Pvt. Albert Bland Moore
| Pvt. Albert
B. Bland Moore was born on July 15, 1920, in
Mackville, Kentucky, to Robert L. Moore &
Gertrude A. Roberts-Moore. He was raised in
Mercer County with his five brothers and three
sisters and was known as "Bland" to his family and
friends. With his friends, William Gentry,
Robert Brummett, Maurice Collier and Cecil
VanDiver, he joined the Kentucky National Guard.
In the fall of 1940, Bland was called to federal duty when his tank company was federalized as D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. During his time at Ft.Knox, he attended cook's school and qualified as a cook. In January 1941, he was transferred to Headquarters Company when it was formed with men from the four letter companies of the battalion. He was assigned to the company as a mess sergeant.
In the late summer of 1941, Bland's battalion
was sent to Louisiana to take part in
maneuvers. Before the maneuvers, Bland
returned to Harrodsburg on leave and married Bessie Louise
Carter on August 20, 1941.
It was after these maneuvers that the battalion
received orders to report to Camp Polk,
Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft.
Knox. On the side of a hill, the men
learned they were being sent overseas.
Married men and those 29 years old or older were
given the chance to resign from federal
duty. It is believed that Bland chose to
remain in the Army.
Traveling west by train through Texas, New
Mexico, and Arizona, the battalion arrived in
San Francisco, California and were ferried to
Ft. McDowell on Angel Island in San Francisco
Bay. While on the island, they were given
physicals and shots for overseas duty. Men with
minor medical conditions were held back and
scheduled to rejoin the company at a later
date. Other men were simply replaced.
On December 8, 1941, Bland lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field. During the attack, Bland was delivering lunch to members of the tank crews at their tanks. As he drove, his truck was strafed by a Japanese Zero. Bland got out of the truck with a M-1 Garand . He took cover by a tree and leaned against it for leverage. According to Bland, the Japanese planes made a figure eight over the airfield. All anyone had to do was aim at a certain spot and keep the gun aimed there. He took aim and fired at the plane. To his own amazement, he hit the plane which went down in flames.
After the attack, Bland looked around the
airfield. One of the sites he would always
remember was the site of the trucks carrying men
who had lost arms and legs during the
attack. The entire airfield looked as if
it was on fire.
Bland spent the next four months working to keep the tank crews fed. The evening of April 8, 1942, Capt. Fred Bruni, HQ's commanding officer, gave his men the news of the surrender. While informing the members of the company of the surrender, he waved his arm toward the tanks and told the men that they would no longer need them. As he spoke, his voice choked. He turned away from the men for a moment, and when he turned back he continued. He next told the sergeants what they should do to disable the tanks. During the announcement, Bruni emphasized that they all were to surrender together. He told the soldiers to destroy their weapons and any supplies that could be used by the Japanese. The only thing they were told not to destroy were the company's trucks. The men waited in their bivouac until ordered to move. Somehow, Bruni had found enough bread and pineapple juice for what he called, "Their last supper."
The soldiers proceeded to pile up their guns and
ammunition and set the pile on fire. They
stayed in their bivouac and waited for
orders. At the same time that they were
sad, they were also kind of excited and wondered
what was going to happen to them.
HQ Company was ordered to go to Mariveles. Since they had trucks, Bland and the other men road to just outside of the barrio, where they were ordered of of their trucks. They were sent to the airfield and told to sit.
While Bland and the other men sat waiting at the airfield, Japanese soldiers began lining up across from them, the POWs quickly realized that the Japanese were forming a firing squad. Bland and the others waited to see what would happen.
A Japanese officer in a staff car pulled up to the Japanese soldiers. He got out and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail. The officer got back into the car and drove away. As he drove away, the sergeant ordered the Japanese soldiers to lower their guns.
Bland and the other POWs were ordered to move. They were taken to a schoolyard and again told to sit. This time they found themselves n front of Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum. The two American forts returned fire resulting with shells landing among the POWs. Some of the prisoners were killed.
Bland and the other POWs were ordered to move again and had no idea they had begun what was known as the death march. Bland was in pretty good shape when he started the march and took it in stride. He helped carry other men too weak to continue on their own. For Bland, one of the worst memories he had of the march was watching Americans die. Those men who fell were bayoneted.
At one point on the march, Cecil VanDiver fell
out and sat down on the side of the road.
VanDiver could not go on and had decided that he
would sit and wait to be killed. Bland
came up to him, with Pvt. Earl Pratt, who was
also assigned to HQ Company. The two men
picked VanDiver up and carried him between them
until he could walk on his own.
At San Fernando, Bland was put into a boxcar with other POWs. The cars were known as "forty or eights," since each car could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese put 100 men into each car and closed the doors. Those who died remained standing because they could not fall to the floors. At Capas, the living disembarked and walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.
It is known that Bland went out on a work detail to escape Camp O'Donnell. The detail rebuilt the bridges the Americans destroyed as they retreated into Bataan. On this detail, he worked a jackhammer. Because of the nature of the work and the poor diet, Bland lost wait and grew weak. As time went on, he found it harder and harder to operate the jackhammer, so he attempted to get out of working. Bland placed his arm between two blocks of wood and hit it with a crowbar. All that happened was he injured the arm and had to continue to work.
The commanding Japanese officer of the detail
gave the POWs a great deal of freedom.
While at Balanga, they were allowed to go
anywhere in the barrio, but they could not leave
the barrio. This was the situation until
the CO left for three days. When the
detail ended, he was sent to Cabanatuan.
Bland recalled that death was all around him in the camp, and that he did what he could for the sick. "I fed men their last meals and gave them their last baths." It is known that one of the men Bland was talking about was Jennings Scanlon from Harrodsburg. According to Bland, he and Earl Pratt found Scanlon lying partially in the slit-trench that served as the camp latrine. The two men pulled him out and bathed him until he was clean. They pulled together their food rations and fed him their best food. The next day Jennings Scanlon died.
Bland recalled that the Japanese started putting the POWs into groups known as "blood brothers." The idea was that if one man escaped the rest would be executed. Because of this rule, he twice witnessed the execution of POWs because of escapes.
Food became a issue for Bland and the other POWs. "The one thing on your mind was survival. You were like an animal. You would kill anything to eat - snakes, bugs whatever." During this time, his weight dropped from 185 pounds to 118 pounds.
At some point Bland violated a camp rule, he was tied to a tree for several days. He was then brought back into the camp and tied to a post. When the POWs were assembled, Bland knew he was going to be executed. Grover Brummett was falling in and realized that the man who was going to be executed was Bland Moore. He went up to Bland. Bland told Grover that he wanted him to tell his family that he had never begged the Japanese for anything.
The commanding officer, Lt. Col. Seigeji Mori, came up to Bland and began shouting at him in Japanese. Bland looked him in the eyes and smiled. Bland said, "I just stared him in the eye. And you know, just at a snap of a finger he told me -- Go to work." This must have thrown Mori off because instead of executing him, he sent Bland out on the work detail. Later when Bland was assigned to the POW detail that cleaned Mori's quarters, Mori told Bland that the reason he did not execute him was that Bland had never shown fear.
In December, 1942, Bland went out
on a work detail to Ft. McKinley
arriving there on the twelfth.
There, the POWs did cleanup work
clearing the grounds of junk from the
battle. When the work was
finished, they were moved to Nielson
Field on January 29, 1943. At
Nielson, the POWs lived in barracks that
were 150 feet long by 20 feet
quarter of the space was used for sick
wards which meant the POWs slept
shoulder to shoulder again.
Tables for meals were in the center
aisle of each barracks. The POW
compound were they could walk around
freely was 500 feet by 200 feet and
surrounded by barbed wire.
Each day, the POWs had to walk almost
five miles to and from the airfield.
In May 1943, the
work was sped
up. The POWs
weren't sure if
this was because
they were behind
schedule or if the
needed because of
The runway was
built through rice
paddies which made
the work harder
since they still
had water in
Bland apparently became ill
and was sent to Bilibid Prison on August 20,
1944, and was sent to Bilibid Prison.
After Bland was considered cured,
he was given a physical and sent to Japan on the
Noto Maru. The POWs were boarded on
August 25th and sailed on August 27, 1944, from
Manila. After stops at Takao and Keelung,
Formosa, on August 30th, it arrived at Moji,
Japan on September 4th.
Bland was sent to
Mukashima Camp, also known as Fukuoka #4, and worked in a shipyard.
The Japanese practiced collective
punishment when a camp rule was broken by one
POW, all the POWs were punished. Minor
rule infractions usually resulted in the POW
being beaten with fists, bamboo poles, and rifle
butts. This frequently was the punishment
given to POWs who were too sick to work.
Bland returned to Kentucky and married Bessie
Louise Carter. He was the father of three
children and worked as a sales representative in
the steel industry. Bland and Earl Pratt
remained friends for the rest of their
lives. When Earl Pratt died, he took
Pratt's death extremely hard.
Albert Bland Moore passed away on April 27, 2006, in Nicholasville, Kentucky, and was buried at Spring Hill Cemetery in Harrodsburg.