Cpl. Edward Patrick Serpell


Born: 26 February 1919 - Lexington, Kentucky
 Parents: Jane Farrell-Serpell & John Serpell
Sibling: 1 brother
Nickname: Pat
Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
    - 1930 - lived with maternal grandmother at 220 Market Street
    - 1935 - resided in San Francisco, California
                    - student at University of California
    - 1940 - living with maternal grandfather in unincorporated Jefferson County
Residence: Box 123, Brownsboro Road, Louisville, Kentucky
    - U. S. Army
        - 6 March 1941 - Louisville, Kentucky
Training:
    - Fort Knox, Kentucky
        - basic training
    - Camp Polk, Louisiana
        - assigned to 753rd Tank Battalion
        - volunteered or had his name drawn to join the 192nd Tank Battalion which was going
          overseas as part of Operation PLUM
            -PLUM acronym for Philippines, Luzon, Manila
        - replaced a National Guardsman who was released from federal service
Note: In the late summer of 1941, the 194th received orders for duty in the Philippines because of an event that happened during the summer.  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.  He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another one 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, hundreds of miles to the northwest, which had a large radio transmitter.  The squadron continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles before returning to Clark Field.  By the time the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.
    The next day, another squadron of planes were sent to the area, but the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat which was seen making its way toward shore.  Since radio communication between the Army Air Corps and Navy was poor the fishing boat was escaped.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
Transport:
    - rode train to Ft. Mason, San Francisco, California
    - Fort McDowell, Angel Island, California
        - ferried to island on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
        - received physicals from medical detachment - 25 October 1941 - 26 October 1941
            - men with minor health issues held back and scheduled to rejoin battalion at later date
            - other men simply replaced
Overseas Duty:
    - Boarded: U.S.A.T Hugh L. Scott
    - Sailed: San Francisco - Monday - October 27, 1941
    - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Sunday - 2 November 1941
        - soldiers given shore leave
    - Sailed: Tuesday - 4 November 1941
        - took southern route away from mains shipping lanes
        - joined by the U.S.S. Louisville and S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
        - 11 November 1941 - crossed International Dateline
        - 15 November 1941 - smoke seen on horizon
            - Louisville intercepts ship from a friendly county
    - Arrived: Guam - 16 November 1941
        - ship took on water, bananas, vegetables, and coconuts
    - Sailed: 17 November 1941
    - Arrived: Manila, Philippine Islands - Thursday - 20 November 1941
            - soldiers disembark ship three to four hours after arrival
            - boarded buses
    - Stationed: Ft. Stostenburg
            - housed in tents along main road between fort and Clark Airfield
            - General Edward King greeted them and apologize about their living quarters
            - made sure that the soldiers had Thanksgiving dinner before they he had his own
    - Philippine Islands
        - transferred to Headquarters Detachment, Provisional Tank Group
Engagements:
    - 8 December 1941 - 6 January 1942 
    - Battle of Luzon
        - 8 December 1941 - 8 January 1942
    - Battle of Bataan
        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942
            - major tank battle near the Bagac Road - 21 March 1942
                - last major battle
Prisoner of War:
    - 9 April 1942
        - Death March
             - Mariveles - POWs start march at southern tip of Bataan
            - POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing at Corregidor
                - Americans on Corregidor returned fire
            - San Fernando - POWs put into small wooden boxcars
                - each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men
                - 100 POWs packed into each car
                - POWs who died remained standing
            - Capas - dead fell to floor as living left boxcars
            - POWs walked last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell
POW Camps:
    - Philippine Islands:
        - Camp O'Donnell
            - 1 April 1942 - unfinished Filipino training base Japanese put into use as a POW camp
                - Japanese believed the camp could hold 15,000 to 20,000 POWs
            - POWs searched upon arrival at camp
                - those found with Japanese money were accused of looting
                - sent to guardhouse
                - over several days, gun shots heard southeast of the camp
                    - POWs who had money on them had been executed
            - Japanese took away any extra clothing from POWs as they entered the camp and refused to return it
                - since no water was available for wash clothing, the POWs threw soiled clothing away
                - clothing was taken from dead
                - few of the POWs in the camp hospital had clothing
            - POWs were not allowed to bathe
            - only one water spigot for entire camp
                - POWs waited 2½ hours to 8 hours to get a drink
                    - water frequently turned off by Japanese guards and next man in line waited as long as 4 hours for water to be turned on again
                    - mess kits could not be cleaned
                - POWs had to carry water 3 miles from a river to cook their meals
                - second water spigot installed a week after POWs arrived
            - slit trenches overflowed since many of the POWs had dysentery
                - flies were everywhere including in camp kitchens and food
            - camp hospital had no water, soap, or disinfectant
            - the senior POW doctor wrote a list of medicines he wanted to treat the sick and was told by the camp commandant, Capt. Yoshio
              Tsuneyoshi, never to write another letter
                - Tsuneyoshi said that all he wanted to know about the American POWs was their names and numbers when they died
                - refused to allow a truckload of medicine sent by the Archbishop of Manila into the camp
                - 95% of the medicine sent by Philippine Red Cross was taken by the Japanese for their own use
            - POWs in camp hospital lay on floor elbow to elbow
            - operations on POWs were performed with mess kit knives
            - only one medic out of six assigned to care for 50 sick POWs, in the hospital, was well enough to work
            - as many as 50 POWs died each day
                - each morning dead were found everywhere in the camp and stacked up under the hospital
                - ground under hospital was scrapped and cover with lime to clean it
                - the dead were moved to this area and the section where they had laid was scrapped and cover with lime
                - usually not buried for two or three days
            - work details: if a POW could walk, he was sent out on a work detail
                - POWs on burial detail often had dysentery and malaria
        - Japanese opened new POW camp to lower death rate
            - 1 June 1942 - POWs formed detachments of 100 men
                - POWs marched out gate and marched toward Capas
                    - Filipino people gave POWs small bundles of food
                        - the guards did not stop them
                - At Capas, the POWs were put into steel boxcars and rode them to Manila
                - train stopped at Calumpit and switched onto the line to Cabanatuan
                    - POWs disembark train at 6:00 P.M. and put into a school yard
                    - fed rice and onion soup  
    - Cabanatuan
            - original name - Camp Panagaian
                - Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
                    - put into use by Japanese as a POW camp
                - actually three camps
                    - Camp 1: POWs from Camp O'Donnell sent there in attempt to lower death rate
                    - Camp 2:  two miles away
                        - all POWs moved from there because of a lack of water
                        - later used for Naval POWs
                    - Camp 3: six miles from Camp 2
                        - POWs from Corregidor and from hospitals sent there
                        - camp created to keep Corregidor POWs separated from Bataan POWs
                        - Corregidor POWs were in better shape
                            - January 1943 - POWs from Camp 3 consolidated into Camp 1
        - Camp Administration:
            - the Japanese left POWs to run the camp on their own
                - Japanese entered camp when they had a reason
                - POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
                    - Note: men who attempted to escape were recaptured
                    - Japanese beat them for days
                    - executed them
            - Blood Brother Rule
                - POWs put into groups of ten
                    - if one escaped the others would be executed
                    - housed in same barracks
                    - worked on details together
            - Barracks:
                - each barracks held 50 men
                    - often held between 60 and 120 men
                    - slept on bamboo slats without mattresses, covers, and mosquito netting
                        - diseases spread easily
                    - no showers
            - Morning Roll Call:
                - stood at attention
                    - frequently beaten over their heads for no reason
                - when POWs lined up for roll call, it was a common practice for Japanese guards, after the POWs lined up, to kick the POWs in
                  their shins with their hobnailed boots because they didn't like the way the POWs looked
            - Work Details:
                - Two main details
                    - the farm and airfield
                        - farm detail
                            - POWs cleared land and grew comotes, cassava, taro, sesame, and various greens
                            - Japanese took what was grown
                    - Guards:
                        - Big Speedo - spoke little English
                            - in charge of detail
                            - fair in treatment of POWs
                            - spoke little English
                                - to get POWs to work faster said, "speedo"
                        - Little Speedo
                            - fair in treatment of POWs
                            - also used the word when he wanted POWs to work faster
                        - Smiley
                            - always smiling
                            - could not be trusted
                            - meanest of guards
            - Airfield Detail:
                - Japanese built an airfield for fighters
                    - POWs cut grass, removed dirt, and leveled ground
                        - at first moved dirt in wheel barrows
                        - later pushed mining cars
                    - Guards:
                        - Air Raid
                            - in charge
                            - usually fair but unpredictable
                                - had to watch him
                        - Donald Duck
                            - always talking
                            - sounded like the cartoon character
                            - unpredictable - beat POWs
                            - POWs told him that Donald Duck was a big American movie star
                                - at some point, he saw a Donald Duck cartoon
                                - POWs stayed away from him when he came back to camp
                - Work Day: 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
                    - worked 6 days a week
                        - had Sunday off
            - Other Details:
                - work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens and plant rice
                    - they also were frequently hit with a pick handle, for no reason, as they counted off
                - POWs on the rice planting detail were punished by having their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on
                - the POWs had to go into a shed to get the tools, as they came out, they were hit on their heads
                - if the guards on the detail decided the POW wasn't doing what he should be doing, he was beaten
                - many POWs on details were able to smuggle in medicine, food, and tobacco into the camp
            - Burial Detail
                - POWs worked in teams of four
                    - carried 4 to 6 dead to cemetery at a time in liter
                    - a grave contained from 15 to 20 bodies
            - daily POW meal
                - 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
                 - rice was main staple, few vegetables or fruits
        - Camp Hospital:
            - 30 Wards
                - each ward could hold 40 men
                    - frequently had 100 men in each
               - two tiers of bunks
                   - sickest POWs on bottom tier
               - each POW had a 2 foot by 6 foot area to lie in
            - Zero Ward
              - given name because it had been missed when counting wards
              - became ward where those who were going to die were sent
              - fenced off from other wards
                  - Japanese guards would not go near it
                  - POWs sent there had little to no chance of surviving
                  - medical staff had little to no medicine to treat sick
                  - many deaths from disease caused by malnutrition
Hell Ship:
    - Coral Maru
        - Sailed: 20 September 1943
        - Arrived: 23 September 1943 - Takao, Formosa
        - Sailed: 26 September 1943
        - Arrived: 5 October 1943 - Moji, Japan
    - Note: ship also known as Taga Maru
                 - 70 of the 850 POWs on board died
        - 6 October 1943 - POWs rode train to POW camp
POW Camp :
    - Japan:
          - Hirohata #12-B
            - Camp:
                - less than two acres in area
                    - 200' by 400' in area
                - surrounded by a 12' high wooden fence that was topped with bamboo pointed bamboo spears and barbwire
            - Housing:
                - POWs housed in to 50' by 100' barracks with were not insulated and numerous windows
                    - slept on straw mattresses on wooden platforms
                    - the lower platform was 16' above the floor
                - 240 POWs lived in each barracks
            - Latrines
                - two 25' by 50' latrines in the camp
            - Meals:
                - prepared in a 20' by 40' building
                - ten men assigned to kitchen
                - cooked food in 13 cauldrons
                - rice and watery soup main meal
                - POWs ate in barracks on tables in the aisles
                - Red Cross food never issued to POWs
            - Hospital:
                - American doctor in charge of hospital but his diagnosis were overruled by a Japanese corpsman
                - corpsman ordered POWs with fevers to work
                - Red Cross medical supplies seldom issued to POWs
            - Clothing:
                - Red Cross clothing and shoes were misappropriated by Japanese
            - Work:
                - 30 POWs worked at the camp doing camp maintenance
                - 400 POWs worked at the Japan Iron Works Company
                    - marched to and from iron works
                    - POWs shoveled coal, fired furnaces, unloaded coke, loaded pig iron onto trains and ships, unloaded iron ore from trains and
                      ships
                - POW worked from 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
            - Punishment:
                - Japanese POWs for slightest reasons
                    - POWs beaten with belts, rope, clubs, fists
                        - hit in faces with belts
                    - had water thrown on them and made to stand in sub-zero temperatures
                    - faces pushed underwater in troughs and hit in back of the head with clubs when they attempted to pull face out of the water
                    -   One guard drilled the POWs and beat them if they missed a step even though the orders were being given in Japanese.
                    - for stealing rice, 16 POWs were lined up and beaten in their faces with a wide, doubled over belt
                    - another 40 POWs were made to kneel for 8 hours
                    - every POW in the camp was made to kneel for 5 hours because a rule was violated
                    - for stealing rice, 16 POWs were lined up and beaten in their faces with a wide, doubled over belt
                    - another 40 POWs were made to kneel for 8 hours
                    - every POW in the camp was made to kneel for 5 hours because a rule was violated
                - while Ed was in camp POWs were beaten for stealing rice while unloading a ship
Liberated: 9 September 1945
    - returned to Philippines
    - 20 October 1945 - arrived San Francisco, California
    - Ashford General Hospital - White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Promoted: Staff Sergeant
Discharged:
Note:
    - Edward Serpell never married because he was too haunted by memories of his war experiences
Died:
    - 14 November 1985  - Louisville, Kentucky

 

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