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Beck, PFC Raymond G.

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PFC Raymond George Beck
Born: 31 May 1917 – Russell, Russell County, Kansas
Parents: Frederick Beck & Margaret M. Deines-Beck
Siblings: 1 sister
Home: 535 East Third Street – Russell, Kansas
Education:
– Washburn College
Employed: Russell-Farmers State Bank
– bookkeeper
– met future wife
Inducted:
– U. S. Army
– Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
– 26 February 1941
– Fort Knox, Kentucky
– first six weeks was the primary training
– Week 1: infantry drilling
– Week 2: manual arms and marching to music
– Week 3: machine gun
– Week 4: pistol
– Week 5: M1 rifle
– Week 6: field week – training with gas masks, gas attacks, pitching tents, and hikes
– Weeks 7,8,9: Time was spent learning the weapons, firing each one, learning the parts of the weapons and their functions, field stripping and caring for
   weapons, and the cleaning of weapons
Classroom: courses lasted 3 months
– Weapons: soldiers assigned to ordnance issued a pistol, and possibly a machine gun or submachine gun
– Vehicle Training: soldiers attended different schools
– tank maintenance, truck maintenance, scout car maintenance, motorcycle maintenance, and carpentry
– Company’s machine shop, welding shop, and kitchen were all on trucks
Unit:
– B Company, 19th Ordnance Battalion
– A Company reorganized as 17th Ordnance Company
– 17th Ordnance Company
Note: On August 15, 1941, the company 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 noticed something odd. He took his plane down and identified a buoy in the water. 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, hundreds of miles away, with a large radio transmitter on it. The squadron continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles before returning to Clark Field. By the time the planes landed that evening, it was too late to do anything that day.
The next morning, another squadron was sent to the area and found that 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:
– rode a train to Ft. Mason, San Francisco, California
– ferried, on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Angel Island
– given physicals and inoculated by battalion’s medical detachment
– men with medical conditions replaced
– Ship: S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
– Boarded: Monday – 8 September 1941 – 3:00 P.M.
– 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 – Friday – 26 September 1941
– disembark ship – 3:00 P.M.
– taken by bus to Fort Stotsenburg
Stationed:
– Ft. Stotsenburg, Philippine Islands
– lived in tents until barracks completed – 15 November 1941
Engagements:
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1941 – 6 January 1942
– set up fuel dumps for the tanks to use as they fell back toward Bataan
– converted WWI anti-personnel shells for use by tanks
– Battle of Bataan – 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– manufactured or scavangered spare parts for the tanks
– during this time his parents received a letter from him written 14 February 1942
– reported Killed in Action – March 1942
– 1 April 1942 – parents received letters from him written in February 1942
– said he was “OK”
– letters were taken out on a submarine
Prisoner of War:
– 9 April 1942
– Death March
– started the march at Mariveles on the southern tip of Bataan
– POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing at Corregidor
– American artillery returned fire
– San Fernando – POWs packed into small wooden boxcars
– those POWs who died remained standing since they could not fall to the floors
– Capas – POWs leave boxcars – dead fall-out of cars
– walked last ten miles to Camp O’Donnell
– took him 14 days to complete the march
– he went 7 days without food and water
POW Camps:
– Philippines:
– 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
– 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 disembarked 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
– 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
– 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: January 1943 – parents learned he was a POW
Hell Ship:
Taga Maru
– also known as Coral Maru
– Sailed: Manila – 20 September 1943
– Arrived: Takao, Formosa – 23 September 1943
– Sailed: 26 September 1943
– Arrived: Moji, Japan – 5 October 1943
– 70 POWs died during the trip
POW Camp:
– Japan
Hirohata #1D
– POWs worked in Nippon Seitetsu Steel Mill
– POWs worked seven days a week
– workday 10 hours long
– paid ten cents a day
– cleaned blast furnaces
– worked on docks
– worked in machine shops
Liberated: 9 September 1945
– weighed 115 pounds
– returned to the Philippine Islands
Transport:
General R. L. Howze
Sailed: Manila – 23 September 1945
– Arrived: San Francisco – 16 October 1945
– sent to Letterman General Hospital
Married: Jessie K. Ball
– 8 December 1945
Children: 1 daughter, 1 son
Occupation: Russell State Bank
– insurance department director
Died: 22 December 1998 – Loveland, Colorado
Buried: Russell City Cemetery – Russell, Kansas

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