1st Lt. Theodore Ira Spaulding
2nd Lt. Theodore I. Spaulding was born
September 28, 1913, in Sherwood, North Dakota to
John I. Spaulding & Louisa
Sherritt-Spaulding and had three brothers and
two sisters. He moved to San Francisco in
1933 and worked on the docks before he took a
job with the John Mansville Company where he
worked for a year. On January 19, 1937, he
joined the California National Guard as a member
of the 40th Division's Coast Artillery.
The 194th boarded the President
Calvin Coolidge. The
tanks were placed in the ship’s holds, but to
make them fit, the turrets were removed. The
serial numbers of each tank was painted on its
turret so they could be matched later. The
soldiers also were housed in the holds.
Ted being an officer shared a stateroom with 2nd
Lt. Russell Sweaingen while four officers shared
the other rooms. The ship sailed at 9:00
P.M. on September 8th. It
arrived in Hawaii on September 13th
at 7:00 A.M.
The soldiers were given a day pass, but
had to be back aboard ship before it sailed at
The battalion was taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg about sixty miles north of Manila. During their time at the army base, they prepared their equipment for use in the maneuvers that were scheduled with the arrival of the 192nd Tank Battalion. In October, the battalion was allowed to practice a movement to Lingayen Gulf to simulate a enemy landing there.
On December 8, 1941, Ted lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield. That morning the officers of the tank were called together and ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield. The 194th was given the north end of the airfield to protect, while the 192nd was given the southern end of the airfield to defend. It was at this time that he was made battalion reconnaissance officer. The tanks of the 194th were ordered to Mabalacat. They remained there until December 12th, when A Company was sent north to the Agno River area while the rest of the battalion remained south of Manila.
During the withdrawal into Bataan, Ted on one occasion had to represent the battalion in a conversation with General Weaver. Weaver was fuming that the tanks were not in their assigned positions. The problem was that no one knew where the assigned positions where. As Weaver ranted, Lt. Colonel Ernest Miller and Ted noticed that Weaver was in his underwear. Ted was able to get his laughter under control which is why he dealt with Weaver and found out where he wanted the tanks.
On another occasion, the 194th was on the Banibani Road. Ted and Lt. Charles Fleming came up the road looking for the battalion to find out why they had not fallen back and crossed the bridge they had been guarding. Not too long after they found the battalion, a battle broke out. Ted and Fleming were ordered out of the area. As they drove back toward the bridge, their jeep swerved repeatedly to avoid fire from Japanese planes which were strafing them.
Ted also served as liaison officer with II Corp. The reason he did this was that it was the only way to keep the tanks functioning. His job was to report developments to Lt. Col. Miller when they happened.
On April 9, 1942, Ted became a Prisoner of War when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese. The next morning, the Japanese entered the battalion’s bivouac and ordered the tankers to Mariveles. It was from there that the tankers started the march from Bataan.
The Japanese guarding them at the start of the march were combat harden troops. Because of this, they viewed the Americans as fellow soldiers. Many were surprised that the Americans had surrendered since they had fought so well. The POWs were treated well by these guards. It was at Limay were the treatment changed when the guards were changed.
The tankers were now guarded by non-combat troops who mistreated the POWs. They were forced to march at a faster pace. When the POWs were given a rest, Filipinos came with buckets of water. The POWs drank their fill. The march continued into the night, and at one point it rained. At 4:00 A.M., on April 12th, the tankers reached Orani and placed in a barbed wire enclosure.
Before they reached the enclosure, the Americans could smell it. Once in the enclosure, they were ordered to sit down. Since there were already POWs in the enclosure, all they could do was sit. At 7:00 A.m. the guards allowed the POWs to move around the pen. A pit had been dug in one corner of the bull pen as a washroom. The pit alive with movement from the maggots that covered it.
The POWs soon found that the sun was now the enemy. The pen had no cover for them and beat down on them. They soon realized that they were being given “the Sun treatment.” They were left in the pen all day. Those who could not take the sun grew delirious and began to scream. This was soon followed by death.
During the afternoon, the Japanese finally fed the prisoners. Each man received three tablespoons of rice. Many of the POWs developed hiccups after eating the rice. The POWs were ordered to fall-in at 7:00 P.M. They began to march again. As the POWs made their way north they were passed by Japanese soldiers in trucks. Some could speak English and shouted insults at them.
Filipino civilians appeared and threw turnips to the prisoners. They did this in spite of the fact that they were risking their own lives. At day break, they reached Remedios. This was the location of one the tank battles the 194th had taken part in.
The POWs finally reached San Fernanado. There, the POWs were put into another bull pen. Once again, they received the sun treatment. In addition, the bodies of the dead were left in the pen. The Japanese would not allow them to be moved. At last the POWs were marched to the train station. Where, they were packed into small wooden boxcars.
The boxcars could hold forty men or eight
Japanese packed 100 men into each car. The
POWs were so close together that those who died
remained standing until the living left the cars
at Capas. From
there, the prisoners walked the last ten miles
to Camp O'Donnell.
Ted was held at Camp O'Donnell.
Conditions in the camp were extremely bad. For
the 12,000 POWs in the camp, there was only one
Men literally died for a drink. Conditions
in the camp were so bad that the Japanese opened
a new camp at Cabanatuan #1. When
he arrived there, he was assigned to Barracks
#9, Group 2.
He was also held as a POW at Cabanatuan
After the Americans landed in the Philippines, the Japanese began to send large numbers of POWs to other parts of their empire. On September 24, 1944, Ted and the other prisoners were sent to Bilibid Prison. On December 8th, the Japanese told the American medical staff of the prisoners to put together a list of POWs who were healthy enough to be sent to Japan.
On the morning of December 12th, row was taken and Ted's name and the names of the other men on the list were read. That evening, Ted said his goodbyes to his friends. At 4:00 A.M. on December 13th, the POWs were awakened and fed breakfast. They were also given a meal to take with them. In addition, the POWs were told they would receive, cigarettes, soap, and salt.
The POWs were allowed to roam the prison until ordered to form ranks. When the order was given, 1,619 POWs were marched down Luzon Boulevard to Pier 7 in Manila. As they marched they noticed that the street cars were not running. When they reached the harbor, they noticed many of the ships in the harbor were damaged from American attacks.
After arriving at Pier 7, the POWs were allowed to sit down. Many fell asleep and slept to around 3:45. About 5:00 P.M., they boarded the Oryoku Maru for transport to Japan. The high ranking officers were the first put into the ship's aft-hold. Being the first on meant that they would suffer many deaths. Around the perimeter of the hold were two tiers of bunks for the POWs. The heat was so bad that men soon began to pass out. One survivor said, "The fist fights began when men to pass out. We knew that only the front men in bay would be able to get enough air." The POWs who were closer to the hold's hatch, used anything they could find to fan air toward those further away from it. It is not known in which hold Ted was held in, but the sides of the hold had two tiers of bunks that went around the diameter. The POWs near the hatch used anything they could find to fan the air to the POWs further away from it.
The ship remained
docked in Manila and did not sail until 3:30
A.M. as part of the Convoy-37. Inside
the holds, the temperature was near 100 degrees. The
ship sailed and became a part of a convoy which
moved out without lights. The cries for
air began as the men lost discipline, so the
Japanese threatened to cover the holds and cut
off all air. When the Japanese sent down
fried rice, cabbage, and fried seaweed, those
further back from the opening got nothing.
The POWs could tell they were in open water from
the wave swells.
As light began to enter the hold as morning
came, the POWs could see men who were in
stupors, men out of their minds, and men who
had died. The POWs in the aft hold which
also had a sub-hold, put the POWs who out of
their minds into it.
Once on shore the POWs were herded onto a tennis court at Olongapo Naval Station which was 500 yard from the beach. A Japanese officer, Lt. Junsaburo Toshio, told the ranking American officer, Lt. Col. E. Carl Engelhart, that those too badly wounded to continue the trip would be returned to Bilibid. Fifteen men were selected and loaded onto a truck. They were taken into the mountains and never seen again. They were buried at a cemetery nearby.
The POWs remained on the tennis court for nine days. During that time, they were given water but not fed. The POW also watched as American planes attacked the area around them. The men watched as the fighter bombers came in vertically releasing bombs as they pulled out of their dives. On several occasions, the planes dove right at the POWs, dropped their bombs, and pulled out. The bombs drifted over the POWs and landed away from them exploding on contact.
Since the POWs had no place to hide, they watched and enjoyed the show. They believed that the pilots knew they were Americans but had no way of knowing if this was true. But what is known is that not one bomb was dropped on them even though they could be seen from the planes.
The evening of December 16th, the Japanese brought 50 kilo bags of rice for the POWs. About half of the rice had fallen out of the bags because of holes. Each POW was given three spoons of raw rice, and a quarter of a spoon of salt.
At about 8:00 AM on the morning of December 22nd, 22 trucks arrived at the tennis court. Rumors flew on where they were going to be taken. At about 4:00 PM, a Taiwanese guard told the POWs, in broken English, "No go Cabanatuan. Go Manila; maybe Bilibid." The guard knew as little as the POWs.
On December 22nd, the POWs were taken by truck to San Fernando, Pampanga, arriving there about four or five in the afternoon. Once there, they were put in a movie theater. Since it was dark, the POWs saw it as a dungeon.
During their time at San Fernando, Pampanga, the POWs lived through several air raids. The reason for the air raids was the barrio was military headquarters for the area. Most of the civilians had been moved out of the barrio. Many of the Americans began to believe they had been taken there so that they would be killed by their own countrymen. At 10:00 P.M. on December 23rd, the Japanese interpreter came and spoke to the ranking American officer about moving the POWs. The Japanese loaded the seriously ill POWs into a truck. Those remaining behind believed they were taken to Bilibid. The remaining POWs were moved to a trade school building in the barrio.
After 10:00 AM on December 24th, the POWs were taken to the train station. The POWs saw that the station had been hit by bombings and that the cars they were to board had bullet holes in them from strafing. 180 to 200 were packed into steel boxcars with four guards with them. The doors of the boxcars were kept closed and the heat in the cars was terrible. Ten to fifteen POWs rode on the roofs of each car along with two guards. The guards told these POWs that it was okay to wave to the American planes.
On December 25th, the POWs disembarked at San Fernando, La Union, at 2:00 AM. They walked two kilometers to a school yard on the southern outskirts of the barrio. The POWs were held in the school house overnight. The morning of December 26th, the POWs were marched to a beach. During this time the prisoners were allowed one handful of rice and a canteen of water. The heat from the sun was so bad that men drank seawater. Many of those men died.
The remaining prisoners were put on barges and boarded onto another "Hell Ship" the Enoura Maru. On this ship, the POWs were held in three different holds. The ship had been used to haul cattle, and the POWs were held in the same stalls that the cattle had been held in. In the hold, the POWs were lined up in companies of 108 men. Each man had four feet of space. Men who attempted to get fresh air by climbing the ladders were shot by the guards.
The daily routine for the POWs on the ship was to have six men climb out of the hold. Once on deck, they used ropes to pull up the dead and also pull up the human waste in buckets. Afterwards, the men would lower ten buckets containing rice, soup, and tea.
During the night of December 30th, the POWs heard the sound of depth charges exploding in the water. The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on December 31st and docked around 11:30 AM. After arriving at Takao, each POW received a six inch long, 3/4 inch wide piece hardtack to eat. This was the first bread they had since receiving crackers in their Red Cross packages in 1942.
While in the harbor, the POWs received little water. From January 1st through the 5th, the POWs received one meal and day. This resulted in the death rate among the POWs to rise. On January 6th, the POWs began to receive two meals a day.
The Enoura Maru also came under attack by American planes the morning of January 9th. The POWs were receiving their first meal of the day, when the sound of ship's machine guns was heard. The explosions of bombs falling closer and closer to the ship were also heard. The waves created from the explosions rocked the ship.
One bomb that hit the ship exploded in
the corner of the forward hold killing 285
Ted was hit by shrapnel, in several
places from the explosion. The surviving
POWs remained in in the hold for three days with
the dead, and the
stench from the dead filled the air. Of
this, he said:
The Japanese sent medics into the holds to treat the wounded. Any POW determined to be near death was not treated. At the same time. A detail was organized to remove the remaining bodies from the holds. These bodies were buried in a mass grave. After the war, the remains were buried in Hawaii.
On January 13th, the surviving POWs were boarded onto a third "Hell Ship" the Brazil Maru. On the ship, the POWs found they had more room and were actually issued life jackets. The ship sailed for Japan on January 14th as part of a convoy and arrived in Moji, Japan, on January 29, 1945.
During this part of the trip, as many as 30 POWs died each day. The ship also towed one or two other ships which had been damaged. Of the original 1619 men that boarded the Oryoku Maru, only 459 of the POWs had survived the trip to Japan.
The POWs were disembarked and taken to
POW camps. Ted was held at Fukuoka
POWs in the camp worked at the Yawata Steel
he had originally been scheduled to go to Korea,
he was sent to Fukuoka #22,
Moji, Japan, until June 1945, when he was sent
to Korea. The
POWs made the trip overnight on an interisland
steamers and arrived at Pusan and took a train
to Kajo, (Seoul) Korea. In somewhat
of a ironic situation, the POWs rode in the
passenger cars and the Japanese troops rode in
there, the POWs boarded trucks and take to
Jinsen Camp which was located near Inchon.
Ted returned to California after the war. In Mohall, North Dakota, he married Ardes Holmberg in 1946. He later moved to South Dakota after he left the regular army, and enlisted in the South Dakota National Guard. He was promoted to major, on April 1, 1953, and lieutenant colonel, on May 15, 1957, colonel, and finally Brigadier General.
Ted taught high school for nine years and owned a cattle business for the rest of his life. From 1976 until 1977, he served as a state senator representing Huron, South Dakota, in the state senate. In recalling his time as a POW, he said, "I think it's important for people to know what we went through, we tried to stay alive. We didn't give up."
On January 4, 2002, Theodore I. Spaulding passed away in Huron, South Dakota, and was buried at Union Cemetery in Sherwood, North Dakota.