Pfc. Charles E. Reed was born on February 14, 1919, to Charles Reed & Lanta Mae Sims-Reed
in Cornishville, Kentucky, and had six brothers and five sisters. The family resided in Manns Road in
Mercer County, Kentucky. He worked on the family farm, was married to Pearl Yeast-Reed, and was the father of
At some point, Charles enlisted into the Kentucky National Guard. He was inducted
into the U.S. Army on November 25, 1940, in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, when the company was called to federal
service. They rode the train to Ft. Knox, where they were housed in tents since their barracks were not
finished until December.
A typical day for the soldiers started in 6:15 with reveille, but most of the soldiers
were up before this since they wanted to wash and dress. Breakfast was from 7:00 to 8:00 A.M., followed by
calisthenics at 8:00 to 8:30. Afterwards, the tankers went to various schools within the company. The
classes consisted of .30 and .50 caliber machine guns, pistol, map reading, care of personal equipment, military
courtesy, and training in tactics. In his case, he trained and qualified as a tank driver.
At 11:30 the soldiers stopped what they were doing and cleaned up for mess which was from
noon to 1:00 P.M. Afterwards, they attended the various schools which they had been assigned to on January
13, such as: mechanics, tank driving, radio operating. At 4:30, the soldiers called it a day and
returned to their barracks and put on dress uniforms and at five held retreat and followed by dinner at 5:30.
After dinner, they were off duty and lights were out at 9:00 P.M., but they did not have to turn in until 10:00
when Taps was played.
He took part in maneuvers in Louisiana in the late summer of 1941 from September 1 through
30. After the maneuvers, on the side of a hill, he and the rest of the battalion learned that their time in
the army had been extended from one to five years. They also learned that they were being sent overseas.
The reason for this move was an event that took place in the summer of 1941. A
squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots, whose plane was lower than the
rest, noticed something odd in the water. He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy 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 a Japanese occupied island that had a large radio transmitter. The squadron
continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles before returning to Clark Field. When the planes
landed, it was too late to do anything that day.
The next day, another squadron was sent to the area, and a fishing boat had picked up the buoys
and making its way to shore. Since radio communication between the Air Corps and Navy was poor, the boat was
not intercepted. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the
It was at this time, men 29 years or older were given the opportunity to resign from
federal service. Those who did were replaced with men from the 753rd Tank Battalion. This battalion
had been sent to the fort, but it had not taken part in the maneuvers. The M3 "Stuart" tanks from the
battalion were also given to the 192nd.
Before he went overseas, he married Iva Pearl Yates.
Traveling west over different train routes, the battalion arrived in San Francisco and
ferried, on the
.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Angel Island. It was during this trip, that they officially
learned that they were going to the Philippines. On the island, the tankers were immunized and given
physicals by the battalion's medical detachment. Men found to have treatable medical conditions were held
back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
The soldiers also cosmolined anything that they thought would rust during the trip to the
Philippines. 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 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
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. He made sure that they had Thanksgiving Dinner before he left to have his own dinner.
The members of the battalion pitched the tents in an open field halfway between the
Clark Field Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg. The tents were set up in two rows and five men
were assigned to each tent. There were two supply tents and meals were provided by food trucks stationed at
the end of the rows of tents.
For the next seventeen days the tankers 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.
After arriving in the Philippines, the process was begun to transfer D Company to the 194th
Tank Battalion, which had left for the Philippines minus one company. B Company of the battalion was sent
to Alaska while the remaining companies of the battalion were sent to the Philippines. The medical clerk
for the192nd spent weeks organizing records to be handed over to the 194th.
On December 1, the tank battalions were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard
against Japanese paratroopers. The 194th, with D Company, was assigned northern part of the airfield and
the 192nd guarded the southern half. Two members of each tank and half-track crew remained with their
vehicles at all times.
The morning of December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl
Harbor, the company was brought up to full strength at the perimeter of Clark Field. The soldiers were
shocked by the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. All morning long, the sky was filled with
American planes. At noon, the planes landed to be refueled and the pilots went to lunch.
At 12:45, two formations totaling 54 planes approached the airfield from the
north. When bombs began exploding on the runways, they knew that planes were Japanese. American
planes that attempted to take off were destroyed before they got into the air. Being that they had few
weapons that could be used against planes, they watched as the Japanese destroyed the American Army Air Corps.
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, most men slept under their tanks since it was safer than sleeping in their
tents. They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed.
One of the results of the attack was that transfer of D Company, to the 194th, was never
completed. The company retained its designation of being part of the 192nd for both the Battle of Luzon and
The companies were moved again on the 12th to south of San Fernando near the Calumpit
Bridge arriving there at 6:00 A.M. On December 13, the tankers were moved 80 kilometers from Clark Field to
do reconnaissance and guard beaches. On the 15th, the battalion received 15 Bren gun carriers but
turned some over to the 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts. These were used to test the ground to see if it
could support tanks.
The 194th, with D Company, was sent to the area around the Lingayen Gulf in support of
the 192nd. The company was near a mountain, so many of the tankers climbed to the top, where they found
troops, ammunition, and guns. The soldiers were just sitting there watching the Japanese ships in the gulf,
since they had received orders not to fire.
The tankers walked down the mountain and waited. They received orders to drop back
from the mountain and let the Japanese occupy it. They watched as the Japanese brought their equipment to
the top of the mountain. The Americans finally received orders to launch a counterattack which failed.
On December 22, the companies were operating north of the Agno River and after the main
bridge was bombed, on December 24/25, made an end tun to get south of the river and not be trapped by the
Japanese. The tanks held the south bank of the river from west of Carmen to the Carmen-Akcaka-Bautista Road
with the 192nd holding the bank east of Carmen to Tayug (northeast of San Quintin).
Christmas Day, the tankers spent in a coconut grove. As it turned out, the
coconuts were all they had to eat. From Christmas to January 15, 1942, both day and night, all the tanks
did was cover retreats of different infantry units. The tanks were constantly bombed, shelled, and strafed.
The tanks formed a new defensive held the Santa Ignacia-Gerona-Santo Tomas- San Jose
line on December 26. When they dropped back from the line, all the platoons withdrew, except one which
provided cover, as the other platoons from the area. One tank went across the line receiving fire and
firing on the Japanese.
At Bayambang, Lt. Petree's platoon lost a tank. It was at this time that D
Company, 192nd, lost all their tanks, except one, because the bridge they were suppose to cross had been
destroyed. The company commander, Lt. Jack Altman, could not bring himself to totally destroy the tanks,
and the Japanese repaired them and used them on Bataan. The sergeant of the one tank, that had not
abandoned, found a place to ford the river a few hundred yards from the bridge.
The tankers were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27, and at San Isidro south
of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th. On January 1, conflicting orders were received by the defenders
who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5. Doing this would allow the Southern Luzon
Forces to withdraw toward Bataan. General Wainwright was unaware of the orders since they came from Gen.
MacArthur's chief of staff.
Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces
defending the bridges over the Pampanga River. Due to the efforts of the Self Propelled Mounts, the 71st
Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were halted. From January 2
to 4, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
At 2:30 A.M., the night of January 5th/6th, the Japanese attacked at Remlus in force and
using smoke as cover. This attack was an attempt to destroy the tank battalions. At 5:00 A.M., the
Japanese withdrew having suffered heavy casualties.
The night of January 6/7 the tanks withdrew into the peninsula with the 192nd holding
its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross the bridge, and then cover the
192nd's withdraw over the bridge. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan, before the
engineers blew up the bridge at 6:00 A.M. It was at this time that the tank companies were reduced to three
tanks each. This was done to provide tanks to D Company, while those crews still without tanks were used as
At Gumain River, on January 5, D Company and C Company, 194th, were given the job to
hold the south riverbank so that the other units could withdraw. The tank companies formed a defensive line
along the bank of the river. When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since
they were wearing white t-shirts. The tankers were able to hold up the Japanese.
The night of January 6/7, the 194th, covered by the 192nd, crossed the bridge over the
Culis Creek and entered Bataan. This was the beginning of the Battle of Bataan. At this time, the
food rations were cut in half.
General Weaver also issued the following orders to the tank battalions around this time
,"Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying in position and firing at visible enemy until further delay will
jeopardize withdrawal. If a tank is immobilized, it will be fought until the close approach of the enemy,
then destroyed; the crew previously taking positions outside and continuing to fight with the salvaged and
personal weapons. Considerations of personal safety and expediency will not interfere with accomplishing the
greatest possible delay."
A composite tank company was created on January 8 under the command of Capt.
Donald Haines, B Company, 192nd, and sent to defend the Wast Coast Road north of Hermosa. Its job was to
keep the north road open and prevent the Japanese from driving down the road before a new battle line had been
formed. The Japanese never lunched an attack allowing the defensive line to be formed. The tanks
withdrew after they began receiving artillery fire.
The remainder of the tanks were ordered to bivouac south of the Aubucay-Hacienda
Road. While there, the tank crews had their first break from action in nearly a month. The tanks,
which were long overdue for maintenance, were serviced by 17th Ordnance. It was also at this time that tank
platoons were reduced to ren tanks, with three tanks in each platoon. This was done so that D Company,
192nd, would have tanks.
The 194th was sent to reopen the Moron Road so that General Segunda's forces, which were
trapped behind enemy lines, could withdraw. Attempting to do this two tanks were knocked out by landmines
planted by ordnance, but recovered, and a Japanese anti-tank gun was destroyed. The mission was abandoned
the next day. Gen. Segunda's forces escaped but lost their heavy equipment.
The next action the tanks saw was on the 20th when they were sent to relieve the 31st
Infantry's command post. On the 24th, the tanks were ordered to the Hacienda Road to support infantry, but
again could not accomplish their mission because of landmines planted by ordnance.
The 194th was holding a position a kilometer north of the Pilar-Bagac Road on January 26
with four self-propelled mounts. At 9:45 A.M., a Filipino came down the road and warned the battalion that
a large Japanese force was coming down the road. When they appeared the tanks opened up on them. At 10:30,
the Japanese withdrew having lost 500 of 1200 men. This action prevented the new line of defense from being
On January 28, the tank battalions were given the job of guarding the beaches so that
the Japanese couldn't land troops. The 194th guarded the coastline from Limay to Cabcaban. During the
day, the tanks hid under the jungle canopy. At bight they were pulled out onto the beaches. The
battalion's half-tracks had the job of patroling the roads. At all times, the tanks were in contact with on-shore
and off-shore patrols.
For most of March, the situation Bataan was relatively quiet and the Japanese had been
fought to a standstill. On one occasion, two tanks had gotten stuck in the mud, and the crews were working
to free them. While they were doing this, a Japanese regiment entered the area. Lt. Colonel Ernest
Miller ordered his tanks to fire on the Japanese at point blank range. He also ran from tank to tank
directing the crew's fire. The Japanese were wiped out. On March 21, the last major battle was fought
by the tanks.
Having brought in combat harden troops from Singapore, the Japanese lunched a major
offensive on April 4. The tanks were sent to various sectors in an attempt to stop the advance. On
the 6th, four tanks were sent to support the 45th Philippine Infantry, Philippine Scouts. One tank was knocked
out from anti-tank fire at the junctions of Trails 6 & 8, and the other tanks withdrew. On April 8th,
the 194th was fighting on the East Coast Road at Cabcaban.
It was at this time that Gen. King knowing that the situation was hopeless sent officers
to negotiate. The tanks were instructed that they would hear the order
on their radios, or that it would be given to them verbally.
When the order was given, the tankers circled their tanks, fired an armor piercing shell
into the engine of the tank in front, opened up the gasoline cocks in the crew compartment, and drop hand
grenades into each tank.
When Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese, the tankers became a Prisoners of
War. The POWs were ordered to the bivouac of the Provisional Tank Group. It was from there that they
were marched to join the main column of POWs on the march out of Bataan.
On April 10, the Japanese arrived and ordered the HQ personnel onto the road. They
quickly stripped the POWs of their watches, pens, and sun-glasses. They were taken to a trail and found
that walking on the gravel trail was difficult. The POWs immediately witnessed "Japanese Discipline" toward
their own troops. The Japanese apparently were marching for hours, and if a man fell, he was kicked in his
stomach and hit in the head with a rifle butt. If he still did not get up, the Japanese determined that the
man was exhausted and left him alone.
The trial the POWs were on ended when they reached the main road. The first thing
the Japanese did was to separate the officers from the enlisted men and counted them. The POWs were left in
the sun for the rest of the day wondering what was going to happen. That night they were ordered north
which was difficult, on the rocky road, in the dark since they could not see where they were walking.
Whenever they slipped, they knew they had stepped on the remains of a dead soldier.
The POWs made their way north against the flow of Japanese horse artillery and trucks
that was moving south. At times, they would slip on something wet and slippery which were the remains of a
man killed by Japanese artillery the day before. When dawn came, the walking became easier but as the sun
rose it became hotter and they POWs began to feel the effects of thirst. It was then that the POWs
saw a group of Filipinos being marched by the Japanese. They realized that they had been hungry, but the
Filipinos had been starving.
When the men crossed the Lamao River, they smelled the sweet smell of death. The
Japanese had heavily bombed the area causing many casualties and many of the dead lay partially in the
river. The air corps POWs in front of them ran to the river and drank. Many would later die from
dysentery at Camp O'Donnell.
At Limay on April 11, the officers with the rank of major or above, were put into a
school yard. The officers were told that they would be driven the rest of the march. At 4:00 AM, the
officers, with the rank of major or higher, were put into trucks for an unknown destination. The POWs made
their way to just north of Hormosa. where the road went from gravel to concrete, and the change of surface made
the march easier. When the POWs were allowed to sit down, those who attempted to lay down were jabbed with
The POWs continued the march and for the first time in months it began to rain which
felt great and many men attempted to get drinks. It is not known when, but Charles arrived at San
Fernando. The POWs put into a pen and remained there until they were marched to the train station.
There, they were packed into small wooden boxcars known as "forty or eights." They were called this since
each car could hold forty men or eight horses, but the Japanese packed 100 men into each car and shut the
doors. The heat in the cars was unbearable and many POWs died. They could not fall to the floors
since there was no room for them to fall. The POWs rode the train to Capas arriving there at 9:00 AM.
There, the living disembarked from the cars and the dead fell to the floors. The POWs walked the last eight
kilometers to Camp O'Donnell.
Charles arrived at Camp O'Donnell on April 23, 1942. 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.
Charles remained in the camp until May 6, when he was selected to go
out on the Caluaun Detail. He and the other POWs simply called it the bridge building detail. The
detail was under the command of Lt. Col. Ted Wickord of the 192nd Tank Battalion.
The POWs on the detail were separated into two groups. One group built the bridges,
while the other group worked at a sawmill cutting lumber for the bridges. It was while on this detail that
Charles witnessed the execution of four POWs.
Here is the story in his own words:
"We were taken to to prison camp at Batangas, Philippine Islands; we were divided into groups of ten each and
told by the Japanese that if any one man in the group escaped, all the remaining men in the group would be
executed. On about 10 June 1942, six men of one of the groups escaped, leaving behind four men.
As soon as the Japanese discovered that six of the prisoners had escaped, they came
into the building we were quartered and without saying anything began to tie up the remaining four prisoners of
the group. After binding the the four prisoners, they took them out of the building and forced them to sit on
their heels, on the ground, in front of in front of the guard house.
While the men were in this position, the Japanese would beat them across the thigh and
back with rifles and sticks. They did this in order to tear loose the muscles in the legs of the men.
This beating continued for about about six hours or from about 9:00 AM to 3:00 in the afternoon, after which the
Japanese guards lined the men up and bound them a rope and led them to a place about two miles from the camp,
where they were shot.
All during the time, the Japanese were beating the four American prisoners, I
was lying on the floor of where we were quartered, looking out of the window and watching the beatings. I
saw the guards lead the men away from the camp and about two months later the Japanese captain took us to the
spot where the men had been executed and showed us where they were buried. He told us that he did this to
show us what would happen if any of us attempt to escape."
On July 15, 1942, Charles was sent to Cabanatuan which had been opened to relieve the conditions at Camp
O'Donnell. He may have been sent to the camp because he was too ill to work.
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
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. He 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. Each morning, 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.
Other POWs worked in rice paddies. 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 to drive their faces deeper into the mud. 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.
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 ward died.
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 until July 28, 1943, when he was selected for transport to
Japan. From Cabanatuan, he was taken to Bilibid Prison for processing. It should be mentioned
that in April 1943, his family received word he was a POW.
The POWs in Charles' detachment were taken to the Port Area of Manila. There, they were
boarded onto the
Maru also known as the Taga
Maru. The ship sailed on September 20, 1942, and stopped at Takao, Formosa,
arriving there about September 22, before sailing for Moji, Japan, about September 26, arriving there on October 5,
In Japan, Charles was sent to
arriving there on October 7. The first morning in the camp, the commandant had the men strip their clothes
off. The prisoners then stood in the cold for an hour and a half. Once they began to turn blue, the
commandant addressed them. He said
, "I want you people to know that you are prisoners of war, and you will be treated like prisoners of war and
not like guests of Japan."
While a POW in this camp, the POWs unloaded coal from ships onto a beach. To do
this, the POWs worked on high trestles to unload the coal from the ships into cars. The next day, the prisoners
would unload the coal from the cars using baskets. POWs were often forced to work barefooted in the winter
and in the rain which resulted in men having bruised, cut, and infected feet. Once a month the prisoners
would get one day off.
Meals for the prisoners often consisted rice. In the rice were small pebbles
which damaged the POWs teeth. The sick in the camp were forced to work since the Japanese needed a
certain number of POWs to unload the coal at the docks. To get them to work, the POWs were punched, hit
with sticks, clubs, rifle butts, and iron bars.
The sick in the camp were forced to work since the Japanese needed a certain number of
POWs to unload the coal at the docks. To get them to work, the POWs were punched, hit with sticks,
clubs, rifle butts, and iron bars.
About a month before he arrived in camp, the Japanese had begun a routine of taking
every fifth POW from morning roll call and making the men bow to the guards. As they bowed, the guard
kicked the men in their faces and hit them in the back of the neck with a club while they were bent
over. They continued doing this to the POWs until March 31, 1944. The Japanese also created
disturbances after the POWs had gone to sleep to deprive them of sleep. It should be noted that his
family received word he was POW on April 16, 1943.
A Japanese medical corporal at the camp sent POWs too sick to work which resulted in
some of them dying. When the POWs reported for sick call, they were beaten, hit, punched, and kicked in
the face or stomach. From September 3, 1943 to December 31st, a guard jumped on or kicked the
POWs suffering from beriberi and malnutrition. He ordered them to stand at attention and to bow.
He was also known for appropriating the Red Cross packages sent to the camp for the POWs. In October
1943, he had those POWs suffering from dysentery brought to him. When they arrived, he poked them in
their stomachs with a stick. He also hit them on the head and body with his hands, fists, and with a
The International Red Cross visited the Niigata Camp twice. To prevent the
representatives from hearing about the conditions the POWs were living in and the treatment they were
receiving, the Japanese would not let the representatives speak to the prisoners.
What is known is that the camp was under the command of Tomoki Nakamura, who had been
educated in the United States. During his time at each camp, he denied Red Cross packages to the POWs
which would have supplied them with food, clothing, and shoes. Nakamura and the camp guards were seen
wearing the Red Cross shoes meant for the POWs. It was noted that in the snow blood was seen where the
POWs had stood for roll call, since many of the POWs did not have shoes.
POWs reported that Nakamura used the Red Cross parcels for his own use and gave the
food in the parcels to the guards for their mess. He was known to have raided the parcels for the food,
and on occasion, had the American POW cooks it for him to eat. When flour and macaroni was sent to the
camps, from the main camp, Nakamura gave it to the guards to eat.
At some point, he was transferred Niigata Tekkojo which was also known as Tokyo #15-B
in June 1945. The POWs in the camp worked at Niigata Iron Works where they fed hot steel into
For food, the Japanese had the POWs raise rabbits, but when the rabbits became large
enough to eat, the Japanese did not allow them to slaughter them and the rabbits were allowed to starve to
death. When the prisoners received meat, each POW received a piece the size of a thumb nail.
Three times a year the POWs received fish three times in 1945. In place of vegetables, the POWs
were given a flour made from tree roots which was impossible to eat, so most of the POWs wouldn't even take
Charles remained in the camp until liberated on September 5, 1945, and returned to
the Philippines. He was flown by the Air Transport Command to Hawaii and than to Hamilton Airfield
north of San Francisco. He returned home to his wife and resided in Boyle County, Kentucky, where he
farmed. He lived there until his death on August 11, 1967, at Ephraim McDowell Memorial Hospital after
a short illness. Charles E. Reed was buried in Spring Hill Cemetery in Harrodsburg.