Pvt. George Michael Verba


    Pvt. George M. Verba was the son of Michael Verba & Mary Zemoyan-Verba, and was born on May 1, 1917, in Nelsonville, Ohio.  He had five sisters and four brothers and grew up in Colerain Township, Belmont County, Ohio.  Like many men of his day, George had only a grade school education.

    In January 1941, George was inducted into the U. S. Army while living in Barton, Ohio.  He was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, and assigned to C Company of the 192nd Tank Battalion.  The reason for this was that C Company had originally been an Ohio National Guard Company from Port Clinton, Ohio.  Because of this, the army filled vacancies in the company with men from Ohio. 
    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.  At Ft. Knox, he trained as a tank driver.  In the Philippines, he would be a tank commander.

    After training at Fort Knox, George went on maneuvers in Louisiana from September 1 through 30.  After the maneuvers,  the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and learned they were being sent overseas.  George received a furlough and returned home to tie up any unfinished business. 
    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.
    After the companies were brought up to strength with replacements, the battalion was equipped with new tanks and half-tracks with came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.  The battalion traveled over different train routes to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California, where they were taken by the ferry, the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe to Angel Island.   At Ft. McDowell, on the island, they received physicals and inoculations from the battalion's medical detachment.  Men found with minor medical conditions were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Other men were simply replaced.  
    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.   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 transport, 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 Dateline.  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, the tankers were met by Gen. Edward P. King, who welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed.  He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to live in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.  He made sure that they had Thanksgiving Dinner before he left to have his own dinner.
    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.

    The tanks were ordered to the perimeter of the Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers on December 1 to guard against paratroopers.  Two members of each tank remained with their tank at all times.  On December 8, 1941, George lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  After several days of guard duty around the perimeter of Clark Field, the tanks of the 192nd were sent to guard a dam against saboteurs.  They were next sent north Lingayen Gulf. 

    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 tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
    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 was destroyed, so the tankers made an end run to get south of river.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening but successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
    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 fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27, and December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29.  While there, the bridge over the Pampanga River was destroyed, they were able find a crossing over the river.      
    At Cebu, seven tanks of the company fought a three hour battle with the Japanese.  The main Japanese line was south of Santa Rosa Bridge ten miles to the south of the battle.
  The tanks were hidden in brush as Japanese troops passed them for three hours without knowing that they were there.  While the troops passed, Lt. William Gentry was on his radio describing what he was seeing.  It was only when a Japanese soldier tried take a short cut through the brush, that his tank was hidden in, that the tanks were discovered.  The tanks turned on their sirens and opened up on the Japanese.  They then fell back to Cabanatuan.            
    C Company was re-supplied and withdrew to Baluiag where the tanks encountered Japanese troops and ten tanks.  It was at Baluiag that Gentry's tanks won the first tank victory of World War II against enemy tanks.       
    After this battle, C Company made its way south.  When it entered Cabanatuan, it found the barrio filled with Japanese guns and other equipment.  The tank company destroyed as much of the equipment as it could before proceeding south.
     On December 31, 1941,  Company was sent out reconnaissance patrols north of the town of Baluiag.  The patrols ran into Japanese patrols, which told the Americans that the Japanese were on their way.  Knowing that the railroad bridge was the only way into the town and to cross the river, Lt. Gentry set up his defenses in view of the bridge and the rice patty it crossed.       

    Early on the morning of the 31st, the Japanese began moving troops and across the bridge.  The engineers came next and put down planking for tanks.  A little before noon Japanese tanks began crossing the bridge.
    By the afternoon, the Japanese had assembled a large number of troops in a rice field on the north end of the barrio.  One platoon of tanks under the command of 2nd Lt. Marshall Kennady were to the southeast of the bridge.  Gentry's tanks were to the south of the bridge in huts, while third platoon commanded by Capt Harold Collins was to the south on the road leading out of Baluiag
2nd Lt. Everett Preston had been sent south to find a bridge to cross to attack the Japanese from behind.       
    Major Morley came riding in his jeep into Baluiag.  He stopped in front of a hut and was spotted by the Japanese who had lookouts in the town's church's steeple.  The guard became very excited so Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks positions, got into his jeep and drove off.  Bill had told him that his tanks would hold their fire until he was safely out of the village.          
    When Gentry felt the Morley was out of danger, he ordered his tanks to open up on the Japanese tanks at the end of the bridge.  The tanks then came smashing through the huts' walls and drove the Japanese in the direction of Lt. Marshall Kennady's tanks.  Kennady had been radioed and was waiting.
    Kennady's platoon held its fire until the Japanese were in view of his platoon and then joined in the hunt.  The Americans chased the tanks up and down the streets of the village, through buildings and under them.  By the time Bill's unit was ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had knocked out at least eight enemy tanks.
    On December 31/January 1,  the tanks were stationed on both sides of the Calumpit Bridge when they received conflicting orders, from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff, about whose command they were under and to 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 orders.
    Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges 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 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
    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 Abucay-Hacienda Road.
    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. Weaver : "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 25.  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.  Just after the infantry evacuated a column of Japanese came marching down the road and were taken by surprised by the tanks and inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese  This stopped the Japanese advance and the tanks withdrew without any problems.
    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.

    It was at this time the tank battalions received these orders which came from Gen. Weaver :   "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."
    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.
    In early February, the Japanese attempted to land troops behind the main battle line on Bataan on a small peninsula.  The troops were quickly cut off and when they attempted to land reinforcements, they were landed in the wrong place.  The fight to wipe out these two pockets became known as the Battle of the Points.
    The Japanese had been stopped, but the decision was made by Brigadier General Clinton A. Pierce that tanks were needed to support the 45th Infantry Philippine Scouts.  He requested the tanks from the Provisional Tank Group.

    On February 2, a platoon of C Company tanks was ordered to Quinan Point where the Japanese had landed troops.  The tanks arrived about 5:15 P.M.  He did a quick reconnaissance of the area, and after meeting with the commanding infantry officer, made the decision to drive tanks into the edge of the Japanese position and spray the area with machine-gun fire.  The progress was slow but steady until a Japanese .37 milometer gun was spotted in front of the lead tank, and the tanks withdrew.  It turned out that the gun had been disabled by mortar fire, but the tanks did not know this at the time.  The decision was made to resume the attack the next morning, so 45th Infantry dug in for the night.
    The next day, the tank platoon did reconnaissance before pulling into the front line.  They repeated the maneuver and sprayed the area with machine gun fire.  As they moved forward, members of the 45th Infantry followed the tanks.  The troops made progress all day long along the left side of the line.  The major problem the tanks had to deal with was tree stumps which they had to avoid so they would not get hung up on them.  The stumps also made it hard for the tanks to maneuver.  Coordinating the attack with the infantry was difficult, so the decision was made by to bring in a radio car so that the tanks and infantry could talk with each other.
    On February 4, at 8:30 A.M. five tanks and the radio car arrived.  The tanks were assigned the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, so each tank commander knew which tank was receiving an order.  Each tank also received a walkie-talkie, as well as the radio car and infantry commanders.  This was done so that the crews could coordinate the attack with the infantry and send so that the tanks could be ordered to where they were needed.  The Japanese were pushed back almost to the cliffs when the attack was halted for the night.
    The attack resumed the next morning the next morning and the Japanese were pushed to the cliff line where they hid below the edge of the cliff out of view.  It was at that time that the tanks were released to returned to the 192nd.  
    C Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line.  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.
    During some of the actions against the Japanese, the Japanese sent soldiers, carrying gasoline cans, against the tanks.  The Japanese would attempt to jump onto the tanks, pour gasoline into the vents on the back of the tanks and set them on fire.  If the tankers could not machine gun them before they got to the tanks, the crew of another tank would shoot them as they stood on the tanks.  The tankers did not like to do this because of what it did to the crews inside the tanks.
    Since the tanks were riveted, when the turrets were hit by machine gun fire, the rivets would pop and ricochet inside the tanks.  The rivets sparked when when they hit the sides of the crew compartment.  This situation was made worse by the loud sound of bullets from machine guns hitting the tank.  The biggest danger from the rivets was  the possibility that one could hit one of the tankers in the eye.
    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 exploded.
    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.     
    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 to Corregidor, which he declined.

    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 was also 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 counter-attack. 
     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 surrender terms.
    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 accomplished."      
    On April 9, 1942, George became a Prisoner of War when the Filipino-American forces were surrendered to the Japanese.  For George, the death march started at Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  The lack of food and water were the most difficult things he had to deal with on the march.  He also recalled that what made things worse was that the Japanese left the POWs sit in the sun for two to three hours each day.  Among the prisoners, this became known as "The Sun Treatment."

    While he trudged along, George watched men bayoneted by the Japanese because they could not keep up.  He also saw men shot for the same reason.  It was not until George reached San Fernando, after six or seven days, that he was fed some rice and received water. 

    George was next loaded into a wooden boxcar with 99 other prisoners.  The POWs were so packed into the cars, that they could not sit down.  Those who died remained standing until the car was emptied at Capas four hours later.    

    From Capas, George marched the last miles to Camp O'Donnell, which 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.
    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.  The Japanese finally acknowledge that they had to do something, so the opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.
    On June 1, 1942, the POWs formed detachments of 100 men each and were marched to Capas.  There, the were put in steel boxcars with two Japanese guards.  At Calumpit, the train was switched onto another line which took it to Cabanatuan.  The POWs disembarked and were taken to a schoolyard where they were fed cooked rice and onion soup.  From there, they were marched to Cabanatuan which had been the headquarters of the 91st Philippine Army Division and was known as Camp Panagaian.  The transfer of POWs was completed on June 4.
    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 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.
    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.

    During his time as a POW there, George developed beriberi.  Like the other prisoners, there was nothing that could be done for him since there was no medicine in the camp.  This resulted in the high daily death rate.  George went out on a work detail, but at this time it is not known which one.

    In late September 1942, a POW transfer list was posted at the camp.  800 POWs gathered at 2:00 A.M. on October 6, and were given rice coffee, lugow rice, and a big rice ball.  After eating and packing their kits, the POWs marched out of the camp at 2:30 A.M. and received two buns as they marched through the gate to the barrio of Cabanatuan which they reached at 6:00 A.M.  There, 50 men were boarded onto each of the small wooden boxcars waiting for them at about 9:00 A.M.  The trip to Manila lasted until 4:00 P.M. and because of the heat in the cars, many POWs passed out.
    From the train station, the men were marched to pier 5 in the Port Area of Manila.  Some of the Filipinos flashed the "V" for victory sign as they made their war to the pier.  The detachment arrived at 5:00 P.M and were tired and hungry and were put in a warehouse on the pier.  The Japanese fed them rice and salted fish and let them eat as much as they wanted.  They also were allowed to wash.
    Before boarding the ship on October 7, the prisoners were divided into two groups. One group was placed in the holds while the other group remained on deck.  The conditions on the ship, for those in the holds, were indescribable, and those POWs those on deck were better off.  This situation was made worse by the fact that for the first two weeks of the voyage the prisoners were not fed, which resulted in many of the POWs dying during the trip.
    The ship did not sail until the next day at 10:00 A.M. and passed the ruins of Corregidor at noon.  In addition, there were sick Japanese and soldiers on the ship.  That night some POWs slept in the holds, but a large number slept on the deck.  The first day, the POWs were given three small loaves of bread for meals - which equaled one American loaf of bread - the loaves were suppose to last two days, but most men ate them in one meal.  The men did ration their water.  The ship was at sea, when two torpedoes fired at by an American submarine missed the ship.  The ship fired a couple of shots where it thought the sub was, but these also missed.  A while later, the ship passed a mine that had been laid by the submarine.  The POWs were fed bags of buns biscuits, with some candy, and received water daily.
    The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on October 11.  Since most were sick with something, the line to use the latrines went around the ship.  The American doctors had no medicine to help the sick, and some were seen as benefiting off the sick. It was at this time that the POWs on the ship, from Mindanao, were moved to a second hold putting 500 POWs in each hold.
    On October 14, food stuffs were loaded onto the ship, and each POW got two candy bags of hard tack and one meal of rice and soup each day.  The ship sailed on October 16 at 7:30 A.M. but turned around at 3:30 P.M. arriving back at Takao at 10:30 P.M. It was believed the ship had turned around because American submarines were in the area.
    The ship sailed again on October 18 and arrived at the Pescadores Islands at 5:00 P.M..  There it dropped anchor off  the Island of Makou, Pescadores Islands, where it remained anchored until October 27 when it returned to Takao.  During this time the quality of food deteriorated and was barely edible.   Two POWs also died and their bodies were thrown into the sea at 4:00 P.M.  The ship sailed again on October 27 and returned to Takao the same day.  While it was docked food stuffs were again loaded onto the ship.
    The next day, the POWs were taken ashore and bathed with seawater at the same time the ship was cleaned.  They were again put into the holds and the ship and remained there until the ship sailed on October 29.  At 5:00 P.M. it again arrived at Makou, Pescadores Islands.  During this time the POWs were fed two meals of day of rice and soup.  The ship sailed on October 31, as part of a seven ship convoy.  During this part of the voyage, it rode out a typhoon for five days on its way to Fusan, Korea.  On November 3, three more POWs died.  On November 5, one of the ships was sunk by an American submarine and the other ships scattered.
    The Tottori Maru arrived at Fusan on November 7, but the 1400 POWs leaving the ship did not disembark until November 8 and were issued fur lined over coats and new clothing.  Those POWs who were too ill to continue the trip to Mukden, Manchuria, remained behind at Fusan.  Those who died were cremated and had their ashes placed in small white boxes which were sent to Mukden.  The 400 POWs still on the ship were sent to Japan.
    As they marched, the civilians in the town spit on them, hit them, and made fun of the POWs.  The POWs reached a train station where they boarded a train and were given a little box which contained rice, pickled grasshoppers, and a little fish.  They were sent on a two day train trip north.

    At Mukden, the POWs were held at Hoten Camp.  When they got there, they lived in dugouts and were later moved to a two story brick barracks with electricity and cold running water.  Each enlisted POW received two thin blankets to cover themselves with at night.  The officers got one blanket and a mattress.  The barracks were divided into 10 sections with five on the ground floor and five on the second floor.  Each section was divided into four double-decked sleeping bays which held 8 men.  In all, 48 men slept in a section which were infested with lice, fleas, and bedbugs.  There was a shelf two feet higher for the men's clothing.  Heat was provided by stoves known as"patchkas" which apparently provided adequate heat.  Temperatures during the winter average 40 degrees below zero and over 200 POWs died in the camp the first winter.
    Meals were the same everyday.  For breakfast they had cornmeal mush, beans, and a bun.  Lunch was maize and beans, and dinner was beans and a bun.  The food was good, but the POWs did not receive enough, and during the first winter 205 POWs died from malnutrition and not having the proper clothing.
    Since they were underfed, the POWs trapped wild dogs to supplement their meals of soy beans which usually came in the form of soup.  They continued to trap dogs until, while marching to work, they saw one eating a dead Chinese.   
    Stealing from the Japanese was a way of life, and the POWs stole the raw materials for what they needed on a daily basis.  From the raw materials, they manufactured what they needed.
    Punishment was given out for no reason or for violating a rule.  The POWs were beaten, hit with bamboo poles, kicked, hit with shoe heals, hit with clubs, punched with fists as they stood at attention.  The Japanese, on one occasion, made the POWs come out of their barracks and line up at attention as they searched the barracks.  They had all the POWs strip bare because they believed some POWs had bought cigarettes from the Chinese.  All the POWs stood barefooted in the snow, for 45 minutes, as the Japanese searched 700 POWs.  Another time, when three POWs escaped and were recaptured, the other POWs watched as they were hit on their heads, shoulders, and backs with sticks for hours.  At other times, the POW's food ration was cut in half because the Japanese believed POWs were not working as hard as he should have been, or someone had been caught smoking in an unauthorized area.  They would also withhold Red Cross packages.
    One guard, Eiichi Nada, who was born, raised, and educated, in Berkley, California, was considered to be the worse abuser of the POWs.  It was common while the POWs were lined up at morning assembly for him to hit men for no reason.  He continued to hit them until they fell to the ground and said , "Get up, you yellow, white son of a bitch."   Another guard walked through the barracks and hit the POWs,with a 3 foot club, for no real reason.  On one occasion, a Lt Murado ordered the prisoners to remove their shoes.  After they had, he hit each man in the face with his shoes.
    Red Cross boxes were sent to the camp, but were raided by the Japanese.  According to POWs, the Chinese who they worked with, told them that there was a warehouse full of Red Cross food.  When the Red Cross visited the camp, the rations were larger and the sick were told to lounge around.  None of the POWs were allowed to talk to the Red Cross representative.
    The American doctors at the camp hospital could do little since he and they had few medical supplies.  Many of the POWs who died in the camp died from treatable illnesses.  The Japanese Army doctor, Jeichi Kumashima, denied the POWs Red Cross medicines that had been sent to the camp.  The Chinese workers at the machine shop told the POWs there was a warehouse full of Red Cross supplies.  Another Japanese doctor, Juro Oki, who was a civilian, smuggled medicine into the camp for the POWs.  If he had been caught, he would have been shot.  After the war, Kumashima was hanged for being guilty of war crimes.
    The POWs worked either at a machine shop or a saw mill from 7:30 A.M. until 5:30 or 6:00 P.M. each day.  The machine shop never produced anything that was useful to the Japanese.  Each morning, the POWs were marched three miles to the shop where they worked manufacturing weapons for the Japanese.  To prevent the production of  weapons, they committed acts of sabotage like pouring sand into the machine oiling holes.  The Japanese usually blamed these acts of sabotage on the Chinese in the plant because they believed the Americans were not smart enough to commit the sabotage.
    In the spring of 1943, four Americans escaped and made their way to the Russian border.  Chinese villagers turned them over to the Japanese.  The men were returned to the camp and placed in cells for several months before they were taken to a cemetery and shot.
    As the war went on American planes began to appear over Mukden.  On one occasion, in December 1944, a bomb, from one B-29, hit the camp killing 20 POWs.  As the air raids continued, the Japanese medical officer, Jeichi Kuwashima, asked the POWs, wounded from bombings, to write letters asking the Allies to stop the bombing of Mukden.  The POWs did write the letters but told the Allies that they wouldn't mind more frequent bombings.

    One day, American OSS Team were dropped into the camp.  This was how the POWs learned that the war was over.  A few days later, the Russian army appeared.  They then made the Japanese go through a formal surrender ceremony in front of the liberated prisoners.  He returned to the Philippines for medical treatment before sailing for the United States on the U.S.S. Yarmouth which arrived at San Francisco on October 8, 1945.  After further medical treatment at Letterman General Hospital and other hospitals, he was discharged on July 15, 1946.

    George returned to Ohio and married.  He and his wife raised a family in Cleveland.  But the effects of his years as a POW stayed with him the rest of his life.  He avoided crowds until the day he died.  He also became dependent on alcohol which led him to die from cirrhosis of the liver.

    George M. Verba passed away in October 6, 1978, and was buried at All Souls Cemetery in Chardon, Ohio.



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