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. His
mother would later marry Fred Gottschalk.
Sometime during this period, the family moved to
Port Clinton. There, Arthur attended
school. He was a 1926 graduate of Port Clinton
High School and a 1932 graduate of Michigan State
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,
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
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 U.S.S.
Louisville 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 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, 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.
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 looked like "rain
drops" fell from the planes. It
was when bombs began exploding on the runways that
they knew the planes were Japanese.
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
"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 arrive.
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
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
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
In another letter dated January 28, 1942, he
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 condition.
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
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.
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
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 out.
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 O'Donnell.
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
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
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
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 of
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
ships sailed for Subic Bay to pick up Japanese
civilians and reached the bay at 2:30 in the
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' he said, 'If you
don't want it. I'm going to eat it.' And a
little later I heard him eating it , right
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
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 drill.
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
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
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 shouted "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 said, "I saw
the whole thing. A bomb fall, hit near the
stern hatch, and debris go flying up in
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,
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 water.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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 planes.
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
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.
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 Brazil Maru.
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.