Emmett Gibson were at Clark Field when Japanese planes appeared and bombed the airfield once more.  The two officers found themselves in a slip-trench during a Japanese air attack.  Each one had a .30 caliber machine gun and opened fire on the planes.  Both men watched as their tracers went through the wings of the Japanese fighters.  The pilots of the planes broke off the attack and took off for home.
    The tank battalion received orders on December 20th that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf to relieve the 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts.   Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas.  When they reached Rosario, there was only enough gas for one tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta, they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of river.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening but successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
    On December 25th, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th.
    The tankers fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th.  While there, the bridge over the Pampanga River was destroyed, but they were able find a crossing over the river.

    During the withdraw into the peninsula, the company crossed over the last bridge which was mined and about to be blown.  The 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it and then cover the 192nd's withdraw. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
    On January 1st, the tanks of the 194th were holding the Calumpit Bridge allowing the Southern Luzon forces to cross the bridge toward Bataan.  General Wainwright was attempting to hold the main Japanese force coming down Route 5 to prevent the troops from being cut off.  General MacArthur's chief of staff gave conflicting orders involving whose command the defenders were under which caused confusion.  Gen. Wainwright was not aware these orders had been given.
    Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River.  Due to the efforts of the Self Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were halted.
    From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.  It was also in January 1942, that the food ration was cut in half.  It was not too long after this was done that malaria, dysentery, and dengue fever began hitting the soldiers. 
    Over the next several months, the battalion fought battle after battle with tanks that were not designed for jungle warfare. 
The tank battalions , on January 28th, were given the job of protecting the beaches.  The 192nd was assigned the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast.  

    One night, while on beach duty, the Japanese attempted to land troops on the beach guarded by B Company.  The company and the Japanese got into a tremendous fire fight.  When morning came, not one Japanese soldier had been landed on the beach.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting other landings.
    B Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line.  The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time to replace a tank in the pocket.  Another tank did not enter the pocket until a tank exited the pocket.
    To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used.  The first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank.  As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually exploded.
    The other method to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole.  The driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around and grinding its way down into the foxhole.  The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.

    The company also took part in the Battle of the Points on the west coast of Bataan.  The Japanese landed troops but ended up trapped.  One was the Lapay-Longoskawayan points from January 23rd to 29th, the Quinawan-Aglaloma points from 22 January to February 8th, and the Sililam-Anyasan points from January 27th to February 13th.  The defenders successfully eliminated the points.
    A few days prior to the surrender, he was reassigned to C Company.  Donald took part in the death march and was held as a Prisoner of War at Camp O'Donnell until he was selected to go on a work detail.  During this time, he lived in Barracks #29. 
    It is also known that Donald was sent to Davao, Mindanao, on a detail that built runways. 
At Pier 7, the POWs were boarded onto the Erie Maru.  The POWs had enough room to lay down without being crowded.  The hatches to the ships holds were left open to provide ventilation.  The POWs were allowed on deck once the ship cleared Manila Harbor. 

    Food for the prisoners was generous.  The food was well prepared and each POW received a full mess kit of rice and a canteen cup filled with a thick cabbage soup containing pork.  They even were given corn beef and  cabbage one night. 

    The trip on the freighter lasted 13 days.  The reason was the ship made frequent stops in ports along the coast of Luzon.  The POWs disembarked the ship at Davao, where they joined another group of 1000 prisoners.  To the POWs these prisoners  at Davao appeared to be well fed when compared to the men in their group.  Upon arrival of new POWs, the rations for these men were cut in half which caused friction between the two groups. 

    At Davao, the prisoners were assigned to a farm.  The prisoners grew rice, sweet potatoes, cassava roots, coffee and squash.  The food was used to feed the Japanese soldiers in the Philippines.  Leftover food was ship to the military in Japan.  The only part of this food the prisoners received were the plant tops from the sweet potatoes.  The prisoners were fed rice three times a day.   The evening meal would also include mongo beans.  For three to four months, the POWs also received tuna fish once a week. 

    Unlike the many camps, there was plenty of water available to the prisoners and there was a well in the compound.  The POWs could actually keep themselves and their clothes clean.  Being clean was a great help in improving the health of the POWs.  While he was a POW there, his parents received a POW card from him. 

    As the American forces got closer to the Philippine Islands the Japanese began to send as many POWs to Japan or other occupied countries as possible.  On June 6, 1944, the Japanese sent the POWs to Lasang, Mindano, by truck.  Once there, the POWs were boarded onto the Yashu Maru and held in the ship's front holds for six days before it sailed.  The ship sailed on the 12th and dropped anchor off Zamboanga, Mindano, for two days before sailing for Cebu City arriving on June 17th.  The POWs were taken off the ship and held in a warehouse.  The POWs were returned to the dock and boarded an unnamed ship and arrived at Manila on June 25th and was sent to Cabanatuan.
    In September 1944, Donald had been selected to be sent to Bilibid Prison.  There was an inspections and the POWs received a breakfast of a piece of cornbread and rice.  They were loaded onto six trucks with 50 men put on each one which made the ride uncomfortable.  They were packed so tightly, they had to stand.
    At 11:00 A.M. on their way to the prison, the POWs saw to large formations of American planes which was the fifth or sixth straight day they had seen American planes.  The trucks stopped and the POWs were fed, but they were not allowed off the trucks.  The POWs made their way to the side of the truck to urinate.  They arrived at Bilibid at 4:00 P.M. and remained there for the next two and a half months.

    On December 12, 1944, the POWs heard rumors that a detail was being sent out.  The next day, December 13th, the POWs went through what was a farce of an inspection which started at 7:30 in the morning and lasted until after 9:00.  They were told cigarettes, soap, and salt would be issued.  The POWs were also told that they would also receive a meal to eat and one to take with them.  They were allowed to roam the compound.

    By 11:30 A.M., the POWs were lined up, roll call was taken, and the POWs formed detachments of 100 men.  The men were fed a meal and then marched to Pier 7 in Manila.  During the march, down Luzon Boulevard, the POWs saw that the street cars had stopped running and many things were in disrepair.

    The Americans saw that the American bombers were doing a job on the Japanese transports.  There were at least forty wrecked ships in the bay.  When the POWs reached Pier 7, there were three ships docked.  One was a old run down ship, while the other two were large and in good shape.  They soon discovered one of the two nicer ships was their ship. 

    It was at this time that the POWs were allowed to sit down.  Many of the POWs slept until 3:45 in the afternoon.  They were awakened about 5:00 PM and boarded the Oryoku Maru for transport to Japan.
The high ranking officers were the first put into the ship's afthold.  Being the first on meant that they would suffer many deaths.  Around the perimeter of the hold were two tiers of bunks for the POWs.  The heat was so bad that men soon began to pass out.  One survivor said, "The fist fights began when men began to pass out.  We knew that only the front men in bay would be able to get enough air."  The POWs who were closer to the hold's hatch used anything they could find to fan air toward those further away from it.
    The ship left Manila at 8:00 P.M. but spent most of the night in Manila Bay.  At 10:00 P.M., the Japanese interpreter threatened to have the guards fire into the holds unless the POWs stopped screaming.  Some of the POWs fell silent because they were exhausted, and others because they had died. 
    One major of the 26th Cavalry stated the man next to him had lost his mind.  Recalling the conversation he had with the man he said, "Worst was the man who had gone mad but would not sit still.  One kept pestering me, pushing a mess kit against my chest, saying, 'Have some of this chow? It's good.'  I smelled of it, it was not chow. 'All right'  he said
, 'If you don't want it. I'm going to eat it.' And a little later I heard him eating it , right beside me."
    At 3:30 A.M. it sailed as part of the MATA-37 a convoy bound for Takao, Formosa.  The ships sailed without any lights out of the bay.  By the swells in the water, the POWs could tell that the ship was in open water.  The cries for air began as the men lost discipline, so the Japanese threatened to cover the holds and cut off all air.  When the Japanese sent down fried rice, cabbage, and fried seaweed, those further back from the opening got nothing.
    The Japanese covered the holds and would not allow the slop buckets to be taken out of the holds.  Those POWs who were left holding the buckets at first asked for someone else to hold it for awhile.  When that did not work, they dumped the buckets on the men around them.
    As light began to enter the hold as morning came, the POWs could see men who were in stupors, men out of their minds, and men who had died.  The POWs in the aft hold which also had a sub-hold, put the POWs who out of their minds into it.
    On the side of the holds, water had condensed on the walls so the POWs tried to scrap it off the wall for a drink.  The Japanese did allow men who had passed out to be put on deck, but as soon as they revived they went back into the holds.  The Japanese would not allow the bodies of the men who had died to be removed from the holds. 
    The POWs received their first meal at dawn.  Meals on the ship consisted of a little rice, fish, some water, and three fourths of a cup of water was shared by 20 POWs.  It was 8:00 A.M., off the coast of Luzon, and the POWs had just finished eating breakfast when they heard the sound of guns.  At first, they thought the gun crews were just drilling, because they had not heard any planes.  It was only when the first bomb hit in the water and the ship shook that they knew it was not a drill.
    At first it seemed that most of the planes were attacking the other ships in the convoy.  Commander Frank Bridgit, had made his way to the top of the ladder into the hold and sat down.  He gave the POWs a play by play of the planes attacking, "I can see two planes going for a freighter off our starboard side.  Now two more are detached from the formation.  I think they may be coming for us."
    The POWs heard the change in the sound of the planes' engines as they began their dives toward the ships in the convoy.  Several more bombs hit the water near the ship causing it to rock  Explosions were taking place all around the ship.  In an attempt to protect themselves, the POWs piled baggage in front of them.  Bullets from the planes were ricocheted in the hold causing many casualties.  .
    Lt. Col. Elvin Barr of the 60th Coast Artillery came up to Maj, John Fowler of the 26th Cavalry on the cargo deck and said, "There's a hole knocked in the bulkheads down there.  Between 30 and 40 men have already died down there."  Barr would never reach Japan.  The attack by 30 to 50 planes lasted for about 20 to 30 minutes.  When the planes were ran out of bombs they strafed.  Afterwards, the planes flew off, returning to their carrier, and there was a lull of about 20 to 30 minutes before the next squadron of planes appeared over the ships and resumed the attack.  This pattern repeated itself over and over during the day.
    In the hold, the POWs concluded that the attacking planes were concentrating on the bridge of the ship.  They noted that the planes had taken out all the anti-aircraft guns leaving only .30 caliber machine guns to defend the ship.
    At 4:30 P.M., the ship went through the worse attack on it.  It was hit at least three times by bombs on its bridge and stern.  Most of the POWs, who were wounded, were wounded by ricocheting bullets and shrapnel from exploding bombs.  During the attack Chaplain Cummings, a Catholic priest, led the POWs in the Our Father.  As they prayed, the bombs that exploded near the ship sent torrents of water over the ship.  Bullets from the planes hit the metal plates, of the haul, at an angle that prevented most of them from penetrating the haul.  Somewhere on the ship a fire started, but it was put out after several hours.  The POWs lived through seven or eight attacks before sunset.  Overall, six bombs hit the ship.  One hit the stern of the ship killing many POWs.
    At dusk the ship raised anchor and headed east.  It turned south and turned again this time heading west.  The next turn it made was north. It headed in this direction for a good amount of time before dropping anchor at about 8:00 P.M.  The POWs figured out that they had just sailed in a circle.  What had happened is that the ship's had been hit during the attack and the ship could not be steered.
    Sometime after midnight, the POWs heard the sound of the Japanese civilians being evacuated from the ship.  During the night, the POW medics were ordered onto the deck to treat the Japanese wounded.  One medic recalled that the dead, dying, and wounded were everywhere.
    The ship reached Subic Bay at 2:30 in the morning and steamed closer to the beach where its anchor was dropped.  At 4:00 A.M., the POWs were told that they would disembark at daybreak at a pier.  The moaning and muttering of POWs who were losing their minds kept the POWs up all night.  That night 25 POWs died in the hold.
    It was December 15th and the POWs sat in the ship's holds for hours after dawn.  The first 35 POWs were taken out of the hold and went into the water.  At 8:00 A.M. as the other POWs waited, the sound of A Japanese guard yelled into the hold at the POWs, "All go home; speedo!" He shouted that the wounded would be the first to be evacuated.  Suddenly, he looked up and shouted, "Planes, many planes!"  As the POWs were abandoning ship the planes returned and continued the attack.  The ship bounced in the water from the explosions.  Chief Boatswain Clarence M. Taylor who was in the water said, "I saw the whole thing. A bomb fall, hit near the stern hatch, and debris go flying up in the air."
    In the hold, the POWs crowded together.  Chips of  rust fell on them from the ceiling.  After the raid, they took care of the wounded before the next attack started.  In the hold a Catholic priest, Father Duffy, began to pray, "Father forgive them.  They know not what they do."
    The Japanese guards and interpreter had abandoned ship, but the ship's captain remained on board.  He told the POWs - with his limited English - that they needed to get off the ship to safety.  The POWs made their way over the side and into the water.  As they swam to shore, the Japanese fired at them, with machine guns, to prevent them from escaping. 
    Four of the planes flew low over the water above the POWs.  The POWs waved frantically at the planes so they would not be strafed.  The planes banked and flew lower over the POWs.  This time the pilots dipped their wings to show that they knew the men in the water were Americans.  About a half hour later, the ship began to really burn and the bodies of the dead could be seen on the decks.
    The Japanese sent out a motorboat with a machine gun and snipers on it.  The POWs attempting to escape were hunted down and shot.  It is believed as many as 30 men died in the water.
    There was no real beach, so the POWs climbed up on a seawall and found the the Japanese Naval Landing Party had set up a machine gun and had just laid flat to rest when the gun opened up on them.   Those who came ashore were warned to stay in the water, but only did so when one man climbed up on the seawall and was wounded.  There were also Japanese snipers in wait to shoot anyone who attempted to escape.
    The POWs were gathered together and marched to the tennis court at Olongapo Naval Station which was about 500 yards from the beach.  There, they were herded onto a tennis court.  While the POWs were at Olongapo, a Japanese officer, Lt. Junsaburo Toshio, told the ranking American officer, Lt. Col. E. Carl Engelhart, that those too badly wounded to continue the trip would be returned to Bilibid.  Fifteen men were selected and loaded onto a truck.  They were taken into the mountains and never seen again.  What was learned is that these men were taken to a cemetery, shot, and buried.  The remainder of the POWs remained on the tennis courts for days.  During that time, they were given water but not fed.

   The POWs remained on the tennis courts for nine days.  During their time on the courts, American planes attacked the area around them.  The men watched as the fighter bombers came in vertically releasing bombs as they pulled out of the dives.  On several occasions, the planes dove right at the POWs, dropped their bombs, and pulled out.  The bombs drifted over the POWs and landed away from them exploding on contact.   

     Since the POWs had no place to hide, they watched and enjoyed the show.  They believed that the pilots knew they were Americans but had no way of knowing if this was true.  What is known is that not one bomb was dropped on them even though they could be seen from the planes.

    The evening of December 16th, the Japanese brought 50 kilo bags of rice for the POWs.  About half of the rice had fallen out of the bags because of holes in them.  Each POW was given three spoons of raw rice and a quarter of a spoon of salt. 
    At about 8:00 AM on the morning of December 20th, 22 trucks arrived at the tennis courts.  Rumors flew on
where they going to be taken.  At about 4:00 PM, a Taiwanese guard told the POWs, in broken English, "No go Cabanatuan. Go Manila; maybe Bilibid."  The guard knew as little as the POWs.
    On December 21st, the POWs were taken by truck to San Fernando, Pampanga, arriving there about four or five in the afternoon.  Once there, they were put in a movie theater.  Since it was dark, the POWs saw the theater as a dungeon. 
    During their time at San Fernando, the POWs lived through several air raids, since the barrio was military headquarters for the area, and most of the civilians had been evacuated from the barrio.  Many of the Americans began to believe they had been taken there so that they would be killed by their own countrymen.
    At about 10:00 PM on December 23rd, the Japanese interpreter came and spoke to the ranking American officer about moving the POWs.  The Japanese loaded the seriously ill POWs into a truck.  It was believed these men were taken to Bilibid Prison.  The remaining POWs were moved to a trade school building in the barrio.
   About ten in the morning on December 24th, the POWs were taken to the train station.  The POWs saw that the train station had been hit by bombings and that the train cars had bullet holes in them from strafing.  180 to 200 POWs were packed into steel boxcars with four guards inside with them.  The doors of the boxcars were kept closed and the heat in the cars was terrible.  Ten to fifteen POWs rode on the roofs of the cars along with two guards on each car.  The guards told the POWs it was okay to wave to the American planes.
    On December 25th, the POWs disembarked at San Francisco, La Union, at 2:00 A.M.  They walked two kilometers to a schoolyard on the southern outskirts of the barrio.  From December 25th until the 26th, the POWs were held in a schoolhouse.  The morning of December 26th, the POWs were marched to a beach.  During the time on the beach, the POWs were given one handful of rice and a canteen of water.  The heat from the sun was so bad that some men drank seawater.  Many of the men who did this died.
    The remaining prisoners were boarded onto barges and taken to another "hell ship" the Enoura Maru which already had POW on it.  On this ship, the POWs were held in three different holds.  The ship had been used to haul cattle and the POWs were held in the same stalls that the cattle had been held in which were covered in manure.  In the lower hold, the POWs were lined up in companies of 100 men.  Each man had four feet of space.  Men who attempted to get fresh air by climbing the ladders were shot by the guards.

    The daily routine for the POWs on the ship was to have six men climb out of the hold.  Once on deck, they would use ropes to pull up the dead and also pull up the human waste in buckets.  Afterwards, the men on deck would lower ten buckets containing rice, soup, and tea.  The dead were thrown into the sea.

    During the night of December 30th, the POWs heard the sound of depth charges exploding in the water.  The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on December 31st and docked around 11:30 AM.  After arriving at Takao, each POW received a six inch long, 3/4 inch wide piece hardtack to eat.  This was the first bread they had since receiving crackers in their Red Cross packages in 1942.  During the time in the harbor, the POWs received little water.  From January 1st through the 5th, the POWs received one meal  a day which resulted in the death rate among the POWs to rise.  On January 6th, the POWs began to receive two meals a day.

    While docked at Takao, the Enoura Maru came under attack by American planes the morning of January 9th.  The POWs were receiving their first meal, when the sound of ship's machine guns was heard.  The explosions of bombs falling closer and closer to the ship was also heard.  The waves created from the explosions rocked the ship. 

    One bomb that hit the ship exploded in the corner of the forward hold killing 285 prisoners.  The surviving POWs remained in the hold for three days with the dead, and the stench from the dead filled the air.   On January 11th, a work detail was formed and about half the dead were removed from the hold, and a POW detail, of twenty men, took the corpses to a large furnace where they were cremated.  These men reported that 150 POWs had been cremated.  Their ashes were buried in a large urn on Formosa.  Later in the day, the survivors of the forward hold were moved into another hold.

    On January 13th, the surviving POWs were boarded onto a third "hell hhip" the Brazil Maru.  On the ship, the POWs found they had more room and were actually issued life jackets.  The ship sailed for Japan on January 14th as part of a convoy.   2nd Lt. Donald R. Bertrand died in the ship's hold on January 20, 1945.  The cause of death was listed as dysentery on the final report on the 192nd Tank Battalion, but U.S. Army records show that he died from wounds he had received during the attack on the Enoura Maru.  Donald was 23 years old.  

    After 2nd Lt. Donald R. Bertrand died, his body was thrown overboard after being stripped of its clothing.  His clothing was given to other prisoners who needed it.  Since he died at sea, 2nd Lt. Donald R. Bertrand's name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.


 

 


Return to B Company

Next