Cpl. Edward G. Depa was born in September 3, 1916, to Marek and Ludwina Depa. He was
raised in Wisconsin with his three brothers and three sisters. His mother died while he was a child leaving
his father to raise the children. Edward came to Chicago looking for work in 1936 and lived at 717 North
Paulina Street. He worked as a punch press operator at a electric appliance manufacturing company. It
was while living in Chicago that Edward was drafted in April of 1941.
Edward was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he became a member of Company B, 192nd Tank
He participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers of 1941 with the battalion. It was after the maneuvers, at Camp
Polk, Louisiana, that he and the other members of the battalion learned that they were being sent to the Philippine
In the late summer of 1941, Edward took part in maneuvers in Louisiana
from September 1 through 30. After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk instead of
returning to Ft. Knox. None of the members of the battalion had any idea why they were there. On the
side of a hill, the members learned they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM. Within hours,
many men had figured out they were being sent to the Philippine Islands. Many of the tankers received
furloughs home to say their goodbyes.
The decision for this move - which had been made in August 1941 - was the result
of an event that took place in the summer of 1941. A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen
Gulf, in the Philippines, when one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower altitude, noticed something
odd. He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another in the
distance. 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 which was hundred of miles away. The island had a large radio
transmitter. The squadron continued its flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.
When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day. The next day,
when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat - with a tarp on its
deck - which was seen making its way to shore. Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was
difficult, the boat escaped. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military
presence in the Philippines.
Traveling west over four different train routes, the battalion arrived in San Francisco,
California, where they were ferried, by the
U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, the tankers were
immunized and given physicals bu the battalion's medical detachment. Men found to have treatable
medical conditions were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were
The 192nd was boarded onto the
U.S.A.T. Gen. 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. The ship 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 5, 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, another 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, they were greeted by Gen. Edward P. King, who apologized they had to live in
tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield. He made sure that they had what they needed
and received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner. Ironically, November 20 was the
date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
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 were provided by food trucks stationed at
the end of the rows of tents.
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their
weapons. The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea. They also loaded
ammunition belts and did tank maintenance as they prepared to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their
weapons. The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea. They also loaded
ammunition belts and did tank maintenance as they prepared to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank
On December 1, the tanks were
ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard
against paratroopers. Two crew members had to be
with their tank at all times. The morning of
December 8, 1941, the tankers were ordered to the
perimeter of Clark Airfield. They had received
word of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. As
they sat in their tanks and half-tracks they watched as
American planes filled the sky. At noon, the
planes landed and the pilots went to lunch. At
12:45, the tankers watched as planes approached the
airfield from the north. When bombs began
exploding on the runways, they knew the planes were
At 12:45 in the afternoon on December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the attack on Pearl
Harbor, the soldiers lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield. That morning, they had been
awakened to the news that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor just hours earlier. The tankers were eating
lunch when planes approached the airfield from the north. At first, they thought the planes were
American. They then saw what looked like rain drops falling from the planes. It was only when bombs
began exploding on the runways that the tankers knew the planes were Japanese. The company remained at
Clark Field for the next two weeks.
The tank battalion received orders on December 21 that it was to
proceed north to Lingayen Gulf. Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on
gas. When they reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tank platoon, from B Company, to
proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
On December 23 and 24, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta. The bridge
they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south
of river. As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening. They
successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
On December 25, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno
River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista
Road. The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27.
The tankers were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December
27, and at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29. On January 1, conflicting orders
were received by the defenders who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5.
Doing this would allow the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan. General Wainwright
was unaware of the orders since they came from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff.
Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American
forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River. Due to the efforts of the Self Propelled
Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were
halted. From January 2 to 4, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the
southern forces could escape.
At 2:30 A.M., the night of January 5/6, the Japanese attacked at Remlus in force and using
smoke as cover. This attack was an attempt to destroy the tank battalions. At 5:00 A.M., the Japanese
withdrew having suffered heavy casualties.
The night of January 6/7 the tanks withdrew into the peninsula with the 192nd holding
its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross the bridge, and then cover the
192nd's withdraw over the bridge. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan, before the
engineers blew up the bridge at 6:00 A.M.
The next day, the battalion was between Culo and Hermosa and assigned a road to enter
Bataan on which was worse than having no road. The half-tracks kept throwing their rubber tracks and
members of 17th Ordnance assigned to each battalion had to re-track them in dangerous situations. After
daylight, Japanese artillery fire was landing all around the tanks.
The next day, a composite tank company was formed under the command of Capt. Donald
Haines, B Co., 192nd. Its job was to protect the East Coast Road north of Hermosa open and to stop Japanese
tanks attempting to use it to overrun the next defensive line that was forming. While in this position, the tanks
were under constant enemy artillery fire. The rest of the tanks were ordered to bivouac south of the
When word came that a bridge was going to be blow, all the tanks were ordered out of the
area, which included the composite company. This could have resulted in a catastrophe, but the Japanese did
not take advantage of the situation.
The tanks bivouacked south of the Pilar-Bagac Road and about two kilometers from the
East Coast Road. It had almost been one month since the tank crews had a rest and the tanks had maintenance
work done on them by 17th Ordnance. It was also on this day that the tank platoons were reduced to three
tanks per tank platoon. The men rested and the tanks received the required maintenance. Most of the
tank tracks had worn down to bare metal and the radial engines long past their 400 hour overhauls.
The battalions were sent to cover the junctions of the Back Road and East Road with the
Abucay-Heicienda Road on January 25. While holding the position, the 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts,
fought its way to the position at 3:00 A.M. One platoon was sent to the front of the the column of trucks
which were loading the troops. The tanks provided heavy fire so that the infantry could withdraw.
Just after the infantry evacuated a column of Japanese came marching down the road and were taken by surprised by
the tanks and inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese This stopped the Japanese advance and the tanks
withdrew without any problems.
Later on January 25, both the 192nd and 194th held a defensive line on the
Bakanga-Cardre-BaniBani Roads until the withdraw was completed at midnight. They held the position until
the night of January 26/27, when they dropped back to a new defensive line roughly along the Pilar-Bagac
Roads. When ordered to withdraw to the new line, the 192nd found that the bridge at Balanga, that they were
suppose to use had been destroyed by enemy fire. To withdraw, they had to use secondary roads to get around
the barrio and tanks were still straggling in at noon.
The tank battalions, on January 28, were given the job of protecting the beaches.
The 192nd was assigned the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast, while the
battalion's half-tracks were used to patrol the roads. The Japanese later admitted that the tanks
guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.
It was at this time the tank battalions received these orders which came from Gen.
"Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying in position and firing at visible enemy until further
delay will jeopardize withdrawal. If a tank is immobilized, it will be fought until the close approach
of the enemy, then destroyed; the crew previously taking positions outside and continuing to fight with the
salvaged and personal weapons. Considerations of personal safety and expediency will not interfere with
accomplishing the greatest possible delay."
Companies A & C were ordered to the west coast of Bataan while B Company - which
was held in reserve - and 17th Ordnance held the southern shore of Bataan. The tankers were awake all night
and attempted to sleep under the jungle canopy, during the day, which protected them from being spotted by
Japanese reconnaissance planes. During the night, they were kept busy with repeated threats both on and off
On one occasion, a member of the company, who had gotten frustrated by being awakened by
the planes, had his half-track pulled out onto the beach and took pot shots at the plane. He missed the
plane, but twenty minutes later, Japanese planes appeared over the location and dropped bombs that exploded in
the tree tops. Three members of the company were killed.
The tank battalions, on their own, took up the job of protecting the airfields at
Cabcaban, Bataan, and Mariveles, since Japanese paratroopers were known to be available. The tanks and
half-tracks were well hidden in the jungle around the airfields and different plans were in place to be used
against Japanese forces. There was only one major alert in March when 73 Japanese planes came over.
The company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets - from January 23 to February 17
- to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line after a Japanese offensive
was stopped and pushed pack to the original line of defense. The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time
to replace a tank in the pocket. Another tank did not enter the pocket until a tank exited the
pocket. Doing this was so stressful that each tank company was rotated out and replaced by one that was
being held in reserve.
To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used. The first was to have three
Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank. As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos
dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole. Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually
The other method to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the
foxhole. The driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around and grinding its way
down into the foxhole. The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.
While the tanks were doing this job, the Japanese sent soldiers, with cans of gasoline,
against the tanks. These Japanese attempted to jump onto the tanks, pour gasoline into the vents on the
back of the tanks, and set the tanks on fire. If the tankers could not machine gun the Japanese before they
got to a tank, the other tanks would shoot them as they stood on a tank. The tankers did not like to do
this because of what it did to the crew inside the tank. When the bullets hit the tank, its rivets would
pop and wound the men inside the tank. It was for their performance during this battle that the 192nd Tank
Battalion would receive one of its Distinguished Unit Citations.
Since the stress on the crews was tremendous, the tanks rotated into the pocket one at a
time. A tank entered the pocket and the next tank waited for the tank that had been relieved to exit the
pocket before it would enter. This was repeated until all the tanks in the pocket were relieved.
What made this job so hard was that the Japanese dug "spider holes" among the
roots the trees. Because of this situation, the Americans could not get a good shot at the Japanese.
The tankers, from A, B, and C Companies, were able to clear the pockets. But
before this was done, one C Company tank which had gone beyond the American perimeter was disabled and the tank
just sat there. When the sun came up the next day, the tank was still sitting there. During the
night, its crew was buried alive, inside the tank, by the Japanese. When the Japanese had been wiped out,
the tank was turned upside down to remove the dirt and recover the bodies of the crew. The tank was put
back into use.
At the same time the company took part in the Battle of the Points on the west
coast of Bataan. The Japanese landed troops but ended up trapped. One was the Lapay-Longoskawayan
points from January 23 to 29, the Quinawan-Aglaloma points from January 22 to February 8, and the Sililam-Anyasan
points from January 27 to February 13. The defenders successfully eliminated the points by driving their
tanks along the Japanese defensive line and firing their machine guns. The 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts
followed the tanks eliminating any resistance and driving the Japanese Marines over the edge of the cliffs where
they hid in caves. The tanks fired into the caves killing or forcing them out of them into the sea.
The soldiers were hungry and began to eat everything they could get their hands on to
eat. The Carabao were tough but if they were cooked long enough they could be eaten. They also began
to eat horse meat provided by the 26th U. S. Cavalry. To make things worse, the soldiers' rations were
cut in half again on March 1, 1942. This meant that they only ate two meals a day.
The Japanese also were dropping surrender leaflets with a scantly clad blond on
them. The Japanese would have been more successful at getting the Americans to surrender if the picture had
been hamburger, since the men were so hungry that they most likely would have surrendered for a good meal.
In March, the amount of gasoline was reduced to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles except
the tanks. This would later be dropped to ten gallons a day. At the same time, food rations were cut
in half again. Also at this time, Gen. Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that a platoon of tanks be sent
The Japanese lunched an all out attack on April 3. On April 7, the 57th Infantry,
Philippine Scouts, supported by tanks, attempted to restore the line, but Japanese infiltrators prevented this
from happening. During this action, one tank was knocked out but the remaining tanks successfully
withdrew. C Company, 194th, which was attached to the 192nd, had only seven tanks left.
The tanks became a favorite target of the Japanese receiving fire on trails and while
hidden in the jungle. and could not fight back. The situation was so bad that other troops avoided being
near the tanks, and the 26th Cavalry turned down a tank company's offer of assistance in a
It was at this time that Gen. King decided that further resistance was futile.
Approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to fight, and he estimated they would last one more day.
In addition, he had over 6000 troops who were sick or wounded and 40000 civilians who he feared would be
massacred. At 10:30 that night, he sent his staff officers to negotiate surrender terms.
Tank battalion commanders received this order
:"You will make plans, to be communicated to company commanders only, and be prepared to destroy within
one hour after receipt by radio, or other means, of the word 'CRASH', all tanks and combat vehicles,
arms, ammunition, gas, and radios: reserving sufficient trucks to close to rear echelons as soon as
On April 9, 1942, when the Filipino and American forces on Bataan were surrendered to the
Japanese, Edward became a POW. T
he Japanese arrived and ordered the Prisoners of War onto the road. They quickly stripped the POWs of their
watches, pens, and sun-glasses. The POWs were taken to a trail and found that walking on the gravel trail was
difficult. They immediately witnessed "Japanese Discipline" toward their own troops. The
Japanese apparently were marching for hours, and when a man fell, he was kicked in his stomach and hit in the head
with a rifle butt. If he still did not get up, the Japanese determined that the man was exhausted and left him
The trial the POWs were on ended when they reached the main road. The first thing the
Japanese did was to separate the officers from the enlisted men and counted them. The POWs were left in the sun
for the rest of the day wondering what was going to happen. That night they were ordered north which was
difficult, on the rocky road, in the dark, since they could not see where they were walking.
The POWs made their way north against the flow of Japanese horse artillery and trucks which
were moving south. At times, they would slip on something wet and slippery which were the remains of a man
killed by Japanese artillery the day before. When dawn came, the walking became easier but as the sun rose it
became hotter and the POWs began to feel the effects of thirst. It was at this time that the POWs saw a
group of Filipinos being marched by the Japanese. Looking at them, they realized that they had been hungry, but
the Filipinos had been starving.
When the men crossed the Lamao River, they smelled the sweet smell of death. The Japanese had
heavily bombed the area causing many casualties and many of the dead lay partially in the river. The air corps
POWs in front of them ran to the river and drank. Many would later die from dysentery at Camp
At Limay, the officers with the rank of major or above, were put into a school yard. The
officers were told that they would be driven the rest of the march. At 4:00 AM, the officers were put into
trucks for an unknown destination. It was there that the lower ranking officers and the enlisted men joined the
main column of POWs being marched out of Bataan. For the first time, they began to witness the abuse of POWs as they
walked through Balanga to Orani.
At Orani, the men were put into a bull pen where they were ordered to lay down. In the
morning, the POWs realized that they had been lying in the human waste of POWs who had already used the
bullpen. At noon, they received their first food.
When they resumed the march they were marched at a faster pace. The guards also seemed to
be nervous about something. The POWs made their way to just north of Hormosa. where the road went from gravel
to concrete, and the change of surface made the march easier. When the POWs were allowed to sit down, those who
attempted to lay down were jabbed with bayonets.
The POWs continued the march and for the first time in months it began to rain which felt great
and many men attempted to get drinks. When they arrived at San Fernando, the POWs were put into another bull
pen and remained until they were ordered to form detachments of 100 men.
At some point marched the POWs were marched to the train station, where they were packed into
small wooden boxcars known as "forty or eights." They were called this since each car could hold
forty men or eight horses, but the Japanese packed 100 men into each car and shut the doors. The heat in the
cars was unbearable and many POWs died but could not fall to the floors since there was no room for them to
fall. The POWs rode the train to Capas were they disembarked the cars. As they left the cars, the dead
fell to the floors. The POWs walked the last eight kilometers to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army Training Base that the Japanese pressed 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 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.
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
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. The Japanese finally acknowledge that they had to do something, so the opened
a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.
On June 1, 1942, the POWs formed detachments of 100 men each and were marched to Capas.
There, the were put in steel boxcars with two Japanese guards. At Calumpit, the train was switched onto another
line which took it to Cabanatuan. The POWs disembarked and were taken to a schoolyard where they were fed
cooked rice and onion soup. From there, they were marched 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.
The POWs were sent out on work details to cut wood for the POW kitchens. Meals on a daily
basis consisted of 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, and sweet potato or corn. The POWs were
forced to work in the fields from 7:00 in the morning until 5:00 in the evening. Most of the food they grew
went to the Japanese not them. Other POWs worked in rice paddies.
The POW barracks were built to house 50 POWs, but most held between 60 and 120 men. The
POWs slept on bamboo slats without mattresses, covers, or mosquito netting. The result was many became ill.
Each morning, the POWs lined up for roll call. While they stood at attention, it wasn't
uncommon for them to be hit over the tops of their heads. In addition, one guard frequently kicked them in
their shins with his hobnailed boots. 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. 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 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. The name soon
meant the place where those who were extremely ill went to die. Each ward had two tiers of bunks and could hold
45 men but often had as many as 100 men in each. Each man had a two foot wide by six foot long area to lie
in. The sickest men slept on the bottom tier since the platforms had holes cut in them so the sick could
relieve themselves without having to leave the tier.
In late September 1942, a POW transfer list was posted at the camp. 800 POWs
gathered at 2:00 A.M. on October 6, and were given rice coffee, lugow rice, and a big rice ball. After eating
and packing their kits, the POWs marched out of the camp at 2:30 A.M. and received two buns as they marched through
the gate to the barrio of Cabanatuan which they reached at 6:00 A.M. There, 50 men were boarded onto each of
the small wooden boxcars waiting for them at about 9:00 A.M. The trip to Manila lasted until 4:00 P.M. and
because of the heat in the cars, many POWs passed out.
From the train station, the men were marched to pier 5 in the Port Area of Manila.
Some of the Filipinos flashed the "V" for victory sign as they made their war to the pier. The
detachment arrived at 5:00 P.M and were tired and hungry and were put in a warehouse on the pier. The
Japanese fed them rice and salted fish and let them eat as much as they wanted. They also were allowed to
Before boarding the ship on October 7, the prisoners were divided into two groups. One
group was placed in the holds while the other group remained on deck. The conditions on the ship, for those
in the holds, were indescribable, and those POWs those on deck were better off. This situation was made worse
by the fact that for the first two weeks of the voyage the prisoners were not fed, which resulted in many of the
POWs dying during the trip.
The ship did not sail until the next day at 10:00 A.M. and passed the ruins of Corregidor
at noon. In addition, there were sick Japanese and soldiers on the ship. That night some POWs slept in
the holds, but a large number slept on the deck. The first day, the POWs were given three small loaves of
bread for meals - which equaled one American loaf of bread - the loaves were suppose to last two days, but most men
ate them in one meal. The men did ration their water. The ship was at sea, when two torpedoes fired at
by an American submarine missed the ship. The ship fired a couple of shots where it thought the sub was, but
these also missed. A while later, the ship passed a mine that had been laid by the submarine. The POWs
were fed bags of buns biscuits, with some candy, and received water daily.
The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on October 11. Since most were sick with
something, the line to use the latrines went around the ship. The American doctors had no medicine to help
the sick, and some were seen as benefiting off the sick. It was at this time that the POWs on the ship, from
Mindanao, were moved to a second hold putting 500 POWs in each hold.
On October 14, food stuffs were loaded onto the ship, and each POW got two candy bags of
hard tack and one meal of rice and soup each day. The ship sailed on October 16 at 7:30 A.M. but turned
around at 3:30 P.M. arriving back at Takao at 10:30 P.M. It was believed the ship had turned around because
American submarines were in the area.
The ship sailed again on October 18 and arrived at the Pescadores Islands at 5:00
P.M.. There it dropped anchor off the Island of Makou, Pescadores Islands, where it remained anchored
until October 27 when it returned to Takao. During this time the quality of food deteriorated and was barely
edible. Two POWs also died and their bodies were thrown into the sea at 4:00 P.M. The ship sailed
again on October 27 and returned to Takao the same day. While it was docked food stuffs were again loaded
onto the ship.
The next day, the POWs were taken ashore and bathed with seawater at the same time the
ship was cleaned. They were again put into the holds and the ship and remained there until the ship sailed on
October 29. At 5:00 P.M. it again arrived at Makou, Pescadores Islands. During this time the POWs were
fed two meals of day of rice and soup. The ship sailed on October 31, as part of a seven ship convoy.
During this part of the voyage, it rode out a typhoon for five days on its way to Fusan, Korea. On November
3, three more POWs died. On November 5, one of the ships was sunk by an American submarine and the other
Tottori Maru arrived at Fusan on November 7, but the 1300 POWs leaving the ship did not disembark until
November 8 and were issued fur lined over coats and new clothing. Those POWs who were too ill to continue the
Mukden, Manchuria, remained behind at Fusan. Those who died
were cremated and had their ashes placed in small white boxes which were sent to Mukden.
As they marched, the civilians in the town spit on them, hit them, and made fun of the
POWs. The POWs reached a train station where they boarded a train and were given a little box which contained
rice, pickled grasshoppers, and a little fish. They were sent on a three day train trip north.
The POWs were given new clothes and a fur-lined overcoat before boarding a train for a two
day trip to Mukden, arriving there on November 11th. After arriving, the POWs first held at the first Mukden
camp. On August 3, 1943, they were transferred to the new camp when it was opened. The POWs worked in a
machine shop or at a lumber mill and committed acts of sabotage so nothing they made would help the Japanese war
effort. POWs who died, during the winter, bodies were stored in a warehouse until spring. They were
than buried in the camp cemetery.
When the POWs first got to the camp, they lived in dugouts until two story brick barracks
were opened. Each enlisted man received two thin blankets to cover himself at night, while officers got one
blanket and a mattress. The barracks were divided into ten sections. Five on the ground floor and five on the
second story. Each section was divided into four double-decked sleeping bays which each held 8 men for a
total of 48 men in a section. In addition, the barracks electricity and cold running water.
The camp was held in was a model camp and used to make propaganda movies for the Japanese
public. During one visit by Japanese big shots, Albert remembered receiving meat in the soup served to him,
but the reality was that the daily meals consisted of corn meal mush, beans, and a bun for breakfast, maize and
beans for lunch, and dinner was beans and a bun. To supplement their meals, the men made snares to capture
stray dogs that came into the camp. They did this until, one day while marching to work, they saw one of dogs
eating the body of a dead Chinese.
One night, the POWs were forced out of their barracks into the cold and snow and made to
strip bare while the Japanese searched for contraband cigarettes that the prisoners had bought from the Chinese
while working in the factories. They were made to stand in the snow barefooted, for 45 minutes, while the
Japanese searched 700 POWs from the barracks.
Punishment was given for any infraction. Two POWs were knocked out and kicked in the
ribs for violating a camp rule. At other times, the camp's food ration was cut in half because the
Japanese believed a POW was not working as hard as he should have been, or someone had been caught smoking in an
unauthorized area. They would also withhold Red Cross packages. When three POWs escaped and were
recaptured, they were brought back to the camp and beaten on their heads, backs, and shoulders.
One Japanese, Eiichi Nada, who was born, raised, and educated in Berkley, California,
loved to hit the POWs while they stood at attention during morning assembly. He hit them until they fell to
the ground and then kicked them while yelling
, "Get up, you yellow, white son of a bitch!"
The POWs worked either at a machine shop or a saw mill from 7:30 A.M. until 5:30 or 6:00
P.M. each day. The machine shop never produced anything that was useful to the Japanese. Each
morning, the POWs were marched three miles to the shop where they worked manufacturing weapons for the Japanese.
On May 24, 1944, Ed was sent on the
Nissyo Mau to Kyushu, Japan. The ship stopped at Takao, Formosa, on May 26th,
and reached Moji, Japan, on May 29th. There, he was held at Kamioka Camp which was also known as Nagoya
#1. The camp was located in the mountains and received as much as 33 feet of snow during the winter.
His American POW Detachment became known as the 1st American Company when a second detachment of American POWs
arrived on August 3, 1944.
The prisoners in the camp worked in a zinc mine and a lead mine. For the POWs,
climbing the 340 stairs out of the mine was one of the most difficult things they had to do after working in the
mine all day.
The POW barracks were flimsy and built of wood During the winter, to prevent them
from collapsing, the POWs had to shovel the snow off the roofs. The baracks were divided into small rooms
meant to sleep 10 POWs; most were used by as many as 24 men who slept on straw mats for mattresses. In the
middle of the barracks was a pit surrounded by wood for heat. Each day the POWs received a couple of
handfuls of charcoal.
Food for the POWs was poor. Their daily meal consisted of rice and maize and one
ounce of meat per POW. About once a month, the POWs received 5 ounces of soy bean because they had worked
hard. Fish, vegetables, and meat were kept stored in a building and allowed to go bad instead of being
given to the POWs.,
When the Japanese heard war news of an air raid by the Americans, they
selected eight or ten POWs and punished them. Afterwards, they threw them into the guardhouse where the men
were forgotten for days. The POWs also learned that when the Japanese called them out in the middle of the
night for an inspection, it meant that the Japanese had suffered another defeat and that the Americans were
As the end of the war grew closer, the beatings became more brutal, took place daily,
and were more often collective. The POWs were hit over their heads and all over their bodies with belts,
sabers, ropes, and clubs. One guard liked to burn the POWs around their navels creating the symbol of the
rising sun. They were also made to assume painful positions and stand out in inclement weather nude.
POWs were also tied to ladders, so the were slightly off the ground, and were beaten.
Medical treatment was almost none existent, since a certain number of POWs were needed
for work each day. The sick, who could walk, were forced to work. Those who refused were beaten and
medical treatment was withheld from them. In addition, the Japanese set a limit on the number of POWs who
co and only the extremely ill were allowed to stay in camp. The next day if a new man was too sick to work,
one of the POWs who was too ill the day before had to go to work. At the same time this was happening, the
Japanese refused to give the POWs the medicine and medical supplies sent by the Red Cross.
The sick POWs were put on "light duty." To the Japanese "light
duty" was going up a mountain and hauling green muck. As it turned out, this muck was contaminated and
even the Japanese guards kept away from it. The prisoners noticed that nothing would grow where the muck
was dumped. The prisoners worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Every two weeks they would get
one day off.
This detail was not bad during the summer because the old supervisor would allow two of
the six prisoners to look for edible plants. During the winter, the prisoners had to climb the mountain
through snow that was four to five feet deep. Since the Japanese did not issue the shoes that were sent by
the Red Cross, to protect their feet from frostbite, the POW's made socks from blackout curtains to put
inside their canvas shoes. The prisoners also were never warm and slept in pairs to share body heat and
After the atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima, the Japanese made
the prisoners do close order drill as punishment for the bomb. The prisoners learned about the bomb by
buying a paper on the Black Market and smuggling it into the camp. On August 15, the POWs learned that the
Japanese had surrendered.
After the surrender, the POWs took control of the camp. Ed remained
in the camp until he was liberated by American Forces on September 7, 1945. He was returned to the United
States on the
U.S.S. Yarmouth, at San Francisco, on October 8th, where he received additional medical treatment. Ed
remained in the military until he was discharged on May 20, 1946.
Edward Depa married and would later move to Thorp, Wisconsin, where he passed away on
December 16, 2003. He was buried at Saint Mary's of Czestochowa Cemetery in Thorp, Wisconsin.
The photo at the bottom of the page was taken while Cpl. Edward Depa was a POW at
Hooten Camp in Mukden, Manchuria.