Pvt. Daniel Nelson Stoudt
| Pvt. Daniel N. Stoudt was born in a log cabin in the Blue Mountains of Pennsylvania on May 17, 1917, to Salome and Joseph Stoudt. The cabin was located two miles from the town of Sharttesville. When Daniel was three years old, his family moved to Rapid City, South Dakota, where, he lived a life that he loved. |
In South Dakota, Daniel learned to survive from the Native Americans. They taught him tracking, how to go without food, and to develop his physical endurance. He learned the habits of animals and birds to find food, how to fish and hunt, and how to trap. He admired these people and tried to live his life as much like theirs as he could.
In 1931, Daniel's family moved back to Pennsylvania, but he was not happy about this and had a difficult time adjusting to his new life. At school, he could not get along with the other students which resulted in his quitting and going to work as a laborer on farms for seventy-five cents a day.
Daniel joined the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935. This program gave jobs to young men and allowed them to earn a living during the Depression. In the C.C.C., he started as a cook but within six months he was a group leader. During this time, he built roads and also dams for farmers. He left the C.C.C. in 1937.
Daniel always remembered the life he had lived in South Dakota and wanted to return to it. In a car that he had traded for, he left Pennsylvania for South Dakota in 1939. On his way, he stopped at his Uncle John Stoudt's farm located near Madison, Wisconsin. His uncle convinced Daniel to stay with him, and he remained there for almost two years and began making plans to join the Marines. His plans changed when he received his draft notice on January 25, 1941.
Daniel started his army career by being sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training. This was done under sergeants from the 192nd Tank Battalion which was the unit that he had been assigned to when he arrived at the base.
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.
At Fort Knox, Daniel became a member of A Company of the 192nd Tank Battalion. Replacements were needed since many members of the original Wisconsin National Guard Company were transferred to Headquarters Company of the 192nd when it was created in January of 1941.
Daniel took part in maneuvers in Louisiana,from September 1st through 30th. Afterwards, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and its members learned that they were being sent overseas for additional training. Over different train routes, the battalion traveled by train to San Francisco, California, and were ferried, on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they received inoculations and physicals by the battalion's medical detachment. Those men 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.
That morning American planes went out on patrol, and everything the U. S. had was in the air. The planes returned at noon to refuel and were lined up on the runway in front of the mess hall, so the pilots went to lunch.
Around 12:45 that afternoon, the Americans saw planes, which many thought were American. It was only when they saw the "red dots" on the rings that the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese. The devastation of the attack was tremendous. Almost all the American planes were destroyed as well as most of the facilities. The soldiers felt helpless as they fired rifles and machine guns at the planes. Most of the the soldiers laid on the ground to lessen their chance of being hit by shrapnel. Daniel and a friend were laying five feet apart as a Japanese plane came over strafing. Five bullets from the planes machine guns hit between the two men.
After the attack, Daniel's tank was assigned to direct emergency vehicle traffic. The crew directed ambulances as they left Clark Field heading to the hospital. Doing this job Daniel saw soldiers who had their arms blown off. He saw others with their heads bandaged. He recalled that if it was possible to be wounded a certain way, he had seen a man with that wound. The wounded were carried in trucks, jeeps, bomb racks, and anything else that could be used. When the medical staff ran out of room for the wounded in the hospital, they were placed under the building.
Later in the day, Daniel and the other soldiers learned that Iba Air Field on the west coast of Luzon had also had been hit and its planes destroyed. That night they heard that the American planes at Nichols Field had also been bombed. There were not enough planes left to effectively support the American ground forces in the Philippines.
In Daniel's opinion, one of the greatest things working against the tank corps was that they had no knowledge of the terrain that they would be fighting on. The plan to defend the Philippine Islands called for the Filipino and American forces to engage the Japanese on the beaches of the Lingayen Gulf. This was were the invasion was expected. On December 10, 1941, the first landings of Japanese troops took place at Lingayen Bay. Daniel and the other soldiers learned that if the landings were successful, they were to fall back toward the south and establish a new defensive line. They would fall back three times.
If it was necessary, the Filipino and American defenders were to withdraw into the Bataan Peninsula. Once in Bataan, the soldiers were to hold off the Japanese until American reinforcements arrived. Daniel and the other Americans had no idea that 80 percent of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor had been destroyed. This meant that no reinforcements were coming. When this withdraw took place, Daniel's tank and other tanks of the Provisional Tank Group were used as the rear guard for the retreating forces. The last American troops to enter Bataan were the tanks of the 192nd Tank Battalion. It was also at this time that Daniel was promoted to sergeant.
Life for Daniel and the other American soldiers was hell. They were constantly harassed by Japanese planes. Peace was something that became a rarity. One night, Daniel's tank and other tanks from A Company were in a banana grove. They were told they were well behind the front lines and that they could get a good night's sleep. Daniel was asleep on his tank when suddenly screaming and shooting Japanese soldiers appeared all around him.
At Guagua, A Company, with units from the 11th Division, Philippine Army, attempted to make a counterattack against the Japanese. Somehow, the tanks were mistaken, by the Filipinos to be Japanese. The 11th Division accurately used mortars on them. The result was the loss of three tanks.
On January 1, the tanks of the 194th were holding the Calumpit Bridge allowing the Southern Luzon Forces to cross the bridge toward Bataan. General Wainwright was attempting to hold the main Japanese force coming down Route 5 to prevent the troops from being cut off. General MacArthur's chief of staff gave conflicting orders, which cause confusion, involving whose command the defenders were under. Gen. Wainwright was not aware these orders had been given.
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. It was also in January 1942, that the food ration was cut in half. It was not too long after this was done that malaria, dysentery, and dengue fever began hitting the soldiers.
The company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets - from January 23 to February 17 - to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line after a Japanese offensive was stopped and pushed pack to the original line of defense. The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time to replace a tank in the pocket. Another tank did not enter the pocket until a tank exited the pocket. Doing this was so stressful that each tank company was rotated out and replaced by one that was being held in reserve.
Daniel began a Prisoner of War on April 9, 1942, and started what was to become know as "the Bataan Death March" at the town of Mariveles at the southern tip of the peninsula. He recalled that the Filipinos were separated from the American troops before the march began. The prisoners were marched in groups of 100 men with eight to ten guards. The guards, although small in stature, looked mean and hostile. Each had a bayonet attached to the barrel of his rifle. The guards expected their orders to be obeyed without question. To disobey meant a beating or possibly death.
It was also at Mariveles that Daniel learned that not every Japanese guard was bad. One guard liked Daniel's wallet and wanted it. He could have just taken it, but instead of doing this, he gave Daniel a can of C-rations in exchange for the wallet.
Not too long after Daniel started on the march his column of Prisoners Of War was stopped to allow Japanese troops to pass. Artillery was also being moved south to begin the assault on the Island of Corregidor. The POWs were not allowed to sit even though they were tired and sick. The Japanese passing in trucks attempted to hit the prisoners with their rifle butts. Many succeeded which in most cases resulted in no real harm to the prisoners. In some cases, there were prisoners who had their skulls fractured from the blow.
The march for Daniel and the other prisoners was hot and dusty, and the men had little to no water. If a prisoner was caught begging for water, the prisoner was beaten. Those who fell to the ground and could not get up were bayoneted or shot. If another prisoner attempted to help one of these men he would be beaten or shot.
The first day of the march Daniel was marched until well after sundown. When he and the other POWs were finally given a rest it was already late. After midnight, it began to rain. Although the rain lasted for about one half hour, the prisoners attempted to catch the rain on their tongues or lick the drops off their lips and hands. This water was the first drink the the prisoners received on the march.
After midnight, the POWs began to march again. They covered ten miles and reached Orani by the time the sun began to rise. There they were herded into a filthy pen that had been used by other prisoners before them. Daniel and the other POWs were left to bake in the sun inside the pen for the rest of the day.
At the end of each portion of the march, Daniel and his fellow POWs would be put into another pen. Since his group was not the first to use them, they were filled with human waste. Often he would see the decaying bodies of American soldiers still inside the pens. The prisoners also had to deal with Blue Bottle flies and maggots. They also had to deal with the mosquitoes which seemed to be everywhere.
Each morning, Daniel remembered that there were men who just could not get onto their feet, while others had simply died while asleep. Those who could not get up were beaten to death with rifle butts or bayoneted. Over the next few days as the prisoners grew weaker, the beatings were repeated more frequently. Daniel watched as soldiers who had fallen had their heads beaten to a pulp with the butts of rifles by the Japanese guards. Daniel witnessed one guard stick a prisoner, who had fallen, in the back with his bayonet. When the man still did not get up, the guard shot him.
Day after day, as the march went on Daniel saw more and more men fall to the ground. The killings continued. For Daniel and the other POWs, the hardest thing they had to do is watch helplessly as the men were executed. Each man knew that if he protested he too would be killed.
The prisoners received very little water. When it was given, there was never enough for all of the prisoners. The water they received was not always clean. This resulted in many of the prisoners contracting dysentery. Daniel had a Boy Scout first aid kit with him. For whatever reason, the Japanese had not taken it away from him. In it he had iodine which he would put into the water to purify it. To keep his mouth moist, Daniel also sucked on a pebble. This was an old trick that he had learned when he was a Boy Scout.
Daniel saw men who attempted to use the water to wash, shot or bayoneted. The irrigation ditches alongside the road contained the bodies of dead men. Daniel presumed that they had been killed for breaking ranks to get a drink.
POWs who had to relieve themselves because they were suffering from dysentery would seek permission to go to the side of the road, but the guards would beat the men and refuse their requests. The men had no choice but to defecate on themselves. They then had to continue to march with the smell making it worse for everyone.
The Filipino people along the road risked their own lives to help the Americans. Daniel could see in their faces the sadness and unhappiness as they watched the soldiers march by. The Filipinos would throw food in the prisoners as they passed. If caught, the Filipino and the POW who had received the food would both be beaten.
One Filipino boy threw Daniel a piece of sugar cane without being seen. Daniel nurtured the sugar cane and sucked on it only when he believed he could not go on another step. The sugar cane gave him the nutrition that he needed to continue the march. In Daniel's opinion, the Filipino boy saved his life.
During the ten days that it took Daniel to complete the march, the guards were changed frequently. He recalled that when they were changed, the guards would search the prisoners and slap them around. Daniel knew that there was no real reason for the beatings except that the guards just wanted to beat them. To make the prisoners move faster, the guards hit them with their rifles or clubs. The guards constantly were shouting, "Speedo, Speedo" at the Americans to get them to move faster.
From the towns of Cabcaben to Lanao, the number of dead alongside the roads increased. Most of the dead were Filipino, but among them Daniel could see Americans. The guards did not allow the prisoners to bury the dead.
During one of the breaks that Daniel and the other POWs had on the march, Daniel experienced his second act of kindness from a Japanese guard. A guard lit a cigarette and offered it to Daniel. While Daniel was smoking the cigarette, the guard taught him how to say, "Thank you," in Japanese.
When Daniel finally arrived in San Fernando, he and the other prisoners were made to stand at attention in the sun. Daniel and the other POWs were finally loaded into freight cars at the town's railroad station. Since the train line was narrow gauge, the cars were only seven feet high, thirty feet long, and eight feet wide and known as "Forty or Eights." The reason was that the cars could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese packed the POWs in so tightly that the men could not move. They also closed the doors. The cars were hot and suffocating and men fainted and died but could not fall to the floor. Others begged for water that would not be given to them. The situation was made worse by the smell of the prisoners unwashed bodies and human waste. For Daniel, this train ride was the worst part of the march.
After the prisoners disembarked from the train, they marched another eight miles to Camp O'Donnell. The first thing that Daniel noticed is that the guards for this part of the march treated the prisoners better. They did not seem to be as hostile or look as mean. Those POWs who fell were picked up and placed on a truck and taken to the camp.
When Daniel arrived at Camp O'Donnell, he and the other prisoners were herded into an area near the headquarters building. There, they were searched once again for forbidden items. He and the other men heard a story of how four POWs in the group before theirs were caught with forbidden items. Three with Japanese money and one with a Japanese flag. They had been led away and executed. One survived the execution and fought with the guerrillas.
Not too long after this event, Daniel witnessed another group of American soldiers who arrived at Camp O'Donnell led away by Japanese guards, because each man had Japanese money on him. The American soldiers were never seen again.
After being searched, Daniel and the other prisoners were formed into a semi-circle and introduced to Capt. Tsuneyoshi. Capt. Tsuneyoshi told the prisoners that they were captives and not prisoners of war. He also told them they had no rights and no honor. Because of this, the Japanese could use them as slave labor to create a Japanese dominated Asia. For all practical purposes he had informed them that they were slaves.
Capt. Tsuneyoshi next told the prisoners that any man who attempted to escape would be shot. If a man approached the perimeter fence, he too would be shot.
The officers were next separated from the enlisted men and housed in separate barracks. Since there were not enough barracks to house all the prisoners, Daniel found himself with others sleeping on the ground regardless of the weather. When it rained, Daniel and the other men who had to sleep outside heard the coughing and groaning of the sick.
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. Anyone who was caught using the water to wash was beaten to death with a club.
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.
Since the doctors had very few medicines to treat the sick with, two hospitals were set up for the ill. One was for men who were sick but likely to recover, and the other one was for those POWs who were going to die. When the Philippine Red Cross attempted to supply medicine, the Japanese refused to allow them to give it to the prisoners.
When a soldier would die, Daniel would strip him of his clothing, and the man would be buried naked. The dead man's clothing would be washed in boiling water and given to a prisoner in need of clothing. Doing this job, Daniel watched the endless line of Filipino POWs on the road carrying their dead to be buried. Life for the Americans was bad, but for the Filipinos it was even worse. Thirty to forty Americans died each day, but this was not even half the number of Filipinos who died everyday.
One of the things that saddened Daniel was that he and the other POWs were becoming hardened to the deaths. The burial details were so common that as time went on none of the prisoners seem to pay attention to them. To Daniel, it seemed that this was because each man had to look out for his own survival.
The food in the camp was terrible in Daniel's opinion. The rice smelled and appeared to have been swept up off the floor. The other problem was that the men assigned to be cooks had no idea of how to prepare the rice since they had no experience in cooking it. Around this time, Daniel and his fellow POWs learned that Corregidor had fallen which was a blow to the prisoners and made them feel bad.
To supplement their diets, the men would search for grasshoppers, rats and dogs to eat. There, he was assigned the duty of being a camp cook. He believed that he was better at cooking rice than the men who had this duty had Camp O'Donnell. He tried to vary the way the rice was served. Daniel prepared lugau which is a gruel or oatmeal like meal. Regardless of how the rice was served, Daniel continued to eat his in the dark. Once in awhile, Daniel and the other cooks received corn to serve to the prisoners. From the corn the cooks would make harmony. The prisoners were so hungry that some men would eat the corn cobs. This resulted in many men being taken to the hospital to have the cobs removed because they would not pass through the men's bowels.
When serving the rice to his fellow POWs, Daniel used a sardine can to assure that each man received the same amount. He noticed that he was closely watched by his fellow prisoners who wanted to make sure that everyone received the same portion and that no one received extra rice.
Daniel was also sent out of Cabanatuan on the guava detail. The prisoners went out to a field and picked guava leaves which were made into a tea. This tea was given to POWs suffering from dysentery. The guard on this detail allowed the old Filipino who lived near the field where the leaves were picked to go into town for the prisoners and by food and cigarettes. The prisoners would smuggle the items into camp and resell them. If the men were caught, they were beaten for smuggling. When the American officers learned about this situation, they soon took over the detail.
As time went on, Daniel reflected on how much like animals that the POWs had become. It was not that they were intentionally trying to take advantage of each other, it was because each man was trying to survive.
According to Daniel, prisoners at night would use a drainage ditch that ran through the camp and under the barbed wire fence to crawl out of the camp. They would go into town and buy food and cigarettes. They would sneak back into camp and sell the items to the other prisoners at triple the price on a hillside within the camp. A can of corn would cost $15.00 dollars. Because of the prices charged, the hill became known as "Thieves Hill" to the prisoners.
One night, three prisoners were caught using the ditch to sneak out of the camp. The Japanese tied the men to posts and made any Filipino or American who passed them beat them. If the guards believed that the person was not hitting the men hard enough, the guards would beat the men. For whatever reason, the Japanese did not punish the remaining seven POWs in the group. Instead, they made all the prisoners suffer by cutting the food rations for everyone.
It was around this time that Daniel and the other prisoners were allowed to put on shows for entertainment. The prisoners would tell jokes, perform comedy skits, and play homemade instruments. How good or bad the acts were was of little concern to the men. What was important was that the men had a pleasant experience for one day.
The guards according to Daniel carried short clubs. They would use the clubs to hit the POWs in their heads for rule infractions. The beatings lasted a few seconds to well over a hour. The length of the beating was determined by how major the violation was considered to be.
One evening at dinner time, Daniel and other prisoners saw a formation of twenty or thirty Japanese soldiers marching. On a pole in front of the formation was the head of a Filipino who had disobeyed an order. For violating the order, the man had been beheaded.
As time went on, Daniel's clothes, and the clothes of the other POWs, began to wear out. Men walked around camp with no shirts or pants. All they had were loin clothes.
On October 26, 1942, Daniel and about 1000 other POWs were marched eight miles to the town of Cabanatuan. At the town's railroad stationed they were loaded into small wooden boxcars again. The townspeople came out to watch the POWs as they boarded the trains. From their faces, Daniel could see that they had a great deal of sympathy for the Americans.
Unlike the trip to Camp O'Donnell, the doors of the box cars were left open. This made the trip a great deal easier on the POWs. For whatever reason, the train stopped in several towns. When it arrived in a town, the Filipino people would come out. Many brought rice balls, fried chicken, bananas and anything else they had with them. Because they were not allowed to approach the train, the Filipinos would throw the food to the prisoners. Daniel felt that this was an unbelievable show of support to the Americans because many were giving up half of the food they had to eat.
Daniel recalled that when the train pulled into one town, the people gathered at the station. While the train set in the station, the Filipinos began to hum the song, "God Bless America." They also called out to the POWs, "Mabuhay Joe," which in English meant, "Long life Joe." Because of their courage and support of the Americans at a threat to their own lives, Daniel always loved the Filipino people.
The POWs were unloaded from the trains in the outskirts of Manila. They then marched two miles to Bilibid Prison. Bilibid had been built by the Spanish and had been a civilian prisoner before the war. The prisoner was a two story mortar and brick building surrounded by a high brick wall. At the entrance were two heavy iron gates.
Daniel recalled that there were no beds in the prison. At night ever prisoner slept on the concrete floor. The food was also of poor quality. Probably the one good thing about Bilibid according to Daniel was that the prisoners had more than enough water for drinking and washing.
Two days after arriving at Bilibid, Dan and other prisoners were marched through the streets of Manila to the port area. What struck Daniel about the city was how devastated it appeared to be. Dewey Boulevard which had been the most modern street of the city was now lined with burnt out empty buildings. Ashes were all that was left of the huts that had lined other streets in Manila.
At Pier 7, the POWs were boarded onto the Erie Maru. Daniel recalled that he had enough room to lay down without being crowded. The hatches to the ships holds were left open to provide ventilation. The POWs were allowed on deck once the ship cleared Manila Harbor.
Food for the prisoners was generous. The food was well prepared and each POW received a full mess kit of rice and a canteen cup filled with a thick cabbage soup containing pork. They even were given corn beef and cabbage one night.
The trip on the freighter lasted 13 days. The reason was the ship made frequent stops in ports along the coast of Luzon. Daniel and the POWs disembarked the ship at Davao. There, they joined another group of 1000 prisoners. Daniel noticed that these prisoners appeared to be well fed when compared to the men in Daniel's group. Upon arrival of Daniel's group, the rations for these men were cut in half. This caused friction between the two groups.
At Davao, Daniel and the other prisoners were assigned to a farm. The prisoners grew rice, sweet potatoes, cassava roots, coffee and squash. The food was used to feed the Japanese soldiers in the Philippines and leftover food was shipped to the military in Japan. The only part of this food the prisoners received were the plant tops from the sweet potatoes. The prisoners were fed rice three times a day. The evening meal would also include mongo beans. For three to four months, the POWs also received tuna fish once a week.
Unlike the many camps, there was plenty of water available to the prisoners and there was a well in the compound. For the first time since he became a prisoner, Daniel could actually keep himself and his clothes clean. Being clean was a great help in improving the health of the POWs.
Daniel was assigned to what would be considered a good work detail. The POWs had only one guard and he would allowed two men to collect bananas which the prisoners would lay on the ground and cover with leaves. In a couple of days, the bananas would be ripe. While they were working, the guard let the prisoners eat them, but they were not allowed to bring the bananas back to camp. More than one man had been hit or kicked in the shins for trying to bring fruit into the camp.
One POW on Dan's detail was allowed, by the guard, to pick a stalk of bananas and take them to camp. When he got to the gate, the detail's guard was not with him. The gate guard kicked and hit the man until he passed out. When he awoke, he was tied to a post with his hands behind him. He remained tied to the post for two days. When he began to slump. the Japanese would beat him. The second day he was tied to the post, a Catholic priest visited the man. Not too long after this visit, the prisoner was cut from the post and fell to the ground. He was carried to his quarters.
In another incident, a prisoner on a rice detail was caught trying to smuggle rice into the camp. From that time on, all the prisoners had to strip and be searched by the guards to assure they were not smuggling rice.
Daniel believed that one of the strangest things that the Japanese was to allow the groves of oranges, papaya, mangos, coconuts and bananas to become overgrown. Most of the fruit was simply left to rot on the trees. The prisoners would have gladly worked overtime and cared for the groves but the Japanese would not let them.
As time passed. the shoes of Daniel and the other POWs were wearing out. The prisoners made shoes from wood or leather thongs. One prisoner made shoes thicker than normal. He hallowed out one heel and smuggle rice into the camp in the hallowed out heal. Everyone was impressed with his shrewdness until one day when he was entering camp and the heel opened sending rice flying everywhere. The gate guard saw this and beat the man severely.
Right outside the fences that surrounded the prison compound were wild mango trees and hot peppers plants. The prisoners would attempt to smuggle these into camp to mix into their food. From the peppers they would make a hot sauce that they would mix into their rice. Daniel believed that he and his fellow prisoners would do almost anything to put some flavor into the rice.
On Daniel's first Christmas in the camp, the prisoners received Red Cross packages. Daniel and other prisoners were sent to the railroad station to get the packages and placed them on railroad baggage carts. They than pushed the carts to the camp. On the way, it started to rain but no one cared. They were too happy by the thought of what was in the packages. One man started to sing God Bless America and soon all the POWs joined in and sang all the way back to the camp. These were their first Red Cross packages which were their first contact with the outside world. The packages contained cigarettes, instant coffee, canned goods, medicines and powdered milk. At first, the POWs did not know what the powder milk was because it had not been invented until after the war had started.
There were numerous escape attempts while Daniel was at the camp. Some were successful and some were not. Some men escaped but got lost in the jungle. When they became hungry or got sick, they decided that they were better off in the camp and returned. Punishment varied for each man. Usually, the punishment was having rations cut with each escape.
On one work detail, ten men attempted to escape. About half succeeded and the others were shot trying to get away. They had been working outside the camp for months and had hidden supplies for their escape. They had also made contact with a Filipino who guided them to a guerrilla camp. Those who had survived the escape fought with the guerrillas until the Philippines were liberated. After this escape, the guards became meaner with the prisoners.
Not too long after this escape, Daniel's malaria began to act up and the ulcer in his right eye was giving him trouble, so he was put into the sick compound. The hut had no wall just a roof. One day he heard a group of guards yelling, shooting, and carrying on near the hut. He looked out and watched as the guards shot at a prisoner who tried to get extra water. As serious as the situation was it was also very funny. The prisoner was zigzagging all across the compound with the guards zigzagging in the same way and shooting at him. Fortunately, the man escaped without being shot and was safe because the guards were not able to identify him.
A Japanese doctor would visit the prisoners in the hut once a week with the American doctors. The Japanese doctor spoke English and seemed very concerned about the sick prisoners. One rumor was that the doctor had been educated in the United States which explained why he spoke English so well. Daniel heard that the doctor had helped the sick prisoners by getting milk and eggs for them. Daniel never saw either one while he was in the sick ward.
When Daniel returned to work, he was assigned the job of plowing in a rice field. At the end of the day, he had to carry the plow back to the camp with him. One day it was raining and the banks of the rice paddies were slippery. Daniel had difficulty walking and slipped into the paddy. He was in mud up to his thighs and had a difficult time getting out with the plow.
Since it took him so long to get out of the paddy, he began to worry because he knew he would be late getting back to the camp. Those prisoners who came back to the camp late were usually shot. When he arrived at the camp, the guard started yelling at him and slapping him around. As the guard got ready to shoot him, one of the other prisoners who had learned Japanese explained to the guard why Daniel was late. The explanation calmed the guard down and saved Daniel's life. Daniel was happy that he knew someone who knew Japanese.
Sleeping quarters for each man was a little cage with a door on it and a wooden bottom. The wooden bottom of the cages were so infested with bed bugs that Daniel went outside to sleep on the grass. He also had a pith helmet with a strap on it that he would lay on the floor of his cage. Several times when he fell out for roll call he would put the helmet on the bed bugs would come out from under the strap and crawl down his face while he stood at attention not daring to move. When roll call was over, Daniel would beat the bed bugs out of his hat and step on them.
One POW came up with the idea of scolding the bed bugs to death by pouring hot water over the boards. This proved to be successful and thereafter all the men were scalding the floors of their beds and taking their bed clothing outside to rid them of the bugs.
The one day of the week the POWs had off was Sunday. Daniel and the other prisoners only had to work if there was a special detail. Three of the prisoners in the camp formed a trio. One man would play the guitar and all three would sing. They were very good and Daniel always enjoyed hearing them.
The Japanese had a newspaper for propaganda purposes, and in the paper, the Japanese reported their victories. Once in the paper they made the mistake and stated that they had evacuated Guam because it was no longer of strategic importance. The prisoners knew that it was only a matter of time until the Philippine Islands would be liberated. Daniel and the other POWs were excited by the good news because they knew it meant the United States was winning the war.
Daniel soon learned that the camp at Davao was going to be closed because the Filipino guerrillas were having success against the Japanese. In addition, the Americans were getting closer to the Philippines. Because of these two situations, the Japanese ordered most of the prisoners to Manila for shipment to other Japanese controlled territories.
The prisoners were ordered to pack up all the farm equipment. While this was being done, an American officer in the rope factory walked up to the only guard and jumped him. He next began to beat the guard over the head with a small iron pipe. The other prisoners were caught totally off guard. The guard was screaming for help but could not be heard. The officer grabbed the guard's gun and was going to shoot him. The gun was not loaded and the guard was able to escape.
Other Japanese guards entered the building and began to beat all the prisoners. One prisoner was able to explain that only one prisoner attacked the guard. The POWs were made to sit with their backs against the wall and their legs crossed tightly under their buttocks. Each man was questioned in the prison headquarters. The officer who attacked the guard confessed and was taken away. He was never seen again. Hearing the man's screams in the guardhouse left no doubt in Daniel's mind as to the officer's fate.
From this time on, if the POWs went out on a work detail it was with a large group of guards. The guards were nervous and kept their guns with bayonets attached pointed at the men at all times. Food rations were also cut so the prisoners were once again hungry. On the last day in Davao, a dog was killed and all the prisoners received a gallon of rice. They were then made to sit out in the sun for hours before they were moved out of the camp.
The next day, June 6, Daniel and his fellow prisoners were loaded onto trucks. The trucks were tied to each other with a rope. When the prisoners got to their trucks each had to blindfold himself with a piece of cloth. Daniel was the last man on the truck and had a difficult time standing in the truck when it went around curves. Daniel felt a man starting to fall so he grabbed him. When Daniel realized it was the Japanese guard, he let him fall out of the truck. When they reached Davao City, the prisoners were loaded onto the ship the Yashu Maru for Manila. They were put in the forward holds and remained there for six days before the ship sailed on June 12th.
When a second POW jumped overboard and made a successful escape, the POWs were not allowed to go on deck to use the toilets. Rice was sent down to the POWs in buckets and from that time on, a tub was lowered into the hold to the prisoners to use as a toilet. With the heat inside the hold and the smell from the waste, the next ten days were almost unlivable.
The prisoners disembarked the ship and marched to Bilibid. Once again, Daniel found himself sleeping on the concrete floors of a big warehouse. The only bright spot for the POWs was that Red Cross packages from home were waiting for them. Since they had been sitting at Bilibid for a year, the perishable food had spoiled, but the canned food was still edible. The prisoners were elated to receive the packages because they meant that although two years had passed their families were still thinking of them.
Daniel was assigned to be shipped to Japan when he came down with malaria. When prisoner selection for shipment to Japan was made he was too sick to be sent to Japan. Instead, he was admitted to the hospital ward and discharged on April 27, 1944, and was sent to the sick compound at Cabanatuan. The camp, in his opinion, had improved since he had left two years earlier. There were not as many prisoners there and the food had improved. He remained in the sick compound for a month and was treated with quinine which cured him.
Once Daniel was well, he was returned to Bilibid Prison. On August 13, 1944, Daniel was taken to Bilibid Prison and put on the Noto Maru. 1033 POWs were boarded onto the ship on August 25th, and packed into one hold. 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. The ships arrived at Takao, Formosa, on August 30th, sailed again on August 31st, and arrived at Moji, Japan, on September 4th.
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 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.
Once at Moji, the POWs were broken into two groups. Daniel's group of POWs were marched to the train station and taken by train to the camps along the line. The windows of the train car were covered and the prisoners were ordered to leave them covered. They were told this had been done so that they could not see the civilians. In reality, the Japanese did not want the prisoners to see the damage being done by the American bombings. The train trip in Daniel's opinion was the most luxurious means of travel that he experienced while a prisoner. On the train, the prisoners received boxed lunches of fish, rice and radishes. The POWs were on the train for three days through mountainous country. Daniel did peek under the shades and saw civilians and the countryside.
The further north the POWs went the tougher and more rugged looking the people became. Women were seen working on the track of the railroad. Their clothing consisted of coats made out of rice straw or big leaves, They also wore ugly straw overalls.
Daniel stated that the prisoners were issued two sets of clothing. One set of clothing was a nice, green, cotton outfit, while the other clothing was made from burlap which was issued to the POWs for the winter. When the Red Cross inspectors arrived in the camp the prisoners wore the green cotton clothing to make a good impression. They also received split toed shoes and an English Army rain coat. When the inspectors left, the men changed back into the burlap clothing.
Rations for the POWs were 625 grams each day. The meals included rice, barley or millet. If a prisoner was sick and not working, he would receive 500 grams a day, but all prisoners received three meals a day. Breakfast was a small bowl of one of the grains, while lunch was a bowl of rice and a different grain. Dinner was a bowl of rice, another grain, and shark-head soup. The soup was just broth with a lot of shark head bones in it. Some prisoners could not eat the fish so Daniel and other prisoners made arrangements with those men for their fish.
Half the prisoners worked days and the other half nights. The group Daniel was assigned to was composed of twenty men. To enter the mine, the prisoners had go down five hundred very creaky steps into the mine. At the bottom of the steps, they then would have to walk through a tunnel to their work area.
During lunch, the prisoners would eat in a large room. One day, Daniel decided that he would not return to work. After the other prisoners had returned to work, Daniel remained in the room shaking. A six foot Japanese supervisor came into the room and asked Daniel, in perfect English, why he had not returned to work. Daniel explained the problem to the man. The supervisor told Daniel to return to work and that he would speak to the Japanese worker. From that day on, things improved for Daniel.
A few weeks after Daniel, and the other Americans, arrived in the camp, fifty British POWs arrived in the camp. The British were kept in an area of the camp away from the Americans, and they also worked a different shift. This kept socializing between the two groups to a minimum.
The winters were cold in the camp and temperatures were often 20 to 30 degrees below zero. The living conditions for the prisoners at the camp were extremely hard. The POWs would have to wait for hours in the cold waiting to take a bath. If the man did not get a bath quick enough he would bathe in cold, dirty water.
The prisoners' quarters had a wood burning stove but no wood to burn. Every morning when Daniel went to work he had a laundry bag tied around his neck. In it, he would put small pieces of wood to bring back to camp for the stove. One night he was caught entering the camp with the wood. It was about ten degrees below zero. As punishment, he was made to stand at attention while he was beaten in the head with a stick. The point of the beating was to get Daniel angry enough to fight back. If he did, he would be beaten more. Knowing this helped Daniel to take the beating without responding to it.
Daniel believed that the guards were pretty fair to the POWs, and there was one incident that he always remembered. He was the last man in line for a bath. This meant the water would be dirty and cold when it was his turn to bathe. The bath for the Japanese guards was in the same building as the bath for the prisoners and was separated from the POWs' bath by a door. Sitting in the cold dirty water, Daniel could hear the guards on their side of the door. One of the guards opened the door and saw Daniel in the cold, dirty water. For no reason he scooped up a couple of buckets of hot water from the guards' tub and poured it into Daniel's tub. Daniel was amazed by this act of kindness.
On August 14, 1945, the POWs were getting ready to go to work when they received orders to return to their barracks. The next day they again were told not to go to work. Rumors began to spread among the prisoners. On August 16th, the prisoners awoke to find that the guards were gone and only the camp commander remained. He instructed them to paint "POW" on the roofs of all the buildings so that planes flying over would know where they were. For the first time, the prisoners began to hope that the war was over.
On August 20th, the camp commander announced to the POWs that the war was over. To Daniel's surprise, neither he or any of the other former prisoners wanted revenge. They all were elated and enjoying their new freedom. Their thoughts turned to the things they would do and the foods they would eat when they got home. They did nothing but make plans of what they were going to do at home.
The 27th of August, American planes dropped food, clothing, and medicine to the former POWs, and this happened each day until September 1. The results of suddenly having too much to eat were obvious and many of the men became ill.
On September 2, 1945, a jeep with American MPs arrived in the camp. The MPs were to patrol the camp until arrangements were made to move the men. On September 13th, the prisoners were sent to Yokohama by train, where they were placed on the American hospital ship U.S.S. Monitor, on September 19th, and returned to the Philippine Islands. He was promoted to staff sergeant at this time.
From Manila, Daniel sailed on the U.S.S. Marine Shark for the United States, arriving at Seattle on November 1, 1945. It was a little over four years since he had left San Francisco for the Philippine Islands.
Daniel was shipped to Mayo General Hospital, Galesburg, Illinois, since he had been drafted into the army while living in Wisconsin. He was next sent to Fort Story, Virginia, where he was honorably discharged for the army on June 16, 1946.
Daniel returned home to Pennsylvania and on May 17, 1947, married Charmaine Landis. Together, they had four children; Daniel, Linda, Stephen and Alayene. Of his time as a POW, he said, "I learned empathy for people. I learned how to get along with a small amount of things." Daniel Stoudt passed away on August 12, 1993.