Cpl. Robert J. Stewart


    Cpl. Robert J. Stewart was the son of Robert and Edna Stewart andwas born on October 8, 1918, in Gettysburg, South Dakota.  As a child, he grew up on a farm west of Baraboo, Wisconsin.  While he was in high school, he played football and the team he played on went undefeated.  It was the first Wisconsin high school team to finish a season never having been scored on by their opponent.  

    Bob attended college for one year at the University of Wisconsin at Lacrosse.  He was forced to leave school when he ran out of money, so he moved to Janesville, Wisconsin, looking for a job.

    In 1940, Bob joined the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Tank Company headquartered in Janesville.  His reason for doing this was because his good friend, Owen Sandmire, had told him about the tank company, and Owen and Bob were looking for work but not having much luck.  This would give both of them the opportunity to earn some extra money.  Owen also explained to Bob that if he joined the tank company, he would fulfill his year of military service. 

    Since a draft act had been passed by Congress, Bob knew that he was most likely going to be drafted into the army.  He decided that riding in a tank was better than walking.  On either September 14th or 16th, Bob enlisted into the National Guard.

    On November 28, 1940, the tank company was sent to Fort Knox for training as A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  It was there that Bob learned the necessary skills of a company clerk and became one of the clerks for A Company.  It was his job to distribute the company's mail each day.  Almost a year after arriving in Kentucky, his battalion, the 192nd Tank Battalion, was sent to Louisiana to take part in maneuvers from September 1 trough the 30.

     It was after these maneuvers that Bob and the other members of the battalion received the surprise of their lives.  Instead of returning to Ft. Knox, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana.  On the side of a hill, the entire battalion learned that they were being sent overseas for further training.  Their time in the regular army had been extended from one to six years.  Those men 29 or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service and replaced with men from the 753rd Tank Battalion.  The battalion also got the 753rd's tanks.
    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, 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 that a large radio transmitter.  The island was hundred of miles away.  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 found that the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat that was seen making its way to shore.  Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was poor, the boat escaped.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
    A Company traveled by train to San Francisco, California, and ferried. on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island, where they received inoculations and physicals from the battalion's medical detachment.  Those men who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island]and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Some men were simply replaced.
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S. A. T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27th.  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 2nd 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 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 11th.  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. Du    
    At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward P. King, who apologized that they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field.  He made sure that had what they needed and that they received Thanksgiving Dinner - which was a stew thrown into their mess kits - before he went to have his own dinner.  Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
    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 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 as they readied their tanks to take part in maneuvers.

    On December 1, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  They remained there off and on for several days.  At all times, two crew members remained with the tanks. 
    Ten hours after Pearl Harbor was attacked, December 8 in the Philippines, the tankers lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  At 8:30 AM, American planes took off and patrolled the skies.  At noon, the planes landed and the pilots parked them in a straight line outside their mess hall.

    At the same time, two tank crew members were allowed to go to a food truck to get meals for their tank crews.  The tankers, who manning their tanks, watched as two formations of planes approached the airfield from the north.  They counted the formations were made up of 54 planes.  Many believed the planes were American until they saw what looked like raindrops falling from the planes.  When the raindrops began exploding on the runways, the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese.  In Bob's opinion, there was not very much left of use at Clark Field when the attack ended.

    Being a clerk, Bob was not involved in action against the Japanese.  But, Bob lived through the daily strafing and bombing by Japanese planes.  He and the other soldiers would listen to Tokyo Rose on the radio.  She told them to surrender and they would be treated well.  She also told them that they would be sent home.  By what she said, Bob was sure she knew of the food situation.  By this time, they were eating anything that moved.

    Everyday, "Photo Joe" would fly over in a Piper Cub.  When Bob and the other men saw him, they would head for air raid trenches.  They knew that it would be just a matter of time until they were hit by enemy planes.  Bob believed that the reason the rear area was hit so hard and so often was because the Japanese were attempting to cut the supply lines.

    In spite of how hopeless the situation seemed, Bob and the other soldiers always kept their hope that reinforcements were on the way.  This was such a strong belief that American soldiers would climb trees to look for American ships.
    The company's last bivouac area was about twelve kilometers north of Marivales and looking out on the China Sea.  By this point, the tankers knew that there was no help on the way.  Many had listened to Secretary of War Harry L. Stimson on short wave.  When asked about the Philippines, he said , "There are times when men must die."   The soldiers cursed in response because they knew that the Philippines had already been lost.  
    On April 3, 1942, the Japanese launched an attack supported by artillery and aircraft.  A large force of Japanese troops came over Mount Samat and descended down the south face of the volcano.  This attack wiped out two divisions of defenders and a left large area of the defensive line open to the Japanese.  When General King saw that the situation was hopeless, he initiated surrender talks with the Japanese.

    On April 9, 1942, the word came down of the surrender.  The tankers destroyed their tanks, but remained at their bivouac.  When the Japanese arrived the next day, they took whatever they wanted from the Prisoners of War.  Afterwards, A Company made its way down to Mariveles.  There, they were searched again. Bob recalled that the Japanese took what they wanted from what the Americans still had.

    It was at Mariveles that Bob and the other members of A Company began the death march.   A Company was broken up into different groups.  Some men finished the march in days, while others took weeks.  Bob and the rest of the company marched up the eastern road.  Bob attempted to keep his distance from the guards so he stayed in the center or front of the group. 

    The Filipino people attempted to help the Americans and dropped sugar cane off trucks as they passed them.  When the column of men rushed one truck, the guards stopped them.  The result was that no one received any food.

    Bob also stated that the Japanese intentionally kept the prisoners from "good" water.  They could take all the water they wanted from the ditches along the road.  The problem was that floating in the water were the bodies of dead POWs.   Those prisoners who refused to drink this water and attempted to get water from  the artesian wells that flowed beside the road were bayoneted.

    On the march, Bob was with Carl Nickols.  The two men had become best friends at Ft. Knox.  During the march Bob fell which was the first of the three times that he fell on the march.  As he lay on the ground, he remembered what he had been taught by his high school football coach.  His coach had told him what to do when he felt faint.  Bob got up on his hands and knees and hung his head down.  The blood flowed to his head which allowed him to get on his feet just as a guard was coming up to him to bayonet him.

     The second time Bob fell he did the same thing again.  Once again the trick of getting on all fours and dropping his head down saved his life.  The third time Bob fell he could not get up, but this time Carl Nickols fell with him.  The Japanese had guards marching behind the column of prisoners.  Their job was to bayonet the prisoners who had fallen out of the column.  Bob recalled thinking that Jesus had fallen three times on his way to be crucified.  The guard came up to Bob to bayonet him.  To Bob's surprise, the guard stuck his bayonet into the ground beside Bob's head just inches from his nose.  The guard did this so that the men could lie on the ground until they were strong enough to get up and go on again.

    After Bob and Carl regained their strength, they rejoined the column of POWs.  The two men came to an artesian well and took water from the well.  As they were drinking, a truck loaded with Japanese soldiers pulled up to the well.  The Japanese soldiers motioned to them to come to the truck.  The Japanese soldiers handed their canteens to Bob and Carl and had them fill the canteens with water.  When they returned the canteens, the Japanese gave them hard candy and the truck drove off.

    Bob and Carl ate the candy.  Bob said that it was the strangest thing that he ever experienced in his life, since the sugar was like receiving a shot.  Strength came into their bodies and both soldiers were able to complete the march.

    Bob and Carl reached San Fernando.  It was there that the two POWs were packed into boxcars with other men.  The prisoners were packed in so tightly that those who died  remained standing.  After disembarking from the cars, the POWs who survived the heat of the boxcars walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell. 

    When he arrived at the camp, Bob and the other prisoners were made to stand at attention and listen to a speech by the camp commandant.  He told them that they would not be treated like guests of the emperor, and that those who died on the march were the lucky ones.  After the speech, they were shown their quarters.

    The camp was an unfinished Filipino training base that was pressed 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.  In Bob's own words
, "Men would literally died of thirst."
    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 Japanese lieutenant.
    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. 

    When Bob first arrived at the camp, twenty Americans died each day.  This number was nothing when compared to the 150 Filipinos dying each day.  In the coming weeks, the number of Americans dying rose to 50 a day, while the number of Filipinos dying rose to almost 500 a day.

    During his time at Camp O'Donnell, Bob was selected by the Japanese to be on the burial detail.  He and the other POWs would dig twelve foot by twelve foot holes that were four feet deep.  Surrounded by death, Bob's memories of home kept him going

    While Bob was a prisoner in the camp, three men tried to escape.  When they were recaptured, they were "crucified" at the front gate to the camp.  Filipinos who passed them were required to hit them.  Even the other POWs were expected to defecate on them as they went out on or returned from work details.  After days of suffering the three men were loaded into a truck and shot.

    Wanting to get out of Camp O'Donnell, Bob volunteered to go out on a work detail to rebuild bridges.  Food was scarce on the detail, but each man received more food than if they were still in the camp.  The food was mostly a watery rice soup with some greens.  If a man became sick, his rations were caught in half.  These men would almost always die because there was no medicine to treat their illnesses.

    Since they were always hungry, the prisoners attempted to supplement their diets.  One POW caught a rat and barbecued it.  If he hadn't known what it was, Bob probably would have eaten some of it.  One night Bob smuggled a bag of rice to his fellow POWs.  If he had been caught, he would have been killed by the Japanese.

    The detail Bob was on rebuilt bridges that had been destroyed during the withdraw into the Bataan Peninsula by the Filipino and American forces.  The work was hard.  One of the hardest jobs Bob had on the detail was driving pilings into the river banks.  This the men did by hand.

     While working with Bernard Fitzpatrick, of the 194th Tank Battalion, driving pilings, the two men were having a hard time using a Japanese saw and understanding the Japanese officer and interpreter.  Fitzpatrick said to Bob , "I wish the bastards would use English."   In perfect English they heard a voice say , "It would be much better, wouldn't it."   The response came from Lieutenant Miyosato who the POWs liked.

    On another occasion on the detail, Bob became friends with Sgt. Jim Bashlenben of B Company.  One day, the two men were on their break having a cigarette.  As they sat on the log a Japanese Naval Officer pulled up in a jeep.  The Japanese officer got out of the jeep and sat down on the log.  Bob asked Jim if they should offer the officer a cigarette.  Jim told him no.  Jim also said that if the officer wanted a cigarette he should smoke one of his own.

    Right after Jim said this, the officer pulled out a cigarette and lit it.  He looked at Bob and Jim and said in perfect English, " If I were you, I'd be angry too.  I returned to Japan to see my mother because she was dying.  After she died, I tried to leave the country and couldn't.  I have a wife and son in the United States who I'll probably never see again.  I lived in the United States and know that the U. S. is going to win this war.  When it's over, I just hope that I'm alive."

     The officer got up and looked at Bob and Jim.  He reached into his pocket and pulled out a pack of Camels.  He threw the cigarettes to the POWs and said, "Smoke something good."   With that, he got back into the jeep and drove away.

    When this detail ended, Bob was sent to Cabanatuan which 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.Many things about the camp were similar to Camp O'Donnell, but the one improvement was the availability of water.  It was at this camp that the Japanese began to use the POWs as slave labor for their war effort. 
    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 "speedo."   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 "speedo" 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 consisted of 30 wards that could hold 40 men each, but it was more common for them to have 100 men in them.  Each man had approximately an area of 2 feet by 6 feet to lie in.  The sickest POWs were put in "Zero Ward," which was called this because it was missed by the Japanese when they counted barracks.  The Japanese put a fence up around the building to protect themselves and would not go into the area.  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.  Medical records from the camp hospital show that Bob was hospitalized on April 21, 1943.  The records do not indicate why he was hospitalized or when he was released from the hospital. 

    In September 1943, Bob was selected to go out on a work detail to Las Pinas.  On this detail the POWs built runways for an airfield with picks and shovels.  Bob remained on the detail until July 1944, when he was sent to Cabanatuan.  One reason he was transferred was that the Japanese considered him too ill to continue working.  He remained at Cabanatuan until he was sent to Bilibid Prison August 17, 1944.

    Bob remained at Bilibid until August 23rd or 24th, when he and the other prisoners received physicals to determine if they were healthy enough to go to Japan or another occupied country.  On August 25, 1944, Bob was boarded onto the hell ship the Noto Maru which was carrying POWs to Japan.  He and 1,033 POWs were packed into the ship's hold which was forty feet long by forty feet wide.  The men were placed shoulder to shoulder and back to back so they could not move.  As the hatch was closed, the Japanese guard said in perfect English, "Make yourself comfortable."         

   The ship sailed, as part of a four ship convoy, on the 27th but dropped anchor off Bataan.  On its trip to Formosa depth charges were dropped since American submarines were believed to be in the area of the ships.  The ships arrived at Takao, Formosa, on August 30th.  The convoy sailed again on August 30th and arrived at Moji, Japan, September 4th. 
    During the trip to Japan, the POWs were packed into the ship's hold so tightly that they could not use the the half barrel that was suppose to be the toilet.  The floor of the hold was covered in human waste since most of the men were suffering from dysentery.  The smell got so bad that the Japanese covered the hatch of the hold.  The POWs received water twice a day and were fed once a day. 
    The Japanese finally decided that the only way to deal with the smell coming from the hold was to bring the POWs on deck and wash them down with seawater.  They also washed down the floor of the hold at the same time.

      As the ship made its way to Japan men died of sickness and starvation.  With each death, there was more room in the ship's hold.  The bodies of the dead were hosted out of the hold by ropes and dumped in the sea.  The suction of the ship's propellers pulled the bodies into them and resulted in the bodies being cut up.

    The POWs disembarked the ship, formed detachments of 100 men, marched to the train station, and rode a train which stopped at towns near the POW camps.  Bob was sent to Sendai #6, which was also known as Hanawa, where 500 POWs worked in the copper mine owned by Mitsubishi and under company supervision.  The camp was approximately 200 feet wide by 350 feet long and had a 12 foot high wooden fence around it and was located at 4,000 feet.  The POWs were housed in wooden barracks, with 30 foot ceilings, and two tiers of bunks, against each long wall, with straw matting and a mattress stuffed with straw for sleeping.  They also had a 4" by 4" by 8" block of wood for a pillow.
   The floors of the barracks were packed dirt with a center aisle.  There were covered walkways, without sides, that connected the barracks.  To heat the barracks, there was a small potbelly stove.   If they were lucky, the Japanese gave them enough wood for an hour's heat.  The POWs - who worked in the foundry - stole coal knowing that if they were caught they would be beaten.  The barracks were not insulated and the heavy snow - which was as deep as 10 feet - served as insulation.
    Other buildings in the camp were two buildings that served as a hospital for the POWs and a "L" shaped building that was the kitchen and POW bath.  The latrines were three low buildings, and there was one building that served as the camp office.  The POWs spent several days setting up the camp.
    In the camp, 500 POWs worked in the copper mine owned by Mitsubishi Mining Company and worked under company supervision.  The POWs woke up at 5 A.M. and ate breakfast which was small bowl of rice, barley or millet and a watery soup.  Meals for the POWs were brought to the barracks, in buckets, and the POWs ate at tables in the barracks.  After breakfast, at 5:30, roll call was taken and the POWs and the POWs left the camp.  They arrived at the mine at 7 A.M., had a half hour lunch, and worked until 5:00 P.M. before returning to camp, usually after dark, and had supper.  Afterwards, they went to bed.
   The clothing issued to the POWs was a combination of  Japanese clothing, made of thin cloth and shoes, and captured American clothing.  For the winter the POWs were issued a uniform made of burlap and long socks.  Those who needed shoes were issued Japanese canvas shoes with webbing between two toes.  They also received grass shoe covers so they could get through the snow.
    Work details were set up for POWs who were machinists, electricians, mechanics.  Those who did not have these skills were assigned to working at a foundry or mining.  The POWs worked in a copper mine owned by Mitsubishi.  Each day, the POWs were marched up the side of a mountain to the top and then down into the mine.  To their amazement, their guards always seemed to be waiting for them.  It turned out there was a tunnel into the mine which the guards used so they did not have to climb the mountain.
    Each detail had a "honcho" who was employed by Mitsubishi and supervised the POWs.  They carried a large stick which they used on the POWs when they felt they were not working hard enough.  The POWs believed these supervisors wanted to work them to death.  At the mine, the POWs were divided among drillers, car loaders, and car pushers, with the miners having the worst job.  The work in the mine was dirty, dangerous, and difficult.  Each miner was furnished a carbide headlamp as his only lighting.
    A quota was set but the Japanese and the Japanese were always raising the quota.  The number of carloads mined by the men were never enough.  The POWs were beaten for not working hard enough or fast enough.  Many shafts of the mine were so low that the miners had to crawl through to get to the ore. Some shafts had standing water with threats of sudden flooding. Lighting was poor and most areas were not even shored up to prevent cave-ins. Accidents were frequent and many POWs were hurt. There was no gas detecting equipment and there was always the danger of setting off an explosion from the open burning carbide headlamps.
    Each detail had a "honcho" who was employed by Mitsubishi and supervised the POWs.  They carried a large stick which they used on the POWs when they felt they were not working hard enough.  The mine had been abandoned because it had become to expensive to extract the copper, but Mitsubishi believed it could make it profitable with the slave labor provided by the POWs.
    To get to work, the POWs had to often walk through two feet of snow and climb up the side of a mountain and descend 472 steps into the mine.  The POWs noticed that the guards never seemed to be winded when they arrived at the mine.  They later learned that the Japanese had cut a ground level entrance to the mine which the guards used to enter it.
    The POWs believed these supervisors wanted to work them to death.  At the mine, the POWs were divided among drillers, car loaders, and car pushers, with the miners having the worst job.  The work in the mine was dirty, dangerous, and difficult. Each miner was furnished a carbide headlamp as his only lighting. A quota was set but the Japanese and the Japanese were always raising the quota. The number of carloads mined by the men were never enough.  The POWs were beaten for not working hard enough or fast enough. Many shafts of the mine were so low that the miners had to crawl through to get to the ore. Some shafts had standing water with threats of sudden flooding.
    Lighting was poor and most areas were not even shored up to prevent cave-ins.  Accidents were frequent and many POWs were hurt.  There was no gas detecting equipment and there was always the danger of setting off an explosion from the open burning carbide headlamps.
    Mitsubishi expected the Japanese Army to supply a certain number of POWs to work in the mine each day so men too sick to work were sent to work.  The sick had to be carried between two healthier POWs to the mine.  Since the Japanese found that the sick were too ill to work, the company came up with work for them to do in the camp like making nails or rope.  If a POW still could not work, his rations were cut in half.
    While working in the mine from November 1944 until August 15, 1945, the POWs were abused by the civilian foreman, Hichiro Tsuchiya, who was known to the POWs as "Patches."  Tsuchiya used any excuse to abuse the POWs.  He was known to hit the POWs for no reason in their faces and to also use a wooden club or pick axe handle.  He also used a sledge hammer to hit the POWs on their heads.   His parents received a postcard from him in January 1945.
    In the camp, the Japanese withheld the Red Cross packages from the POWs and took the canned meats, canned fruit, canned milk, and cheese for themselves.  Blankets and clothing intended for the POWs were used by the guards.  If a POW violated a rule, the grain ration, for all the POWs, was reduced by 20 percent.  At one point, 49 POWs were lined up - because one POW had broken a rule - and beaten with leather belts.

    It was at Sendai #6 that Bob contracted wet beriberi.  He recalled that his arm was so full of fluid that he could see through the skin.  His condition worsened until he was sent to a hospital.   The hospital he was in was known among the POWs as a place where the Japanese performed experiments on American POWs.

    It was also at this hospital that Bob saw his first B-29.  One day the sky was perfectly blue, Bob saw a large plane being attacked by three Japanese Zeros.  The first Zero was hit and a black trail of smoke came out of the plane.  He next saw a flash of light, and the second Zero disintegrated.  With this, the last Japanese plane took off in the opposite direction.

    After seeing this, Bob told the other prisoners that he believed that they would be home by Thanksgiving.  Within a matter of months, his statement became a reality with Japan's surrender.

    Bob was sent back to Manila for medical treatment and remained there for a month.  When he was declared healthy, he returned to the United States on the Dutch ship, S.S. Klipfonstein, which arrived at Seattle, Washington, on October 28, 1945.  He was sent to Madigan General Hospital at Ft. Lewis, Washington, and later returned to Janesville.  He was discharged, from the army, on May 19, 1946.

    On November 11, 1950, Bob married Dorothy Jones in Madison, Wisconsin.  He worked for the U.S. Post Office.  His wife and he would raise three children, Katherine, Gary and Sandra.  On June 6, 1999, Dorothy passed away.

    Robert J. Stewart passed away on January 27, 2003.  He is remembered as a kind man who treated people the way he wanted them to treat others.  He was buried next to his wife at Milton Lawns Cemetery in Janesville, Wisconsin.


 

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