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Bernstein, Capt. Max M., M.D.

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Capt. Max Martin Bernstein M.D.
Born: 30 September 1913 – Chicago, Illinois
Parents: Harry Berstein & Bella Schechtman-Bernstein
Siblings: 3 brothers, 2 sisters
Home: 4845 North Avers Avenue – Chicago, Illinois
Education:
– Roosevelt High School – Chicago, Illinois – 1930
– University of Chicago – Bachelor of Science – 1934
– participated in intercollegiate wrestling
– University of Chicago Medical School – Class of 1937
– specialized cardiology
Occupation: Clinical Professor of Medicine – Cook County Hospital
Enlisted:
– January 1941- Chicago, Illinois
– commissioned the same date
Unit:
– trained alongside 192nd Tank Battalion
– learned to repair the 57 vehicles used by the Army
– August 1941 – took part in maneuvers in Arkansas
– 17th Ordnance Company
– A Company, 19th Ordnance designated 17th Ordnance Company
– received orders to go overseas the same day
Training:
– Ft. Knox, Kentucky
– received orders to go overseas
Note: On August 15, 1941, at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, 17th Ordnance received orders for duty in the Philippines because of an event that happened during the summer. A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots, whose plane was at a lower altitude, noticed something odd in the water. 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 a Japanese occupied island which was hundreds of miles away. The island had a large radio transmitter on it. The squadron continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field. By the time the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.
The next morning, by the time another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up, by a fishing boat which was seen making its way toward shore. Since communication between and Air Corps and Navy was poor, the boat was not intercepted. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
Overseas Duty:
– 4 September 1941
– the battalion traveled by train to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California
– Arrived: 7:30 A.M. – 5 September 1941
– ferried to Ft. McDowell, Angel Island on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
– given physicals and inoculations
– men with medical conditions replaced
– Ship: S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
– Boarded: San Francisco, California – Monday – 8 September 1941
– Sailed: 9:00 P.M. – same day
– Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii – Saturday – 13 September 1941 – 7:00 A.M.
– Sailed: 5:00 P.M. – same day
– escorted by the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Astoria, and an unknown destroyer
– heavy cruiser intercepted several ships after smoke was seen on the horizon
– ships belonged to friendly countries
– Arrived: Manila, Philippine Islands – Friday – 26 September 1941
– disembarked ship – about 3:00 P.M.
– taken by bus to Fort Stotsenburg
Stationed:
– Ft. Stotsenburg – Philippine Islands
Engagements:
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1941 – 6 January 1942
– Battle of Bataan – 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
Prisoner of War:
– 9 April 1941
– Death March
– Mariveles – POWs started the march at the southern tip of Bataan
– POWs ran past Japanese artillery that was firing at Corregidor
– American artillery returned fire
– San Fernando – POWs put into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane
– each boxcar could hold eight horses or 40 men
– Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car
– POWs that died remained standing since they could not fall to the floors
– Capas – POWs left boxcars – dead fell to floors of boxcars
– POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O’Donnell
POW Camps:
– Philippine Islands:
– Camp O’Donnell
– 1 April 1942 – unfinished Filipino training base Japanese put into use as a POW camp
– Japanese believed the camp could hold 15,000 to 20,000 POWs
– POWs searched upon arrival at camp
– those found with Japanese money were accused of looting
– sent to guardhouse
– over several days, gunshots heard southeast of the camp
– POWs who had money on them had been executed
– Japanese took away any extra clothing from POWs as they entered the camp and refused to return it
– since no water was available for wash clothing, the POWs threw soiled clothing away
– clothing was taken from dead
– few of the POWs in the camp hospital had clothing
– POWs were not allowed to bathe
– only one water spigot for the entire camp
– POWs waited 2½ hours to 8 hours to get a drink
– water frequently turned off by Japanese guards and the next man in line waited as long as 4 hours for the water to be turned on again
– mess kits could not be cleaned
– POWs had to carry water 3 miles from a river to cook their meals
– second water spigot installed a week after POWs arrived
– slit trenches overflowed since many of the POWs had dysentery
– flies were everywhere including in camp kitchens and food
– the camp hospital had no water, soap, or disinfectant
– the senior POW doctor wrote a list of medicines he wanted to treat the sick and was told by the camp commandant, Capt. Yoshio Tsuneyoshi, never to
  write another letter
– Tsuneyoshi said that all he wanted to know about the American POWs were their names and numbers when they died
– refused to allow a truckload of medicine sent by the Archbishop of Manila into the camp
– 95% of the medicine sent by Philippine Red Cross was taken by the Japanese for their own use
– the ranking American officer was beaten with a broadsword after asking for additional food, medicine, and material to fill leaks in the roofs of the huts
– POWs in the camp hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow
– operations on POWs were performed with mess kit knives
– only one medic out of six medics – assigned to care for 50 sick POWs in the hospital, – was well enough to work
– as many as 50 POWs died each day
– each morning dead were found everywhere in the camp and stacked up under the hospital
– the ground under hospital was scraped and cover with lime to clean it
– the dead were moved to the cleaned area and the area where they had laid was scraped and covered with lime
– usually not buried for two or three days
– work details: if a POW could walk, he was sent out on a work detail
– POWs on burial detail often had dysentery and malaria
– Japanese opened a new POW camp to lower death rate
– 1 June 1942 – POWs formed detachments of 100 men
– POWs marched out the gate and marched toward Capas
– Filipino people gave POWs small bundles of food
– the guards did not stop them
– At Capas, the POWs were put into steel boxcars and rode them to Manila
– the train stopped at Calumpit and switched onto the line to Cabanatuan
– POWs disembark the train at 6:00 P.M. and put into a schoolyard
– fed rice and onion soup
– Cabanatuan:
– original name: Camp Pangatian
– Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
– actually three camps
– Camp 1: POWs from Camp O’Donnell
– Camp 2: four miles away
– all POWs moved from there because of a lack of water
– later used for Naval POWs
– Camp 3: six miles from Camp 2
– POWs from Corregidor and from hospitals sent there
– POWs later moved to Camp 1
– Camp 1:
– work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens, plant rice, and farm
– when POWs lined up for roll call, it was a common practice for Japanese guards, after the POWs lined up, to kick the POWs in their shins with their
  hobnailed boots
– they also were frequently hit with a pick handle, for no reason, as they counted off
– POWs on the rice planting detail were punished by having their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on to drive them deeper into the mud
– the POWs had to go into a shed to get the tools, as they came out, they were hit on their heads
– if the guards on the detail decided the POW wasn’t doing what he should be doing, he was beaten
– many POWs on details were able to smuggle in medicine, food, and tobacco into the camp
– to prevent escapes, the POWs set up patrols along the camp’s fence
– men who attempted to escape and caught were executed after being beaten
– the other POWs were forced to watch the beatings
– daily POW meal – 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
– Barracks:
– each built to house 50 POWs
– 60 to 120 POWs were housed in each barracks
– POWs slept on bamboo slats
– many became sick from the lack of bedding and covers
– Camp Hospital:
– 30 Wards
– each ward could hold 40 men
– frequently had 100 men in each
– two tiers of bunks
– sickest POWs on the bottom tier
– each POW had a 2 foot by 6-foot area to lie in
– Zero Ward
– given the name because it had been missed when counting wards
– became ward where those who were going to die were sent
– fenced off from other wards
– Japanese guards would not go near it
– POWs sent there had little to no chance of surviving
Note: Parents learned he was a POW – 27 April 1943
Hell Ship:
Noto Maru
– Boarded: 25 August 1944
– Sailed: Manila – 27 August 1944
– spent night in Subic Bay
– Sailed: 28 August 1944
– submarine believed to be shadowing the convoy
– Arrived: 30 August 1944 – Takao, Formosa
– Sailed: Same Day
– Arrived: Same Day – Keelung, Formosa
– Sailed: 31 August 1944
– Arrived: Moji, Japan -4 September 1944
POW Camp:
– Japan:
Nagoya #6
– POWs worked at Japan Nomachi Smelting Plant and Hokkai Donka Company
– both plants were outdated
– the camp was also known as Nomachi because it was on the grounds of the plant
– this was in violation of the Geneva Convention
– Camp:
– a ten-foot wooden wall around the camp
– Barracks:
– 1 building divided in half between Americans and British
– two tiers of bunks
– each platform was 7 feet long and 18 feet wide
– each man had three feet to sleep in and four to six blankets provided by the Japanese
– four stoves were provided for heat
– meals were eaten in the barracks
– there were 24 toilet spaces, cold water showers, and a tub of hot water to bathe in
– Clothing:
– consisted of what the POWs had when they arrived at the camp, Japanese Army uniforms, and some Red Cross clothing
– Meals:
– mostly rice, some barley, other vegetables from the camp garden
– no meat or fish
– prepared by POWs
– meals were eaten in the barracks
– British POWs were also in the camp
– they did not tolerate stealing among the British POWs
– this set the example for the Americans and the ranking officer would hit a thief and knock him to the ground
– both the British and Americans allowed stealing from the Japanese
– POWs were not allowed to talk to each other
– Japanese practiced “collective punishment”
– if one POW broke a rule entire camp was punished
– POWs went 7 days without coal for heat because one POW broke a rule
– POWs were put into the guardhouse without clothing and blankets
– the cells were unheated
– food rations were cut
– Work:
– officers not required to work
– POWs worked at Nomachi Smelting Plant, Hakkai Electro-Chemical Company, and at a quarry
– used as laborers mixing iron, coke, and limestone
– threw the mixture into furnaces without protection
– many received burns and blisters
– POWs working at quarry had a 25% death rate
– the quarry was later closed
– Hospital:
– Bernstein was the only medical officer
– assisted by three medics
– Japanese doctor came to camp once a week
– Japanese Army provided no medical supplies
– the two companies did
– received some from Red Cross
– usually, six POWs were in the hospital on any day
– sick POWs with dysentery and diarrhea were not considered sick
– beaten with shovels to get them to work
– treated POWs with burns and blisters from work
– Japanese had a quota of POWs they needed to work every day
– forced POWs who were too sick to work to go to work
– beat them with shovels, sticks, rocks, and anything else available to them
– POWs used to clean up materials after atomic bomb on Hiroshima
– Red Cross packages withheld for POWs
– Japanese took canned milk, canned fruit, canned meat, cheese, and cigarettes
– Japanese also used clothes, blankets, and shoes sent by Red Cross for POWs
– Japanese were seen around camp smoking American cigarettes
– Christmas 1944 – POWs received a Red Cross package
– Japanese practiced “collective punishment”
– if one POW broke a rule entire camp was punished
– POWs went 7 days without coal for heat because one POW broke a rule
– POWs were put into the guardhouse without clothing and blankets
– the cells were unheated
– food rations were cut
Air Raids:
– the first time the POWs saw American planes fly over the camp they cheered
– Japanese attempted to silence them by hitting them with their sabers
– 15 June 1945 – air raids became more frequent
– Japanese blacked out mill at night
– POWs saw Japanese boys training to defend against an invasion
– 15 August 19 45 – POWs knew something was up because the Japanese had a meeting
– Japanese men looked sad and the Japanese women cried
– the POWs did not have to work
– 17 & 18 August – POWs told they did not have to work
– Japanese guards enter ed barracks and told the POWs that the war was over
– they disappeared from the camp
Liberated:
– 5 September 1945 – by the Australian Army
– Swiss Red Cross entered the camp
– organized POWs to leave
– took POWs to train station
– gave the former POWs three day supply of K-rations
– POWs ate all the K-rations the first night
– took a three-day train ride to Tokyo
– taken to a bay 200 miles south of Tokyo
– boarded the U.S.S. Rescue
– returned to the Philippines
Transport:
– flown to the United States
Lived: Palatine, Illinois
Occupation: Chief of Staff – Edgewater Hospital, Chicago, Illinois
Married: Nadine Vernelle Wagor
Children: 3 sons
Died:
– 13 January 1992 – Palatine, Illinois

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