Pvt. Edward F. Martel was the son of William & Bina Martel. He was born on February 2, 1919, and grew
up at 87 Mall Street in Lynn, Massachusetts
Ed attended St. Jean Baptist Catholic School and Breed Junior High School. He attended
high school but left during his junior year.
In 1936, Ed joined the Massachusetts National Guard. He was a
member of the 101st Engineer Battalion for one year. In 1937, Ed transferred into the regular army and was
assigned to the 66th Infantry. This unit trained in light tanks and Ed trained as a tank driver.
During this time, Ed was stationed at Fort Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts.
In 1939, Ed was reassigned to Ft. Benning, Georgia. There he
trained in medium tanks. The unit he was in was reassigned to Camp Polk, Louisiana, in 1941. During
this time Ed rose in rank from private to sergeant.
In the fall of 1941, after taking part in maneuvers in Louisiana, the
192nd Tank Battalion received orders to be sent overseas. Those National Guardsmen 29 years old or older
were allowed to resign from federal duty. After this had been done, replacements were sought to fill out
the battalion's roster.
Although volunteering to join the 192nd meant that Ed would lose his
rank and be busted to private, Ed volunteered to be transferred to the 192nd. He did this so that he had
the opportunity to go overseas.
Once Ed became a member of the 192nd, he was assigned to C Company as a
tank driver. Ed became a member of the tank crew of Sgt. Kenneth Thompson.
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.
The battalion's new tanks came from the 753rd Tank Battalion and were loaded onto flat
cars, on different trains. The soldiers also cosmolined anything that they thought would rust. Over
different train routes, the companies were sent to 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, they were given
physicals by the battalion's medical detachment and men found with minor medical conditions were held on the
island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
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. They 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, the transport,
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 King, who apologized that they had to live
in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field. He made sure that they all received
Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own. Ironically, November 20 was the date that the National
Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
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.
They were greeted by Gen. Edward King, who apologized that they had to live in
tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field. He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving
Dinner before he went to have his own. Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members
of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
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.
The tanks were ordered to the perimeter of the Clark Field to guard
against Japanese paratroopers on December 1st to guard against paratroopers. Two members of each tank
remained with their tank at all times. The morning of December 8, 1941, Ed and the other men heard the news
of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. They were ordered to move their tanks to the perimeter of the
airfield to prevent the Japanese from using paratroopers. That morning, every available American plane was
in the air to prevent another Pearl Harbor.
Around noon every American plane landed and their pilots went to
lunch. Around 12:45, the tankers were having lunch when they saw formations of planes approaching the
airfield. At first they believed that the planes were American, it was only when they heard the sound of
bombs falling that they knew the planes were Japanese. The attack literally wiped out the American Army Air
After the attack, Ed saw the carnage from the attack. His unit
remained on alert around Clark Field. On December 21, the Japanese began landing troops at Lingayen Gulf, C
Company was ordered north in support of B Company. Ed recalled that the tanks dodged Japanese bombers
on their trek north.
Arriving in the foothills just north and west of Bagio, Ed witnessed the
destruction of the 26th U. S. Cavalry. The tankers drove passed carcasses of dead horses. As they
passed, they also saw the bodies of the dead Filipino Scouts who had rode the horses.
When the tanks reached Lingayen Gulf, Ed recalled looking out onto the
water and seeing more ships than he could have ever imagined. The tankers realized that there was no
possible way to stop the Japanese on the beaches, so they made an orderly retreat toward Manila.
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 fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and
December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29. While there, the bridge over the
Pampanga River was destroyed, they were able find a crossing over the river.
At Cabu, seven tanks of the company fought a three hour battle with the Japanese.
The main Japanese line was south of Saint Rosa Bridge ten miles to the south of the battle.
The tanks were hidden in brush as Japanese troops passed them 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 Gentry's tanks won the first tank victory of World War II
against enemy tanks.
After this 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, Company was 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, Lt.
Gentry set up his 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. 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 its 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.
During the withdraw into the peninsula, the company crossed over the
last bridge which was mined and about to be blown. The 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank
Battalion could leap frog past it and then cover the 192nd's withdraw. The 192nd was the last American unit
to enter Bataan.
Over the next several months, the battalion fought battle after battle with tanks that
were not designed for jungle warfare. The tank battalions , on January 28th, 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. The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting
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 Points.
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.
C Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets. After an offensive, the
Japanese were pushed back to the original line of defense. Two pockets of Japanese troops were trapped
behind the main battle line. The tanks were given the job of cleaning out the Japanese. The tanks
would enter a pocket one at a time, and the next tank would not enter the pocket until the tank that had been
relieved cleared the pocket.
Lt. John Hay, of C Company, came up with the idea of driving the tanks
over the Japanese foxholes. On the back of each tank, were soldiers with a bag of hand grenades.
Since the Japanese dove back into their foxholes when the tanks approached, the soldiers sitting on the tanks
dropped grenades into the Japanese foxholes as the tanks drove over them. This tactic wiped out the two
Ed also recalled that during this operation, that one of the tanks of C
Company was knocked out when a magnetic mine was attached to it. The crew was trapped inside the
tank. When they did not surrender, the Japanese filled the tank with dirt through the viewing ports
suffocating the crew
Since the tank could be used for spear parts for the other tanks, the
tankers had to recover it. Ed remembered that those tankers attempting to recover the tank came under
sniper fire. The sniper fire resulted in the death of at least one member of B Company.
April 3, the Japanese lunched an all out attack on Bataan, and the tanks were repeatedly
used to plug holes in the defensive lines. On April 7, 1942, the Japanese broke through the east side of
the main defensive line on Bataan. C Company was pulled out of their position along the west side of the
line. They were ordered to reinforce the eastern portion of the line. Traveling south to Mariveles,
the tankers started up the eastern road but were unable to reach their assigned area due to the roads being
blocked by retreating Filipino and American forces.
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
Word came down to Ed and the rest of C Company of the surrender.
They were given instructions to destroy their tanks when they heard the order
When the order was given, most of the tanks were destroyed. On April 9, 1942, Bataan was
officially surrendered to the Japanese. Ed was now a Prisoner of War. After receiving orders from the
Japanese to move to Mariveles, C Company was allowed to ride trucks to the barrio.
In Mariveles, the company lined up in a field facing Corregidor.
As they stood there, the Japanese searched them for what they called contraband. This included guns,
knives, jewelry, other valuables, money, watches, and whatever else that the Japanese wanted to take.
Ed and the other men were organized into groups of 100 POWs. Japanese officers walked
among the prisoners looking for Filipinos. The officers pulled the Filipinos out of the group and shot them
in their temples. After they fell to the ground, the Japanese kicked their bodies into the ditches
alongside the road.
The POWs were ordered to form 100 men detachments. Once this was
done, they were marched to the train station in San Fernando and put into a small wooden boxcars used to haul
sugarcane. The cars could hold forty men or eight horses, but the Japanese packed 100 men into each
car. Those who died remained standing - since they could not fall to the floor - until the living climbed
out of the cars at Capas. From Capas, they walked the last miles to Camp O'
The camp was an unfinished Filipino training base which the Japanese pressed the camp
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 food.
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. When the Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medical supplies
to the camp, Tsuneyoshi refused to allow the truck into the camp. When the Japanese Red Cross sent medical
supplies to 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
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.
Ed recalled that by the time he and the other men reached Camp
O'Donnell, that they were sick. At least half of the POWs had yellow jaundice, malaria, beriberi,
scurvy, Dengue fever and dysentery. The situation there was so bad that he volunteered to go out on a work
The detail Ed was put on was to collect scrap-metal that would be sent
to Japan. He estimated that there were as many as 150 POWs on the detail. The POWs were driven
in trucks to a Catholic girls' school and put up in a dormitory at San Fernando. The prisoners were
then taken to Bataan where they towed vehicles to the Sam Miguel Brewery outside of Manila and back to San
In September, the detail ended and Ed was sent to Cabanatuan, which had
opened because of the conditions at Camp O'Donnell. Cabanatuan had been the headquarters of the 91st
Philippine Army Division and had been known as Camp Panagaian. The camp was actually three camps.
Camp 1 was where the men who captured on Bataan and taken part in the death march where held. Camp 2 did
not have an adequate water supply and was closed. It later reopened and housed Naval POWs. Camp 3 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. Camp 3 was later consolidated into Camp 1.
Once in the camp, the POWs were allowed to run the camp. The Japanese only entered
if they had an issue they wanted to deal with. 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.
In the camp, the Japanese instituted the "Blood Brother" rule. If one
man escaped the other nine men in his group would be executed. POWs caught trying to escape were
beaten. Those who did escape and were caught, were tortured before being executed. It is not known if
any POW successfully escaped from the camp.
The barracks in the camp were built to house 50 POWs, but most had between 60 to 120
POWs in them. The POWs slept on bamboo slats, without mattresses, bedding, or mosquito netting. Many
quickly became ill. The POWs were assigned to barracks which meant that the members of their group lived
together, went out on work details together, and would be executed together since they were Blood Brothers.
The POWs were sent out on work details one was to cut wood for the POW kitchens.
The two major details were the farm detail and the airfield detail which lasted for years. A typical day on
any detail lasted from 7:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. The POWs on the farm detail would have to go to a
shed each morning to get tools. As they left the shed, the Japanese guards thought it was great fun to hit
them over their heads.
The detail was under the command of "Big Speedo" who spoke very little
English. When he wanted the POWs to work faster, he told the POWs
Although he was known to have a temper, the POWs thought he was fair. Another guard was
"Little Speedo" who was smaller and also used
when he wanted the POWs to work faster. The POWs also felt he was pretty fair in his treatment of
them. "Smiley" was another guard who always had a smile on his face but could not be
trusted. He was the meanest of the guards and beat men up for no reason. There was one Japanese
sergeant who carried a club. This sergeant liked to hit the POWs with the club. Any prisoner who he
believed was not working hard enough got knocked over with it. Any prisoner who he believed was not working
hard enough got knocked over with it. A typical day on any detail lasted from 7:00 A.M. until 5:00
Rice was the main food given to the POWs fed to them as "lugow" which meant
"wet rice." During their time in the camp, they received few vegetables and almost no
fruit. Once in awhile, they received bread.
The camp hospital was known as "Zero Ward" because it was missed by the
Japanese when they counted barracks. The sickest POWs were sent there to die. The Japanese put a
fence up around the building to protect themselves, and they would not go into the building. There were two
rolls of wooden platforms around the perimeter of the building. The sickest POWs were put on the lower
platform which had holes cut into it so the they could relieve themselves. Most of those who entered the
The POWs had the job of burying the dead. To do this, they worked in teams of four
men. Each team carried a litter of four to six dead men to the cemetery where they were buried in graves
containing 15 to 20 bodies.
He remained in the camp for one year. During this time he was
often so sick that he came close to dying. He was admitted to the camp hospital on February 1, 1943.
Records kept at the camp do not give a reason why he was admitted or when he was discharged.
Ed stated that he and the other prisoners knew how the war was going
from POWs coming in from work details. The Filipino people would tell these men the news from that they
heard from American radio broadcasts, and the POWs would share it with the men in the camp.
In July of 1944, Ed was selected for transport to Japan. He was taken to Bilibid Prison
and stayed there for two weeks before being taken to the Port Area of Manila and boarded onto the
Canadian Inventor. As the POWs were boarding the ship Ed and other men witnessed a commercial Japanese
shop blow up in the harbor. They were delighted. The ship sailed for Japan on July 4th. During
the trip, the ship stopped and Takao and Keelung on Formosa. It next sailed for Okinawa and docked at
Naha. The ship finally arrived at Moji on September 1st.
At the camp, the POWs worked in a condemned coal mine where each team of
POWs was expected to load three cars of coal a day. The POWs worked 12 hour work days with the constant
threat of rocks falling on them. Those POWs who the Japanese believed were not working hard enough were
beaten. The POWs worked in three shifts, with a 30 minute lunch, and one day off every ten days.
The camp was surrounded by a 12 foot wooden fence that had three heavy gauge electrified
wires attached to it. The first wire was at attached at six feet with the others higher up. The POWs
lived in 33 one story barracks 120 feet long and 16 feet wide and divided into ten rooms. Officers slept four
men to a room while enlisted men slept from four to six men in a room. Each room was lit by a 15 watt bulb,
and at the end of each building was a latrine with three stools and a urinal. The POWs slept on beds, that
were 5 feet 8 inches long by 2½ feet wide, made of a tissue paper and cotton battling covered with a cotton
pad. Three heavy cotton blankets were issued to each POW plus a comfortable made of tissue paper, scrap rags,
and scrap cotton.
Life at Fukuoka #17 was hard and there were prisoners who would steal from other
prisoners. To prevent this from happening, the POWs would "buddy up" with each other. Another
problem in the camp was that POWs traded their food rations for cigarettes. POWs who did this were referred
to as "future corpses." The situation got so bad that the Japanese finally stepped in and stopped
A meal consisted of rice and a vegetable soup three times a day.
Those POWs working in the mine received 700 grams a day, while camp workers received 450 grams a day.
Officers, since they were not required to work, received 300 grams a day. Those working in the mine
received three buns every second day since they did not return to camp for lunch. The meals were cooked in
the camp kitchen which was manned by 15 POWs. Seven of the POWs were professional cooks. The kitchen
had 11 cauldrons, 2 electric baking ovens, 2 kitchen ranges, 4 storerooms, and an ice box. To supplement
their diets, the prisoners also ate dog meat, radishes, potato greens and seaweed. As they entered
the mess hall, they would say their POW number to a POW at a board. He would take a nail and place it in
the hole in front of the man's number. After all the POWs had been fed, the board was cleared for the
There were also bathing rooms in the camp with two bathing tanks that were 30 feet long,
10 feet wide, and 4 feet deep. The tubs were heated with very hot water. The POWs working in the mine
bathed during the winter after cleaning themselves before entering the tubs. They did not bathe during the
summer months to prevent skin diseases.
The camp hospital was a building of ten rooms that could each hold 30 men. There
was an isolation ward for 15 POWs usually men suffering from tuberculosis. The POW doctors had little to no
medicines or medical supplies to treat the ill. Dental treatment consisted of removing teeth without
In addition, the sick were forced to work. The Japanese camp doctor allowed the
sick, who could walk, to be sent into the mine. He also took the Red Cross medical supplies meant for the
POWs for his own use and failed to provide adequate medical treatment. Food that came in the packages was
eaten by the guards. Those POWs working in the mine were given more Red Cross supplies than the other POWs.
Corporal punishment was an everyday occurrence at the camp. The guards beat the
POWs for slightest reason and continued until the POW was unconscious. The man was then taken to the
guardhouse and put in solitary confinement without food or water for a long period of time.
The Japanese interpreter in the camp refused to perform his duties resulting in the POWs
receiving beatings because they could not explain the situation. He also would inform the guards of any
alleged violations of camp rules which resulted in the POWs being severely beaten. This happened frequently
at the mine with the interpreter usually the person responsible. He also, for no reason, slapped and beat
On one occasion in November 1944, shirts had been stolen from a bundle in a
building. The Japanese ordered all the POWs to assemble and told them that they would not be fed until the
shirts were returned. The men returned the shirts anonymously, and the POWs received their meal at 10:00
During the winter, the POWs were made to stand at attention and had water thrown on them
as they stood in the cold, or they were forced to knee on bamboo poles. It is known that the POWs were made
to stand in water and shocked with electrical current. At some point, Jim recalled, two POWs were tied to a
post and left to die. This was done they had violated a camp rule.
In his opinion, he and other prisoners were "Rip Van Wrinkles" because they
had no news of how the war was going.
One of the few times they received news was when one of the Japanese guards told them that they were
while the new Americans were
They were delighted to hear this because this meant that the American forces were close.
In addition, the sick were forced to work. The Japanese camp doctor allowed the
sick, who could walk, to be sent into the mine. Men who had one good arm were made to lift heavy
loads. He also took the Red Cross medical supplies meant for the POWs for his own use and failed to
provide adequate medical treatment. Food that came in the packages was eaten by the guards.
During his time at the camp, he suffered from beriberi. While he was there, the camp
was hit by bombs from American planes. The American section of the camp was badly damaged, so they moved in
with the British and Dutch POWs.
On August 9, 1945, some of the POWs saw the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Those
who saw it described that it was a sunny day and that the explosion still lit up the sky. The pillar of smoke
that rose from the bomb was described as having all the colors of the rainbow. Afterwards, the POWs saw what
they described as a fog blanketing Nagasaki which seemed to have vanished.
The POWs went to work and talked to the Japanese civilians who spoke about how those, who
had survived the blast, would touch their heads and pull out their hair. They stated these Japanese died
within days. They also told of how they heard about a detachment of Japanese soldiers sent into Nagasaki to
recover victims and how its members suffered the same fate.
When the POWs came out of the mine, they found that the next shift of POWs was not waiting to go
to work. That night, the POWs were made to stand at attention for two hours. They all had their
blankets because they believed they were going to be moved. Instead, they were returned to their
barracks. The next day, when it was their turn to go to work, they were told it was a holiday, and they had
the day off. They knew something was up because they had never had a holiday off before this.
Finally, the POWs were gathered in the camp and told that Japan and the United States were
now friends. They were also told to stay in the camp. They also found a warehouse with Red Cross
packages and distributed the packages to the camp. One day, George Weller, a reporter for the Chicago Daily
News entered the camp. He told the POWs that there were American troops on Honshu. The camp was
liberated on September 13, by a POW Recovery Team and on September 18, at 7:09 A.M., the POWs left the camp and
were taken to the Dejima Docks at Nagasaki, where they boarded a ship and were returned to the Philippines.
Sometime around August 15, 1945, the guards left the camp. Some of
the able bodied POWs took off for Prince Kanoe Airport. Ed and the other weaker POWs remained in the camp
receiving food by air drops made by B-52 bombers.
Ed and the other POWs were later trucked to Nagasaki and taken aboard a
hospital ship. From there, Ed got a ride on an aircraft carrier to Guam and back to the Philippines.
He stayed in the Philippines for four weeks eating and receiving medication.
When Ed was declared healthy, he was put on the
U.S.S.Marine Shark which arrived at San Francisco on November 1, 1945. He took a train to Ft.
Devens, Massachusetts and with a 104 day recuperation leave. Ed reenlisted and received an additional 90
day reenlistment leave.
In September 1945, Ed reported for active duty, this time as a member of
the Army Air Corps. He remained in the military and completed 24 years of active duty. He retired as
a staff sergeant at age 62 in March 1981.
After his retirement Ed lived in North Chicago, Illinois. He later resided in Kenosha,
Wisconsin, with his wife, the former Doris Donahue, and daughter. As Ed looked back on his life, he was
amazed that he had lived so many years beyond the experiences of a 23 year old who had lived the life of a Japanese
Edward Martel passed away on August 14, 2008. He was buried at Sunset Ridge Memorial
Park in Kenosha, Wisconsin.