Cook_R

 



Pvt. Robert Stellers Cook
Born: 23 October 1910 - Arkansas
Mother: Robert L. Cook & Mable Lipsey-Cook
Siblings: 1 sister, 2 brothers
Home: 629 East Block Street - El Dorado, Arkansas
    - grew up in Magnolia, Arkansas

Enlisted:
    - U.S. Army - 13 August 1941

Unit:

    - 19th Ordnance Battalion
         - learned to maintain 57 vehicles used by the Army
    - 17th Ordnance Company

        - 17 August 1941 - A Company reorganized as: 17th Ordnance Company

        - Robert reassigned to 17th Ordnance 

Training:

    - Ft. Knox, Kentucky
Note: On August 17, 1941, 17th Ordnance received orders 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, hundred of miles away, with a large radio transmitter on it.  The squadron continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles before returning to Clark Field.  By the time the planes landed that evening, 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:
    - 4 September  1941 -
        - battalion traveled by train to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California
    - Arrived: 7:30 A.M. - 5 September 1941
        - 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: 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
            - sailed south away from main shipping lanes
            - escorted by the heavy cruiser, U.S.S. Astoria, and unknown destroyer
                - smoke seen on horizon several times
                -  cruiser intercepted ships
                - ships from friendly countries
        - Arrived: Manila - Friday - 26 September 1941
            - disembark ship - 3:00 P.M.
            - taken by bus to Fort Stostenburg
        - returned to Manila to help 17th Ordnance with unloading of tanks
Stationed:

    - Ft. Stotsenburg, Philippine Islands

Engagements:

    - Battle of the Philippines

        - 8 December 1941 - 6 January 1942 

    - Battle of Bataan

        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942 

Prisoner of War:

    - 9 April 1941

        - Death March

         - Mariveles - POWs started march at southern tip of Bataan

          - POWs ran past Japanese artillery that was firing at Corregidor

               - American artillery returned fire 

               - San Fernando - POWs put into small wooden boxcars used to haul

                 sugarcane

               - each boxcar could hold hold eight horses or 40 men

               - Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car

               - POWs that died remained standing

           - Capas - POWs left boxcars - dead fell to floors of boxcars

POW Camps:

    - Philippine Islands:

        - Camp O'Donnell

            - 1 April 1942 - unfinished Filipino training base Japanese put into use as a POW camp
                - Japanese believed the camp could hold 15,000 to 20,000 POWs
            - POWs searched upon arrival at camp
                - those found with Japanese money were accused of looting
                - sent to guardhouse
                - over several days, gun shots heard southeast of the camp
                    - POWs who had money on them had been executed
            - Japanese took away any extra clothing from POWs as they entered the camp and refused to return it
                - since no water was available for wash clothing, the POWs threw soiled clothing away
                - clothing was taken from dead
                - few of the POWs in the camp hospital had clothing
            - POWs were not allowed to bathe
            - only one water spigot for entire camp
                - POWs waited 2 hours to 8 hours to get a drink
                    - water frequently turned off by Japanese guards and next man in line waited as long as 4 hours for water to be turned on again
                    - mess kits could not be cleaned
                - POWs had to carry water 3 miles from a river to cook their meals
                - second water spigot installed a week after POWs arrived
            - slit trenches overflowed since many of the POWs had dysentery
                - flies were everywhere including in camp kitchens and food
            - camp hospital had no water, soap, or disinfectant
            - the senior POW doctor wrote a list of medicines he wanted to treat the sick and was told by the camp commandant, Capt. Yoshio
              Tsuneyoshi, never to write another letter
                - Tsuneyoshi said that all he wanted to know about the American POWs was their names and numbers when they died
                - refused to allow a truckload of medicine sent by the Archbishop of Manila into the camp
                - 95% of the medicine sent by Philippine Red Cross was taken by the Japanese for their own use
            - POWs in camp hospital lay on floor elbow to elbow
            - operations on POWs were performed with mess kit knives
            - only one medic out of six assigned to care for 50 sick POWs, in the hospital, was well enough to work
            - as many as 50 POWs died each day
                - each morning dead were found everywhere in the camp and stacked up under the hospital
                - ground under hospital was scrapped and cover with lime to clean it
                - the dead were moved to this area and the section where they had laid was scrapped and cover with lime
                - usually not buried for two or three days
            - work details: if a POW could walk, he was sent out on a work detail
                - POWs on burial detail often had dysentery and malaria
        - Japanese opened new POW camp 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   
    - Cabanatuan:
        - original name: Camp Panagaian
            - Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
                - actually three camps
                    - Camp 1: POWs from Camp O'Donnell sent there
                    - Camp 2:  two 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 had been opened to lower death rate among POWs
            - "Blood Brother" rule implemented
                - if one POW in the group of 10 escaped, the other nine would be killed
            - POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
            - Barracks:
                - each barracks held 50 men
                    - often held between 60 and 120 men
                    - slept on bamboo slats without mattresses, covers, and mosquito netting
                        - diseases spread easily
                    - no showers
            - Morning Roll Call:
                - stood at attention
                    - frequently beaten over their heads for no reason
                - 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
            - Work Details:
                - Work Day: 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
                - work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens, plant rice, and farm
                    - 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
                - most of the food the POWs grew went to the Japanese
        - 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
                  - medical staff had little to no medicine to treat sick
                  - many deaths from disease caused by malnutrition
            - family learned he was a POW - 26 June 1943

Hell Ship:
    - Clyde Maru
        - Sailed: 23 July1943 - Manila, Philippine Islands
        - Arrived: Santa Cruz, Zambales Province, Philippine Islands - same day
            - loaded magnesium ore
        - Sailed: 26 July 1943
            - 100 POWs allowed on deck at a time - 6:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M.
        - Arrived: Takao, Formosa - 28 July 1943
        - Sailed: 5 August 1943
            - part of a nine ship convoy
        - Arrived: 7 August 1943 - Moji, Japan
            -POWs lined up on deck
            - disembarked and marched to train station
Train:
        - Depart: 9:00 A.M. - depart on two day trip to camp
        - Arrived: 10 August 1943 - Omuta Camp, Kyushu, Japan
            - disembark and march eighteen miles to camp
POW Camp:
    - Japan
        -
Fukuoka #3
Note:  The POWs worked at the Yawata Steel Mills doing manual labor.  The work was to shovel iron ore and rebuild the ovens.  The POWs were sent into the ovens to clean out the debris.  Since the ovens were hot, because the Japanese would not let them cool off, the POWs worked faster on this detail.  Many of the products from the mill helped the Japanese war effort.  If an air raid took place while the POWs were at the mill, they were put into railway cars and the train was pulled into a tunnel.  The POWs worked from 8:00 A.M. until 4:00 P.M. and received a half hour lunch. 

  The POWs worked from 8:00 A.M. until 4:00 P.M. and received a half hour lunch.  The barracks that the POWs lived in were always cold since the Japanese heated them on a minimal basis.  Only the sick rooms had heat.  All POWs who died were reported to have died in the camp hospital.  Food for the POWs consisted of a main dish of rice, wheat, wheat flour, corn, and, Kaoliang,a millet.  To supplement their diet, they hunted rats at night for meat.
    Although medical supplies for the POWs were sent to the camp by the Red Cross, the Japanese commandant would not give the American medical staff the medicine that was in the packages.  Any surgery in the camp had to be performed with crude medical tools even though the Red Cross had sent the proper surgical tools.  To meet quotas for workers, the sick POWs were required to work even if it meant they could possibly die from doing it.  The Japanese camp doctor made the sick stand out in the cold for hours.  He beat them and allowed the guards to beat them.
    Three days a month, the POWs were allowed to exchange their worn out clothing for new clothing, but a Japanese guard beat POWs attempting to exchange their clothing.  The POWs went without clothing to avoid the beatings which resulted in men developing pneumonia and dying.
    The POWs were beaten daily with fists and sticks for violating camp rules, and the guards often required them to stand at attention, in the cold, while standing water.  In one incident an entire barracks was slapped in the face, by the guards, because some POWs had smoked in the barracks.  During the winter, POWs who were being punished often had water thrown on them.  A group of about 60 POWs were made to crawl on their hands and knees, while carrying other POWs, on their backs.  As they crawled, they were hit with bamboo sticks, belts, and rifle butts.  There were two brigs in the camp which had as many as 20 POWs in them at a time.
    Another incident involved an American soldier who traded with the Japanese. The war was almost over and Japan was about to surrender.  The soldier traded for roasted beans.  As it turned out, the beans had been tainted with arsenic.  The soldier died the next day.  After going through all he had suffered, the soldier died when freedom was almost his.

    The Yawata Steel Mills were the primary target for the second atomic bomb, but since the sky was extremely overcast, the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.  This time, they saw  Japanese workers facing in the direction of radio speakers with their heads bowed.  The Americans thought that the emperor had passed away.  The truth was that the second atomic bomb had been dropped on Nagasaki, and the emperor was announcing Japan's surrender.  An American ensign, who could read and speak Japanese, saw a newspaper with the announcement of the surrender.  He was the first person to inform his fellow POWs that the war was over.  They were then told the same news by a Japanese officer.
Liberated:
    - 13 September 1945
Promoted: Corporal
Died:
    - 20 July 1967 - Arkansas
Buried:
    - Old Parkers Chapel Cemetery - Parkers, Arkansas







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