|Pvt. Edgar P.
Pvt. Edgar P. Peters was born
on August 11, 1915, in Millheim, Texas, to Herman
Peters & Gertrude Abel-Peters. He had three
brothers, two half-brothers, and one half sister.,
and the family resided on Burleigh Sealy Road in
Austin, Texas. He was known as "Pete" to his
family and friends. Like many others at the
time, he left school after the sixth grade.
Edgar was inducted into the U.S. Army on March 19, 1941, in Austin, Texas. He did his basic training at Fort Knox, Kentcky. Upon completion, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion. The battalion had been sent to the base fort Ft. Benning, Georgia, but did not take part in the maneuvers that were taking place there.
In late September 1941, Edgar volunteered to join the 192nd Tank Battalion. The battalion had taken part in the Louisiana maneuvers and been informed that it was being sent overseas for additional training. The battalion was made up primarily of National Guardsmen from Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky. He was assigned to Headquarters Company.
On April 11th, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment. Edgar was now a Prisoner of War. A Japanese officer ordered the company, with their possessions, out onto the road that ran in front of their encampment. Once on the road, the soldiers were ordered to kneel along the sides of the road. They were told to put their possessions in front of them. As they knelt, the Japanese soldiers, who were passing them, went through their possessions and took whatever they wanted from the Americans.
The company boarded their trucks and drove to Mariveles. From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and sat and waited. As they sat, the POWs noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming across from them. They soon realized that this was a firing squad and the Japanese were going to kill them.
As they sat watching and waiting to see what the Japanese intended to do, a Japanese officer pulled up in a car in front of the Japanese soldiers. He got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail. The officer got back in the car and drove off. The Japanese sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
Later in the day, the POWs were moved to a school yard in Mariveles. The POWs were left sitting in the sun for hours. The Japanese did not feed them or give them water. Behind the POWs were four Japanese artillery pieces which began firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum. These two islands had not surrendered. Shells from these two American forts began landing among the POWs. The POWs could do little since they had no place to hide. Some POWs were killed by incoming American shells. One group that tried to hide in a small brick building died when it took a direct hit. The American guns did succeed in knocking out three of the four Japanese guns.
The POWs were ordered to move again by the Japanese. The POWs had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march. During the march, the POWs received no water and little food. It took the members of HQ Company six days to reach San Fernando. Once there, the POWs were put into a bull pen that had a fence around it. In one corner was a slit trench to be used as a toilet by the POWs. The surface of the trench moved since it was covered in maggots. The POWs had enough room to sit, but they could not lie down.
During their time in the bull pen, the POWs watched the Japanese bury three POWs. Two were still alive. When one of the men attempted to climb out of the grave, he was hit in the head with a shovel and buried.
At San Fernando, The POWs were put into a small wooden boxcar and taken to Capas. The cars could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 men into each car. Those who died remained standing until the living climbed out of the cars. From Capas, the POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O' Donnell.
was an unfinished Filipino training base that the
Japanese pressed into service as a Prisoner of War
camp. It turned out to be a death trap with
as many as fifty POWs dying each day. There
was only one working water faucet for the entire
camp. To get a drink, men stood in line for
days. Many died while waiting for a
drink. The death rate among the POWs was as
high as fifty men a day. Many POWs went out
on work details to get out of the camp.
worked at Calauan. There, the POWs were
amazed by the concern shown for them by the
Filipino people. The townspeople arranged for
their doctor and nurses to care for the POWs and
give them medication. They also arranged for
the POWs to attend a meal in their honor.
The POWs were next sent to Batangas to rebuild another bridge. Again, the Filipino people did all they could to see that the Americans got the food and care they needed. Somehow the Filipinos convinced the Japanese to allow them to attend a meal to celebrate the completion of the new bridge.
The next bridge the POWs were sent to build was in
Candelaria. Once again, the people of the
town did what ever they could to help the
Americans. An order of Roman Catholic
sisters, who had been recently freed from custody,
invited Lt. Col. Wickord and twelve POWs for a
dinner. Wickord picked the twelve sickest
After nine months, the bridge building detail
ended, Edgar was sent to "Camp One."
The camp had been opened to lower the death rate
among the POWs. At Camp One, the prisoners
ate rice and lived in crude huts. If a
prisoner was late or missed a detail, that POW was
made to kneel on a ladder with a pole placed
behind the knees to cut circulation. The
prisoner stayed like this until he fell
over. At this time the death rate in the
camp was 50 POWs a day.