BeckR
 

Pfc. Raymond George Beck


Born: 31 May 1917 - Russell, Russell County, Kansas

Parents: Frederick Beck & Margaret M. Deines-Beck

Siblings: 1 sister

Home: 535 East Third Street - Russell, Kansas

Education:

    - Washburn College 

Employed: Russell-Farmers State Bank
    - book keeper

    - met future wife  

Inducted: 

    - U. S. Army

        - Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

        - 26 February 1941

    - Fort Knox, Kentucky

Unit: 

    - B Company, 19th Ordnance Battalion

        - A Company reorganized as: 17th Ordnance Company

    - 17th Ordnance Company
Note: On August 15, 1941, the company received orders for duty in the Philippines because of an event that happened during the summer.  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 for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island, hundred of miles away, with a large radio transmitter on it.  The squadron continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles before returning to Clark Field.  By the time the planes landed that evening, it was too late to do anything that day.
    The next morning, another squadron was sent to the area and found that the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat which was seen making its way toward shore.  Since communication between and Air Corps and Navy was poor, the boat was not intercepted.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
Overseas Duty:
    - rode train to Ft. Mason, San Francisco, California
    - ferried on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe to Angel Island
        - given physicals and inoculated by battalion's medical detachment
        - men with medical conditions replaced
    - Ship: S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
        - Boarded: Monday - 8 September 1941 - 3:00 P.M.
        - Sailed: 9:00 P.M. - same day
        - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Saturday - 13 September 1941 - 7:00 A.M.
        - Sailed: 5:00 P.M. - same day
            - escorted by heavy cruiser - U.S.S. Astoria and an unknown destroyer
                - heavy cruiser intercepted several ships after smoke was seen on the horizon
                - ships belonged to friendly countries
        - Arrived: Manila - Friday - 26 September 1941
            - disembark ship - 3:00 P.M.
            - taken by bus to Fort Stostenburg
Stationed:
        - Ft. Stotsenburg, Philippine Islands
            - lived in tents until barracks completed - 15 November 1941 

Engagements: 

    - Battle of Luzon

        - 8 December 1941 - 6 January 1942

    - Battle of Bataan

         - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942
            - during this time his parents received a letter from him written 14 February 1942
            - reported Killed in Action - March 1942

Prisoner of War: 

    - 9 April 1942

        - Death March

           - started march at Mariveles on the southern tip of Bataan
           - POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing at Corregidor
               - American artillery returned fire
           - San Fernando - POWs packed into small wooden boxcars
               - those POWs who died remained standing
           - Capas - POWs leave boxcars - dead fall out of cars
           - walked last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell

           - took him 14 days to complete march

               - he went 7 days without food and water

POW Camps:

    - Philippines:

        - Camp O'Donnell
            - 1 April 1942 - unfinished Filipino training base Japanese put into use as a POW camp
                - Japanese believed the camp could hold 15,000 to 20,000 POWs
            - POWs searched upon arrival at camp
                - those found with Japanese money were accused of looting
                - sent to guardhouse
                - over several days, gun shots heard southeast of the camp
                    - POWs who had money on them had been executed
            - Japanese took away any extra clothing from POWs as they entered the camp and refused to return it
                - since no water was available for wash clothing, the POWs threw soiled clothing away
                - clothing was taken from dead
                - few of the POWs in the camp hospital had clothing
            - POWs were not allowed to bathe
            - only one water spigot for entire camp
                - POWs waited 2 hours to 8 hours to get a drink
                    - water frequently turned off by Japanese guards and next man in line waited as long as 4 hours for water to be turned on again
                    - mess kits could not be cleaned
                - POWs had to carry water 3 miles from a river to cook their meals
                - second water spigot installed a week after POWs arrived
            - slit trenches overflowed since many of the POWs had dysentery
                - flies were everywhere including in camp kitchens and food
            - camp hospital had no water, soap, or disinfectant
            - the senior POW doctor wrote a list of medicines he wanted to treat the sick and was told by the camp commandant, Capt. Yoshio
              Tsuneyoshi, never to write another letter
                - Tsuneyoshi said that all he wanted to know about the American POWs was their names and numbers when they died
                - refused to allow a truckload of medicine sent by the Archbishop of Manila into the camp
                - 95% of the medicine sent by Philippine Red Cross was taken by the Japanese for their own use
            - POWs in camp hospital lay on floor elbow to elbow
            - operations on POWs were performed with mess kit knives
            - only one medic out of six assigned to care for 50 sick POWs, in the hospital, was well enough to work
            - as many as 50 POWs died each day
                - each morning dead were found everywhere in the camp and stacked up under the hospital
                - ground under hospital was scrapped and cover with lime to clean it
                - the dead were moved to this area and the section where they had laid was scrapped and cover with lime
                - usually not buried for two or three days
            - work details: if a POW could walk, he was sent out on a work detail
                - POWs on burial detail often had dysentery and malaria
        - Japanese opened new POW camp to lower death rate
            - 1 June 1942 - POWs formed detachments of 100 men
                - POWs marched out gate and marched toward Capas
                    - Filipino people gave POWs small bundles of food
                        - the guards did not stop them
                - At Capas, the POWs were put into steel boxcars and rode them to Manila
                - train stopped at Calumpit and switched onto the line to Cabanatuan
                    - POWs disembark train at 6:00 P.M. and put into a school yard
                    - fed rice and onion soup   
    - Cabanatuan:
        - original name: Camp Panagaian
            - Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
                - actually three camps
                    - Camp 1: POWs from Camp O'Donnell
                    - Camp 2:  four miles away
                        - all POWs moved from there because of a lack of water
                        - later used for Naval POWs
                    - Camp 3: six miles from Camp 2
                        - POWs from Corregidor and from hospitals sent there
                            - POWs later moved to Camp 1
           - Camp 1:
                - work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens, plant rice, and farm
                - when POWs lined up for roll call, it was a common practice for Japanese guards, after the POWs lined up, to kick the POWs in
                  their shins with their hobnailed boots
                    - they also were frequently hit with a pick handle, for no reason, as they counted off
                - POWs on the rice planting detail were punished by having their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on
                - the POWs had to go into a shed to get the tools, as they came out, they were hit on their heads
                - if the guards on the detail decided the POW wasn't doing what he should be doing, he was beaten
                - many POWs on details were able to smuggle in medicine, food, and tobacco into the camp
            - to prevent escapes, the POWs set up patrols along the camp's fence
            - men who attempted to escape and caught were executed after being beaten
                - the other POWs were forced to watch the beatings
            - daily POW meal - 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
        - Camp Hospital:
            - 30 Wards
                - each ward could hold 40 men
                    - frequently had 100 men in each
               - two tiers of bunks
                   - sickest POWs on bottom tier
               - each POW had a 2 foot by 6 foot area to lie in
            - Zero Ward
              - given name because it had been missed when counting wards
              - became ward where those who were going to die were sent
              - fenced off from other wards
                  - Japanese guards would not go near it
                 - POWs sent there had little to no chance of surviving

Note: January 1943 - parents learned he was a POW

Hell Ship:

    - Taga Maru

        - Sailed: Manila - 20 September 1943

        - Arrived: Takao, Formosa - 23 September 1943

        - Sailed: 26 September 1943

        - Arrived: Moji, Japan - 5 October 1943

            - 70 POWs died during trip

POW Camp:

    - Japan

        - Hirohata #1D

            - POWs worked in Nippon Seitetsu Steel Mill

               - POWs worked seven days a week

                   - work day 10 hours long

                   - paid ten cents a day 

                - cleaned blast furnaces

                - worked on docks

                - worked in machine shops

Liberated: 9 September 1945

    - weighed 115 pounds
    - returned to the Philippine Islands
Transport:
    U.S.S. General R. L. Howze
        - Sailed: Manila - 23 September 1945
        - Arrived: San Francisco - 16 October 1945
            - sent to Letterman General Hospital

Married: Jessie K. Ball

    - 8 December 1945 

Children: 1 daughter, 1 son

Occupation: Russell State Bank

    - insurance department director

Died: 22 December 1998 - Loveland, Colorado

Buried: Russell City Cemetery - Russell, Kansas



 


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