Capt. Edward Louis Burke


Born: 19 September 1914 - Brainerd, Minnesota

Parents: Patrick J. Burke & Anne Gresbeck-Burke

Siblings: 4 brothers, 1 sister

Hometown: 1007 Grove Street - Brainerd, Minnesota
Education: high school graduate

    - St. Paul College of Law
        - two years of college

        - worked as a process server while in school
    - left school to help support his family

Enlisted:

    - Minnesota National Guard

        - 10 June 1936 - rose in rank from private to first sergeant

        - 30 June 1940 - resigned from National Guard as an enlisted man

        - 1 July 1940 - Second Lieutenant
Married: Rachel Pernina Oliver - 30 September 1937
    - Children: 1 daughter, 1 son
        - after war the couple had 2 additional daughters and 2 additional sons

Inducted: 

    - U. S. Army

        - 10 February 1941 - Brainerd, Minnesota
            - remained at armory until 19 February 1941
            - marched to Northern Pacific Train Station
            - 12:19 A.M. - 20 February 1941 - board train for Fort Lewis, Washington
                - company had two tanks, one reconnaissance car, and six trucks

Training: 

    - Ft. Lewis, Washington

        Note: When Maj. Miller was made Commanding Officer of the

                   194th, Edward Burke commanded A Company as a First Lieutenant - 10 February 1941

Unit: 

    - 194th Tank Battalion

        - A Company commanding officer
Note: On August 15, 1941, orders were issued, to the battalion, 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:

    - Battalion took train to Ft. Mason in San Francisco

         - ferried, on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island
    - Ship: S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
        - Boarded: Monday - 8 September 1941 - 3:00 P.M.
        - Sailed: 9:00 P.M. - same day
        - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Saturday - 13 September 1941 - 7:00 A.M.
        - Sailed: 5:00 P.M. - same day

            - took southern route away from main shipping lanes

            - escorted by U.S.S. Astoria - heavy cruiser and an unknown destroyer
                - several times smoke from unknown ships seen on horizon

                - intercepted ships from friendly countries
        - Arrived: Manila - Friday - 26 September 1941
            - disembarked ship - 3:00 P.M.
            - taken by bus to Fort Stostenburg
    - Ft. Stostenburg, Philippines
        - lived in tents until barracks completed - 15 November 1941

Engagements: 

    - Battle of Luzon

        - 8 December 1941 - 6 January 1942

            - 8 December 1942 - Clark Field
                - Burke and his driver had gone to Mass

                    - it was a Catholic feast day
                    - they were returning to their quarters when the attack took place
                    - both men jumped out of their peep (jeep) and dove into a ditch

                - during the Japanese attack on the airfield, Burke was wounded in his left buttocks above his leg 

                - taken to the hospital
                - medical officer wanted to send him to Australia
                    - he responded, " My men need me, I can command a tank standing up"

                - He returned to his company the same day stating the hospital was overcrowded with soldiers who were more seriously wounded

                    - in his own words, "They had too much to do at the hospital."

                - after the attack on Clark Field, the battalion was ordered to barrio of San Joaquin on the Malolos Road 

                - 10 December 1941
                    - battalion sent to Mabalcat
                    - C Company was sent to Southern Luzon to support troops
                - 12 December 1941
                    - moved to new bivouac south to San Fernando near Calumpit Bridge
                        - arrived 6:00 A.M.
                - 14 December 1941
                    - A Co. & D Co., 192nd moved to just north of Muntinlupa
                - 15 December 1941
                    - received 15 Bren gun carriers
                    - turned some over to 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts
                    - Bren gun carriers used to test ground to see if it could support tanks
                - 22 December 1941
                    - sent to Rosario
                        - west and north of the of barrio
                        - ordered out of the 71st Division Commander
                            - said they would hinder the cavalry's operation
                - 22/23 December 1941
                    - operating north of Agno River
                    - main bridge at Carmen bombed
                - 24 December 1941
                    - operating in Hacienda Road area

                    - promoted: captain
                - 25 December 1942
                    - at the Agnoo River
                        - walking on road inspecting tanks
                        - fired on by Japanese
                        - severely wounded

                            - Lt. Harold Costigan saw him hit and saw the blood and flash fly
                        - Ed was thrown into a ditch

                            - he had suffered four separate wounds

                            - a ricochet bullet had torn into his left shoulder

                            - a bullet was embedded into each of his feet

                            - another bullet chipped a vertebra temporarily paralyzing him
                                - he could not answer the men who were searching for him and calling to him 

                            - lay in the ditch for almost 24 hours
                            - captured by Japanese the next evening as they came through mopping up the area
                                - although he still could not move, they beat him with bamboo poles

Prisoner of War: 

     - 27 December 1941
        - taken to the Pasay School

            - other POWs were being held there
            - drank as much water as the Japanese gave him since he had lost a lot of blood
            - his clothing, including boots were cut off him since they were caked in blood
            - Major Bob Beason cared for Ed
                - dressed Ed's wounds everyday
                - washed the soiled dressings and hung them to dry so they could be used again
                - Ed credited Beason with saving his life
                - the two men would remain together their entire time as POWs

         - Japanese officer ordered his troops not to harm him because he had shown he

            was not afraid to die

    - New Years Day

        - lay naked on a concrete floor shivering in the night in the cold with his teeth chattering

        - someone covered him in a tablecloth decorated with poinsettias
            - he managed to tear the tablecloth with his good arm and made himself a pair of shorts

            - he found humor in the fact that each cheek of his buttocks had a poinsettia on it

        - when asked if he thought he was going to die, he said, "Oh no. I knew I WASN'T going to die."

        - when asked how he knew this, he said, "I made the Novena of Nine First Fridays as a grade-schooler, and I knew I would not be
          allowed to die without the presence of a priest . "

    - wife learned he was a POW - 14 December 1942

POW Camps:

    - Philippines:

        - Unknown  

        - Cabanatuan
        - original name: Camp Panagaian
            - Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
                - actually three camps
                    - Camp 1: POWs from death march and Camp O'Donnell
                    - Camp 2:  four miles away
                        - all POWs moved from there because of a lack of water
                        - later used for Naval POWs
                    - Camp 3: six miles from Camp 2
                        - POWs from Corregidor and from hospitals sent there
                            - POWs later moved to Camp 1
           - Camp 1:
                - work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens, plant rice, and farm
                - when POWs lined up for roll call, it was a common practice for Japanese guards, after the POWs lined up, to kick the POWs in
                  their shins with their hobnailed boots
                    - they also were frequently hit with a pick handle, for no reason, as they counted off
                - POWs on the rice planting detail were punished by having their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on
                - the POWs had to go into a shed to get the tools, as they came out, they were hit on their heads
                - if the guards on the detail decided the POW wasn't doing what he should be doing, he was beaten
                - many POWs on details were able to smuggle in medicine, food, and tobacco into the camp
            - to prevent escapes, the POWs set up patrols along the camp's fence
            - men who attempted to escape and caught were executed after being beaten
                - the other POWs were forced to watch the beatings
            - daily POW meal - 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
        - Camp Hospital:
            - 30 Wards
                - each ward could hold 40 men
                    - frequently had 100 men in each
               - two tiers of bunks
                   - sickest POWs on bottom tier
               - each POW had a 2 foot by 6 foot area to lie in
            - Zero Ward
              - given name because it had been missed when counting wards
              - became ward where those who were going to die were sent
              - fenced off from other wards
                  - Japanese guards would not go near it
                 - POWs sent there had little to no chance of surviving
Transfer:
    - 1 November 1942
        - 1500 POW names drawn by Japanese
            - POWs selected were sent to Japan
            - POWs never were told this, they figured it out on their own
    - 5 November 1942
        - 3:00 A.M. - POWs left camp and marched to the Barrio of Cabanatuan
            - before they left camp, they were given their breakfast to take with them
                - rice and what the Japanese called a "large piece of meat"
                - the piece of meat was two inches square and a quarter inch thick
                    - it was large compared to a piece of meat they usually received
            - boarded train
                - 98 POWs were put into each car
                - the POWs could move if they worked together
            - rode train to Manila
                - arrived at 5:00 P.M.
            - marched to Pier 7
                - slept on a concrete floor inside a building

Hell Ship: 

   - Nagato Maru
        - Boarded: Manila - 6 November 1942 - 5:00 P.M.
            - Japanese attempted to put 600 POWs into one hold
                - settled for somewhere between 550 and 560
                - 9 POWs had to share a 4 foot, 9 inch, by 6 foot, 2 inch, space
                    - to sit, POWs had to draw their knees under their chins
        - Sailed: 7 November 1942
            - two latrines were suppose to service 1500 POWs
                - the POWs had to stand in line to use them
                - extremely sick could not reach latrines
                    - tubs put in holds for the sick
                    - to reach them, they had to walk on other POWs
                    - floor quickly became covered in human waste
                - hold infested with lice, fleas, and roaches
            - Meals: no system in place for distribution of food
                - the sickest POWs did not eat
                - water was almost non-existent
            - holds were extremely hot
                - POWs were rotated on deck
        - Arrived: Takao, Formosa - 11 November 1942
            - stayed three days in harbor
            - POWs were allowed on deck for short periods of time
        - Sailed: 15 November 1942
        - Arrived: Mako, Pecadores Islands
            - same day
        - Sailed: 18 November 1942
        - Arrived: Keelung, Formosa - same day
        - Sailed: 20 November 1942
            - POWs felt explosions from depth charges
        - Arrived: Moji - 24 November 1942
            - stayed in ship until 5:00 P.M. the next day
            - as they left ship, POWs received a piece of colored wood
                - the color determined what camp the POW was sent to
            - POWs deloused and showered after coming ashore
            - inoculated
            - given new clothing
        - POWs ferried to Himoneski, Honshu
            - boarded train and rode along northern side of the Inland Sea to Osaka-Kobe Area
            - divided into detachments, according to colored wood chips, and sent to camps

POW Camps:

    - Japan:

        - Tanagawa
            - also known as Osaka #4-B
            - Arrived: November 1942
            - Work: regardless of rank, the POWs were required to work at removing the side of a mountain for a Japanese Navy dry dock
                -  in violation of the Geneva Convention.
            - Punishment:
                - subjected to daily beatings at morning and evening muster.
                    - during many of the beatings, they were forced to stand at attention from 2 to 2½ hours
                        - sometimes resulting in them not receiving their next meal
                        - shoes, rifle butts,  belts, sticks, shovels, clubs, fists, and even furniture were used in the beatings
                        - no real reason was needed for the beatings, but a violation of some camp rule usually was the given reason
                    - POWs beaten if their detail did not remove their quota of material from the work site
                        - they failed to meet the quota because they were too hungry and weak to meat the quota
                        - while being beaten, the POWs were forced to hold a heavy log or rock above their heads.

                    - on one occasion 30 officers were made to stand at attention so that the Japanese found out who had misplaced a Japanese book
        -  January 1943 -selected to be sent to Zentsuji Camp
            - during trip, when American planes were seen the train cars were uncoupled from engine and left on tracks to be strafed

        - Zentsuji Camp

            - Arrived: 15 January 1943
            - POWs worked as stevedores at railroad yard and the Port of Takamatsu
                - when American planes bombed rail yard, the POWs were locked inside boxcars
            - poor diet resulted in deaths of POWs
            - medicine and medical supplies were available to POWs
            - Punishment:
               - two civilian guards, Leatherwrist and Clubfist hit POWs
                    - both had bad hands
               - Leatherwrist hit the POWs with his leather brace
               - Clubfist also hit the POWs
                    - they would also kick the POWs
                    - both guards hit the POWs for no reason
                        - often used a kindo stick, bayonet, or rifle butts

                - Australian Jesuit Priest, Fr. Victor S. Turner, was known as "The Pope of Zentsuji"

                    - cared for POWs regardless of faith

                    - when Japanese gave the POWs the first meat they had seen in months, in their soup, on Good Friday, he told them to
                      eat all of it and not to waste a piece of it, or waste a drop of soup

                         - told them they would sinning against their bodies if they didn't eat

                    - foiled the Japanese who wanted to use the POW refusal to eat the soup as proof of how well fed they were

                - Red Cross Packages withheld from POWs
            - 25 June 1945 - large group of POWs transferred from camp
                - during trip, American planes were everywhere
                - the Japanese believing the train was going to be strafed, again uncoupled the engine and left the baggage cars and boxcars the
                  POWs were in as targets on the tracks
                    - did this several times

       - Rokuroshi Camp

           - 29 July 1943 - wife learned he was a POW in Japan

Broadcast: August 1945

    - Pernina Burke received a telegram from the War Department that her husband had made a radio broadcast and said:  "It has been an awful long time since your last letter.  Received those, however; written on on our anniversary and my birthday.  I hope you are all well and I'm looking forward to our stay at Silver Creek.  Give all my love to  yourself, Mary Ann, and Perry (his children) also to mother, dad, and our friends.  Scotty (Capt. Muir), Russ (Lt. Swearingen) and the colonel (Col. Miller), are also well, so is Bob (Maj. Bob Beason, Mt. Vernon, N.Y., who had been with him since he was captured in December 1941.) .... send snapshot when you write.  Just staple them to the inside of the letter folder.  Once again all my love.  May God keep you safe for me and keep praying for me.  Your loving husband, Ed.  Capt. Edward L. Burke, Hiroshima Camp."
    - POWs told that the war was over
        - raised an American flag that one POW had sewn into his jacket
Liberated: 7 September 1945
    - during food drop, one 50 gallon drum broke free and barely missed the POWs
    - 7 September 1945
        - American Recovery Team arrived
    - POWs evacuated - 8 September 1945
        - rode train to Yokohama
        - when they got there, there was an Army band playing, "California, Here I Come"

            - many men overwhelmed by their emotions upon hearing the song
        - former POWs were taken down to the docks for a meal of hot cakes, jam, butter, and coffee

    - returned to Philippine Islands

Transport:

    - S.S. Storm King

        - Sailed: Manila - not known

        - Arrived: San Francisco -  15 October 1945
Hospital:
    - Letterman General Hospital - San Francisco, California

Promoted: Major - October 1945

Discharged: 8 January 1947

    - returned to National Guard

        - left National  Guard - 1 January 1949
Married:
Children: 3 daughters, 3 sons

Residence: Saint Cloud, Minnesota

    - fought alcoholism and had been sober for almost nine years in 1970
Occupation: Dispatcher - Minnesota State Highway Department

Died:

    - 9 November 1970 - Sterns County, Minnesota
        - cancer

Buried:

    - Fort Snelling National Cemetery - Saint Paul, Minnesota

        - Plot:  N,  0,  1995


 

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