Pvt. Paul Chester Fonner
Born: 1 April 1919 - Union, West Virginia
Parents: Raymond & Katherine Fonner
Siblings: 1 sister
Hometown: Union, West Virginia
Occupation: worked on family's farm
    - U.S. Army
        - 7 January 1941 - Fort Hayes, Columbus, Ohio
    - Fort Knox, Kentucky
    - 19th Ordnance Battalion
        - trained alongside the 192nd Tank Battalion at Ft. Knox
        - learned to maintain 57 different vehicles used by Army
    - 17th Ordnance Company
       - August 1941 - 17th Ordnance is formed from one company of 19th Ordnance
       - September 1941 - 17th Ordnance received orders for overseas duty
           - the company selected for duty in the Philippine Islands
Note: The decision for this move - which had been made on August 15, 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.
Overseas Duty:
        - traveled by train to Ft. Mason, San Francisco, California
            - arrived Thursday, 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
        - removed turrets from tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion
     - 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
            - escorted by the heavy cruiser, U.S.S. Astoria, and an unknown destroyer
                - smoke seen on horizon several times
                -  cruiser intercepted ships
        - Tuesday, 16 September 1941 - ships crossed International Dateline
            - became Thursday, 18 September 1941
        - Arrived: Manila - Friday - 26 September 1941
            - disembark ship - 3:00 P.M.
            - taken by bus to Fort Stostenburg
            - maintenance section with 17th ordnance remained behind to unload the tanks and attached turrets
                - slept on ship during that night
                -27 September 1941 - job completed at 9:00 A.M.
    - Ft. Stotsenburg, Philippine Islands
        - lived in six man tents
            - bivouac in low lying area
               - first night in area it rained and area flooded
        - lived in tents until barracks completed - 15 November 1941
    - Battle of Luzon
        - 8 December 1942 - 6 January 1942
    - Battle of Bataan
        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942
            - serviced tanks of the Provisional Tank Group
                - repaired damage done by Japanese or tank crews
            - headquartered in ordnance deport building
        - 8 April 1942
            - 10:30 P.M. - Gen. King announced that further resistance would result in the massacre of 6,000 sick or wounded troops and 40,000
            - less than 25% of his troops were healthy enough to continue fighting
            - he estimated they could hold out one more day
            - sent his staff officers to negotiate the surrender of Bataan
            - 11:40 P.M. - ammunition dumps blown up
Prisoner of War
    - 9 April 1942
        - Death March
            - POWs started march at Mariveles on the southern tip of Bataan
            - ran past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor
                - American artillery returned fire
            - San Fernando - POWs packed into small wooden boxcars

                - each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men
                - Japanese packed 100 POWs into each boxcar
                - POWs who died remained standing
            - Capas - POWs leave boxcars - dead fall out of cars
            - POWs walked last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell
            - took Fonner six days to complete the march
POW Camps:
    - Philippines:
        - 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 2½ 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
                - put into use by Japanese as a POW camp
                - actually three camps
                    - Camp 1: POWs from Camp O'Donnell sent there in attempt to lower death rate
                    - 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:
                - "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
    - Daveo, Mindano
    - POWs taken to Manila
    - Boarded: Erie Maru
    - Sailed: 26 October 1942
    - Arrived: Cebu, Philippines
        - additional POWs boarded ships
    - Sailed: same day
    - Arrive: Timbugon, Mindanao
    - Disembark 5 November 1942
         - transferred to Japanese troop transports
         - conditions on ship were good
             - POWs allowed on deck
             - bunks for POWs to sleep on
             - fed fairly well
                 - rice , corn beef, fish, pork
                 - POWs also got a Japanese vitamin concentrate
    - Arrive Davao City
    - Disembark:
        - taken to Davao Penal Colony
        - about 32 miles from Davao City
    - Housing:
        - POWs lived in wooden barracks
        - each building was 148 feet long and about 17 feet wide
        - Davao, Mindanao
            - POWs worked on various details at the compound
                - pig Detail, rice plantiing detail, rope detail, firewood detail, farming detail, Japanese galley, latrines and baths,
                  machine shop, and railroad maintenance
                - rice detail only detail were beatings took place
        - POWs had enough clothing but no shoes
        - Red Cross packages issued several times
            - packages were not always opened
            - POWs worked unguarded
                - guards would check on POWs
                - were not required to work in bad weather
    - discipline among POWs poor
        - junior officers did not take orders from senior officers
        - enlisted men soon would not take orders
        - situation changed when the majority agreed they needed discipline to survive
        - misunderstandings occurred because the translator could not be trusted to tell the truth
           - April 1943 - changed after several escapes
    - America planes appeared over camp and dropped bombs
         - POWs wanted to cheer but couldn't
    - Japanese decided to move about half the POWs
        - 6 June 1944 - POWs boarded trucks
            - Japanese took their shoes
            - POWs had their wrists tied by string to each other to prevent escape
            - returned to Cabanatuan in July 1944
Hell Ship:
    - Yashu M aru
         - Boarded: 6 June 1944
             - remained in hold for six days
         - Sailed: 12 June 1944
             - ship dropped anchor off Zamboanga, Mindanao
         - Sailed: 14 June 1944
         - Arrived: 17 June 1944 - Cebu City, Cebu Island
             -POWs disembarked and put in warehouse
         - Sailed: 21 June 1944 - Unknown Maru
         - Arrived: 24 June 1944 - Manila
POW Camp:
    - Bilibid Prison
        - served as transfer center for POWs being moved from the Philippines
Hell Ship:
     - Canadian Inventor
        - Sailed: Manila - 4 July 1944
             - returned to Manila 5 July 1944
        - Sailed: 16 July 1944
            - additional boiler problems
            - left behind by convoy
Arrived: Keelung, Formosa - 5 August 1944
- remained for twelve days for boiler repairs
        - Sailed: 17 August 1944
        - Arrived: Naha, Okinawa
            - additional boiler problems
- stayed six days
        - Sailed: Unknown
        - Arrived: Moji, Japan - 1 September 1944
POW Camps:
    - Japan
        - Nagoya #5-B
            - POWs worked in production of sulfuric acid
Note:  Many of the punishments received by the POWs were the result of the Japanese interpreter, Shinshi Kirio, intentionally misinterpreting orders, or outright lying,  so that the POWs would be beaten. He also made POWs, as punishment, run in circles in the cold.
    The POWs were frequently punished by being hit with sticks, clubs, fists, leather belts, shoes, ropes, belt buckles, and bamboo sticks, while standing at attention.  Afterwards, it was not uncommon for the Japanese to rub salt into the man's wounds and had their food rations cut.  They would also be made to stand at attention with their arms outstretched hold a bucket of water at arm's length.  Other men were suspended from ladders - by their wrists - and beaten while they hung there.  They also were made to kneel on rocks or bamboo poles with heavy rocks behind their knees or squat for hours at a time.
     When Cpl. Takeo Shuraki discovered that the POWs had cut two bars on a window of a bay of the barracks that Roy lived in - for a possible escape during an air raid - the 20 POWs who lived in the bay were questioned one at a time, in Japanese, to find out who had cut them.  This was done even though two POWs confessed to cutting the bars.  Paul was transferred from the camp on May 25, 1945.
        - Nagoya #7-B
Note: The camp was built by and on the property of the Nippon Soda Company, Ltd., and opened on June 6, 1945, about 300 feet from its plant where the POWs worked.  The first POWs arrived on July 7.  The camp was made up of one barracks,  a kitchen and a bathroom, a camp office, and an unknown building.  All the buildings were wood and was surrounded by a 10 foot high wooden fence.
    The POWs barracks was the largest building with the camp hospital at one end.  Along the walls, were two decks of bunks which were merely platforms.  Each POW had a 3 foot wide by 7 foot long area to sleep in on straw mattresses.  The POWs slept on the side of the building nearest the fence until an air raid on July 30 when they moved to the bunks along the other wall because of damage to the barracks.
    The POWs received three meals a day mostly of rice and beans with a few vegetables.  Each meal was 4.8 grams and was eaten from mess kits, in the barracks, on tables down to the POWs.
    The factory manufactured a steel alloy used in the war effort.  The POWs were involved in the melting and forging of metal, and three types of work.  65 POWs worked melting the ore, another 65 worked at forging the metal, and a final 65 did miscellaneous jobs.  One detachment worked the night shift.  A work day was 12 hours long and the POWs received two days off a month.
    On August 1, the City of Toyama was bombed by American planes doing a great deal of damage leaving only five buildings standing.  A bomb fell near the camp on July 20, blowing out windows, damaging walls and roofs on the barracks, while the factory had a great deal of damage.
    - 5 September 1945
        - returned to the Philippine Islands

    - U.S.S. Joseph T. Dychman
        - Sailed: Manila - not known
        - Arrived: San Francisco - 16 October 1945
            - sent to Letterman General Hospital
    - 4 March 1946
    - State of West Virginia
        - worked as laborer for state highway department
        - March 1961 - became center of a political battle when he lost job because of his political affilation
Married: Mary Jane Pinkley
    - 10 October 1981 - Middlebourne, West Virginia




Bataan Project
Return to 17th Ordnance