Pvt. Paul A. Grassick
was the son of Alexander Grassick and Mabel Marks-Grassick. He was born in May 6, 1919, and
raised in Mansfield, Ohio. With his two brothers, he resided at 327 East Fourth Street. Paul was a
1938 graduate of Mansfield Senior High School. After high school, he drove a truck for a dry cleaner.
musically talented and played the trumpet and attended Oberlin College for music. He and his brother,
Bill, traveled the Ohio with their band.
In late 1940,
a draft act had just been passed by the U.S. Government and Paul received his draft notice. He was
sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky for basic training. While there, he was assigned to C Company, 192nd Tank
Battalion. The reason this was done was that the tank company had originally been an Ohio National Guard
Tank Company from Port Clinton, Ohio, and the army was filling vacancies with men from the home states of each
At Ft. Knox, Paul was sent to radio school and trained to be a radio operator. Since
each tank crew member needed to know how to do more than one job, he also learned how to use a machine
In the late summer of 1941, Paul's battalion took part in maneuvers Louisiana from
September 1 through 30. On October 25, 1941, after maneuvers in Louisiana, Paul and the other members of the
company were given the news that they were being sent overseas.
Since the battalion was created from four National Guard Tank Companies, those men 29 years
old or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service. Replacements, including Charles, for
these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion. He was assigned to C Company. The 192nd also received the
tanks and half-tracks from the battalion.
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
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.
The battalion traveled west over different train routes and arrived at
Ft. Mason in San Francisco and were ferried. on the
U.S.A.T General Frank M. Coxe to Angel Island where they given physicals and inoculated by
the battalion's medical detachment. Anyone who had a medical condition was
replaced or held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.
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
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 Dateline. On Saturday, November 15,
smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon. The Louisville revved up its engines,
its bow came out of the water, and it shot off in the direction of the smoke. It turned out
the smoke was from a ship that belonged to a friendly country.
When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16, the ships took on
water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila the next day. At one
point, the ships passed an island at night and did so in total blackout. This for many of
the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way. The ships entered
Manila Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20, and docked at Pier 7 later that
morning. At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.
Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at
the pier to unload the tanks.
At the fort, the tankers were met by Gen. Edward P. King who welcomed
them and made sure that they had what they needed. He also was apologetic that there were
no barracks for the tankers and that they had to live in tents. The fact was he had not
learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.
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. It was at
this time he sent a telegram home telling his parents he had arrived safely in the Philippines.
For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing
cosmoline from their weapons. They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition
belts. The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
The tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field on
December 1st to guard against paratroopers. Two members of each tank crew remained with their
tank at all times. The morning of December 8, the officers of the battalions met and were
informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier. The tankers were in shock as they
returned to the perimeter of Clark Field.
All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes. At noon, all
the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch. At 12:45 planes approached the airfield from the
north. The tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54 planes. When bombs began exploding,
the men knew the planes were Japanese.
When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the
airfield. The soldiers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on
bomb racks, trucks, and anything that could carry the wounded was in use. When the hospital
filled, they watched the medics place the wounded under the building. Many of these men had their
arms and legs missing.
That night the tankers slept with their tanks or half-tracks. Those not
in a tank or half-track crew slept outside away from their tents. Of that night. The
battalion, with the exception of A Company, remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for almost two weeks, until
they were than sent to the Lingayen Gulf area where the Japanese had landed.
At Cabu, C Company's tanks were hidden in brush. The Japanese troops passed the tanks for three hours
without knowing that they were there. While the troops passed, Lt. William Gentry was on his radio describing
what he was seeing. It was only when a Japanese soldier tried take a short cut through the brush, that his
tank was hidden in, that the tanks were discovered. The tanks turned on their sirens and opened up on
the Japanese. They then fell back to Cabanatuan.
C Company was re-supplied and withdrew to Baluiag where the tanks encountered Japanese troops
and ten tanks. It was at Baluiag that C Company's tanks won the first tank battle victory of World War II
against enemy tanks.
After the battle, C Company made its way south. When it entered Cabanatuan, it found the barrio filled
with Japanese guns and other equipment. The tank company destroyed as much of the equipment as it could
before proceeding south.
On December 31, 1941, the commanding officer of C Company sent out reconnaissance patrols
north of the town of Baluiag. The patrols ran into Japanese patrols, which told the Americans that the
Japanese were on their way. Knowing that the railroad bridge was the only way into the town and to cross
the river, the company set up it's defenses in view of the bridge and the rice patty it crossed.
Early on the morning of the 31st, the Japanese began moving troops and across the
bridge. The engineers came next and put down planking for tanks. A little before noon Japanese tanks
began crossing the bridge.
Later that day, the Japanese had assembled a large number of troops in the rice field on the
northern edge of the town. One platoon of tanks under the command of 2nd Lt. Marshall Kennady were to the
southeast of the bridge. Lt. Gentry's tanks were to the south of the bridge in huts, while third platoon
commanded by Capt Harold Collins was to the south on the road leading out of Baluiag
2nd Lt. Everett Preston had been sent south to find a bridge to cross to attack the Japanese from
Major Morley came riding in his jeep into Baluiag. He stopped in front of a hut and
was spotted by the Japanese who had lookouts in the town's church's steeple. The guard became very
excited so Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks positions, got into his jeep and drove off. Bill had
told him that his tanks would hold their fire until he was safely out of the village.
When Gentry felt the Morley was out of danger, he ordered his tanks to open up on the
Japanese tanks at the end of the bridge. The tanks then came smashing through the huts' walls and drove
the Japanese in the direction of Lt. Marshall Kennady's tanks. Kennady had been radioed and was
Kennady's platoon held it's fire until the Japanese were in view of his platoon and
then joined in the hunt. The Americans chased the tanks up and down the streets of the village, through
buildings and under them. By the time Bill's unit was ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had
knocked out at least eight enemy tanks.
The tankers withdrew to Calumpit Bridge after receiving orders from Provisional Tank
Group. When they reached the bridge, they discovered it had been blown. Finding a crossing the
tankers made it to the south side of the river. Knowing that the Japanese were close behind, the Americans
took their positions in a harvested rice field and aimed their guns to fire a tracer shell through the harvested
rice. This would cause the rice to ignite which would light the enemy troops.
The tanks were spaced about 100 yards apart. The Japanese crossing the river knew
that the Americans were there because the tankers shouted at each other to make the Japanese believe troops were
in front of them. The Japanese were within a few yards of the tanks when the tanks opened fire.
Lighting the rice stacks, the Americans opened up with small fire. They then used
their .37 mm guns. The fighting was such a rout that the the tankers were using a .37 mm shell to kill one
The tank company was next sent to the barrio of Porac to aid the Filipino army which was
having trouble with Japanese artillery fire. From a Filipino lieutenant, Gentry learned where the guns were
and attacked. Before the Japanese withdrew, the tankers had knocked out three of the guns.
After this, the tanks withdrew to the Hermosa Bridge and held it on the north side until
all the troops were across. The tanks then crossed to the south and destroyed the bridge which held the
Japanese up for a few days. This was the beginning of the Battle of Bataan.
In addition to serving as a rear guard, the tankers burnt everything that was being left
behind. They burnt warehouses, banks, and businesses that would help the Japanese.
In early February, the Japanese attempted to land troops behind the main battle line on
Bataan on a small peninsula. The troops were quickly cut off and when they attempted to land reinforcements,
they were landed in the wrong place. The fight to wipe out these two pockets became known as the Battle of
The Japanese had been stopped, but the decision was made by Brigadier General Clinton A.
Pierce that tanks were needed to support the 45th Infantry Philippine Scouts. He requested the tanks from the
Provisional Tank Group.
On February 2, a platoon of C Company tanks was ordered to Quinan Point where the Japanese
had landed troops. The tanks arrived about 5:15 P.M. He did a quick reconnaissance of the area, and
after meeting with the commanding infantry officer, made the decision to drive tanks into the edge of the Japanese
position and spray the area with machine-gun fire. The progress was slow but steady until a Japanese .37
milometer gun was spotted in front of the lead tank, and the tanks withdrew. It turned out that the gun had
been disabled by mortar fire, but the tanks did not know this at the time. The decision was made to resume
the attack the next morning, so 45th Infantry dug in for the night.
The next day, the tank platoon did reconnaissance before pulling into the front
line. They repeated the maneuver and sprayed the area with machine gun fire. As they moved forward,
members of the 45th Infantry followed the tanks. The troops made progress all day long along the left side of
the line. The major problem the tanks had to deal with was tree stumps which they had to avoid so they would
not get hung up on them. The stumps also made it hard for the tanks to maneuver. Coordinating the
attack with the infantry was difficult, so the decision was made by to bring in a radio car so that the tanks and
infantry could talk with each other.
On February 4, at 8:30 A.M. five tanks and the radio car arrived. The tanks were
assigned the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, so each tank commander knew which tank was receiving an order. Each tank
also received a walkie-talkie, as well as the radio car and infantry commanders. This was done so that the
crews could coordinate the attack with the infantry and send so that the tanks could be ordered to where they were
needed. The Japanese were pushed back almost to the cliffs when the attack was halted for the night.
The attack resumed the next morning the next morning and the Japanese were pushed to the
cliff line where they hid below the edge of the cliff out of view. It was at that time that the tanks were
released to returned to the 192nd.
The company took part in the Battle of the Pockets. The
Japanese had lunched an offensive and were pushed back to the original battle line.
Two pockets of Japanese soldiers were trapped behind the line. The tanks were sent in
to the pockets to wipe them out. One platoon of tanks would relieve another
platoon. The tanks would do this one at a time.
The tanks used two strategies to do this. In the first, the tanks
would go over a foxhole. Three Filipino soldiers were sitting on the back of the
tanks. Each man had a bag of hand grenades. As the tank was passing over the
foxhole, the three soldiers would drop hand grenades into the foxhole.
The second method was to park a tank over a foxhole. The driver
would then spun the tank, in a circle, on one track until it ground itself into the ground
wiping out the Japanese. The tankers slept upwind from the tanks so they didn't
have to smell the rotting flesh.
Paul said about fighting the Japanese
Our job was to hold out as long as we could so defenses south of us to Australia could
be prepared. We would advance to the front lines, fight, and then drop back for food,
ammunition, and gasoline."
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 to Corregidor.
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 counter-attack.
It was the evening of April 8, that Gen. Edward P. King decided that
further resistance was futile, since approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to
fight, and he estimated they would last one more day. In addition, he had over 6,000
troops who sick or wounded and 40,000 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
The morning of the April 9, 1942, at 6:45 the tankers received the
and destroyed their tanks. When the Japanese made contact with them, they
were ordered to Mariveles where they started the death march. Of this he recalled
,"We were herded into fields by day and marched in the stifling heat at
night. Those who dropped out were bayoneted."
At Mariveles, members of C Company were mixed
in with other Prisoners Of War and began the death march. Paul was in a group of
prisoners that included Sgt. Albert Allen, Pvt. George Zimmerman, T/5 Earl Charles,
Pvt. Merle Miller and Pvt. Robert Robinette.
Paul recalled that the Japanese guards were
mean for no apparent reason. The guards did things to the POWs because they could
Paul watched the guards strip a prisoner and chain him to a
stake. This was done even though it was apparent that the man was out of his
In another incident, a Japanese truck intentionally swerved
into the POWs. Sgt. Albert Allen was hit during one of these incidents. He
did not finish the march with Paul's POW group. It took Paul nine days to
complete the march.
The lack of food and water was also a major issue for the POWs. In
his own words
, " I went nine days without food."
The Japanese would not allow the prisoners to drink water from the artesian wells that they
marched past, but they would let the POWS drink from the ditches that ran alongside the road. For water, Paul
filled his canteen with ditch water that was covered in slim. To make it safe to drink, Paul added iodine
pills that he had hidden by sewing them into his clothing. On one occasion, a Japanese guard knocked the
canteen from his hand. When he reached for it, the guard kneed him in his groin.
Paul was amazed at the courage of the Filipino people. He watched as
they openly defied the Japanese by giving food and water to the POWs.
made his way north on the march to San Fernando. There, the
POWs were herded into a bull-pin. In one corner, there was a
trench that was for use as a toilet. The surface of the pit
moved from the maggots on its surface. They remained in the pin
until the Japanese ordered them to form detachments of 100
men. Once the groups were formed, the men were marched to
the train station.
The POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars
used to haul sugarcane. The cars were known as forty or eights
since they could hold forty men or eight horses. 100 POWs were
packed into each car. Those who died remained standing until
the living left the cars at Capas. From Capas, they walked the
last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army base that the
Japanese put into use as a POW camp and believed the camp could hold 15,000 to 20,000
POWs. When they arrived at the camp, the camp commandant told the Americans that
they were not prisoners of war but captives. The Japanese also took away any extra
clothing that the POWs carried with them and refused to return it. The POWs were
searched and anyone found with Japanese money were separated from the other POWs and sent
to the guardhouse. These POWs were accused of looting the bodies of dead Japanese
soldiers. Over several days, gunshots were heard coming from southeast of the camp.
There was only one water faucet for the entire camp and men
stood in line from 2½ to 8 hours waiting for a drink. The Japanese guard in charge
of the spigot would turn it off, for no reason, and the next man in line would have to
wait up to four hours for it to be turned on again. Water for cooking food had to be
hauled three miles to the camp. Mess kits could not be cleaned. Since there was no
water to wash their clothing, the POWs threw away soiled clothing and stripped the dead
of their clothing. Few of the POWs in the camp hospital had clothing.
Since most of the POWs had dysentery, the slit trenches
overflowed which resulted in flies being everywhere in the camp including the camp
kitchen and in the food. The camp hospital had no water, soap, or disinfectant
which also caused diseases to spread. When the ranking American doctor presented a
letter with the medicines and medical supplies they needed to treat the sick, the camp
commander, Captain Yoshio Tsuneyoshi, told him never to write another letter. He
also said that the only thing he wanted to know about the POWs were their names and
serial numbers after they died.
The Archbishop of Manila sent a truck full of medical
supplies to the camp, but the Japanese refused to let it into the camp. When a
representative of the Philippine Red Cross told a Japanese lieutenant that they could set
up an 150 bed hospital for the POWs, he was slapped in the face by the lieutenant.
Medicines sent to the camp by the Red Cross were confiscated by the Japanese for their
The POWs called the hospital "Zero Ward" because most
of the men who entered it never came out alive. The Japanese were so afarid of
contracting an illness that they put a barbed wire fence up around it. The POWs in
the hospital lay elbow to elbow on the floor and operations were performed with knives
from mess kits. Only one medic, out of every six assigned to treat the sick, was
healthy enough to perform his duties.
Each morning, the POWs walked around the camp and collected the
bodies of the dead and placed them under the hospital building. To clean the
ground, the POWs moved the bodies, scrapped the ground, put down lime to sterilize
the ground, moved the bodies back, and repeated the process where the bodies had
been. It took two to three days to bury a man after he died.
Any POW, if he could walk, went out on a work detail for the day
such as the one collected wood for the POW kitchen. Some POWs went out on work
details which lasted for months to get out of the camp. The worse detail a man
could be put on was the burial detail. On this detail, two POWs carried a dead man
to the camp cemetery. Once there, they put the body in a grave and held the body
down with a pole, since the water table was high, and covered it with dirt. The
next morning, when the burials resumed, the dead were often sitting up or had been dug up
by wild dogs.
What Paul remembered about Camp O'Donnell was that many men died there. Many starved to death while
others died from beriberi. Paul was assigned to burial detail at the camp. On this detail, he and the
other men went out to the cemetery in the morning and dug graves. They then returned to the camp to pick up
the bodies of the dead. In blankets attached to poles, they carried the dead to the graveyard for
burial. By the time they returned, the graves were filled with water. To bury the dead, the workers
held the corpse down in the grave with a pole. So they could be identified after the war, a dog-tag was
wedged between the two front teeth each dead POW.
To get out of Camp O'Donnell, Paul was selected to go out on a bridge building detail. On the detail,
the POWs rebuilt the bridges that had been destroyed during the retreat into the Bataan Peninsula. It was the
rainy season and many men came down with malaria. It is known that while on the detail a Filipino doctor gave
him a shot for malaria which saved his life.
When the detail ended, Paul was sent to Cabanatuan which was a former Philippine Army Base
and had been the home of the 91st Philippine Army Division's home. The camp was actually three camps.
Camp One was where the men who captured on Bataan and taken part in the death march where held. Camp Two did
not have an adequate water supply and was closed. It later reopened and housed Naval POWs. Camp Three was
where those men captured when Corregidor surrender were taken. In addition, men from Bataan who had been
hospitalized when the surrender came were sent to the camp. Camps One and Three were later consolidated into
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. What details Joe took part in
from the camp is not known.
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. In addition, the lack of proper
bathrooms contributed to 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. During his time in the camp he credited
olic priest and nuns who did whatever
the could to help the POWs.
On November 1, 1942, the Japanese drew 1500 POW names of men who were being sent to
Japan. When the names were drawn, the POWs had no idea what was happening. Many came to the conclusion on
their own that they were being sent to Japan. At 3:00 A.M. on November 5, the POWs left the camp and marched to
the Barrio of Cabanatuan. Before they left the camp, each man was given his breakfast, to take with, which was
a small issue of rice and what the Japanese termed "a large piece of meat." The large piece of meat
was two inches square and large next to a piece of meat they usually received at a meal.
After they arrived at the barrio, a Japanese officer lectured the POWs before they boarded
train cars. 98 POWs were put into each car which allowed them to position themselves so they could move
around. They remained on the train all day and arrived at Manila at 5:00 P.M. After they
disembarked, they were marched to Pier 7 where they spent the night sleeping on a concrete floor in a building.
The POWs boarded the
at 5:00 P.M. on November 6. The POWs were pushed into the forward hold which the Japanese believed could
hold 600 men without a problem. In an attempt to get the POWs into the hold the Japanese beat them. When the
Japanese realized that beating them was not working, they concluded that the hold could not hold 600 men. It
was at that time they lowered the number of men in the hold to somewhere between 550 and 560. This meant that
nine men had to share an area that was 4 feet, nine inches, by 6 feet, 2 inches. All the holds on the ship were
packed with men in the same manner.
The POWs had barely enough room to sit down if their knees were drawn up under their
chins. The heat was also unbelievable, so the Japanese allowed small groups of POWs up on the deck at night in
sailed on November 7, 1942.
The Japanese had set up two latrines for the POWs. One was at the on each side of the
ship's deck and since so many of the POWs had dysentery and diarrhea, it soon became obvious not going to
work. The sick who tried to use the latrines were beaten and kicked by the Japanese for making too much noise
passing through the Japanese quarters. When they reached the deck, they ended up waiting in line.
For the extremely ill POWs, the Japanese sent down, into the hold, tubs for the extremely ill
to use. The sick crawled, rolled, and stumbled to reach the tubs. Because the POWs were dehydrated, the
POWs urinated frequently. In addition, those with dysentery and diarrhea could not make it to the tubs which
resulted in the POWs standing into several inches of human waste. If they did try to reach the tubs, the men
had step on the bodies of other POWs.
The ship reached Takao, Formosa, on November 11. While it was docked there, the POWs
could not leave the holds. The ship sailed on November 15, and arrived at Mako, Formosa the same day.
They remained in the holds with the fleas, lice, and roaches. The ship sailed again on November 18.
During this part of the trip, the POWs felt the explosions from depth charges.
The trip to Japan ended on November 24, when the ship reached Moji late in the day. At
5:00 P.M. the next day they disembarked the ship. As they disembarked, each POW received a chip of red or black
colored wood. The color of the wood determined what camp the POW was sent to. In addition, once on shore,
they were deloused and issued new uniforms.
By ferry, the POWs were taken to Himoneski, Honshu, where they were loaded onto a train and
took a long ride along the northern side of the Inland Sea to the Osaka-Kobe area. There, the prisoners
were divided into two groups according the color of wood they had. In Paul's case, he was assigned to
Camp, outside of Tokyo, which was also known as Tokyo #12-B. The trip to the camp turned out to be extremely
difficult. Most of the POWs were suffering from dysentery, beriberi, or enteritis, and were weak from the lack
of food, water, and rest. Many POWs had died during the trip from the Philippines, and one POW died on
the train trip to the camp. Because of a train wreck, which blocked a tunnel, the POWs had leave the train and
walk several miles over a mountain at night. When they reached the camp, they were exhausted and some could not
After arriving in the camp, Capt. Sukeo Nakajima, the camp commander had them line up and
stand in formation dressed in tropical clothing. The camp was located in the mountains. He made a lengthy
speech in which he threatened to kill them for the slightest reason. The speech lasted an hour and a
half. The next morning, the POWs were made to strip off their clothing and were given their first medical
examination outside in the cold.
That night the POWs slept in cold barracks. The situation which was made worse by
the fact they had tropical clothing and there were few blankets. The barracks were heated by 3 foot by 3
foot fire pits that were only used from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M., since each barracks received ten - 4 inch by two foot
long - pieces of wood each day which did not supply adequate heat. Since there were no flues for the smoke
from the fire pits filled the barracks which irritated the POWs' eyes. Often, during the winter, the
Japanese used excuses about rules having been violated so that they did not have to give the POWs firewood.
In addition, the barracks were poorly constructed and the wind blew through the cracks at night. The floors
were dirt and sand which meant the barracks flooded when it rained.
There were two latrines in the camp each of which could hold 30 men at a time. The
latrines did not have a drainage system which meant that they had to empty the trenches by hand. Every POW
had a turn doing this job.
The Japanese did not provide the Red Cross winter clothing or shoes sent to the camp for
the POWs. After the war, a warehouse of clothing, shoes, and coats was found at the camp. Instead,
the POWs wore their tropical clothing and straw shoes which were made by POWs too sick to work. The
Japanese did supply rags so that the POWs could patch their clothes. The POWs also worked in the rain
without raincoats or a change of clothes.
Red Cross medical supplies withheld from sick and the sick slept on soiled blankets,
since the POWs could not wash them since there were no washing facilities. The Japanese misappropriated Red
Cross supplies for themselves and were seen wearing clothing and shoes meant for the
Collective Punishment was practiced in the camp. From post war, war crime records,
45 POWs were punished because of the actions of a few. Eight Japanese guards repeatedly abused these POWs
denying them - at various times - food, shelter, and clothing, between November 26, 1942 and his death. At
night, POWs were called out into the cold and made to stand at attention. While standing there, they were
slapped for no apparent reason. Eight Japanese guards repeatedly abused these POWs denying them - at
various times - food, shelter, and clothing, between November 26, 1942 and August 5, 1944. Nine guards from
this camp were executed for war crimes after the war. Paul received one of the worse beatings as a POW in
the camp, when a Japanese Guard punched him in the face. The impact of the punch broke Paul's jaw and
nose. At some other time, his arm was broken. Paul remained on this detail for one and a half years.
It was common practice in the camp for the Japanese to call the POWs out of the barracks
at night and make them stand at attention for no reason. One guard, Sgt. Masaru Mikawa would walk down the
line and get in the faces of the POWs. If the man flinched, he walloped the man as hard as he could.
Those POWs put in the guardhouse had no bedding and had their rations reduced.
The Japanese intentionally failed to give the POWs adequate food, and the Japanese
supervisor of the POW kitchen, Tomotsu Kimura, also known as "The Punk," was known to take sacks of
rice - meant for the POWs - home. The food the POWs did receive consisted of under-cooked rice and barley,
and a soup that was made from mountain greens and weeds. On very few occasions, the POWs received
vegetables, meat or fish. To make the fish edible, the POWs boiled it until they could eat it. The
portions given to the prisoners were smaller than they should have been because Kimura skimmed food from the POWs
and gave it to the guards.
Red Cross packages which arrived at the camp were commandeered by the Japanese for
themselves. If the POWs did receive packages, it was evident that they had been gone through. This
was especially true from November 26, 1942 until August 5, 1944.
The camp hospital was a hospital in name only, and the POWs were given little to no
medicine when they were sick. The medicine sent by the Red Cross for the POWs was used by the
Japanese. In addition, there were no bathroom facilities for the sick. The POWs had to sleep on
soiled blankets which could not be cleaned since there were no facilities to wash them.
The POWs were divided into detachments and taken to different steel mills. The
working conditions were extremely bad at the antiquated furnaces where the POWs shoveled coal into the
ovens. The POWs frequently became ill and vomited from breathing in the sulfur fumes.
On April 16, 1944, Paul was transferred to Kanose Camp, also known as
, with 49 other POWs. The POWs worked in a carbide plant that was located in a mine shaft. No
safety equipment was given to the POWs and they had little supervision. He spent the
remainder of the war on this detail.
The camp commander was fairly decent in his treatment of the POWs, and did not force the
sick to work in the factory, but he did not stop his subordinates from abusing them.
Red Cross boxes and supplies were not issued to the POWs and guards were known to take the
food, medicines, and clothing for their own use. One day, representatives of the International Red Cross
came to the camp. Before they arrived, the Japanese handed out Red Cross boxes to the POWs, but told them
that if they touched anything in the boxes they would be severely punished. After the Red Cross left the
camp, the Japanese confiscated the boxes.
The POWs working at the camp had no idea how the war was going, until the day, the POWs
were in the plant working when they were suddenly sent back to the camp. This was the first sign that
something was up. When Paul and the other POWs returned to the camp, they were informed that the war was
The POWs were transported to Yokohama Docks and boarded a transport on September 7,1945,
for the Philippines. For him, one of the most meaningful events was to see an American ship flying the
Stars & Stripes. On September 12, his family learned that he had been liberated.
Paul was boarded onto a ship and returned to the Philippines for medical treatment.
Later, he was boarded onto the
U.S.S. Hugh Rodman and arrived at San Francisco on October 3, 1945. It was almost four years after
he had sailed from the city for the Philippines. He was sent to Letterman General Hospital and then
to the John P Fletcher VA Hospital in Cambridge, Ohio. During his time as a POW he kept a diary in which he
spoke about how a Catholic priest and nuns did whatever they could for the POWs, the treatment the POWs received,
and a Japanese guard, in Japan, who did what he could for the POWs. He would later testify against Japanese
guards who had abused American POWs. The majority of these guards were later executed. He was
discharged, from the army, on April 1, 1946, but called to testify about his treatment as a POW in
Paul married LeVerbne Mitchell and with his wife raised two daughters and a son. Paul worked for Tappen
Corporation until he retired. When his wife died, he married, Audrey, and became the step father to three
daughters and two sons. In April 1967, the employees of Tappen contributed money so that Paul and his wife
could return to the Philippines for the 25th Anniversary of the surrender of Bataan. The lasting affects of
his time as a POW was that he had a crooked jaw and a mangled arm.
During the Vietnam war, Albert Allen, who also was in his tank company, and Paul collected
signatures for "Project Humanity." This organization was set up to get the North Vietnamese to
follow the terms of the Geneva Convention in their treatment of American POWs.
Paul Grassick passed away in Bellville, Ohio, on March 25, 2009. After services at
Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, he was buried at Mansfield Cemetery in Mansfield, Ohio.