Pvt. Daniel N. Stoudt
Pvt. Daniel N. Stoudt was
born in a log cabin in the Blue Mountains of
Pennsylvania on May 17, 1917, to Salome and Joseph
Stoudt. The cabin was located two miles from the
town of Sharttesville. When Daniel was three
years old, his family moved to Rapid City, South
Dakota. There, he lived a life that he
In South Dakota, Daniel learned to survive from the Native Americans. They taught him tracking, how to go without food and to develop his physical endurance. He learned the habits of animals and birds to find food, how to fish and hunt, and how to trap. He admired these people and tried to live his life as much like theirs as he could.
In 1931, Daniel's family moved back to Pennsylvania. He was not happy about this and had a difficult time adjusting to his new life. At school, he could not get along with the other students which resulted in his quitting. He then worked as a laborer on farms for seventy-five cents a day.
Daniel joined the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935. This program gave jobs to young men and allowed them to earn a living during the Depression. In the C. C. C., he started as a cook but within six months he was a group leader. During this time, he built roads and also dams for farmers. He left the C. C. C. in 1937.
Daniel always remembered the life he had lived in South Dakota and wanted to return to it. In a car that he had traded for, he left Pennsylvania for South Dakota in 1939. On his way, he stopped at his Uncle John Stoudt's farm located near Madison, Wisconsin. His uncle convinced Daniel to stay with him. He remained there for almost two years and began making plans to join the Marines. His plans changed when he received his draft notice on January 25, 1941.
Daniel started his army career by being sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training. There he was trained to drive a tank. He believed that his learning to drive a truck while working with the C. C. C. qualified him for training as a tank driver.
At Fort Knox, Daniel became a member of A Company of the 192nd Tank Battalion. Replacements were needed since many members of the original Wisconsin National Guard Company were transferred to Headquarters Company of the 192nd when it was created in January of 1941.
Daniel took part in maneuvers in Louisiana and then learned that the 192nd Tank Battalion was being sent overseas for additional training. In early autumn 1941, Daniel and the rest of the battalion arrived at Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. There he received the necessary shots and issued tropical uniforms. The battalion spent two days in Hawaii, stopped at Guam and arrived in Manila on November 20, 1941.
Daniel and the other members of the battalion spent the next two weeks loading ammunition and preparing their quarters. On the morning of December 8, 1941, the soldiers heard of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Some men thought that it was just a way the army had selected to start maneuvers. Other soldiers believed that the news was true and Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor. Daniel belonged to the latter group.
That morning American planes went out on patrol. Everything the U. S. had was in the air. The planes returned at noon to refuel and were lined up on the runway in front of the hangers. The pilots went to lunch.
Around noon, the Americans saw planes. At first, many thought the planes were American. It was only when they saw the "red dots" on the rings that the Americans knew the planes were Japanese. The devastation of the attack was tremendous. Almost all the American planes were destroyed as well as most of the facilities. The soldiers felt helpless as they fired rifles and machine guns at the planes. Most of the the soldiers laid on the ground to lessen their chance of being hit by shrapnel. Daniel and a friend were laying five feet apart as a Japanese plane came over strafing. Five bullets from the planes machine guns hit between the two men.
After the attack, Daniel's tank was assigned to direct emergency vehicle traffic. The crew directed ambulances as they left Clark Field heading to the hospital. Doing this job Daniel saw soldiers who had their arms blown off. He saw others with their heads bandaged. He recalled that if it was possible to be wounded a certain way, he had seen a man with that wound.
Later in the day, Daniel and the other soldiers learned that Iba Air Field on the west coast of Luzon had also had been hit and its planes destroyed. That night they heard that the American planes at Nichols Field had also been bombed. There were no planes left to effectively support the American ground forces in the Philippines.
In Daniel's opinion, one of the greatest things working against the tank corps was that they had no knowledge of the terrain that they would be fighting on. The plan to defend the Philippine Islands called for the Filipino and American forces to engage the Japanese on the beaches of the Lingayen Gulf. This was were the invasion was expected. On December 10, 1941, the first landings of Japanese troops took place at Lingayen Bay. Daniel and the other soldiers learned that if the landings were successful, they were to fall back toward the south and establish a new defensive line. They would fall back three times.
If it was necessary, the Filipino and American defenders were to withdraw into the Bataan Peninsula. Once in Bataan, the soldiers were to hold off the Japanese until American reinforcements arrived. Daniel and the other Americans had no idea that 80 percent of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor had been destroyed. This meant that no reinforcements were coming. When this withdraw took place, Daniel's tank and other tanks of the Provisional Tank Group were used as the rear guard for the retreating forces. The last American troops to enter Bataan were the tanks of the 192nd Tank Battalion.
Life for Daniel and the other American soldiers was hell. They were constantly harassed by Japanese planes. Peace was something that became a rarity. One night, Daniel's tank and other tanks from A Company were in a banana grove. They were told they were well behind the front lines and that they could get a good night's sleep. Daniel was asleep on his tank when suddenly screaming and shooting Japanese soldiers appeared all around him.
The tankers got into the tanks and began to fire while they attempted to withdraw from the area. Because of roads were congested with other retreating forces, the tanks could not move. A Japanese soldier used this opportunity to throw a magnetic mine at Daniel's tank. The mine attached to the bow gun of Dan's tank. The mine burnt through the armor and fell on the bow gunner. His left leg was burnt. Daniel was hit by pieces of the mine in his face and in one eye. He would later develop an ulcer in the eye because of the lack a treatment and lose his sight in it. Due to the damage caused by the mine, Daniel's tank was out of commission. But, Daniel did not stay idle. He continued to fight in other A Company tanks until his tank was returned to service.
On April 4, 1942, the Japanese launched a attack supported by artillery and aircraft. A large force of Japanese troops came over Mount Samat and descended down the south face of the volcano. This attack wiped out two divisions of defenders and left a large area of the defensive line open to the Japanese. When General King saw that the situation was hopeless, he initiated surrender talks with the Japanese. The defenders of Bataan were surrendered to the Japanese on April 9, 1942.
Daniel began what was to become know as the Bataan Death March at the town of Mariveles at the southern tip of the peninsula. He recalled that the Filipinos were separated from the American troops before the march began. The prisoners were marched in groups of 100 men with eight to ten guards. The guards, although small in stature, looked mean and hostile. Each had a bayonet attached to the barrel of his rifle. The guards expected their orders to be obeyed without question. To disobey meant a beating or possibly death.
It was also at Mariveles that Daniel learned that not every Japanese guard was bad. One guard liked Daniel's wallet and wanted it. He could have just taken it. Instead of doing this, he gave Daniel a can of C-rations in exchange for the wallet.
Not too long after Daniel started on the march his column of Prisoners Of War was stopped to allow Japanese troops to pass. Artillery was also being moved south to begin the assault on the Island of Corregidor. The POWs were not allowed to sit even though they were tired and sick. The Japanese passing in trucks attempted to hit the prisoners with their rifle butts. Many succeeded which in most cases resulted in no real harm to the prisoners. In some cases, there were prisoners who had their skulls fractured from the blow.
The march for Daniel and the other prisoners was hot and dusty. The men had little to no water. If a prisoner was caught begging for water, the prisoner was beaten. Those who fell to the ground and could not get up were bayoneted or shot. If another prisoner attempted to help one of these men he would be beaten.
The first day of the march Daniel was marched until well after sundown. When he and the other POWs were finally given a rest it was already late. After midnight, it began to rain. Although the rain lasted for about one half hour, the prisoners attempted to catch the rain on their tongues or lick the drops off their lips and hands. This water was the first drink the the prisoners received on the march.
After midnight, the POWs began to march again. They covered ten miles and reached Orani by the time the sun began to rise. There they were herded into a filthy pen that had been used by other prisoners before them. Daniel and the other POWs were left to bake in the sun inside the pen for the rest of the day.
At the end of each portion of the march, Daniel and his fellow POWs would be put into another pen. Since his group was not the first to use them, they were filled with human waste. Often he would see the decaying bodies of American soldiers still inside the pens. The prisoners also had to deal with Blue Bottle flies and maggots. They also had to deal with the mosquitoes which seemed to be everywhere.
Each morning, Daniel remembered that there were men who just could not get onto their feet. Others had simply died while asleep. Those who could not get up were beaten to death with rifle butts or bayoneted. Over the next few days as the prisoners grew weaker, the beatings were repeated more frequently. Daniel watched as soldiers who had fallen had their heads beaten to a pulp with the butts of rifles by the Japanese guards. Daniel witnessed one guard stick a prisoner, who had fallen, in the back with his bayonet. When the man still did not get up, the guard shot him.
Day after day, as the march went on Daniel saw more and more men fall to the ground. The killings continued. For Daniel and the other POWs, the hardest thing they had to do is watch helplessly as the men were executed. Each man knew that if he protested he too would be killed.
The prisoners received very little water. When it was given, there was never enough for all of the prisoners. The water they received was not always clean. This resulted in many of the prisoners contracting dysentery. Daniel had a Boy Scout first aid kit with him. For whatever reason, the Japanese had not taken it away from him. In it he had iodine which he would put into the water to purify it. To keep his mouth moist, Daniel also sucked on a pebble. This was an old trick that he had learned when he was a Boy Scout.
Daniel saw men who attempted to use the water to wash shot or bayoneted. The irrigation ditches alongside the road contained the bodies of dead men. Daniel presumed that they had been killed for breaking ranks to get a drink.
POWs who had to relieve themselves because they were suffering from dysentery would seek permission to go to the side of the road. The guards would beat the men and refuse their requests. The men had no choice but to defecate on themselves. They then had to continue to march with the smell making it worse for everyone.
The Filipino people along the road risked their own lives to help the Americans. Daniel could see in their faces the sadness and unhappiness as they watched the soldiers march by. The Filipinos would throw food in the prisoners as they passed. If caught, the Filipino and the POW who had received the food would both be beaten.
One Filipino boy threw Daniel a piece of sugar cane without being seen. Daniel nurtured the sugar cane and sucked on it only when he believed he could not go on another step. The sugar cane gave him the nutrition that he needed to continue the march. In Daniel's opinion, the Filipino boy saved his life.
During the ten days that it took Daniel to complete the march, the guards were changed frequently. He recalled that when they were changed, the guards would search the prisoners and slap them around. Daniel knew that there was no real reason for the beatings except that the guards just wanted to beat them. To make the prisoners move faster, the guards hit them with their rifles or clubs. The guards constantly were shouting, "Speedo, Speedo" at the Americans to get them to move faster.
From the towns of Cabcaben to Lanao, the number of dead alongside the roads increased. Most of the dead were Filipino, but among them Daniel could see Americans. The guards did not allow the prisoners to bury the dead.
During one of the breaks that Daniel and the other POWs had on the march, Daniel experienced his second act of kindness from a Japanese guard. A guard lit a cigarette and offered it to Daniel. While Daniel was smoking the cigarette, the guard taught him how to say, "Thank you," in Japanese.
When Daniel finally arrived in San Fernando, he and the other prisoners were made to stand at attention in the sun. Daniel and the other POWs were finally loaded into freight cars at the town's railroad station. Since the train line was narrow gauge, the cars were only seven feet high, thirty feet long, and eight feet wide. The Japanese packed the POWs in so tightly that the men could not move. The cars were hot and suffocating. Men fainted and died. Others begged for water that would not be given to them. The situation was made worse by the smell of the prisoners unwashed bodies and human waste. For Daniel, this train ride was the worst part of the march.
After the prisoners disembarked from the train, they marched another eight miles to Camp O'Donnell. The first thing that Daniel noticed is that the guards for this part of the march treated the prisoners better. They did not seem to be as hostile or look as mean. Those POWs who fell were picked up and placed on a truck and taken to the camp.
When Daniel arrived at Camp O'Donnell, he and the other prisoners were herded into an area near the headquarters building. There they were searched once again for forbidden items. He and the other men heard a story of how four POWs in the group before theirs were caught with forbidden items. Three with Japanese money and one with a Japanese flag. They had been led away and executed. One survived the execution and fought with the guerrillas.
Not too long after this event, Daniel witnessed another group of American soldiers who arrived at Camp O'Donnell led away by Japanese guards. Each had Japanese money on him. The American soldiers were never seen again.
After being searched, Daniel and the other prisoners were formed into a semi-circle. They then were introduced to Capt. Tsuneyoshi. Capt. Tsuneyoshi told the prisoners that they were captives and not prisoners of war. He also told them they had no rights and no honor. Because of this, the Japanese could use them as slave labor to create a Japanese dominated Asia. For all practical purposes he had informed them that they were slaves.
Capt. Tsuneyoshi next told the prisoners that any man who attempted to escape would be shot. If a man approached the perimeter fence, he too would be shot.
The officers were next separated from the enlisted men and housed in separate barracks. Since there were not enough barracks to house all the prisoners, Daniel found himself with others sleeping on the ground regardless of the weather. When it rained, Daniel and the other men who had to sleep outside heard the coughing and groaning of the sick.
One of the most difficult realities that the prisoners had to deal with was that the camp only had one water faucet. The prisoners had to stand in line for hours for a drink. Anyone who was caught using the water to wash was beaten to death with a club.
Another problem for Daniel and the other men was eating the food. The POWs were fed watery rice. In the rice were worms. Daniel like many others had a hard time eating the food because of the worms. He often ate it with his eyes closed so that he could not see the worms.
When a new POW camp was opened at Cabanatuan, Daniel was sent there. At Cabanatuan, Daniel came down with malaria and scurvy. Major Alvin C. Poweleit, M. D., of the 192nd Tank Battalion treated his malaria with quinine. Poweleit gave Daniel two quinine pills which saved his life. Daniel would hold Poweleit with high regard the rest of his life. Daniel would continue to suffer malaria attacks once a month for the rest of his the time of his imprisonment. From the scurvy, Daniel's jaw bone deteriorated. This would result with Daniel's perfect set of teeth being ruined.
Since the doctors had very few medicines to treat the sick with, two hospitals were set up for the ill. When the Philippine Red Cross attempted to supply medicine, the Japanese refused to allow them to do give it to the prisoners. Daniel's first job was to feed the sick in "Zero Ward". This was the hospital for the men who had little to no hope of surviving. Daniel found this job difficult because many of the prisoners could hardly swallow the food he was feeding them.
When a soldier would die, Daniel would strip them of their clothing. The man would be buried naked. The dead man's clothing would be washed and given to a prisoner in need of clothing. Doing this job, Daniel watched the endless line of Filipino POWs on the road carrying their dead to be buried. Life for the Americans was bad. For the Filipinos, it was even worse. Thirty to forty Americans died each day, but this was not even half the number of Filipinos who died everyday.
One of the things that saddened Daniel was that he and the other POWs were becoming hardened to the deaths. The burial details were so common that as time went on none of the prisoners seem to pay attention to them. To Daniel, it seemed that this was because each man had to look out for his own survival.
The food in the camp was terrible in Daniel's opinion. The rice smelled and appeared to have been swept up off the floor. The other problem was that the men assigned to be cooks had no idea of how to prepare the rice since they had no experience in cooking it.
Around this time, Dan and his fellow POWs learned that Corregidor had fallen. This was a blow to the prisoners and made them feel bad.
On June 2, 1942, Daniel was sent to Cabanatuan. There he was assigned the duty of being a camp cook. He believed that he was better at cooking rice then the men who had this duty had Camp O'Donnell. He tried to vary the way the rice was served. Daniel prepared lugau which is a gruel or oatmeal like meal. Regardless of how the rice was served, Daniel ate his in the dark. His reason for doing this is that he did not want to see the worms that had been cooked with the rice.
Inside Cabanatuan, there was never enough food. To supplement their diets, the men would search for grasshoppers, rats and dogs to eat. Once in awhile, Daniel and the other cooks received corn to serve to the prisoners. From the corn the cooks would make harmony. The prisoners were so hungry that some men would eat the corn cobs. This resulted in many men being taken to the hospital to have the cobs removed because they would not pass through the men's bowels.
Daniel also was assigned to the burial detail. He recalled that the bodies of the dead were nothing but skin and bones. The bodies were carried in a blanket by two men to the gravesite. It would be put into a mass grave with nineteen other bodies. When Daniel arrived at the grave, he would turn his head away so that he would not have to look on the bodies of the dead.
Since there were so many bodies in the grave, it was almost impossible to cover the bodies with dirt. Daniel stated that the heavy tropical rains caused the bodies to rise to the surface. The bodies had to reburied quickly before wild dogs dragged the bodies off.
When serving the rice to his fellow POWs, Daniel used a sardine can to assure that each man received the same amount. He noticed that he was closely watched by his fellow prisoners who wanted to make sure that everyone received the same portion and that no one received extra rice.
Daniel was also sent out of Cabanatuan on the guava detail. The prisoners went out to a field and picked guava leaves which were made into a tea. This tea was given to POWs suffering from dysentery. The guard on this detail allowed the old Filipino who lived near the field where the leaves were picked to go into town for the prisoners and by food and cigarettes. The prisoners would then smuggle the items into camp and resell them. If the men were caught, they were beaten for smuggling. When the American officers learned about this situation, they soon took over the detail.
As time went on, Daniel reflected on how much like animals that the POWs had become. It was not that they were intentionally trying to take advantage of each other, it was because each man was trying to survive.
According to Daniel, prisoners at night would use a drainage ditch that ran through the camp and under the barbed wire fence to crawl out of the camp. They would go into town and buy food and cigarettes. They would sneak back into camp and sell the items to the other prisoners at triple the price on a hillside within the camp. A can of corn would cost $15.00 dollars. Because of the prices charged, the hill became known as "Thieves Hill" to the prisoners.
One night, three prisoners were caught using the ditch to sneak out of the camp. The Japanese tied the men to posts and made any Filipino or American who passed them beat them. If the guards believed that the person was not hitting the men hard enough, the guards would beat the men. For whatever reason, the Japanese did not punish the remaining seven POWs in the group. Instead, they made all the prisoners suffer by cutting the food rations for everyone.
It was around this time that Daniel and the other prisoners were allowed to put on shows for entertainment. The prisoners would tell jokes, perform comedy skits, and play homemade instruments. How good or bad the acts were was of little concern to the men. What was important was that the men had a pleasant experience for one day.
The guards according to Daniel carried short clubs. They would use the clubs to hit the POWs in their heads for rule infractions. The beatings lasted a few seconds to well over a hour. The length of the beating was determined by how major the violation was considered to be.
One evening at dinner time, Daniel and other prisoners saw a formation of twenty or thirty Japanese soldiers marching. On a pole in front of the formation was the head of a Filipino who had disobeyed an order. For violating the order, the man had been beheaded.
As time went on, Daniel's clothes and the clothes of the other POWs began to wear out. Men walked around camp with no shirts or pants. All they had were loin clothes.
On October 26, 1942, Daniel and about 1000 other POWs were marched eight miles to the town of Cabanatuan. At the town's railroad stationed they were loaded into steel box cars. The townspeople came out to watch the POWs as they boarded the trains. From their faces, Daniel could see that they had a great deal of sympathy for the Americans.
Unlike the trip to Camp O'Donnell, the doors of the box cars were left open. This made the trip a great deal easier on the POWs. For whatever reason, the train stopped in several towns. When it arrived in a town, the Filipino people would come out. Many brought rice balls, fried chicken, bananas and anything else they had with them. Because they were not allowed to approach the train, the Filipinos would throw the food to the prisoners. Daniel felt that this was an unbelievable show of support to the Americans because many were giving up half of the food they had to eat.
Daniel recalled that when the train pulled into one town, the people gathered at the station. While the train set in the station, the Filipinos began to hum the song, "God Bless America." They also called out to the POWs, "Mabuhay Joe," which in English meant, "Long life Joe." Because of their courage and support of the Americans at a threat to their own lives, Daniel always loved the Filipino people.
The POWs were unloaded from the trains in the outskirts of Manila. They then marched two miles to Bilibid Prison. Bilibid had been built by the Spanish and had been a civilian prisoner before the war. The prisoner was a two story mortar and brick building surrounded by a high brick wall. At the entrance were two heavy iron gates.
Daniel recalled that there were no beds in the prison. At night ever prisoner slept on the concrete floor. The food was also of poor quality. Probably the one good thing about Bilibid according to Daniel was that the prisoners had more than enough water for drinking and washing.
Two days after arriving at Bilibid, Dan and other prisoners were marched through the streets of Manila to the port area. What struck Daniel about the city was how devastated it appeared to be. Dewey Boulevard which had been the most modern street of the city was now lined with burnt out empty buildings. Ashes were all that was left of the huts that had lined other streets in Manila.
At Pier 7, the POWs were boarded onto the Erie Maru. Daniel recalled that he 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. Daniel and
the POWs disembarked the ship at Davao.
There they joined another group of 1000
prisoners. Daniel noticed that these
prisoners appeared to be well fed when compared
to the men in Daniel's group. Upon arrival
of Daniel's group, the rations for these men
were cut in half. This caused friction
between the two groups. At Davao, the POWs
were boarded onto an unknown ship often referred
to as the Yashu Maru.
Rice was sent down to the POWs in buckets and the POWs were allowed on deck only to use the huts that served as toilets and to get some air. One night, when the ship was about one mile off the coast of Mindanao, a prisoner jumped overboard and swam toward shore. The Japanese fired at him but did not hit him. His escape was a success. As a result of this event, the remaining prisoners were not allowed on deck except to use the toilets.
When a second POW jumped overboard and made a
successful escape, the POWs were not allowed to
go on deck to the toilets. From than on, a
tub was lowered into the hold to the
prisoners. With the heat inside the hold
and the smell from the waste, the next ten days
were almost unlivable.
At Davao, Daniel and the other 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. For the first time since he became a prisoner, Daniel could actually keep himself and his clothes clean. Being clean was a great help in improving the health of the POWs.
Dan was assigned to what would be considered a good work detail. The POWs had only one guard and he would allow allow two men to collect bananas. They prisoners would lay them on the ground and cover the bananas with leaves. In a couple of days, the bananas would be ripe. While they were working, the guard let the prisoners eat them. They were not allowed to bring the bananas back to camp. More than one man had been hit or kicked in the shins for trying to bring fruit into the camp.
One POW on Dan's detail was allowed by the guard to pick a stalk of bananas and take them to camp. When he got to the gate, the detail's guard was not with him. The gate guard kicked and hit the man until he passed out. When he awoke, he was tied to a post with his hands behind him. He remained tied to the post for two days. When he began to slump. the Japanese would beat him. The second day a Catholic priest visited the man. Not too long after this visit, the prisoner was cut from the post. He fell to the ground and had to be carried to his quarters.
In another incident, a prisoner on a rice detail was caught trying to smuggle rice into the camp. From that time on, all the prisoners had to strip and be searched by the guards to assure they were not smuggling rice.
Daniel believed that one of the strangest things that the Japanese was to allow the groves of oranges, papaya, mangos, coconuts and bananas to become overgrown. Most of the fruit was simply left to rot on the trees. The prisoners would have gladly worked overtime and cared for the groves but the Japanese would not let them.
As time passed. the shoes of Daniel and the other POWs were wearing out. The prisoners made shoes from wood or leather thongs. One prisoner made shoes thicker than normal. He hallowed out one heel and smuggle rice into the camp in the hallowed out heal. Everyone was impressed with his shrewdness until one day when he was entering camp and the heel opened sending rice flying everywhere. The gate guard saw this and beat the man severely.
Right outside the fences that surrounded the prison compound were wild mango trees and hot peppers plants. The prisoners would attempt to smuggle these into camp to mix into their food. From the peppers they would make a hot sauce that they would mix into their rice. Daniel believed that he and his fellow prisoners would do almost anything to put some flavor into the rice.
On Daniel's first Christmas in the camp, the prisoners received Red Cross packages. Daniel and other prisoners were sent to the railroad station to get the packages. They placed the packages on railroad baggage carts and pushed the them pack to the camp. On the way, it started to rain but no one cared. They were too happy by the thought of what was in the packages. One man started to sing God Bless America and soon all the POWs joined in and sang all the way back to the camp. These were their first Red Cross packages which were their first contact with the outside world. The packages contained cigarettes, instant coffee, canned goods, medicines and powdered milk. At first the POWs did not know what the powder milk was because it had not been invented until after the war had started.
There were numerous escape attempts while Daniel was at the camp. Some were successful and some were not. Some men escaped but got lost in the jungle. When they became hungry or got sick, they decided that they were better off in the camp and returned. Punishment varied for each man. Usually, the punishment was having rations cut with each escape.
On one work detail, ten men attempted to escape. About half succeeded and the others were shot trying to get away. They had been working outside the camp for months and had hidden supplies for their escape. They had also made contact with a Filipino who guided them to a guerrilla camp. Those who had survived the escape attempt fought with the guerrillas until the Philippines were liberated. After this escape, the guards became meaner with the prisoners.
Not too long after this escape, Daniel's malaria began to act up and the ulcer in his right eye was giving him trouble, so he was put into the sick compound. The hut had no wall just a roof. One day he heard a group of guards yelling, shooting and carrying on near the hut. He looked out and watched as the guards shot at a prisoner who tried to get extra water. As serious as the situation was it was also very funny. The prisoner was zigzagging all across the compound with the guards zigzagging in the same way and shooting at him. Fortunately, the man escaped without being shot and was safe because the guards were not able to identify him.
A Japanese doctor would visit the prisoners in the hut once a week with the American doctors. The Japanese doctor spoke English and seemed very concerned about the sick prisoners. One rumor was that the doctor had been educated in the United States which explained why he spoke English so well. Daniel heard that the doctor had helped the sick prisoners by setting milk and eggs for them. Daniel never saw either one while he was in the sick ward.
When Daniel returned to work, he was assigned the job of plowing in a rice field. At the end of the day, he had to carry the plow back to the camp with him. One day it was raining and the banks of the rice paddies were slippery. Daniel had difficulty walking and slipped into the paddy. He was in mud up to his thighs and had a difficult time getting out with the plow.
Since it took him so long to get out of the paddy, he began to worry because he knew he would be late getting back to the camp. Those prisoners who came back to the camp late were usually shot. When he arrived at the camp, the guard started yelling at him and slapping him around. As the guard got ready to shoot him, one of the other prisoners who had learned Japanese explained to the guard why Daniel was late. The explanation calmed the guard down and saved Daniel's life. Daniel was happy that he knew someone who knew Japanese.
Sleeping quarters for each man was a little cage with a door on it and a wooden bottom. The wooden bottom of the cages were so infested with bed bugs that Daniel went outside to sleep on the grass. He also had a pith helmet with a strap on it that he would lay on the floor of his cage. Several times when he fell out for roll call he would put the helmet on the bed bugs would come out from under the strap and crawl down his face while he stood at attention not daring to move. When roll call was over, Daniel would beat the bed bugs out of his hat and step on them.
One POW came up with the idea of scolding the bed bugs to death by pouring hot water over the boards. This proved to be successful and thereafter all the men were scalding the floors of their beds and taking their bed clothing outside to rid them of the bugs.
The one day of the week the POWs had off was Sunday. Daniel and the other prisoners only had to work if there was a special detail. Three of the prisoners formed a trio. One man would play the guitar and all three would sing. They were very good and Daniel always enjoyed hearing them.
The Japanese had a newspaper for propaganda purposes. In the paper, the Japanese reported their victories. Once in the paper they made the mistake that they had evacuated Guam because it was no longer of strategic importance. The prisoners knew that it was only a matter of time until the Philippine Islands would be liberated. Daniel and the other POWs were excited by the good news.
Daniel soon learned that the camp at Davao was going to be closed because the Filipino guerrillas were having success against the Japanese. In addition, the Americans were getting closer to the Philippines. Because of these two situations, the Japanese ordered all prisoners to Manila for shipment to other Japanese controlled territories.
The prisoners were ordered to pack up all the farm equipment. While this was being done, an American officer in the rope factory walked up to the only guard and jumped him. He next began to beat the guard over the head with a small iron pipe. The other prisoners were caught totally off guard. The guard was screaming for help but could not be heard. The officer grabbed the guard's gun and was going to shoot him. The gun was not loaded and the guard was able to escape.
Other Japanese guards entered the building and began to beat all the prisoners. One prisoner was able to explain that only one prisoner attacked the guard. The POWs were made to sit with their backs against the wall and their legs crossed tightly under their buttocks. Each man was questioned in the prison headquarters. The officer who attacked the guard confessed and was taken away. He was never seen again. Hearing the man's screams in the guardhouse left no doubt in Daniel's mind as to the officer's fate.
From this time on, if the POWs went out on a work detail it was with a large group of guards. The guards were nervous and kept their guns with bayonets attached pointed at the men at all times. Food rations were also cut so the prisoners were once again hungry. On the last day in Davao, a dog was killed and all the prisoners received a gallon of rice. They were then made to sit out in the sun for hours before they were moved out of the camp.
The next day Daniel and his fellow prisoners were loaded onto trucks. The trucks were tied to each other with a rope. When the prisoners got to their trucks each had to blindfold himself with a piece of cloth. Daniel was the last man on the truck and had a difficult time standing in the truck when it went around curves. Daniel felt a man starting to fall so he grabbed him. When Daniel realized it was the Japanese guard, he let him fall out of the truck. When they reached Davao City, the prisoners were loaded onto the ship the Teiryo Maru for Manila.
The prisoners disembarked the ship and marched to Bilibid. Once again, Daniel found himself sleeping on the concrete floors of a big warehouse. The only bright spot for the POWs was that Red Cross packages from home were waiting for them. Since they had been sitting at Bilibid for a year, the perishable food had spoiled, but the canned food was still edible. The prisoners were elated to receive the packages because they meant that although two years had passed their families were still thinking of them.
Daniel was assigned to be shipped to Japan when he came down with malaria. When prisoner selection for shipment to Japan was made he was too sick to be sent to Japan. Instead, he was sent to the sick compound at Cabanatuan. The camp in his opinion had improved since he had left two years earlier. There were not as many prisoners there and the food had improved. He remained in the sick compound for a month and was treated with quinine which cured him.
Once Daniel was well, he was returned to Bilibid
Prison. On August 13, 1944, Daniel was
taken to Bilibid Prison from Cabantatuan.
put on the Noto Maru. 1033 POWs were boarded onto the ship on August
part of a four
on the 27th
On its trip to
to be in the
area of the
on August 31st
and arrived at
As the ship
made its way
to Japan men
was more room
in the ship's
The bodies of
the dead were
hosted out of
the hold by
dumped in the
suction of the
being cut up.
the only way
to deal with
the hold was
to bring the
POWs on deck
and wash them
the floor of
the hold at
the same time.
Once at Moji, the POWs were broken into two groups. Daniel's group of POWs were marched to the train station and taken by train to the camps along the line. The windows of the train car were covered and the prisoners were ordered to leave them covered. They were told this had been done so that they could not see the civilians. The train trip in Daniel's opinion was the most luxurious means of travel that he experienced while a prisoner. In reality, the Japanese did not want the prisoners to see the damage being done by the American bombings. On the train, the prisoners received boxed lunches of fish, rice and radishes. The POWs were on the train for three days through mountainous country. Daniel did peek under the shades and saw civilians and the countryside.
The further north the POWs went the
tougher and more rugged looking the
people became. Women were seen
working on the track of the
railroad. Their clothing
consisted of coats made out of rice
straw or big leaves, They also
wore ugly straw overalls.
Daniel stated that the prisoners were issued two sets of clothing. One set of clothing was a nice, green, cotton outfit. The other clothing was made from burlap. When the Red Cross inspectors arrived in the camp the prisoners wore the green cotton clothing to make a good impression. They also received split toed shoes and an English Army rain coat. When the inspectors left, the men changed back into the burlap clothing.
Rations for the POWs were 625 grams each day. The meals included rice, barley and millet. If a prisoner was sick and not working, he would receive 500 grams a day, but all prisoners received three meals a day. Breakfast was a small bowl of one of the grains. Lunch was a bowl of rice and a different grain. Dinner was a bowl of rice, another grain and shark-head soup. The soup was just broth with a lot of shark head bones in it. Some prisoners could not eat the fish so Daniel and other prisoners made arrangements with those men for their fish.
A few weeks after Daniel and the other Americans arrived fifty British POWs arrived in the camp. The British were kept in an area of the camp away from the Americans. They also worked a different shift. This kept socializing between the two groups to a minimum.
The prisoners worked in a large copper mine. Each day they walked two miles to the mine and then back after their shift. Half the prisoners worked days and the other half nights. The group Daniel was assigned to was composed of twenty men. To enter the mine, the prisoners had to go down five hundred very creaky steps. At the bottom of the steps, they then would have to walk through a tunnel to their work area.
The POWs had to work bent over because the ceilings were low. This was because the miners who had originally worked it were shorter than the Americans. There were no supports in the mine so cave-ins were common. When on happened, the other POWs had to dig out the man who had been buried. Daniel often thought that he would not survive working in the mine.
Daniel was assigned to work as a driller alongside a Japanese worker. As it turned out, the worker was a nice guy. Daniel would be drilling into a section of rock the size of a house. The rock would rumble and shake like an earthquake. The Japanese worker seeing that Daniel was afraid, the civilian would take the drill from Daniel and finish the work. The worker would also take carry the drill in and out of the mine. He did this because he knew that Daniel was in no condition to do so.
Daniel and the civilian would trade items with each other. One time Daniel received a pipe and small container of tobacco. The pipe was so small that a bowl of tobacco would last for three puffs. Daniel would keep this pipe for the rest of his life.
In Daniel's work crew, there was another Japanese worker who was mean and abused the prisoners who worked with him. The man would make the American carry the drill into and out of the mine. He would not help the POW and made him do all the heavy work alone. If the POW did not understand what the man wanted him to do, the Japanese worker would slap the POW around. The prisoner working with this man began to suffer back pains and had to be replaced. The second prisoner was treated no better than the first prisoner.
Daniel was reassigned to the mean Japanese worker. The man made Daniel carry all the equipment and do all the heavy lifting. Daniel began to plot in his mind how to kill the worker. The best plan Daniel came up with was to kill the man and then set off dynamite to make it look like an accident. His plans changed suddenly when he received two letters from home from his sister. The letters made him feel better, think rationally and calmed him down.
During lunch, the prisoners would eat in a large room. Daniel decided that he would not return to work. After the other prisoners had returned to work, Daniel remained in the room shaking. A six foot Japanese supervisor came into the room and asked Daniel, in perfect English, why he had not returned to work. Daniel explained the problem to the man. The supervisor told Daniel to return to work and that he would speak to the Japanese worker. From that day on, things improved for Daniel.
What was strange to Daniel is that the he and the other POWs were paid for their work. The amount paid to the prisoners depended on the job. The POWs were paid each week. Those men who were laborers received ten to fifteen cents a day, drillers received thirty cents a day, while officers received a higher amount of money for their work. Since there was nowhere to spend their earnings, the money was used to buy cigarettes from the guards.
The winters were cold in the camp and temperatures were often 20 to 30 degrees below zero. The living conditions for the prisoners at the camp were extremely hard. The POWs would have to wait for hours in the cold waiting to take a bath. If the man did not get a bath quick enough he would bathe in cold, dirty water.
The prisoners' quarters had a wood burning stove but no wood to burn. Every morning when Daniel went to work he had a laundry bag tied around his neck. In it, he would put small pieces of wood to bring back to camp for the stove. One night he was caught entering the camp with the wood. It was about ten degrees below zero. As punishment, he was made to stand at attention while he was beaten in the head with a stick. The point of the beating was to get Dan angry enough to fight back. If he did, he would be beaten more. Knowing this helped Dan to take the beating without responding to it.
Daniel believed that the guards were pretty fair to the POWs. There was one incident that he always remembered. He was the last man in line for a bath. This meant the water would be dirty and cold. The bath for the Japanese guards was in the same building as the bath for the prisoners and was separated from the POWs' bath by a door. Sitting in the cold dirty water, Dan could hear the guards on their side of the door. One of the guards opened the door and saw Dan in the cold, dirty water. For no reason he scooped up a couple of buckets of hot water from the guards' tub and poured it into Dan's tub. Dan was amazed by this act of kindness.
On August 14, 1945, the POWs were getting ready to go to work when they received orders to return to their barracks. The next day they again were told not to go to work. Rumors began to spread among the prisoners. On August 16th, the prisoners awoke to find that the guards were gone and only the camp commander remained. He instructed them to paint "POW" on the roofs of all the buildings so that planes flying over would know where they were. For the first time, the prisoners began to hope that the war was over.
On August 20th, the camp commander announced to the POWs that the war was over. To Dan's surprise, neither he or any of the other former prisoners wanted revenge. They all were elated and enjoying their new freedom. Their thoughts turned to the things they would do and the foods they would eat when they got home. They did nothing but make plans of what they were going to do at home.
The 27th of August, American planes dropped food, clothing and medicine to the former POWs. This would happen each day until September 1. The results of suddenly having too much to eat were obvious. Many of the men became ill.
On September 2, 1945, a jeep with American MPs arrived in the camp. The MPs were to patrol the camp until arrangements were made to move the men. On September 13th, the prisoners were sent to Yokohama by train. They were placed on the American hospital ship Monitor on September 19th and returned to the Philippine Islands.
From Manila, Daniel sailed on the Marine Shark for the United States. After a stop in Hawaii, Daniel arrived in San Francisco on October 27, 1945. It was four years to the day that he had left San Francisco for the Philippine Islands.
Daniel was shipped to Mayo General Hospital north of Chicago since he had been drafted into the army while living in Wisconsin. He was then sent to Fort Story, Virginia. There he was honorably discharged for the army on June 16, 1946.
Daniel returned home to Pennsylvania and on May 17, 1947, married Charmaine Landis. Together, they had four children; Daniel, Linda, Stephen and Alayene. Daniel Stoudt passed away on August 12, 1993.