Capt. Arthur V. Burholt was the son of Judson Burholt & Alice E. Conley-Burholt and was born
on September 16, 1908, in Columbus, Ohio. He was the oldest of the couple's three sons. While
he was a child, his father passed away, and his mother would later marry Fred Gottschalk.
Sometime during this period, the family moved to Port Clinton. There, Arthur attended
school and was a 1926 graduate of Port Clinton High School. After high school he attended Michigan State
Normal College and received a degree in 1932.
On February 15, 1933, Arthur joined the Ohio National Guard, he also took a job at Port Clinton High
School where he coached basketball and later became the school's athletic director. On May 1, 1936, he
married Virginia Van Rensselaer. He and his wife resided at 520 East Perry Street in Port Clinton.
On November 23, 1940, he was promoted to second lieutenant. Two days later he was
called to federal duty as a member of C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. He was granted a one year leave of
absence from Port Clinton High School to go with the tank company to Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Arthur trained at Ft. Knox for almost a year. In January of 1941, he was
transferred to Headquarters Company when it was formed from the letter companies of the battalion. It was
also during this time that Arthur was promoted to first lieutenant on May 18, 1941. On July 1, 1941, he was
promoted to captain. He next took part in maneuvers in Louisiana during the later summer of 1941.
At Camp Polk, the battalion learned that they had been selected to go overseas, because of an
event that happened during the summer of 1941. A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf
when one of the pilots - whose plane was lower than the others - noticed something odd. He took his plane
down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and another in the distance. He came upon more buoys that
lined up, in a straight line, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island, hundreds of miles to the northwest,
which had a large radio transmitter. The squadron continued its flight plan and landed in the evening.
Since it was too late to do anything that day, another squadron was sent to the area the next day, but the buoys
had been picked up and a fishing boat was seen making its way to shore. Since communication between the Air
Corps and Navy was poor, no ship was sent to the area to intercept the boat. It was at that time the decision
was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
He was given the job of S-3 or Staff Officer for Operations. Many of the members of the
battalion returned home to say their goodbyes. On October 20 from Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over
different train routes arriving in San Francisco, California, where the soldiers were ferried, on the
U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they were given physicals and inoculated for tropical
diseases by the battalions medical detachment. Those men with major health issues were released from service
and replaced, while others were held back and told they would rejoin the battalion at a later date.
The 192nd was boarded onto the
U.S. A. T. 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, the
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
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, but the fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they
arrived. He remained with the battalion and made sure they received their Thanksgiving Dinner, before he went
and ate 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.
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 192nd was ordered to its position at Clark Field. Their job was to
protect the southern half of the airfield from paratroopers. The 194th Tank Battalion, which had arrived in
September guarded the northern half. Two crew men remained with the tanks at all times and received their
meals from food trucks.
The tank battalions were made aware of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the morning of December 8.
The tank and half track crews were brought up to full strength at the perimeter of Clark Field. All morning
long, the tankers watched as the sky was filled with American planes. At twelve noon, the planes landed, to
be refueled, and the pilots went to lunch.
As the tankers sat at their tanks eating lunch, a formation of 54 planes approached the
airfield from the north. At first, the tankers thought they were American. As they watched, they saw what
fell from the planes. It was when bombs began exploding on the runways that they knew the planes
While Arthur was fighting the Japanese in the Philippines, his wife received several
letters from him. In a letter dated January 17, 1942, he wrote,
"It's been a week since I last wrote to you. I'm still O.K. so don't
worry about me. Keep you chin up and a smile on your face.
"We are putting up a good fight, and if any aid comes to us from home, I'm sure
everything will work out for the best. Lt. Harold Collins has been promoted to captain. I haven't
received any letters from you since November 3, but am writing with the hope that some letters will
"I have no use for money now. There are no places to buy anything and besides
that, there is nothing to buy. About the only use I have for money is paying for washing out
what few clothes I have left.
"I am certainly glad for your sake that the government didn't allow us to
bring our wives. No matter how much I miss you, I still will rather have you safe in the good old
U. S. A. than subjected to the bombings that the people in the Philippines have been subjected to. If
you pray a little extra hard, I'm sure that I will come home.
"Brother Ralph should be plenty busy at Douglas, at least I hope so, because it sure
would be a great sight to see a few American planes come over and give us a lift. Strange as it may seem,
I will want to carry on and continue to make my career the army, so get ready for some good old army post life
when I get back."
In a letter his wife received during the Battle of the Bataan dated January 21, 1942, Arthur wrote
"I can assure you that our outfit is very, very far from being out of action.
We can, and will continue to give the Japs plenty to worry about. All we need is a little additional aid
from the United States, and the government will not have to worry about the Philippines."
Like the other defenders of Bataan, Burholt believed General MacArthur's claim that aid was coming
"Still very much o.k. and still fighting Japs. We are looking forward to the day when aid will
arrive. Keep people back home plugging for increased production and the enlargement of our armed
Arthur also told his wife
"There isn't much I can tell you of what is going on over here, but if you
listen to the San Francisco broadcasts you will get a pretty good picture of where we are and what we are
"Don't pay any attention to the Japanese broadcasts as they have already
reported over the radio three different times that our battalion has been wiped out."
Arthur also talked about events in the U. S
"Somewhere in the Philippines we heard a radio broadcast telling of the planes
crash in which Carol Lombard was killed. Also heard some music which really sounded good after
hearing only planes and artillery fire for such a long time. Too bad about Lombard, but I guess it
must have been her time."
In another letter dated January 28, 1942, he wrote
"Beefy" said "we are still safe. Had a pretty tough week, but everyone came
through o.k. Weather is getting hot, but as a whole, everyone in command is in pretty good physical
"Went to communion in the field this morning and prayed that all of you at
home were o.k. I keep worrying that something will happen to you, or that you are sick and I
would never know anything about it. I'll be back soon so don't worry about me. Keep
praying and I know that I'll come out o.k.
I hear by radio that they really are really expanding the armed force at Sandusky
is good news."
On February 3, 1942, Arthur was sent to the west coast of Bataan as S-3 of
his battalion. His job was to coordinate the tanks in action against the Japanese. He would
remain in the area until February 11. During this time, he commanded the tanks in action after
action against the Japanese at the Anyasan River. The terrain was not suitable for tanks, but through
his efforts the tanks were able to support the troops.
The Japanese launched an all out attack, on April 3, 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.
On April 7, 1942, the Japanese broke through the east side of the main
defensive line on Bataan. C Company was pulled out of their position along the west side of the
line. They were ordered to reinforce the eastern portion of the line. Traveling south to
Mariveles, the tankers started up the eastern road but were unable to reach their assigned area due to
the roads being blocked by retreating Filipino and American forces.
On April 9, 1942, Arthur became a Prisoner of War with the surrender of
Bataan. Arthur and his company were ordered to go to Mariveles at the southern tip of
Bataan. They were allowed to drive their trucks there. When they reached the outskirts of
Mariveles, the POWs were ordered from their trucks and herded into a school yard. They remained
in the school yard for hours.
When ordered to move, Arthur's company went to a open field. They found
themselves in front of Japanese artillery that was firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum. While
Arthur and his men sat there, Corregidor began returning fire. Shells from the American guns began
landing among the POWs. When the barrage ended, three of the four Japanese guns had been knocked
The men were ordered to move again and had no idea that they had begun the death
march. Like the other prisoners, Arthur went days without food and water. The death march
had one lasting effect on Arthur, that effect was that his hair turned completely gray. It is
known, that at one point on the march, he collapsed from exhaustion and fell to the ground. Two
members of his company, Pvt. Lacey Prater and Cpl. Charles Everett, carried him between them for nine
kilometers so he could regain his strength.
At San Fernando, Arthur and the other POWs were packed into small boxcars used
for hauling sugarcane. 100 POWs were packed into each car. Those who died remained standing
until the living climbed out of the cars at Capas. From this barrio, he made his way to Camp
Camp O'Donnell which was an unfinished Filipino Army Training Base that
the Japanese pressed the camp 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. When 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 Japanese lieutenant.
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.
While a prisoner, Arthur was credited with saving the life of Pvt. Charles
Chaffin who was suffering from a bad case of malaria. Arthur somehow got him the quinine that
saved his life.
When Cabanatuan #1 was opened, Arthur he remained behind at Camp O'Donnell
for a month and half. It is believed he was too ill to be moved. After he recovered, he was
sent to 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.
Meals on a daily basis consisted of 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of
vegetable oil, and sweet potato or corn. Since the POWs were underfed, many became ill and died
The POWs were sent out on work details to cut wood for the POW kitchens.
Other POWs worked in rice paddies. Each morning, 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 to drive their faces deeper into the
mud. 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 returned.
The barracks used by the POWs were built to hold 50 POWs, but the Japanese put
from 60 to 120 POWs in each one. There no shower facilities and the POWs slept on bamboo
strips. In addition no bedding, covers, or mosquito netting was provided which resulted in many
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 and died because their bodies were so
malnourished that they could not fight the diseases the men had.
In the camp, he and Capt. Harold Collins are credited with organizing plays for the men
to see and take part in as actors. These shows allowed the POWs an escape from the misery of
their daily lives.
Arthur next went on a work detail to Camp McKinley on December 12, 1942, where
they appeared to collect junk, left from the fighting, as scrap metal. From there, on January 21,
1943, the POWs were sent to Nielson Airfield to build runways. During the time at the
airfield, the POWs leveled the ground and received frequent beatings with pick handles. They also
received beatings with iron bars, bayonets, and clubs. When a rule was violated, the POWs stood
at attention from six to nine hours. They also were made to do pushups and to stay on their hands
and toes for long periods of time. If none of these was done to them, they had heavy weights hung
from their ears.
The detail again moved, on October 25, 1943, and sent to Camp Murphy to build more
runways. But, it appears that Burholt remained at Nielson Field into 1944. He may have been
in a POW detachment finishing up the work at the airfield.
Medical records indicate that Burholt was admitted to the medical ward at Bilibid
Prison on May 20, 1944, suffering from a cyst in his mouth. He remained in the ward until he was
discharged on June 15 and sent to Cabanatuan.
In late 1944, as American forces approached the Philippines, Arthur was sent
to Bilibid Prison. During his time as a POW, Arthur became close friends with Fr. Mathias Zerfas
an American Army Chaplain from Twin Lakes, Wisconsin.
Bilibid Prison was the processing center for POWs being
sent to Japan or other occupied countries. He was given a physical and declared healthy enough to
be sent to Japan. On December 7th, the Japanese gave orders to the medical staff at Bilibid to
make a list of POWs healthy enough to survive a trip to Japan. Arthur's name was put on the
On December 12, 1944, roll call was taken and the names of the men selected for
transport to Japan were called. Arthur's name was on this list. At 4:00 a.m. the morning
of December 13, the POWs were awakened for roll call. At 7:00 A.M. they lined up and their names
were checked on rosters. This took almost two hours. After roll call, the POWs were allowed
to roam the facility.
At 11:30 A.M., the POWs were assembled, formed into detachments of 100 men, and
marched to Pier 7 in Manila. Marching through the city, they could see the destruction done by the
attacks done by American planes. When they reached the harbor, they saw hulks of ships that had
been strafed and bombed. After arriving at the pier, the POWs were allowed to sit down and did not
board the ship until 5:00 P.M.
The high ranking officers were the first put into the ship's aft
hold. Being the first on meant that they would suffer many deaths. Around the perimeter
of the hold were two tiers of bunks for the POWs. The heat was so bad that men soon began to
pass out. One survivor said
"The fist fights began when men to pass out. We knew that only the
front men in bay would be able to get enough air." The POWs who were closer to
the hatch used anything they could find to fan air toward those further away from it.
The ship sailed as part of the MATA-37.
Inside the holds, the temperature was near 100
degrees. The cries for air began as the men lost discipline, so the Japanese threatened to
cover the holds and cut off all air. After the ship sailed, the POWs could tell they were in
open water from the wave swells.
The ships sailed for Subic Bay to pick up Japanese
civilians and reached the bay at 2:30 in the morning.
At 10:00 P.M., the Japanese interpreter threatened to
have the guards fire into the holds unless the POWs stopped screaming. Some of the POWs fell silent
because they were exhausted, and others because they had died. One major of the 26th Cavalry stated
the man next to him had lost his mind. Recalling the conversation he had with the man he said
"Worst was the man who had gone mad but would not sit still. One kept
pestering me, pushing a mess kit against my chest, saying, 'Have some of this chow? It's
good.' I smelled of it, it was not chow. 'All right'
, 'If you don't want it. I'm going to eat it.' And a little later I heard him eating
it , right beside me."
The Japanese covered the holds and would not allow the slop buckets to be taken out of
the holds. Those POWs who were left holding the buckets at first asked for someone else to hold it for
awhile. When that did not work, they dumped the buckets on the men around them.
As light began to enter the hold as morning came, the POWs could see men who were in
stupors, men out of their minds, and men who had died. The POWs in the aft hold which also had a
sub-hold, put the POWs who out of their minds into it.
On the side of the holds, water had condensed on the walls so the POWs tried to
scrap it off the wall for a drink. The Japanese did allow men who had passed out to be put on deck, but
as soon as they revived they went back into the holds. The Japanese would not allow the bodies of the
men who had died to be removed from the holds.
The POWs received their first meal at dawn. Meals on the ship consisted of a
little rice, fish, some water, and three fourths of a cup of water was shared by 20 POWs. It was 8:00
A.M., off the coast of Luzon, and the POWs had just finished eating breakfast when they heard the sound of
guns. At first, they thought the gun crews were just drilling, because they had not heard any
planes. It was only when the first bomb hit in the water and the ship shook that they knew it was not a
At first it seemed that most of the planes were attacking the other ships in
the convoy. Commander Frank Bridgit, had made his way to the top of the ladder into the hold and sat
down. He gave the POWs a play by play of the planes attacking
"I can see two planes going for a freighter off our starboard side. Now two
more are detached from the formation. I think they may be coming for us."
The POWs heard the change in the sound of the planes' engines as they began
their dives toward the ships in the convoy. Several more bombs hit the water near the ship causing it
to rock Explosions were taking place all around the ship. In an attempt to protect themselves,
the POWs piled baggage in front of them. Bullets from the planes were ricocheted in the hold causing
many casualties. .
Lt. Col. Elvin Barr of the 60th Coast Artillery came up to Maj, John Fowler of the
26th Cavalry on the cargo deck and said
"There's a hole knocked in the bulkheads down there. Between 30 and 40
men have already died down there.
" Barr would never reach Japan. The attack by 30 to 50 planes
lasted for about 20 to 30 minutes. When the planes were ran out of bombs they strafed.
Afterwards, the planes flew off, returning to their carrier, and there was a lull of about 20 to 30 minutes
before the next squadron of planes appeared over the ships and resumed the attack. This pattern
repeated itself over and over during the day.
In the hold, the POWs concluded that the attacking planes were concentrating on the
bridge of the ship. They noted that the planes had taken out all the anti-aircraft guns leaving only
.30 caliber machine guns to defend the ship.
At 4:30 P.M., the ship went through the worse attack on it. It was hit at
least three times by bombs on its bridge and stern. Most of the POWs, who were wounded, were wounded by
ricocheting bullets and shrapnel from exploding bombs. During the attack Chaplain Cummings, a Catholic
priest, led the POWs in the Our Father. As they prayed, the bombs that exploded near the ship sent
torrents of water over the ship. Bullets from the planes hit the metal plates, of the haul, at an angle
that prevented most of them from penetrating the haul. Somewhere on the ship a fire started, but it was
put out after several hours. The POWs lived through seven or eight attacks before sunset.
Overall, six bombs hit the ship. One hit the stern of the ship killing many POWs.
At dusk the ship raised anchor and headed east. It turned south and turned
again this time heading west. The next turn it made was north. It headed in this direction for a good
amount of time before dropping anchor at about 8:00 P.M. The POWs figured out that they had just sailed
in a circle. What had happened is that the ship's had been hit during the attack and the ship could
not be steered.
Sometime after midnight, the POWs heard the sound of the Japanese civilians being
evacuated from the ship. During the night, the POW medics were ordered onto the deck to treat the
Japanese wounded. One medic recalled that the dead, dying, and wounded were everywhere.
The ship reached Subic Bay at 2:30 in the morning and steamed closer to the beach
where its anchor was dropped. At 4:00 A.M., the POWs were told that they would disembark at daybreak at
a pier. The moaning and muttering of POWs who were losing their minds kept the POWs up all night.
That night 25 POWs died in the hold.
At 4:00 A.M., the Japanese interpreter yelled into the hold that in
two or three hours, the ship would dock at the pier and the POWs would be taken ashore. When daylight
came, the interpreter shouted that the first 35 men would be taken ashore. Suddenly, he looked up and
"Planes, many planes!"
As the POWs were abandoning ship the planes returned and continued the attack. The ship
bounced in the water from the explosions. Chief Boatswain Clarence M. Taylor who was in the water
"I saw the whole thing. A bomb fall, hit near the stern hatch, and debris go
flying up in the air."
In the hold, the POWs crowded together. Chips of rust fell on them
from the ceiling. After the raid, they took care of the wounded before the next attack started.
In the hold a Catholic priest, Father Duffy, began to pray
"Father forgive them. They know not what they do."
The Japanese guards and interpreter had abandoned ship, but the ship's captain
remained on board. He told the POWs - with his limited English - that they needed to get off the ship
to safety. The POWs made their way over the side and into the water. As they swam to shore, the
Japanese fired at them, with machine guns, to prevent them from escaping.
Four of the planes flew low over the water above the POWs. The POWs waved
frantically at the planes so they would not be strafed. The planes banked and flew lower over the
POWs. This time the pilots dipped their wings to show that they knew the men in the water were
Americans. About a half hour later, the ship began to really burn and the bodies of the dead could be
seen on the decks.
The Japanese sent out a motorboat with a machine gun and snipers on it. The
POWs attempting to escape were hunted down and shot. It is believed as many as 30 men died in the
There was no real beach, so the POWs climbed up on a seawall and found the the
Japanese Naval Landing Party had set up a machine gun and had just laid flat to rest when the gun opened up
on them. Those who came ashore were warned to stay in the water, but only did so when one man climbed
up on the seawall and was wounded. There were also Japanese snipers in wait to shoot anyone who
attempted to escape.
The POWs were gathered together and marched to the tennis court at Olongapo Naval
Station which was about 500 yards from the beach. The surviving POWs were herded onto a tennis court.
When roll was taken, it was discovered that 329 of the 1,619 POWs had been killed during the attack.
While they were sitting there, four American planes flew over looking the men over. The planes
circled and three dipped their wings to the men.
The Japanese packed 1300 of the POWs on the court with 100
wounded POWs taking up a great amount of room at one end. They could barely sit down and only lay
down by lying partially on another man. During this time, the POWs were not fed but did receive
While the POWs were at Olongapo, a Japanese officer, Lt. Junsaburo Toshio,
told the ranking American officer, Lt. Col. E. Carl Engelhart, that those too badly wounded to
continue the trip would be returned to Bilibd. Fifteen men were selected and loaded onto a
truck. They were taken into the mountains and never seen again.
The POWs remained on the tennis court for nine days. During
their time on the courts, American planes attacked the area around them. The men
watched as the fighter bombers came in vertically releasing bombs as they pulled out of the
dives. On several occasions, the planes dove right at the POWs, dropped their bombs,
and pulled out. The bombs drifted over the POWs and landed away from them exploding
Since the POWs had no place to hide, they watched and enjoyed the show.
They believed that the pilots knew they were Americans but had no way of knowing if this was
true. But what is known is that not one bomb was dropped on them even though they could be seen
from the planes.
The evening of December 16, the Japanese brought 50 kilo bags of rice
for the POWs. About half of the rice had fallen out of the bags because of holes.
Each POW was given three spoons of raw rice, and a quarter of a spoon of salt.
At about 8:00 AM on the morning of December 22, 22 trucks arrived at the
tennis court. Rumors flew on where they were going to be taken. At about 4:00 PM, a Taiwanese guard
told the POWs, in broken English
"No go Cabanatuan. Go Manila; maybe Bilibid."
The guard knew as little as the POWs.
On December 21, the POWs were taken by truck to San Fernando, Pampanga, arriving
there about four or five in the afternoon. Once there, they were put in a movie theater which the
POWs saw as a dungeon since it was pitch black.
During their time at San Fernando,
Pampanga, the POWs lived through several air raids.
The reason for the air raids was the barrio was military headquarters for the area. Most
of the civilians had been moved out of the barrio. Many of the Americans began to believe
they had been taken there so that they would be killed by their own countrymen.
December 23, at about 10:00 PM, the Japanese interpreter came and spoke to the
ranking American officer about moving the POWs. The Japanese loaded the seriously ill POWs into a
truck. Those remaining behind believed they were taken to Bilibid. The remaining POWs were moved to
a trade school building in the barrio.
After 10:00 AM on December 24, the POWs were taken to the train station. The
POWs saw that the station had been hit by bombings and that the cars they were to board had bullet holes in
them from strafing. 180 to 200 were packed into steel boxcars with four guards. The doors of the
boxcars were kept closed and the heat in the cars was terrible. Ten to fifteen POWs rode on the roofs of
the cars along with two guards. The guards told these POWs that it was okay to wave to the American
On December 25, the POWs disembarked at San Fernando, La Union, at 2:00 AM.
They walked two kilometers to a school yard on the southern outskirts of the barrio and were held, in a school
house, from December 25 and 26. The morning of December 26, the POWs were marched to a beach. During
this time the prisoners were allowed one handful of rice and a canteen of water. The heat from the sun was
so bad that men drank seawater. Many of those men died.
The POWs, on December 27, were marched to the wharf. Once there, they jumped into
barges and were ferried to two ships.
Arthur and the other POWs were put on either the
Brazil Maru or the
Enoura Maru. The ship arrived safely at Formosa arriving there on December 31st. During the
time at Takao. Formosa, the POWs remained in the holds. From January 1st through the 5th, they received one
meal a day and not enough water. On January 6th, all the POWs were put on the
Enoura Maru and their meals were increased to two a day.
The morning of January 9th the POWs were eating their first meal
when the machine guns on the ship began to fire. Bombs began exploding in the water
around the ship resulting in the ship rocking from the explosions. The bombs continued to fall
closer and closer to the ship until it was hit.
One bomb exploded in the corner of the forward hold killing 285 POWs.
Arthur was wounded during the attack by the fighter-planes. One wound damaged his spine resulting in his
being unable to walk.
The Japanese left the dead in the holds of the ship until January
11th. At that time a POW detail was formed and the corpses of 150 POWs were removed from the ship on a
barge and taken to shore. The POWs assigned to this detail were to weak to lift the bodies, so ropes were
tied to their legs and the bodies were dragged to shore and buried in a mass grave on the beach. Later on
the same day, the POWs from the forward hold were moved to another hold.
On January 13, the POWs were transferred to the
. For the first time, the POWs found they had room and mats to sleep on. The POWs also were
issued life jackets. On January 15, the ship sailed for Japan.
According to another POW, Pfc. Roland Stickney, who was on the ship, sometime after the
ship sailed for Japan, Arthur was taken to the back of the hold by other officers and left to die. Stickney
had a great deal of contempt for these officers, because while Arthur laid on the floor of the hold, they
stripped him of his clothing. When he was found by Stickney a few days later, he was naked and near
death. Capt. Arthur V. Burholt died of his wounds in the hold of the ship. He was 36 years old.
After he died, his body was thrown into the sea.
On February 23, 1945, Virginia Burholt was notified that her husband had posthumously
been awarded the Silver Star for his actions at the Anyasan River during the Battle of Bataan. His wife had
joined the WACs and held the rank of captain.
After the war, Arthur's family had a headstone placed in Riverview Cemetery in Port
Clinton in memory of him. His name also appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military
Cemetery at Manila.