Pfc. John D. Brown

Born: 9 December 1918 - Hancock County, Kentucky

Parents: Ivory & Anna Brown

    - parents divorced after 1925

Siblings: 1 sister

Hometown: Lewisport, Kentucky

Education: completed grade school

Occupation: farmer


    - U. S. Army

        - 1941


    - 19th Ordnance Battalion

    - 17th Ordnance Company

        - A Company of 19th ordnance deactivated.

         - reactivated as 17th Ordnance Company 


    - Fort Knox, Kentucky

Note: On August 15, 1941, orders were issued to the company, 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, with a large radio transmitter, hundred of miles away.  The squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field.  By the time the planes landed, 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:
    - Arrived: Ft. Mason, San Francisco, California
        - ferried to Ft. McDowell, Angel Island on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
        - given physicals and inoculations
        - men with medical conditions replaced
    - Ship: U.S.S. President 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 the heavy cruiser - U.S.S. Astoria and an unknown destroyer
                - smoke seen on horizon several times
                -  cruiser intercepted ships
        - Arrived: Manila - Friday - 26 September 1941
            - disembark ship - 3:00 P.M.
            - taken by bus to Fort Stostenburg
            - maintenance section with 17th ordnance remained behind to unload the tanks and reattached turrets
                -27 September 1941 - job completed at 9:00 A.M.


    - Battle of the Philippines

        - 8 December 1942 - 6 January 1942

    - Battle of Bataan

        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942

Prisoner of War:

    - 9 April 1941

        - Death March

            - POWs started march at Mariveles on the southern tip of Bataan
            - POWs ran past Japanese artillery shelling Corregidor
                - American artillery returned fire
            - San Fernando - POWs put in small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane
                - each boxcar could hold eight horses of forty men
                - 100 POWs were packed into each boxcar
                - POWs who died remained standing
            - Capas - POWs left boxcars - those who died fall out of boxcars
            - POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell

POW Camps:

    - Philippine Islands:

        - Camp O'Donnell

            - unfinished Filipino training base
            - Japanese put camp into use as a POW camp
            - there was only one water spigot for the entire camp
            - as many as 50 POWs died each day
            - the Japanese opened a new camp, at Cabanatuan, 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
                - arrived at Cabanatuan

        - Cabanatuan
            - Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
                - Japanese put base into use as POW camp
            - "Blood Brother" rule implemented
                - if one POW in the group of 10 escaped, the other nine would be killed
            - work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens
                - many were able to smuggle in medicine, food, and tobacco
            - men who attempted to escape and caught were executed
            - daily POW meal - 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn

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 or Naruo POW camp
            - transferred from camp

        - Nagoya #9-B
            - 16 July 1944 - transferred to camp

                - Camp had a ten foot fence around it
            - Work:
                - POWs worked as stevedores on docks loading and unloading ships
                - work day went form 7:00 6:30 P.M.
                - 1 hour for lunch and two half hour breaks
                - when docks were busy, 100 POWs returned at 8:00 P.M. and worked to midnight or 4:00 A.M.
                - 100 POWs worked in the camp garden

            - Barracks:
                - 100 feet long by 24 feet wide
                - two tiers of platforms around the perimeter for sleeping

                    - POWs slept on straw mats
                - eight foot wide aisle down the middle of barracks
                - floors were dirt

            - Meals:
                - six POWs assigned to kitchen

                - primarily rice, wheat, and soybeans

                - sometimes vegetables like onions or daikons a Japanese beet
                - fish that was fried or in a soup
            - Clothing:
                - provided by Japanese Army
                - many POWs wore Japanese Army uniforms and the traditional Japanese shoe, the geta

                    - those who still had GI shoes were given leather to repair them
            - Work Clothes: straw shoes, hats, raincoats that were used at work
            - Work:
                - most of the POWs walked three quarters of a mile and worked on the docks loading and unloading coal, rice, and beans
                - worked from 7:30 A.M. until 6:30 P.M.
                    - received a hour lunch and two half hour breaks
                    - when the port was extremely busy, 100 POWs worked from 8:00 P.M. until midnight or 4:00 A.M.
            - Punishment:
                - collective punishment practiced toward the POWs
                - usually involved stealing rice or beans at docks
                - on occasion, the POWs were denied coal, duing the winter, for 7 days because one POW broke a rule
                - on another occasion, 15 POWs were accused of stealing rice from sacks they were unloading from a ship
                - when they returned to camp, they were forced to kneel fro 1 to five hours to get them to confess
                - six of the fifteen men confessed and the remainder were fed and sent to the barracks
                - when the camp commandant left at 8:00 P.M. the men sent to their barracks were called outisde
                - they were ordered to stand at attention and were beaten with pick axe handles, rope, that was about 3 inches round and 5 feet long,
                  clubs, and farrison belts across their buttocks, faces, and legs

                    - one POW said he was hit 150 times on his face and 20 times on his buttocks
                - POWs often were kicked with  hobnailed boots
               - POWs who passed out were thrown into a large tub of water - with their hands and feet bound - or they had water poured on them
                  to revive them
                    - when they were revived, they were beaten again
            - Red Cross Boxes:
                - the Japanese misappropriated the canned meats, canned fruits, cigarettes, medicine and medical supplies
                    - also used Red Cross clothing and shoes
            - Hospital:
                - 42 foot long by 24 wide area at the end of barracks was walled off to create one
                    - had beds for 20 patients
                    - on average 100 POWs were sick each day
                - American doctor, four American medics, and a Japanese medical technician

                    - American doctor was a dentist

                    -pneumonia killed many POWs

                    - men suffering from dysentery and diarrhea not considered ill and had to work
                    - beaten with shovels to get them to work
                    - meal rations cut
                    - 16 August 1945 - all medical records destroyed

            - Burials:
                - bodies put in a 4 foot square by two foot tall wooden box with handles
                - carried to crematorium behind a Buddhist priest, wearing white and gold robes, from the local village
                - ashes returned to camp in 4 inch square by 12 inch high wooden box

                - man's name and serial number on the box
                - given to camp commandant who kept it in his office


    - September 1945
        - returned to the Philippine Islands

Promoted: Staff Sergeant
    - U.S.S. Joseph T. Dychman
        - Sailed: Manila - not known
        - Arrived: San Francisco - 16 October 1945


     - 31 January 1978


    - Owensboro Memorial Gardens - Owensboro, Kentucky 



Return to 17th Ordnance