Sgt. Raymond J. Vandenbroucke was born on April 15, 1916, and lived at 812 South 9th Avenue in Maywood,
Illinois. He was the son of Cyril & Dorothy Vadenbroucke and attended St. James Catholic School in
Maywood and was a 1935 graduate of Proviso Township High School. In high school, he was on the swimming
team. After he graduated, he worked in the Proviso Rail Yard's machine shop, of the Chicago &
North Western Railroad, as an apprentice.
In September, 1940, Ray enlisted in the Illinois National
Guard 33rd Tank Company with his boyhood friends
James Bainbridge and
Bob Peterson. All three had grown up on the same block and knew that the
draft was coming and decided to join the Illinois National Guard to fulfill their military duty.
On November 25, 1940, Ray was called to federal duty when the 33rd Tank
Company of the Illinois National Guard from Maywood, Illinois was federalized. At Fort Knox, Kentucky, his
outfit was renamed Company B of the 192nd Tank Battalion. Raymond was trained to operate motorcycles,
half-tracks and tanks. It is known he became a tank commander.
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 11:30 the soldiers stopped what they were doing and cleaned up for mess which was
from noon to 1:00 P.M. Afterwards, they attended the various schools which they had been assigned to on
January 13, such as: mechanics, tank driving, radio operating. At 4:30, the soldiers called it a day
and returned to their barracks and put on dress uniforms and at five held retreat and followed by dinner at
5:30. After dinner, they were off duty and lights were out at 9:00 P.M., but they did not have to turn in
until 10:00 when Taps was played.
In the late summer of 1941, Ray took part in maneuvers in Louisiana from September 1
through 30. After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of returning to
Ft. Knox. None of the members of the battalion had any idea why they were there. On the side of a
hill, the members learned they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM. Within hours, many men
had figured out they were being sent to the Philippine Islands.
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 and 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. It was at that time the decision was
made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
Ray received a leave home to say his goodbyes to his family and friends. Two days
before leaving for the Philippine Islands, Ray married Evelyn Floor. The couple bought a house in Maywood two days
before he was sent to California.
From Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over four different train routes.
Arriving at Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California, the soldiers were ferried, on the
U.S.A.T President Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, the soldiers were
given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases by the battalion's medical detachment. Those with minor
health issues were keep on the island and scheduled to rejoin the company at a later date. Some men were
The 192nd was boarded onto the
U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27. During this part of the trip, many
tankers had seasickness, but once they recovered they spent much of the time training in breaking down machine
guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP. The ship 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, another transport, 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.
At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized they had to live in
tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield. He made sure that they had what they needed
and received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner. Ironically, November 20 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 spent much of their time removing cosmoline from
their weapons. They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts. The plan was for them,
with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
On December 1, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to
guard against paratroopers. Two crew members had to be with their tank at all times. They received
their meals from food trucks.
The morning of December 8, the officers of the battalions met and were informed of the
Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier. The 192nd letter companies were ordered to the perimeter of
All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes. At noon, all the planes
landed and the pilots went to lunch. At 12:45 planes approached the airfield from the north. The
tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54 planes. When bombs began exploding, the men knew the planes were
The tank battalion received orders on December 21 that it was to proceed
north to Lingayen Gulf. Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas. When
they reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tankplatoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the
On December 23 and 24, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta, where the bridge they
were going to use to cross the Agno River had been destroyed. The tankers made and end run to get south of
river and ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening but successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang
On December 25, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from
Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held
the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27. The tankers were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on
December 27, and at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29.
They were holding both sides of the Calumpit Bridge, December 31/January 1, when they
received conflicting orders, from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff, about whose command they were under and that
they should withdraw from the bridge. The defenders were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5
which would allow the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan. General Wainwright was unaware of the
Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces
defending the bridge over the Pampanga River and about half the defenders withdrew. 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.
On another occasion
, while his tank was on a reconnaissance mission, they encountered a Japanese tank. The
Japanese tank was able to get off the first round and knocked out Ray's tank which was the first American tank
in the platoon. Ray survived this engagement but was wounded.
Ray would survive two other tank engagements with the Japanese in which
each one of his tanks was lost. In one of these engagements, Ray lost his entire tank crew and found
himself involved in hand to hand combat with a Japanese soldier. Although Ray would kill other men in the
line of duty, this event haunted Ray the rest of his life.
At 2:30 A.M., the night of January 5/6, the Japanese attacked at Remlus
in force and using smoke as cover. This attack was an attempt to destroy the tank battalions. At 5:00
A.M., the Japanese withdrew having suffered heavy casualties.
The night of January 6/7 the tanks withdrew into the peninsula with the 192nd holding
its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross the bridge, and then cover the
192nd's withdraw over the bridge. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan, before the
engineers blew up the bridge at 6:00 A.M.
The next day, the battalion was between Culo and Hermosa and assigned a road to enter
Bataan on which was worse than having no road. The half-tracks kept throwing their rubber tracks and
members of 17th Ordnance assigned to each battalion had to re-track them in dangerous situations. After
daylight, Japanese artillery fire was landing all around the tanks.
A composite tank company was formed, the next day, under the command of Capt. Donald
Haines, B Co., 192nd. Its job was to protect the East Coast Road north of Hermosa open and to stop Japanese
tanks attempting to use it to overrun the next defensive line that was forming. While in this position, the tanks
were under constant enemy artillery fire. The rest of the tanks were ordered to bivouac south of the
When word came that a bridge was going to be blow, all the tanks were ordered out of the
area, which included the composite company. This could have resulted in a catastrophe, but the Japanese did
not take advantage of the situation.
The tanks bivouacked south of the Pilar-Bagac Road and about two kilometers from the
East Coast Road. It had almost been one month since the tank crews had a rest and the tanks had maintenance
work done on them by 17th Ordnance. It was also on this day that the tank platoons were reduced to three
tanks per tank platoon. The men rested and the tanks received the required maintenance. Most of the
tank tracks had worn down to bare metal and the radial engines long past their 400 hour overhauls.
It was at this time the tank battalions received these orders which came from Gen.
, "Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying in position and firing at visible enemy until further
delay will jeopardize withdrawal. If a tank is immobilized, it will be fought until the close approach of
the enemy, then destroyed; the crew previously taking positions outside and continuing to fight with the
salvaged and personal weapons. Considerations of personal safety and expediency will not interfere with
accomplishing the greatest possible delay."
The battalions were sent to cover the junctions of the Back Road and East Road with the
Abucay-Heicienda Road on January 25th. While holding the position, the 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts,
fought its way to the position at 3:00 A.M. One platoon was sent to the front of the the column of trucks
which were loading the troops. The tanks provided heavy fire so that the infantry could withdraw and
inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese.
Later on January 25, both the 192nd and 194th held a defensive line on the
Bakanga-Cardre-BaniBani Roads until the withdraw was completed at midnight. They held the position until
the night of January 26/27, when they dropped back to a new defensive line roughly along the Pilar-Bagac
Roads. When ordered to withdraw to the new line, the 192nd found that the bridge at Balanga, that they were
suppose to use had been destroyed by enemy fire. To withdraw, they had to use secondary roads to get around
the barrio and tanks were still straggling in at noon.
The tank battalions, on January 28, were given the job of protecting the beaches.
The 192nd was assigned the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast, while the
battalion's half-tracks were used to patrol the roads. The Japanese later admitted that the tanks
guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.
Companies A & C were ordered to the west coast of Bataan while B Company - which was
held in reserve - and 17th Ordnance held the southern shore of Bataan. The tankers were awake all night and
attempted to sleep under the jungle canopy, during the day, which protected them from being spotted by Japanese
reconnaissance planes. During the night, they were kept busy with repeated threats both on and off shore.
The tank battalions, on their own, took up the job of protecting the airfields at
Cabcaban, Bataan, and Mariveles, since Japanese paratroopers were known to be available. The tanks and
half-tracks were well hidden in the jungle around the airfields and different plans were in place to be used
against Japanese forces. There was only one major alert in March when 73 Japanese planes came over the
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.
To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used. The first was to have three
Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank. As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos
dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole. Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually
The other method to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the
foxhole. The driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around and grinding its way
down into the foxhole. The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.
While the tanks were doing this job, the Japanese sent soldiers, with cans of gasoline,
against the tanks. These Japanese attempted to jump onto the tanks, pour gasoline into the vents on the
back of the tanks, and set the tanks on fire. If the tankers could not machine gun the Japanese before they
got to a tank, the other tanks would shoot them as they stood on a tank. The tankers did not like to do
this because of what it did to the crew inside the tank. When the bullets hit the tank, its rivets would
pop and wound the men inside the tank. It was for their performance during this battle that the 192nd Tank
Battalion would receive one of its Distinguished Unit Citations.
Since the stress on the crews was tremendous, the tanks rotated into the pocket one at a
time. A tank entered the pocket and the next tank waited for the tank that had been relieved to exit the
pocket before it would enter. This was repeated until all the tanks in the pocket were relieved.
What made this job so hard was that the Japanese dug "spider holes" among the
roots the trees. Because of this situation, the Americans could not get a good shot at the Japanese.
The tankers, from A, B, and C Companies, were able to clear the pockets. But
before this was done, one C Company tank which had gone beyond the American perimeter was disabled and the tank
just sat there. When the sun came up the next day, the tank was still sitting there. During the
night, its crew was buried alive, inside the tank, by the Japanese. When the Japanese had been wiped out,
the tank was turned upside down to remove the dirt and recover the bodies of the crew. The tank was put
back into use.
At the same time the company took part in the Battle of the Points on the west
coast of Bataan. The Japanese landed troops but ended up trapped. One was the Lapay-Longoskawayan
points from January 23 to 29, the Quinawan-Aglaloma points from January 22 to February 8, and the Sililam-Anyasan
points from January 27 to February 13. The defenders successfully eliminated the points by driving their
tanks along the Japanese defensive line and firing their machine guns. The 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts
followed the tanks eliminating any resistance and driving the Japanese Marines over the edge of the cliffs where
they hid in caves. The tanks fired into the caves killing or forcing them out of them into the sea.
In February 1942, B Company was also given the job of defending a beach, along the east
coast of Bataan, where the Japanese could land troops. One night while on this duty, the company engaged
the Japanese in a fire fight as they attempted to land troops on the beach. When morning came, not one
Japanese soldier had successfully landed on the beach.
After being up all night, the tankers attempted to get some sleep. Every morning
"Recon Joe" flew over attempting to locate the tanks. The jungle canopy hide the tanks from
the plane. Walter Cigoi aggravated about being woken up, pulled his half-track on the beach and took a
"pot shot" at the plane. He missed. Twenty minutes later, Japanese planes appeared and
bombed the position. Frank took cover under a tank.
After the attack, the tankers found Richard Graff and Charles Heuel dead, and Francis
McGuire was wounded. Another man had his leg partially blown off. The tankers attempted to put the
man in a jeep, but his leg got in the way. To get him into the jeep, his leg was cut off by T/4 Frank
The soldiers were hungry and began to eat everything they could get their hands on to
eat. The Carabao were tough but if they were cooked long enough they could be eaten. They also began
to eat horse meat provided by the 26th U. S. Cavalry. To make things worse, the soldiers' rations were
cut in half again on March 1, 1942. This meant that they only ate two meals a day.
The Japanese also were dropping surrender leaflets with a scantly clad blond on
them. The Japanese would have been more successful at getting the Americans to surrender if the picture had
been hamburger, since the men were so hungry that they most likely would have surrendered for a good meal.
In March, the amount of gasoline was reduced to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles except
the tanks. This would later be dropped to ten gallons a day. At the same time, food rations were cut
in half again. Also at this time, Gen. Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that a platoon of tanks be sent
The Japanese lunched an all out attack on April 3. On April 7, the 57th Infantry,
Philippine Scouts, supported by tanks, attempted to restore the line, but Japanese infiltrators prevented this
from happening. During this action, one tank was knocked out but the remaining tanks successfully
withdrew. The number of operational tanks also became more critical with C Company, 194th - which was
attached to the 192nd - having only seven tanks left.
The tanks became a favorite target of the Japanese receiving fire on trails and while hidden
in the jungle where they could not fight back. The situation was so bad that other troops avoided being
near the tanks, and the 26th Cavalry turned down a tank company's offer of assistance in a
It was the evening of April 8 that Gen. Edward P. King decided that
further resistance was futile, since approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to fight, and he estimated
they would last one more day. In addition, he had over 6,000 troops who sick or wounded and 40,000
civilians who he feared would be massacred. At 10:30 that night, he sent his staff officers to negotiate
Tank battalion commanders received this order
, "You will make plans, to be communicated to company commanders only, and be prepared to destroy
within one hour after receipt by radio, or other means, of the word 'CRASH', all tanks and combat
vehicles, arms, ammunition, gas, and radios: reserving sufficient trucks to close to rear echelons as soon as
When the Filipino and American soldiers on Bataan were surrendered to the Japanese, Ray
became a Prisoner of War on April 9, 1942. On the Death March, Ray and Bob Peterson "piggybacked"
James Bainbridge, their boyhood friend, to keep him from dropping out. Ray and Bob knew that if Jim was
allowed to drop out, he would be killed. Despite their efforts, James Bainbridge would later die from
illness while a POW.
Ray was first held as a POW at Camp O'Donnell which was an
unfinished Filipino training base which the Japanese pressed the camp into use as a POW camp on April 1,
1942. When they arrived at the camp, the Japanese confiscated any extra clothing that the POWs had and
refused to return it to them. They searched the POWs and if a man was found to have Japanese money on them,
they were taken to the guardhouse. Over the next several days, gunshots were heard to the southeast of the
camp. These POWs had been executed for looting.
There was only one water faucet in the camp, and the prisoners stood in line from two to
eight hours waiting for a drink. The Japanese guards at the faucet would turn it off for no reason and the
next man in line would stand as long as four hours waiting for it to be turned on again. This situation
improved when a second faucet was added.
There was no water for washing clothes, so the POWs would throw out their clothing when
it had been soiled. In addition, water for cooking had to be carried three miles from a river to the camp
and mess kits could not be washed. The slit trenches in the camp were inadequate and were soon overflowing
since most of the POWs had dysentery. The result was that flies were everywhere in the camp including the
POW kitchens and in the food.
The camp hospital had no soap, water, or disinfectant. When the ranking American
doctor at the camp wrote a letter to the camp commandant, Capt. Yohio Tsuneyoshi, asking for medical supplies, he
was told never to write another letter. When the Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medical supplies
to the camp, Tsuneyoshi refused to allow the truck into the camp. When the Japanese Red Cross sent medical
supplies to the camp the Japanese took 95% of the supplies for their own use.
The POWs in the camp hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow and only one of the six
medic assigned to care for 50 sick POWs was healthy enough to care for them. When a representative of the
Philippine Red Cross stated they could supply a 150 bed hospital for the camp, he was slapped in the face by a
Each morning, the bodies of the dead were found all over the camp and were carried to
the hospital and placed underneath it. The bodies lay there for two or three days before they were buried
in the camp cemetery by other POWs who were suffering from dysentery and/or malaria. To clean the ground
under the hospital, the ground was scraped and lime was spread over it. The bodies of the dead were placed
in the area, and the area they had been laying was scrapped and lime was spread over it.
Work details were sent out on a daily basis. Each day, the American doctors gave a
list of names to the Japanese of the POWs who were healthier enough to work. If the quota of POWs needed to
work could not be met, the Japanese put those POWs who were sick, but could walk, to work. The death rate
among the POWs reached 50 men dying a day, and many of the POWs volunteered to go out on work details away from
In late April he was sent to Camp Calumpet. The POWs were expected to
rebuild a bridge that had been destroyed during the withdrawal toward Bataan. The diet of the POWs was fed
rice and fish. Many also were suffering from beriberi, malaria, and dysentery. At one point only
twenty of the 120 men on the detail were able to work. The extremely ill were returned to Cabanatuan and
replaced by healthier POWs. Ray may have become too ill and was was only on the detail until June 15 when
he was sent to Cabanatuan which had opened to replace Camp O'Donnell.
Cabanatuan had been the headquarters of the 91st Philippine Army
Division and had been known as Camp Panagaian. The camp was actually three camps. Camp 1 was where
the men who captured on Bataan and taken part in the death march where held. Camp 2 did not have an
adequate water supply and was closed. It later reopened and housed Naval POWs. Camp 3 was where those
men captured when Corregidor surrender were taken. In addition, men from Bataan who had been hospitalized
when the surrender came were sent to the camp. Camp 3 was later consolidated into Camp 1.
Once in the camp, the POWs were allowed to run the camp. The Japanese only entered
if they had an issue they wanted to deal with. To prevent escapes, the POWs set up a detail that patrolled
the fence of the camp. The reason this was done was that those who did escape and were caught, were
tortured before being executed, while the other POWs were made to watch. It is believed that no POW
successfully escaped from the camp.
In the camp, the Japanese instituted the "Blood Brother" rule. If one
man escaped the other nine men in his group would be executed. POWs caught trying to escape were
beaten. Those who did escape and were caught, were tortured before being executed. It is not known if
any POW successfully escaped from the camp.
The barracks in the camp were built to house 50 POWs, but most had between 60 to 120
POWs in them. The POWs slept on bamboo slats, without mattresses, bedding, or mosquito netting. Many
quickly became ill. The POWs were assigned to barracks which meant that the members of their group lived
together, went out on work details together, and would be executed together since they were Blood Brothers.
The POWs were sent out on work details 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.
Rice was the main food given to the POWs fed to them as "lugow" which meant
"wet rice." During their time in the camp, they received few vegetables and almost no
fruit. Once in awhile, they received bread.
The camp hospital was known as "Zero Ward" because it was missed by the
Japanese when they counted barracks. The sickest POWs were sent there to die. The Japanese put a
fence up around the building to protect themselves, and they would not go into the building. There were two
rolls of wooden platforms around the perimeter of the building. The sickest POWs were put on the lower
platform which had holes cut into it so the they could relieve themselves. Most of those who entered the
While Ray was at Cabanatuan, he worked in the rice paddies. One time, Ray was beaten
for stealing rice which was found by the guards when they did a search. To steal the rice, the prisoners had
sewn hidden pockets into their clothes. Ray was also hospitalized on March 22, 1943, in the camp's
hospital. The records kept by the staff do not indicate what he was suffering from or when he was
The final camp Ray was held at in the Philippines was at Las Pinas where
he had been sent as a replacement for a POW who was too sick to continue to work, ot who had been worked to
death. The POWs on the detail were housed at the Pasay School in eighteen rooms. Thirty POWs were
assigned to a room. The POWs were used to extend and widen runways for the Japanese Navy. The
plans for this expansion came from the American Army which had drawn them up before the war. The Japanese
wanted a runway 500 yards wide and a mile long going through hills and a swamp.
Unlike the Americans, the Japanese had no plans on using construction equipment.
Instead, they intended the POWs to do the work with picks, shovels, and wheel barrows. When the runway
extension reached the hills, some of which were 80 feet high, the POWs flattened them by hand. The Japanese
replaced the wheel barrows with mining cars that two POWs pushed to the swamp and dumped as land-fill. As
the work became harder and the POWs weaker, less work got done.
At six in the morning, the POWs had reveille and "bongo," or count, at 6:15 in
detachments of 100 men. After this came breakfast which was a fish soup with rice. After breakfast,
there was a second count of all POWs, which included both healthy and sick, before the POWs marched a mile and
half to the airfield.
After arriving at the airfield, they were counted again. They went to a tool shed
and received their tools; once again they were counted. At the end of the work day, the POWs were counted
again. When they arrived back at the school, they were counted again. Then, they would rush to the
showers, since there only six showers and toilets for over 500 POWs. They were fed dinner, another meal of
fish and rice and than counted one final time. Lights were turned out at 9:00 P.M.
The second commanding officer of the detail, who was in command when Ray
got to Pasay, was known as "the Wolf." He was a civilian who wore a Japanese Naval Uniform.
Each morning, he would come to the POW barracks and select those POWs who looked the sickest and made them line
up. The men were made to put one leg on each side of a trench and then do 50 push-ups. If a man's
arms gave out and he touched the ground, he was beaten with pick handles.
On another occasion a POW collapsed on the runway. The Wolf had the man taken back
to the barracks. When the Wolf came to the barracks that evening and the man was still unconscious, he
banged the man's head into the concrete floor and kicked him in the head. He then took the man to the
shower and drowned him in the basin.
A third POW who had tried to walk away from the detail told the guards to shoot him, the
guards took him back to the Pasay School and strung him up by his thumbs outside the doorway and placed a bottle
of beer and sandwich in front of him. He was dead by evening.
The remains of the POWs who had died on the detail were brought to Bilibid Prison in
boxes. The Japanese had death certificates, with the causes of death and signed by an American doctor, sent
with the boxes. The Americans from the detail, who accompanied the boxes, would not tell the POWs at
Bilibid what had happened. It was only when the sick, from the detail, began to arrive at Bilibid did they
learn what the detail was like. These men were sent to Bilibid to die since it would look better when it
was reported to the International Red Cross.
Ray was on the detail until September 22, 1944. The day before, American planes
plastered the airfield. The POWs were taken to Bilibid Prison and next to the Port Area of Manila for
shipment to Japan.
On October 1st, Ray was boarded the
Hokusen Maru which moved to the harbor's breakwater.
It remained there for three days and the temperatures in the hold rose to over 100 degrees causing some
men to go crazy. The Japanese threatened to kill the POWs if they didn't quiet the men. To do this,
the sane POWs strangled those out of their minds or hit them with canteens.
As part of a ten ship convoy it sailed again on October 4th and stopped at Cabcaban.
The next day, it was at San Fernando La Union, where the ships were joined by four more ships and five escorts. The
ships stayed close to the shoreline to prevent submarine attacks, but this tactic failed since, on October 6th, two
of the ships were sunk.
The ships were informed, on October 9th, that American carriers were seen near Formosa
and American planes were in the area. The decision was made to send the ships to Hong Kong.
During this part of the trip, the ships ran into American submarines which sank two more ships. The
Hokusen Maru arrived at Hong Kong on October 11th. While it was in port, American planes bombed the
harbor on October 16th causing the ship to rock in the water. On October 21st, the ship sailed for Takao,
Formosa, arriving on October 24th.
On November 8th the POWs were disembarked form the ship because the Japanese
had decided they were too ill to continue the voyage to Japan. On Formosa, Ray was held at Toroku Camp
which was opened for them since they were too ill to do any real work. He remained in the camp until
Ray was sent to Japan on the
Enoshima Maru, which sailed from Keelung, Formosa, on January 25, 1945. The POWs were put in a hold
which had hemp in it. They quickly discovered that below the hemp was bags of sugar and canned tomatoes
which they helped themselves to. After arriving at Moji on January 30, the POWs were marched to a
schoolhouse, but when they arrived, the Japanese made them strip off their clothing in the cold before entering
it. This was done because they were infested with lice and were going to be deloused.
The POWs next were marched to the train station and road the train to Osaka. On
February 1, the Japanese opened a new camp Osaka #18-B. At the camp, the POWs were housed in a two story
school house and put to work as stevedores in the port for the Kamiguni Company. In the camp, the prisoners
were still beaten; but, by this time, they were so used to it that it did not bother them. On June 1, 1945, B-29s
fire bombed Osaka burning the camp to the ground which caused the Japanese to move the POWs to Maibara 10-B,
where they did farm and field work.
Maribara 10-B, most of
the guards treated the POWs fairly well. The only exception was a guard named Eiicho Ito. This guard
seemed to be involved in every beating of prisoners.
One night, around August 1, 1945, Ray had to use the latrine because he
had wet beriberi. He entered the hall of the prisoners' barracks and asked Eiichi Ito, a civilian
guard, for permission to go to the latrine. Ito told Ray,
"No. One minute."
After five minutes, Ray asked again. Ito gave him permission to use the latrine, but Ray
never got there. As he passed Ito, Ito kicked him in the shin and punched him twice. He again tried
to go to the latrine and Ito picked up rubber work shoe until he was unconscious. Ray counted eight hits on
the head before he passed out. He was badly bruised for days.
Ray also recalled that another POW, Pvt. R. B. Carnell of Homedale,
Idaho, who was caught stealing food from the Japanese mess, was taken to the guard house and beaten. It was
Ray's belief that most of the camp guards were involved in the beating which lasted almost 24 hours.
After the beating, Pvt. Carnell was put on half rations and not allowed to receive his cigarette ration.
The POWs had a good idea of how the war was going by the change in the
attitudes of the guards. As the Americans got closer to Japan, the guards became friendlier. One
morning, the Americans did not see the guards or other military personnel who had disappeared during the
night. The prisoners' belief that the end of the war had come was confirmed when American soldiers
appeared at the camp.
After Ray had been freed, he learned that his boyhood friend,
Sgt. Bob Peterson, had also survived the war. The two men were reunited in
the Philippines. After receiving medical treatment, he boarded the
Simon Bolivar and sailed for San Francisco arriving there on October 21, 1945. He was taken to
Letterman General Hospital, in San Francisco, for additional medical treatment.
Sgt. Raymond J. Vadenbroucke returned home to Maywood and was discharged on
December 5, 1946. He married, Marie, and was the step-father to three sons and two daughters. He
passed away on March 17, 1981, and was buried at Chapel Hill Garden West in Elmhurst, Illinois.