Sgt. Delmon R. Bushaw was born on August June 25, 1919, in Mellen, Wisconsin, to Frank Bushaw & Mollie Albright-Burshaw. He was one of the couple’s five children. When he was two, his family moved to Janesville where he lived at 1549 South Willard Avenue. He attended local schools, and after high school, worked as a cook in a local restaurant.
Following in the footsteps of his brother, John, Delmon joined the Wisconsin National Guard’s 32nd Tank Company which was headquartered in an armory in Janesville. To get into the National Guard, he lied about his age.
As a National Guardsman Delmon was called to federal duty when the 192nd Tank Battalion was formed from National Guard units on November 25, 1940. Traveling to Fort Knox, Kentucky, on November 28, the Janesville Tank Company was designated as A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. Delmon and the other Guardsmen remained there for almost a year until they went on maneuvers in Louisiana.
Upon completion of the maneuvers, Delmon and the other tankers learned that they were being sent overseas. Although, where they were being sent was supposed to be a secret, most of the men figured that the code word “PLUM” meant Philippines-Luzon-Manila. Delmon was given eight-day leave home to say his goodbyes and settle any unfinished business. It was at this time he married Lorraine Wilkenson.
The battalion traveled by train to San Francisco, California, and was ferried, on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they received inoculations and physicals. Those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Some 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. The ship arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2 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 11. 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, they were greeted by Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized that they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field. He made sure that they had what they needed and that they 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 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. On December 1, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. From this time on, two tank crew members remained with each tank at all times.
The morning of December 8, 1941, the members of A Company were informed of the Japanese attack on Clark Field. Many believed this was the start of the maneuvers they were expecting. After hearing the news, they returned to their tanks around the airfield. About 12:45 in the afternoon as the tankers were eating lunch, planes approached the airfield from the north. At first, the soldiers thought the planes were American. It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that they knew the planes were Japanese.
When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield. Since the battalion’s bivouac was near the main road between the fort and airfield, the soldiers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks and trucks. Anything that could carry the wounded was in use. When the hospital filled, they watched the medics place the wounded under the building. Many of these men had their arms and legs missing.
The company, on December 12, was ordered to the barrio of Dau so it could protect a road and railroad line from sabotage. From there, the company was sent to rejoin the 192nd just south of the Agno River. There, the battalion, with A Company, 194th, held the position so that other units could withdraw. On December 23 and 24, the company was in the area of Urdaneta. It was there, that the tankers lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write. After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get south of Agno River. As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening. They 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, when the 192nd and part of the 194th fell back to form a new defensive line the night of December 27 and 28. From there they fell back to the south bank of the BamBan River which they were supposed to hold for as long as possible. The tanks were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29 serving as a rear guard against the Japanese.
A Company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga. It was there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt. William Read. On a road east of Zaragoza, on December 30, the company was bivouacked for the night and posted sentries. The sentries heard a noise on the road and woke the other tankers who grabbed Tommy-guns and manned the tanks’ machine guns. As they watched, a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac. When the last bicycle passed the tanks, the tankers opened up on them. When they stopped firing, they had completely wiped out the bicycle battalion. To leave the area, the tankers drove their tanks over the bodies.
As the Filipino and American forces fell back toward Bataan, A Company took up a position near the south bank of the Gumain River the night of December 31 and January 1. Believing that the Filipino Army was in front of them allowed the tankers to get some sleep. It was that night that the Japanese launched an attack to cross the river.
As the Japanese attempted to advance they were cut down by the tankers. The tankers created gaping holes in their ranks. To lower their losses, the Japanese tried to cover their advance with a smoke screen. Since the wind was blowing against them, the smoke blew into the Japanese line. When the Japanese broke off the attack, they had lost about half their men.
At Guagua, A Company, with units from the 11th Division, Philippine Army, attempted to make a counterattack against the Japanese. Somehow, the tanks were mistaken, by the Filipinos to be Japanese. The 11th Division accurately used mortars on them. The result was the loss of three tanks.
On January 1, the tanks were holding the Calumpit Bridge allowing the Southern Luzon Forces to cross the bridge toward Bataan. General Wainwright was attempting to hold the main Japanese force coming down Route 5 to prevent the troops from being cut off. General MacArthur’s chief of staff gave conflicting orders involving whose command the defenders were under which caused confusion. Gen. Wainwright was not aware these orders had been given.
Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River. 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.
A Company rejoined the 192nd. The two tank battalions leapfrog-ed past each other as the last two units withdrawing toward Bataan. The 192nd held a position until the 194th passed than would withdraw. The 194th would then hold the next position as the 192nd withdrew passed the battalion to form a new defensive line. When A Company crossed the bridge over the Culis River, before the bridge was blown up, it was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
It should be mentioned that on January 8, the tank battalions received their first meals from their own battalion kitchens. Up to this point, the tankers were fed on the run by food trucks. Often, when they arrived at a truck, the food meant for them had been eaten by others.
While American and Filipino forces were withdrawing from the Pilar-Bigac Line, the battalion prevented the Japanese from overrunning the position and cutting off the withdrawing troops.
The morning of January 27, a new battle line had been formed and all units were supposed to be beyond it. That morning, the tanks were still holding their position six hours after they were supposed to have withdrawn. While holding the position, the tanks, with self-propelled mounts, ambushed, at point-blank range, three Japanese units causing 50 percent casualties.
On January 28, the tank battalions were given the job of protecting the beaches. The 192nd was assigned the coastline from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan’s east coast. The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.
A 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 back 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 the tank companies were pulled 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 exploded.
The other method used to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole. The driver gave the other track power resulting in the tank going around in a circle 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.
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.
On March 2 or 3, during the Battle of the Points. The tanks had been sent in to wipe out two pockets of Japanese soldiers who had been landed behind the main defensive line. The Japanese were soon cut off. When the Japanese attempted to land reinforcements, they landed them at the wrong place creating another pocket. Both of the pockets were wiped out.
The Japanese also were dropping surrender leaflets with a scantily 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.
The company’s last bivouac area was about twelve kilometers north of Marivales and looking out on the China Sea. By this point, the tankers knew that there was no help on the way. Many had listened to Secretary of War Harry L. Stimson on short wave. When asked about the Philippines, he said, “There are times when men must die.” The soldiers cursed in response because they knew that the Philippines had already been lost.
On April 4, 1942, the Japanese launched an attack supported by artillery and aircraft. A large force of Japanese troops came over Mount Samat and descended down the south face of the volcano. This attack wiped out two divisions of defenders and left a large area of the defensive line open to the Japanese. When General King saw that the situation was hopeless, he initiated surrender talks with the Japanese.
Delmon became a Prisoner of War when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese on April 9, 1942. He took part in the death march from Maiveles to SanFernando. He and the other POWs were put into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane. They were packed in so tightly that those who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas. From there, the POWs walked the last eight kilometers to Camp O’Donnell which was an unfinished Filipino Army Training Base.
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 ranking American officer requested medicine, additional food, and materials to repair the leaking POW hut roofs, he was beaten with a broadsword.
The Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medical supplies to the camp, the Japanese commandant refused to allow the truck into the camp. When the Japanese Red Cross sent medical supplies 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.
In May 1942, while he was on the work detail, his family received this letter.
“According to War Department records you have been designated as the emergency addressee of Sgt. Delmon R. Bushaw who according to the latest information available, was serving in the Philippine Islands at the time of the final surrender.
“We deeply regret that it is impossible for us to give you more information. In the last days before the surrender of Bataan, there were casualties which were not reported to the war department. Conceivably, the same is true of the surrender of Corregidor and possibly of other islands of the Philippines. The Japanese government has indicated its intentions of conforming to the terms of the Geneva convention with respects to the interchange of information regarding prisoners of war. At some future date, this government will receive through Geneva a list of persons who have been taken prisoners of war. Until that time the war department cannot give you positive information.
“The war department will consider the persons serving in the Philippine Islands as ‘missing in action’ from the date of the surrender of Corregidor, May 7, 1942, until definite information to the contrary is received. It is hoped that the Japanese government will communicate a list of prisoners of war at an early date. At this time you will be notified by this office in the event his name (Delmon R. Bushaw) is contained in the list of prisoners of war.”
On June 1, 1942, the POWs formed detachments of 100 men each and were marched to Capas. There, they 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 formerly known at Camp Pangatian.
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.
Meals on a daily basis consisted of 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, and sweet potato or corn. Since the POWs were underfed, many became ill and died of malnutrition. He was assigned to the kitchen detail and prepared the meals for all the POWs in the camp. When mealtime came, Delmon would sneak extra food to the other members of A Company.
The POWs were sent out on work details to cut wood for the POW kitchens. Other POWs worked in rice paddies. Each morning, after arriving at the farm, the POWs went into a tool shed to get their tools. As they left the shed, the guards hit them on their heads.
While working in the fields, the favorite punishment given to the men in the rice paddies was to have their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on by a guard to drive their faces deeper into the mud. Returning from a detail the POWs bought or were given, medicine, food, and tobacco, which they somehow managed to get into the camp even though they were searched when they returned.
The barracks used by the POWs were built to hold 50 POWs, but the Japanese put from 60 to 120 POWs in each one. There no shower facilities and the POWs slept on bamboo strips. In addition, no bedding, covers, or mosquito netting was provided which resulted in many becoming ill. While a POW at Cabanatuan, Delmon was assigned to Barracks 5, Group 3, and given the POW number of 4707.
The camp hospital was made up of 30 wards. One ward had been missed when the wards were being counted so it was given the name of “Zero Ward.” The ward became the place were POWs who were going to die were sent. The Japanese were so terrified by it, that they put a fence up around it and would not go near the building. Most of the POWs who died there died because their bodies were too malnourished to fight the diseases they had.
In July 1942, the family received a second letter. The following is an excerpt from it.
“The last report of casualties received by the War Department from the Philippines arrived early in the morning of May 6. Through this date, Sgt. Delmon R. Bushaw had not been reported as a casualty. The War Department will consider the persons serving in the Philippine Islands as “missing in action” from the date of the surrender of Corregidor, May 7, until definite information to the contrary is received. “Efforts to secure prisoner of war lists from the Philippines have not been successful to this date due to the lack of communication and the fact that the Japanese Government has not yet given permission for the Swiss representative and the International Red Cross delegates to make visits to prisoner of war camps in the islands. When the lists of prisoners are received, we will clear the name of your son and send you any additional information that we may have.”
At some point, Delmon was selected to go out on what was called the what became known as the Las Pinas Detail arriving at the Pasay School in August 1942. The POWs on the detail were housed in a school at Pasay School in eighteen rooms. Thirty POWs were assigned to a room. On the detail, the POWs were used to extend and widen runways for the Japanese Navy at Nichols Airfield. 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 wheelbarrows. The first POWs arrived at Pasay in August 1942. The work was easy until the extension reached the hills. When the extension reached the hills, some of which were 80 feet high, the POWs flattened them by hand. The Japanese replaced the wheelbarrows 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. This resulted in the brutality against the POWs to increase.
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 a half to the airfield. Only 50 POWs were allowed to be sick each day, so the healthier POWs carried the weaker POWs between them.
After arriving at the airfield, they have counted again. The POWs went to a tool shed and received their tools; once again they were counted. At the end of the workday, the POWs were counted again. When they arrived back at the school, the Japanese counted them 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.
Delmon came down with an acute catarrh fever which meant he may have had a respiratory ailment. He was sent to Bilibid Prison and admitted to the hospital on May 24 and discharged on May 27, 1944. He was returned to the airfield detail until the detail ended.
On July 3, Delmon was returned to Bilibid and admitted to the hospital suffering from osteoarthritis which is bone growth in a joint caused by an injury to the joint. No date of discharge is shown in the records.
Of his treatment in the camps, he said, “The lower-ranking enlisted men were not so bad. The officers were the tough ones. If an officer ordered an enlisted man to beat a refused or didn’t do it hard satisfactory, the Japs would be beaten just as bad.
Jap soldiers are treated very harshly by their own officers. In the Philippines, we saw a rookie beaten to death just because he did something wrong while drilling.
The food the Japs get isn’t so hot either. While we were working in the galley in the Philippines we got some fish that were crawling with maggots. When we pointed this out, we were told to wash them out and cook them anyway. No one would know it anyway.”
Later in July, Delmon was selected to be sent to Japan. Once at Pier 7, they were boarded onto the Nissyo Maru on July 17 at 8:00 A.M., and the Japanese attempted to put them all in one hold. When the Japanese realized they could not fit all the POWs in one hold, they opened a second hold.
The ship was moved on July 18 and anchored at the harbor breakwater from July 18 to July 23. At 8:00 A.M. on the twenty-third, at 8:00 A.M., the ship moved to a point off Corregidor and dropped anchor at 7:00 P.M. The next morning, the ship sailed as part of a convoy which attempted to avoid American submarines by hugging the coastline of Luzon.
At 3:00 A.M. on July 26, one of the ships, the Otari Yama Maru, was hit by a torpedo from the U.S.S. Flasher which was a part of a three-submarine wolf pack made up of the U.S.S. Crevale, the U.S.S. Angler, and the Flasher. When it exploded the POWs saw the flames from the explosion shoot over the hatch of the hold. Several other ships were sunk. The remaining ships in the convoy reached Takao, Formosa, at 9:00 A.M on July 28.
The convoy left Takao and sailed through a storm from July 30 to August 2. On August 3, the POWs were issued new clothes. At midnight of August 4, the ship arrived at Moji, Japan, but the POWs did not disembark until 8:00 in the morning. Onshore, they were taken to a dark theater until they were broken into detachments for transport to POW camps.
The POWs were marched to the train station and rode a train to Nagoya #2-B arriving on August 4, 1944. In the camp with him was Sgt. Alva Chapman, Pvt. Lewis Wallisch, and Sgt. William Nolan. When they arrived in the camp, they received uniforms, canvas shoes, and raincoats. To the POWs, it appeared that the barracks were new and they were issued straw mats to sleep on. They also were divided into groups of four men and one of these four men had the job of carrying the food to his group. At first, there was enough to eat, but the food ration was reduced when the area was repeatedly attacked by American B-29s.
At this camp, the POWs worked for the Daido Electric Steel Company and were used as slave labor in the manufacturing of wheels for railroad locomotives. To get to and return from the mill, the POWs rode an electric train – with Japanese civilians – which took a half-hour to and from the mill. The civilians would throw their cigarette butts on the floor of the train cars. The Americans who got on the trains first were able to collect the butts. At the mill, most of the POWs did common labor, but those who had machinist skills were put to work at finishing the wheels. The POWs worked from 6 to 8 hours a day.
The POWs were not treated that badly at first. This all changed in December 1944, when the area was bombed by American B-29s which resulted in deaths among the Japanese. One bomb landed in the camp damaging the POW barracks and killing a guard. The Japanese refused to repair the roof of the barracks.
It was at this time that the Japanese became extremely brutal with the POWs, especially those caught stealing food. The common punishment given to the POWs was to be beaten, kicked, hit with sticks, clubs, and rifle butts while standing at attention outside the guardhouse without food or water from hours to days. POWs also would be tied with a rope, in a crouching position, and left in it for as long as 24 hours. During the winter, they also had their clothing stripped from them and made to stand at attention for long periods of time in the cold and were denied food and water.
From this time on, Red Cross clothing sent to the camp was misappropriated by the Japanese who were seen wearing it. This also was true for Red Cross medical supplies. The camp doctor, who was a POW, worked with a Japanese enlisted man. The Japanese soldier had control of all medicines and overruled the doctor on which POWs were too sick to work. Sick POWs were sent to work since they were needed at the mill.
As the war went on, American bombs fell around the camp. The POWs saw craters on both sides of the camp from air raids to knock out the train station. As they went to work, the POWs counted the bomb craters.
The camp was in a straight line with Tokyo, so the POWs watched the B-29s passing over on their bombing missions. Of this, he said, “Their flight was the prettiest thing you ever saw.”
The factory that the POWs worked was attacked by bombers, but no POWs were injured since it took place at night. Of the bombings, he said, “The locomotive plant in which we worked was first struck by incendiary bombs. Later it was hit again hit by firebombs and then by explosives. That ended all production in the factory, although we were able to continue with repair work. At first, I was firing the boiler after the raids, but after the raids, I was put to work cleaning up the debris.”
During one air raid, one plane he recalled that one plane was having problems. He assumed it had been hit by enemy fire. To lighten its load, the plane dropped its bombs. Of the event, he said, “One plane evidently was hit and got into troubles as it dropped its bombs just outside the prison compound. As we were eight miles from the locomotive factory, there was no target in sight. The blast knocked down the prison fence and blew out windows but no one was injured.”
It was also at this camp that Delmon witnessed a prisoner put to death for stealing. One night, the man crawled into the camp kitchen to steal food. For whatever reason, the man did not get out. Realizing he would be caught, he attempted to kill himself. The Japanese allowed the man to heal and then made him stand naked in front of the other POWs. The Japanese then proceeded to starve the man to death.
The POWs knew something was up and were finally told that the war was over. One morning the camp’s interpreter told the prisoners, “Between your country and mine we are now friends.” The camp was turned over to the POWs and the guards vanished. The guards left behind their weapons so the POWs posted guards to protect themselves against any possible attack. The POWs also marked the camp so that it could be spotted by American planes. The B-29s began dropping fifty-gallon barrels of supplies to the former prisoners. On September 2, 1945, American planes appeared and dropped food and clothing to former POWs. These missions continued until the POWs were officially liberated.
When the POWs learned of the surrender, they pulled their earnings so the could purchase a bull that the Japanese had used as a work animal. The negotiated with the Japanese, who let the former POWs have the bull for the equivalence of $5000.00. They ate the meat for six meals, which was tough, but they refused to share it with the guards.
The strangest experience for the former prisoners was the fact the Japanese now insisted on bowing to them. It also seemed a little strange to them that the Japanese brought all the food dropped by the B-29s to them without taking anything for themselves. This was strange to the men because they knew that the Japanese civilians did not have much more to eat than the former POWs. The men assumed that the Japanese civilians had been told they would be killed if they were caught with American food. On September 4, 1945, American troops liberated the former POWs.
It was at this time that his family received a telegram from the War Department.
“Mr. & Mrs. Frank Bushaw: The secretary of war has asked me to inform you that your son, Sgt. Demon R. Bushaw was returned to military control Sept. 4 and is being returned to the United States within the near future. He will be given the opportunity to communicate with you upon his arrival if he has not already done so.
“E. F. Witsell
“Acting Adjutant General of the Army”
After being liberated, Delmon was returned to the Philippines for medical treatment. During his time as a POW, his weight dropped from 170 pounds to 124. One of the greatest thrills he got was on the ship. ” After being disinfected and given new clothing, we were served fried eggs. I don’t know, but what I ate 14.”
It was while he was recovering he had a chance to write home.
“Hello, Mom — It sure has been a long time since you heard from me hasn’t it —or has anybody else for that matter. Well, your old pal is o.k. and so is Chip. (Bushaw’s pet name for Alva.) He and I have been through a lot together and have a lot to talk over with you.
Most of all we keep talking about your egg sandwiches and pie — so have plenty when we get there. You don’t know how big an appetite we have. No kidding when we get home, it’s going to be a very good piece of pie or cake and plenty of coffee.
“You know how well I like tea — well, that’s what we have been drinking for the past three and one-half years.
I sure hope everything is fine at home and is going good. We heard in one of your letters that you have moved, but that won’t make a difference.
“Well, I’ll have to close soon if I want to get this in the mail. So, ’til I can write more — so long and lots of love. Say hello to everybody. With Love —Del”
After receiving medical treatment, he was returned to the United States on the U.S.S. Gosper arriving at Seattle, Washington, on October 12, 1945. From Seattle, he was sent to Vaughan General Hospital in Hines, Illinois, and given furlough home to Janesville. He married, Lorraine Wilkinson, remained in the military and rose in rank to Chief Warrant Officer. Lorraine passed away in 1977 and in 1978, Delmon remarried.
Delmon retired to Odenton, Maryland, on October 31, 1960. He died on January 13, 1980, in Maryland and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.