Sgt. CharlesR. Boeshart was born on August 18, 1915, in Columbus, Ohio, and was the son
of William J. Bosehart and Catherine J. Boeshart. With his two sisters and two brothers, he first lived
near Ohio State University at 8th and High Streets. In 1920, his family moved to a farm on Catawba Island
near Port Clinton, Ohio, and later moved to Port Clinton, where they resided at 615 East Third Street.
After attending local schools, Charles worked for U. S. Gypsum, and with several friends,
joined Company H, of the Ohio National Guard, which was a tank company headquartered in an armory in Port
Clinton. Most joined to earn some extra spending money.
In the fall of 1940, Charles' tank company was federalized as C Company, 192nd
Tank Battalion and sent to Fort Knox, on November 28, 1941. During this time he trained as a tank
mechanic. In January, 1941, he was transferred to Headquarters Company when the company was created with
members of the the four letter companies of the battalion. He would later be assigned to one of three
tanks assigned to HQ Company.
In the late summer of 1941, Charles took part in maneuvers in Louisiana from September 1
through 30. What he remembered about the maneuvers was the heat and humidity. After the maneuvers, the
battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and learned they were being sent overseas. Men 29 years old
or older were released from service. Charles was given a ten day pass home. During this time, he
married Mildred E.
Critchelow whom he had met on a blind date.
The next day, October 12, 1941, he returned to Camp Polk.
The decision for this move - which had been made on August 15, 1941 - was the result of an event that
took place in the summer of 1941. A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf, in the
Philippines, when one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower altitude, noticed something odd. He took his
plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another in the distance. 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 which was hundred of miles away. The island had a large radio transmitter. The squadron
continued its flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.
When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day. The next day,
when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat - with a tarp on its
deck - which was seen making its way to shore. Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was
difficult, the boat escaped. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military
presence in the Philippines.
Traveling west over four different train routes to San Francisco, California, the battalion
was taken by the ferry, the
U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. While waiting for the other companies of the battalion to arrive, he
played tourist and walked across the Golden Gate Bridge. Once the battalion had completely arrived, the
battalion's medical detachment gave physicals to every man. Those found to have minor medical
conditions were held on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Some men were
The 192nd was boarded onto the
U.S. A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott
and sailed on Monday, October 27. 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. They arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2 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
and, the transport,
S. S. President Calvin Coolidge
. Sunday night, November 9, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was
Tuesday, November 11. During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date
Line. On Saturday, November 15, 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.
When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16, 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 20, 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, the tankers were met by Colonel Edward P. King, who welcomed them and made
sure that they had what they needed. He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and
that they had to live in tents. The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they
arrived. He made sure that they had Thanksgiving Dinner before he left to have his own dinner.
The members of the battalion pitched the tents in an open field halfway between the Clark
Field Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg. The tents were set up in two rows and five men were
assigned to each tent. There were two supply tents and meals were provided by food trucks stationed at the
end of the rows of tents.
For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from
their weapons. They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts. The plan was for
them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
On December 1, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field. Two tank crew
members remained with each tank at all times. The morning of December 8, the officers of the
battalions met and were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier. The tank crew
members returned to their tanks.
All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes. At noon, all the planes
landed and the pilots went to lunch. At 12:45 planes approached the airfield from the north. The
tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54 planes. When bombs began exploding, the men knew the planes were
Charles said many of the tank crews ran to their tanks. He chose to stay out of his
tank. As it turned out a bomb hit the back of the tank destroying it. He lost everything except a
mirror that he shaved with. He would keep the mirror through the death march and the camps.
After the attack the 192nd remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for almost two weeks.
The tankers were than sent to the Lingayen Gulf area where the Japanese had landed.
It was at Lingayen Gulf that a platoon of the battalion's tanks engaged the Japanese in the first tank battle
of World War II involving American tanks. The tank companies, during the withdrawal into Bataan, repeatedly
were the last unit to disengage from the enemy before a new defensive line was formed.
Charles spent the next few months fighting the Japanese. One of the things he
remembered was that the tanks had to travel at night to prevent them from being attacked by Japanese
planes. As they drove, they often found themselves on roads and bridges that were too narrow for the
To keep his tank on the road as they drove, Charles would lay on the front of the tank
and give directions to the driver. This was particularly important in the mountains where the tanks
barely fit on the roads. Charles would look hang over the front of the tanks and tell the driver which
way to turn the tank so that the half of the outside track remained on the road.
Charles believed that a great deal of the fighting took place at night. One reason
was that the Japanese would attempt to use the cover of darkness to penetrate the American lines. His
memory of this combat was tracers and fiery explosions.
The tank battalion received orders on December 21st that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.
Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas. When they reached Rosario, there
was only enough for one tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
On December 23 and 24, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta, where the bridge they
were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed, so 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 were fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27, and December
were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29. While there, the bridge over the Pampanga
River was destroyed, they were able find a crossing over the river.
At Cabu, seven tanks of the company fought a three hour battle with the Japanese. The
main Japanese line was south of Saint Rosa Bridge ten miles to the south of the battle.
The tanks were hidden in brush as the Japanese troops passed the tanks for three hours without knowing
that they were there. While the troops passed, Lt. William Gentry was on his radio describing what he was
seeing. It was only when a Japanese soldier tried take a short cut through the brush, that his tank was
hidden in, that the tanks were discovered. The tanks turned on their sirens and opened up on the
Japanese. They then fell back to
C Company was re-supplied and withdrew to Baluiag where the tanks encountered Japanese
troops and ten tanks. It was at Baluiag that Gentry's tanks won the first tank victory of World War II
against enemy tanks.
After this battle, C Company made its way south. When it entered Cabanatuan, it found the barrio filled
with Japanese guns and other equipment. The tank company destroyed as much of the equipment as it could
before proceeding south.
On December 31, 1941, Company was sent out reconnaissance patrols north of the town
of Baluiag. The patrols ran into Japanese patrols, which told the Americans that the Japanese were
on their way. Knowing that the railroad bridge was the only way into the town and to cross the river, Lt.
Gentry set up his defenses in view of the bridge and the rice patty it crossed.
Early on the morning of the 31st, the Japanese began moving troops and across the
bridge. The engineers came next and put down planking for tanks. A little before noon Japanese
tanks began crossing the bridge.
Later that day, the Japanese had assembled a large number of troops in the rice field on
the northern edge of the town. One platoon of tanks under the command of 2nd Lt. Marshall Kennady were to
the southeast of the bridge. Gentry's tanks were to the south of the bridge in huts, while third
platoon commanded by Capt Harold Collins was to the south on the road leading out of Baluiag
2nd Lt. Everett Preston had been sent south to find a bridge to cross to attack the Japanese from
Major Morley came riding in his jeep into Baluiag. He stopped in front of a hut and
was spotted by the Japanese who had lookouts in the town's church's steeple. The guard became
very excited so Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks positions, got into his jeep and drove off.
Bill had told him that his tanks would hold their fire until he was safely out of the village.
When Gentry felt the Morley was out of danger, he ordered his tanks to open up on
the Japanese tanks at the end of the bridge. The tanks then came smashing through the huts' walls and
drove the Japanese in the direction of Lt. Marshall Kennady's tanks. Kennady had been radioed and was
Kennady's platoon held its fire until the Japanese were in view of his platoon and
then joined in the hunt. The Americans chased the tanks up and down the streets of the village, through
buildings and under them. By the time Bill's unit was ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had
knocked out at least eight enemy tanks.
On January 1, conflicting orders were received by the defenders who were attempting to stop the Japanese who
were advancing down Route 5.
Doing this would allow the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan. General Wainwright was
unaware of the conflicting orders since they came from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff.
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 2
to 4, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
At 2:30 A.M., the night of January 5th/6th, the Japanese attacked at Remlus in force and
using smoke as cover. This attack was an attempt to destroy the tank battalions. At 5:00 A.M., the
Japanese withdrew having suffered heavy casualties.
The night of January 6/7 the tanks withdrew into the peninsula with the 192nd holding its
position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross the bridge, and then cover the
192nd's withdraw over the bridge. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan, before the
engineers blew up the bridge at 6:00 A.M.
The next day, the battalion was between Culo and Hermosa and assigned a road to enter
Bataan on which was worse than having no road. The half-tracks kept throwing their rubber tracks and
members of 17th Ordnance assigned to each battalion had to re-track them in dangerous situations. After
daylight, Japanese artillery fire was landing all around the tanks.
A composite tank company was formed, the next day, under the command of Capt. Donald
Haines, B Co., 192nd. Its job was to protect the East Coast Road north of Hermosa open and to stop Japanese
tanks attempting to use it to overrun the next defensive line that was forming. While in this position, the tanks
were under constant enemy artillery fire. The rest of the tanks were ordered to bivouac south of the
When word came that a bridge was going to be blow, all the tanks were ordered out of the
area, which included the composite company. This could have resulted in a catastrophe, but the Japanese did
not take advantage of the situation.
The tanks bivouacked south of the Pilar-Bagac Road and about two kilometers from the East
Coast Road. It had almost been one month since the tank crews had a rest and the tanks had maintenance work
done on them by 17th Ordnance. It was also on this day that the tank platoons were reduced to three tanks
per tank platoon. The men rested and the tanks received the required maintenance. Most of the tank
tracks had worn down to bare metal and the radial engines long past their 400 hour overhauls.
It was at this time the tank battalions received these orders which came from Gen.
"Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying in position and firing at visible enemy until further delay
will jeopardize withdrawal. If a tank is immobilized, it will be fought until the close approach of the
enemy, then destroyed; the crew previously taking positions outside and continuing to fight with the salvaged
and personal weapons. Considerations of personal safety and expediency will not interfere with accomplishing
the greatest possible delay."
The battalions were sent to cover the junctions of the Back Road and East Road with the
Abucay-Heicienda Road on January 25. While holding the position, the 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts,
fought its way to the position at 3:00 A.M. One platoon was sent to the front of the the column of trucks
which were loading the troops. The tanks provided heavy fire so that the infantry could withdraw.
Just after the infantry evacuated a column of Japanese came marching down the road and were taken by surprised by
the tanks and inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese This stopped the Japanese advance and the tanks
withdrew without any problems.
Later on January 25, both the 192nd and 194th held a defensive line on the
Bakanga-Cardre-BaniBani Roads until the withdraw was completed at midnight. They held the position until
the night of January 26/27, when they dropped back to a new defensive line roughly along the Pilar-Bagac
Roads. When ordered to withdraw to the new line, the 192nd found that the bridge at Balanga, that they were
suppose to use had been destroyed by enemy fire. To withdraw, they had to use secondary roads to get around
the barrio and tanks were still straggling in at noon.
The tank battalions, on January 28, 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, while the
battalion's half-tracks were used to patrol the roads. The Japanese later admitted that the tanks
guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.
Companies A & C were ordered to the west coast of Bataan while B Company - which was
held in reserve - and 17th Ordnance held the southern shore of Bataan. The tankers were awake all night and
attempted to sleep under the jungle canopy, during the day, which protected them from being spotted by Japanese
reconnaissance planes. During the night, they were kept busy with repeated threats both on and off shore.
In early February, the Japanese attempted to land troops behind the main battle
line on Bataan. The troops were quickly cut off and when they attempted to land reinforcements, they were
landed in the wrong place. The fight to wipe out these two pockets became known as the Battle of the
The Japanese had been stopped, but the decision was made by Brigadier General Clinton A.
Pierce that tanks were needed to support the 45th Infantry Philippine Scouts. He requested the tanks from
the Provisional Tank Group. On February 2, a platoon of C Company tanks was ordered to Quinan Point where
the Japanese had landed troops. The tanks arrived about 5:15 P.M. He did a quick reconnaissance of
the area, and after meeting with the commanding infantry officer, made the decision to drive tanks into the edge
of the Japanese position and spray the area with machine-gun fire. The progress was slow but steady until a
Japanese .37 milometer gun was spotted in front of the lead tank, and the tanks withdrew. It turned out
that the gun had been disabled by mortar fire, but the tanks did not know this at the time. The decision
was made to resume the attack the next morning, so 45th Infantry dug in for the night.
The next day, the tank platoon did reconnaissance before pulling into the front
line. They repeated the maneuver and sprayed the area with machine gun fire. As they moved forward,
members of the 45th Infantry followed the tanks. The troops made progress all day long along the left side
of the line. The major problem the tanks had to deal with was tree stumps which they had to avoid so they
would not get hung up on them. The stumps also made it hard for the tanks to maneuver. Coordinating
the attack with the infantry was difficult, so the decision was made by to bring in a radio car so that the tanks
and infantry could talk with each other.
On February 4, at 8:30 A.M. five tanks and the radio car arrived. The tanks were
assigned the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, so each tank commander knew which tank was receiving an order. Each
tank also received a walkie-talkie, as well as the radio car and infantry commanders. This was done so that
the crews could coordinate the attack with the infantry and send so that the tanks could be ordered to where they
were needed. The Japanese were pushed back almost to the cliffs when the attack was halted for the night.
The attack resumed the next morning the next morning and the Japanese were pushed to the
cliff line where they hid below the edge of the cliff out of view. It was at that time that the tanks were
released to returned to the 192nd.
C 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
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.
While the tanks were clearing out the Japanese, the Japanese sent soldiers against the
tanks carrying cans of gasoline. The Japanese would attempt to jump onto the tanks, pour gasoline into the
vents on the back of the tanks, and set them on fire. If the tankers could not machine gun them before they
got to the tanks, they would shoot them as they stood on the tanks. The tankers did not like to do this
because of what it did to the crews inside the tanks, since the rivets often popped from the tank being hit by
the bullets they wounded the crew members.
During one of these engagements, Charles lost his helmet. He later saw another
helmet on the ground and picked it up. When he turned it over, there was a head strapped in it.
In March, the amount of gasoline was reduced to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles
except the tanks. This would later be dropped to ten gallons a day. At the same time, food rations
were cut in half again. Also at this time, Gen. Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that a platoon of
tanks be sent to Corregidor.
The Japanese lunched an all out attack on April 3 and broke through the east side of
the main defensive line on Bataan. On April 7, the 57th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, supported by tanks,
attempted to restore the line, but Japanese infiltrators prevented this from happening. During this
action, one tank was knocked out but the remaining tanks successfully withdrew. C Company, 194th, which
was attached to the 192nd, had only seven tanks left.
The tanks became a favorite target of the Japanese receiving fire on trails and while
hidden in the jungle. and could not fight back. The situation was so bad that other troops avoided being
near the tanks, and the 26th Cavalry turned down a tank company's offer of assistance in a counter-attack.
It was the evening of April 8 that Gen. Edward P. King decided that further resistance
was futile, since approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to fight, and he estimated they would last
one more day. In addition, he had over 6,000 troops who sick or wounded and 40,000 civilians who he
feared would be massacred. At 10:30 that night, he sent his staff officers to negotiate surrender terms.
Tank battalion commanders received this order
: "You will make plans, to be communicated to company commanders only, and be prepared to destroy
within one hour after receipt by radio, or other means, of the word 'CRASH', all tanks and combat
vehicles, arms, ammunition, gas, and radios: reserving sufficient trucks to close to rear echelons as soon as
During this time the Prisoners of War remained in their bivouac. One day, Charles
watched two Americans go to a rocky precipice. Both men took off their watches and smashed them under
their boots. Then, they shook hands. They held hands as they jumped to their deaths.
The members of C Company remained where they were for two days. They then made their
way to Mariveles
The soldiers attempted to hide rice and other food on themselves, but the Japanese searched them and
threw it on the ground.
Next, Charles and the other POWs were ordered to move to a school yard where they were
made to kneel in the sun without food or water. They soon realized that behind them was Japanese artillery
firing on Corregidor. The American guns on the island began returning fire. Shells from the
American guns began landing among the POWs. The men had no place to hide and several were killed.
Three of the four Japanese guns were also destroyed.
It was from Mariveles, late in the afternoon, that Charles began what would later become
known as the Bataan Death March. The first night the POWs were marched all night.
The first place that they were allowed to stop was near a Japanese machinegun nest. Corregidor
was shelling the area and several of the shells landed among the POWs killing them.
What Charles remembered about the march was the thirst that he had. To keep
moisture in his mouth, he kept a small pebble in his mouth. To make sure that the prisoners could not get
water, the Japanese took away the POWs' canteen cups. The Japanese also would make a show of drinking
water from the artesian wells and splashed in it to torment the prisoners.
Some POWs began drinking water from the hollows that water buffalos were
laying. They very quickly developed dysentery. Although he was thirsty, Charles waited for the
Japanese to give out water.
Hunger was another enemy facing the POWs. Some men became so desperate for food
that they ran into the sugarcane fields to get food. Charles saw many men shot attempting to get a piece
of sugarcane to eat.
When Charles reached San Fernando, he and the other prisoners were packed into small
. Each car could hold forty men; 100 men were put into each car. They were packed in so tight that the
dead remained standing until the living jumped out of the cars at Capas. From there
, the POWs walked the last eight kilometers to Camp O'Donnell which was an unfinished Filipino Army
Training Base that the Japanese pressed into use as a POW camp on April 1, 1942.
When they arrived at the camp, the Japanese confiscated any extra clothing that the POWs had and refused to
return it to them. They searched the POWs and if a man was found to have Japanese money on them, they were
taken to the guardhouse. Over the next several days, gunshots were heard to the southeast of the
camp. These POWs had been executed for looting.
There was only one water faucet in the camp, and the prisoners stood in line from two to
eight hours waiting for a drink. The Japanese guards at the faucet would turn it off for no reason and the
next man in line would stand as long as four hours waiting for it to be turned on again. This situation
improved when a second faucet was added.
There was no water for washing clothes, so the POWs would throw out their clothing when it
had been soiled. In addition, water for cooking had to be carried three miles from a river to the camp and
mess kits could not be washed. The slit trenches in the camp were inadequate and were soon overflowing
since most of the POWs had dysentery. The result was that flies were everywhere in the camp including the
POW kitchens and in the food.
The camp hospital had no soap, water, or disinfectant. When the ranking American
doctor at the camp wrote a letter to the camp commandant, Capt. Yohio Tsuneyoshi, asking for medical supplies, he
was told never to write another letter.
The Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medical supplies to the camp, the Japanese
commandant refused to allow the truck into the camp. When the Japanese Red Cross sent medical supplies the
camp the Japanese took 95% of the supplies for their own use.
The POWs in the camp hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow and only one of the six medic
assigned to care for 50 sick POWs was healthy enough to care for them. When a representative of the
Philippine Red Cross stated they could supply a 150 bed hospital for the camp, he was slapped in the face by a
Each morning, the bodies of the dead were found all over the camp and were carried to the
hospital and placed underneath it. The bodies lay there for two or three days before they were buried in
the camp cemetery by other POWs who were suffering from dysentery and/or malaria. To clean the ground under
the hospital, the ground was scraped and lime was spread over it. The bodies of the dead were placed in the
area, and the area they had been laying was scrapped and lime was spread over it.
Work details were sent out on a daily basis. Each day, the American doctors gave a
list of names to the Japanese of the POWs who were healthier enough to work. If the quota of POWs needed to
work could not be met, the Japanese put those POWs who were sick, but could walk, to work. The death rate
among the POWs reached 50 men dying a day. To get out of the camp, the POWs volunteered to go out on work
details away from the camp.
Charles went out a work detail to rebuild the bridges that the Americans had destroyed during their withdraw
into the Bataan Peninsula. The detail American commanding officer was Lt. Col. Ted Wickord the commanding
officer of the 192nd.
When the detail ended in September 1942, Charles was sent Cabanatuan
which had been the headquarters of the 91st Philippine Army Division
and was formerly known at Camp Panagaian.
To prevent escapes, the POWs set up a detail that patrolled the fence of the camp.
The reason this was done was that those who did escape and were caught, were tortured before being executed,
while the other POWs were made to watch. It is believed that no POW successfully escaped from the camp.
The POWs were sent out on work details to cut wood for the POW kitchens. Meals on a
daily basis consisted of 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, and sweet potato or corn.
Other POWs worked in rice paddies. Each morning, roll call was taken and it wasn't unusual for the POPs
to be hit over the head as they stood in line. After arriving at the farm, the POWs went into a tool shed
to get their tools. As they left the shed, the guards hit them on their heads. While working in the
fields, the favorite punishment given to the men in the rice paddies was to have their faces pushed into the mud
and stepped on by a guard. Returning from a detail the POWs bought, or were given, medicine, food, and
tobacco, which they somehow managed to get into the camp even though they were searched when they
The camp hospital was composed of 30 wards. The ward for the sickest POWs was known as
"Zero Ward," which got its name because it had been missed when the wards were counted. Each ward
had two tiers of bunks and could hold 45 men but often had as many as 100 men in each. The sickest men
slept on the bottom tier. Charles
remained in the camp until October 1942.
In late September 1942, a POW transfer list was posted at the camp. 800 POWs gathered
at 2:00 A.M. on October 6, and were given rice coffee, lugow rice, and a big rice ball. After eating and
packing their kits, the POWs marched out of the camp at 2:30 A.M. and received two buns as they marched through
the gate to the barrio of Cabanatuan which they reached at 6:00 A.M. There, 50 men were boarded onto each
of the small wooden boxcars waiting for them at about 9:00 A.M. The trip to Manila lasted until 4:00 P.M.
and because of the heat in the cars, many POWs passed out.
From the train station, the men were marched to pier 5 in the Port Area of Manila.
Some of the Filipinos flashed the "V" for victory sign as they made their war to the pier. The
detachment arrived at 5:00 P.M and were tired and hungry and were put in a warehouse on the pier. The
Japanese fed them rice and salted fish and let them eat as much as they wanted. They also were allowed to
Before boarding the ship on October 7, the prisoners were divided into two groups. One
group was placed in the holds while the other group remained on deck. The conditions on the ship, for those
in the holds, were indescribable, and those POWs those on deck were better off. This situation was made
worse by the fact that for the first two weeks of the voyage the prisoners were not fed, which resulted in many
of the POWs dying during the trip.
The ship did not sail until the next day at 10:00 A.M. and passed the ruins of Corregidor
at noon. In addition, there were sick Japanese and soldiers on the ship. That night some POWs slept
in the holds, but a large number slept on the deck. The first day, the POWs were given three small loaves
of bread for meals - which equaled one American loaf of bread - the loaves were suppose to last two days, but
most men ate them in one meal. The men did ration their water. The ship was at sea, when two
torpedoes fired at by an American submarine missed the ship. The ship fired a couple of shots where it
thought the sub was, but these also missed. A while later, the ship passed a mine that had been laid by the
submarine. The POWs were fed bags of buns biscuits, with some candy, and received water daily.
The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on October 11. Since most were sick with
something, the line to use the latrines went around the ship. The American doctors had no medicine to help
the sick, and some were seen as benefiting off the sick. It was at this time that the POWs on the ship, from
Mindanao, were moved to a second hold putting 500 POWs in each hold.
On October 14, food stuffs were loaded onto the ship, and each POW got two candy bags of
hard tack and one meal of rice and soup each day. The ship sailed on October 16 at 7:30 A.M. but turned
around at 3:30 P.M. arriving back at Takao at 10:30 P.M. It was believed the ship had turned around because
American submarines were in the area.
The ship sailed again on October 18 and arrived at the Pescadores Islands at 5:00
P.M.. There it dropped anchor off the Island of Makou, Pescadores Islands, where it remained anchored
until October 27 when it returned to Takao. During this time the quality of food deteriorated and was
barely edible. Two POWs also died and their bodies were thrown into the sea at 4:00 P.M. The
ship sailed again on October 27 and returned to Takao the same day. While it was docked food stuffs were
again loaded onto the ship.
The next day, the POWs were taken ashore and bathed with seawater at the same time the ship
was cleaned. They were again put into the holds and the ship and remained there until the ship sailed on
October 29. At 5:00 P.M. it again arrived at Makou, Pescadores Islands. During this time the POWs
were fed two meals of day of rice and soup. The ship sailed on October 31, as part of a seven ship
convoy. During this part of the voyage, it rode out a typhoon for five days on its way to Fusan,
Korea. On November 3, three more POWs died. On November 5, one of the ships was sunk by an American
submarine and the other ships scattered.
The Tottori Maru arrived at Fusan on November 7, but the 1400 POWs leaving the ship did not
disembark until November 8 and were issued fur lined over coats and new clothing. Those POWs who were too
ill to continue the trip to
, Manchuria, remained behind at Fusan. Those who died were cremated and had their ashes placed in small
white boxes which were sent to Mukden. The 400 POWs who remained on the ship were sent to Japan.
As they marched, the civilians in the town spit on them, hit them, and made fun of the
POWs. The POWs reached a train station where they boarded a train and were given a little box which
contained rice, pickled grasshoppers, and a little fish. They were sent on a two day train trip north.
When they first got there, they lived in dugouts and were later moved to a two story barracks. Each
enlisted POW received two thin blankets to cover themselves with at night. The officers got one blanket and
a mattress. Meals were the same everyday. For breakfast they had cornmeal mush and a bun. Lunch
was maize and beans, and dinner was beans and a bun.
Since they were underfed, the POWs trapped wild dogs to supplement their meals of soy beans
which usually came in the form of soup. They continued to trap dogs until, while marching to work, they saw
one eating a dead Chinese
If a man died, his body was stored in a warehouse until the spring. The first winter
in the camp, two hundred men died.
The prisoners' barracks were unheated, so they rolled themselves up in their two thin blankets like
cigars. They would also sleep near each other to share body heat.
The POWs worked either at a machine shop or a saw mill from 7:30 A.M. until 5:30 or 6:00
P.M. each day. The machine shop never produced anything that was useful to the Japanese. Each
morning, the POWs were marched three miles to the shop where they worked manufacturing weapons for the
Japanese. To prevent the production of weapons, they committed acts of sabotage like pouring sand
into the machine oiling holes. The hard part was to make the sabotage look like it was an accident.
The Japanese usually blamed these acts of sabotage on the Chinese in the plant because they believed the
Americans were not smart enough to commit the sabotage.
Charles recalled that one man escaped from the camp but was recaptured. He was hung
near where the POWs' were fed so that they would see his body as they ate. He
also remembered that if there was a problem with a POW, the Japanese would make the other POWs near the man
punch him in the mouth. They were told that if they refused to hit the man, they would be
He also recalled that the Japanese would line the prisoners up and have them count to a
predetermined number. The men who called the number out, would step forward. These POWs were
marched to a area where they were made to dig their own graves. When they finished, they were shot.
At Mukden, Charles worked doing construction work in three different camps. He also
worked in a textile mill making clothe. The air in the mill was filled with dust and fibers which caused
him and the other POWs to constantly cough and have a hard time breathing while they worked.
Collective punishment was common in the camp. On one occasion, the some POWs in a
barracks were suspected of smuggling cigarettes into their barracks. All the POWs in the camp were forced
out into the cold and snow and made to strip while the Japanese searched for contraband cigarettes that the
prisoners had bought from the Chinese while working in the factories. They stood in the snow barefooted
while the Japanese searched the 700 POWs from the barracks.
Punishment was given for any infraction. Two POWs were knocked out and kicked in the
ribs for violating a camp rule. At other times, the camp's food ration was cut in half because the
Japanese believed a POW was not working as hard as he should have been, or someone had been caught smoking in an
unauthorized area. They would also withhold Red Cross packages.
One of the worse abusers of the POWs was Eiichi Nada who worked in camp finances. He
was born and raised in Berkley, California, until he returned to Japan to attend school. While he was
there, he was inducted into the Army. Nada like to beat the POWs while they were at morning assembly, and
when they fell to the ground, he would scream at them
"Get up, you yellow, white son of a bitch
e was later found guilty of war crimes and sente
nced to 20 years.
A Lt. Mikki liked to enter the barracks and beat the POWs with a 3
foot club he carried.
During his time as a prisoner at Mukden, Charles never was seriously ill, but he did have
five teeth removed with a pair of pliers. There was no medicine to kill the pain. It is known that
there was a Japanese doctor who came to the camp, to treat the POWs, and smuggled medicines into the camp.
If he had been caught, he most likely would have been shot.
The POWs had no real idea of how the war was going, but the local people would tell them
rumors. But what they could see is the American B-29s which began to appear over Mukden. On one
occasion, the planes attempted to bomb a series of ammunition dumps near the camp. One of the bombs landed
in the camp killing 20 POWs. The air raids became more frequent in 1945.
One day the POWs were working when they were told to stop working. It was only noon. This
was the first sign that something was going on. The next morning, Charles believed that it was August 15,
the Japanese commander called the POWs out of their quarters and told them that the camp was being closed that
they were being returned to the main camp. The POWs marched three miles to the camp.
Shortly after the POWs arrived in the camp, American paratroopers were dropped into
Mukden. The men went into the commanding officer's office. They came out sometime later and
told the POWs that the war was over.
A few days later, August 18, 1945, Russian tanks broke down the gate of the camp.
The Russians disarmed the Japanese. They also held a formal surrender ceremony with the liberated POWs as
the guests of honor.
Charles and the other freed POWs were taken to Darien, where he learned that his father was
extremely ill. He was taken by the
to Okinawa, where arrangements were made for him to be returned to the United States as fast as
possible. He was flown home and arrived in Port Clinton on October 4, 1945. He was the first member
of C Company to return home.
Charles visited his father who later died on December 7, 1945. Charles then
returned to Kentucky to be with his wife. He was sent to the Veterans Administration Hospital in
Cambridge, Ohio, for dental problems. He was discharged, from the army, on April 11, 1946. His wife
and him would set up a home in Breckinridge County and later Louisville. He was the father of two
After the war, Charles became a finish carpenter. He was so skilled in his trade that
he built the pedestal that the stature of General George Patton stands on at the
at Fort Knox.
Charles R. Boeshart passed away on December 17, 1998. He was buried in Louisville,