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Brincefield, Pvt. Fitzhugh W.

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Pvt. Fitzhugh Wright Brincefield
Born: 24 May 1911 – McDowell County, West Virginia
Parents: John C. Brincefield & Cordelia Wright-Brincefield
Siblings: 2 sisters, 5 brothers
Hometown: Northfolk, West Virginia
Inducted:
– U.S. Army
– 25 January 1941 – Huntington, West Virginia
Training: Fort Knox, Kentucky
Units:
– 19th Ordnance Battalion
– A Company
– reorganized as 17th Ordnance Company
Note: On August 15, 1941, orders were issued, to the company, 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, with a large radio transmitter, hundreds of miles away. The squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field. By the time the planes landed, 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:
– Arrived: Ft. Mason, San Francisco, California
– ferried to Ft. McDowell, Angel Island on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
– given physicals and inoculations
– 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, U.S.S. Astoria, and an unknown destroyer
– smoke was seen on the horizon several times
– cruiser intercepted ships
– Arrived: Manila – Friday – 26 September 1941
– disembark ship – 3:00 P.M.
– taken by bus to Fort Stotsenburg
– maintenance section with 17th ordnance remained behind to unload the tanks and reattached turrets
-27 September 1941 – job completed at 9:00 A.M.
Engagements:
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1941 – 6 January 1942
– converted WW I anti-personnel shells for use in the tanks
– set up fuel dumps for the tanks to use during the withdrawal toward Bataan
– Battle of Bataan – 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– did tank maintenance on the frontlines under combat conditions
– manufactured or scavenged spare parts for the tanks 
Prisoner of War:
– 9 April 1942
– Death March
– Mariveles – POWs start the march at the southern tip of Bataan
– POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing at Corregidor
– Americans on Corregidor returned fire
– San Fernando – POWs put into small wooden boxcars
– each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men
– 100 POWs packed into each car
– POWs who died remained standing since they could not fall to the floor of the cars
– Capas – dead fell to the floor as living left boxcars
– POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O’Donnell
Prison 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 was 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 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 covered 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
– 4 June 1942 – transfer of POWs completed
– only sick POWs remained at Camp O’Donnell
– Cabanatuan
– original name – Camp Pangatian
– Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
– put into use by the Japanese as a POW camp
– actually three camps
– Camp 1: POWs from Camp O’Donnell sent there in an attempt to lower the death rate
– Camp 2: two 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
– camp created to keep Corregidor POWs separated from Bataan POWs
– Corregidor POWs were in better shape
– POWs from Camp 3 consolidated into Camp 1
– Camp Administration:
– the Japanese left POWs to run the camp on their own
– Japanese entered camp when they had a reason
– POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
– Note: men who attempted to escape were recaptured
– Japanese beat them for days
– executed them
– Barracks:
– each barracks held 50 men
– often held between 60 and 120 men
– slept on bamboo slats without mattresses, covers, and mosquito netting
– diseases spread easily
– no showers
– Morning Roll Call:
– stood at attention
– frequently beaten over their heads for no reason
– 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 because they didn’t like the way the POWs lined up
– Work Details:
– work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens and plant rice
– 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 onto 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
– Meals:
– 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
– rice was the main staple, few vegetables or fruits
– 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
– medical staff had little to no medicine to treat sick
– many deaths from disease caused by malnutrition
– Burial Detail:
– POWs worked in teams of four men to bury dead
– carried as many as six dead POWs in slings to the cemetery
– buried in graves that contained 16 to 20 bodies
Note: Many POWs volunteered to go to Japan believing that things would be better there
Hell Ship:
Tottori Maru
– POWs housed in a warehouse on Pier 7
– boarded ship – 7 October 1942
– 500 POWs put in the forward hold
– 1461 POWs put in the rear hold
– Sailed: 8 October 1942 – 10:00 A.M.
– passed Corregidor at noon
– 9 October 1942 – two torpedoes fired at the ship by an American submarine
– the ship passes a mine laid by submarine
– Arrived: Takao, Formosa – 11 October 1942
– Sailed: 16 October 1942 – 7:30 A.M.
– because of submarines ship returned to Takao – 10:30 P.M.
– Sailed: 18 October 1942
– Arrived: Pescadores Islands – same day
– anchored off islands for several days
– two POWs died
– Sailed: 27 October 1942
– Arrived: Takao, Formosa – same day
– POWs disembarked and showered with fire hoses
– the ship was also cleaned
– foodstuffs loaded onto the ship
– Arrived: 30 October 1942 – Makou, Pescadores Islands
– dropped anchor at 5:00 P.M.
– Sailed: 31 October 1942
– seven-ship convoy
– ships sailed through typhoon for five days
– 5 November 1942 – American submarine sunk one ship
– Arrived: Fusan, Korea – 9 November 1942
– POWs disembarked ship
– issued new clothing and fur-lined overcoats
– sick POWs left at Fusan
– Arrived: Mukden, Manchuria – 11 November 1942
POW Camp:
– Mukden, Manchuria
– Hoten Camp
– Barracks:
– two story brick buildings
– buildings had electricity and cold running water
– heated with “petchka” stoves
– provided adequate heat
– building infested with fleas, bedbugs, and lice
– divided into ten sections
– five on the first floor and five on the second floor
– each section divided into four double-decked sleeping bays
– 8 POWs slept in a bay
– 48 POWs slept in a section
– Meals:
– Breakfast: cornmeal mush, beans, bun
– Lunch: maize and beans
– Supper: beans and a bun
– POWs made snares to catch wild dogs that roamed into camp
– stopped catching dogs when one was seen eating the body of a dead Chinese civilian
– Hospital:
– many of POWs who died in the camp died due to illnesses caused by malnutrition
– many of those who died from illnesses that could be treated
– over 200 POWs died the first winter in the camp
– POWs who died during winter were stored in a building until the ground thawed and they could be buried
– Japanese doctor, Jeichi Kumashima, denied Red Cross medicine to the POWs
– overruled American doctors on who was ill
– sick forced to work
– later found guilty of war crimes and hanged
– Juro Oki, Japanese civilian doctor who smuggled medicine into the camp for POWs
– would have been shot if he had been caught
– Deaths:
– over 200 POWs died the first winter in the camp
– most died from diseases which were the result of malnutrition
– POWs who died during winter were stored in a building until the ground thawed and they could be buried
– Work:
– POWs worked in a machine shop and lumber mill
– Japanese wanted POWs to produce guns
– POWs sabotaged machines by dropping sand in oiling holes
– while pouring cement, the POWs would drop pieces of machines into the cement to sabotage them
– Punishment:
– POWs kicked, hit with clubs, sticks, bamboo poles, shoe heals, sabers, and fists
– any reason used to beat them
– Collective Punishment:
– when the Japanese suspected some POWs had smuggled cigarettes into their barracks, all the POWs were ordered outside and stood at attention
– POWs ordered to strip and stood nude in the code
– stood in the snow barefooted for hours as the barracks and the 700 POWs, who lived in it were searched
– Eiichai Nada – guard
– was considered the worse abuser of POWs
– born, raised, and educated in Berkley, California
– frequently beat POWs at morning assembly
– when they fell to the ground he screamed at them
“Get up, you yellow, white, son of a bitch!”
– Lt. Mikki – walked through the barracks with a 3 foot and hit the POWs with it
– Red Cross clothing withheld from POWs
– Chinese told them there was a warehouse full of Red Cross clothing
– Unit 731:
– POWs from camp selected to be used in Japanese germ warfare experiments
– injected with deadly diseases
– some of these men were dissected while alive
– 23 June 1944 – sister received word from International Red Cross that he was a POW
Air Raids:
– B-29s start bombing Mukden late 1944
– camp bombed because it was lined up with military targets
Note: Japanese medical officer, Jiechi 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.
Extermination Order:
– The camp commander received the order to march the POWs into the forest and execute them
– 16 August 1945 – Four American OSS officers parachuted into camp and told the commander the war was over
– the team was held as POWs for one night and sent to Sian Camp
– this was the camp where high ranking officers were imprisoned
Liberated: 20 August 1945 – Russian Army
– B-29s appeared over the area where the POWs lit oil drums to signal planes with smoke
– the lead plane came down and saw the POWs
– circle and dropped medical supplies, food, and clothing to POWs
– American planes dropped walkie-talkies to POWs
– allowed POWs to talk to aircrews
– POWs told the crews what they wanted
– planes dropped them ice cream to now fiddle strings
– 29 August 1945 – American Recovery Team enters the camp
– POWs were taken by train to Dalian, China
– taken by ship to Okinawa
returned to the Philippine Islands
Discharged: 4 April 1946
Reenlisted: 6 February 1947
Discharged: 31 January 1950
Died:
– 1 July 1982 – Crumpler, McDowell County, West Virginia

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