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Fields, Pvt. Bernard A.

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Pvt. Bernard Anthony Fields
Born: 14 May 1921 – Hardin County, Kentucky
Parents: Joseph Fields & Emma Singin-Fields
– mother died when he was 10 years old
Siblings: 2 sisters, 4 brothers
Hometown: Saint John, Kentucky
Enlisted:
– U.S. Army
– 28 May 1940 – Camp Atterbury, Columbus, Indiana
Trained:
– Fort Knox, Kentucky
Units:
– 19th Ordnance Battalion
– 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
– the 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
– August 1941 – maneuvers in Arkansas
– A Company ordered to Ft. Knox
– 17 August 1941 – A Company designated 17th Ordnance Company
– received overseas orders the same day
– September 1941 – 17th Ordnance received orders for overseas duty
Note: The decision for this move – which had been made on August 15, 1941 – was the result of an event that took place in the summer of 1941. A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines, 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 a Japanese occupied island which was hundreds of miles away. The island had a large radio transmitter. The squadron continued its flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.
When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day. The next day, when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat – with a tarp on its deck – which was seen making its way to shore. Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was difficult, the boat escaped. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
Overseas Duty:
– the battalion traveled by train to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California
– arrived Thursday, 5 September 1941
– ferried to Ft. McDowell, Angel Island on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
– given physicals and inoculations
– men with medical conditions replaced
– removed turrets from tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion
– 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
– Tuesday, 16 September 1941 – ships crossed International Dateline
– became Thursday, 18 September 1941
– 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 attached turrets
– 27 September 1941 – job completed at 9:00 A.M.
Stationed:
– Ft. Stotsenburg, Philippine Islands
– lived in tents until barracks completed – 15 November 1941
Engagements: 
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1942 – 6 January 1942
– set up fuel dumps for the tanks as they withdrew toward Bataan
– converted WWI anti-personnel shells for use by tanks
– Battle of Bataan – 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– headquartered in an abandoned ordnance warehouse
– manufactured and scavenged spare parts for tanks
– repaired tanks on the frontlines under combat conditions
– 8 April 1942
– 10:30 P.M. – Gen. King announced that further resistance would result in the massacre of 6,000 sick or wounded troops and 40,000 civilians
– less than 25% of his troops were healthy enough to continue fighting
– he estimated they could hold out one more day
– sent his staff officers to negotiate the surrender of Bataan
– 11:40 P.M. – ammunition dumps were blown up
Prisoner of War
– 9 April 1942
– Death March
– 10 April 1942
– POWs started the march at Mariveles on the southern tip of Bataan
– ran past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor
– American artillery returned fire
– between Mariveles Airfield and San Fernando, he ate a handful of rice which he believed saved his life
– outside of San Fernando
– a guard allowed him to dash into a sugarcane field and grab sugarcane
– “Without that, I don’t think I would have made it.”
– San Fernando – POWs packed into small wooden boxcars
– selected for POW work detail and driven back into Bataan
– saw the dead along the sides of the road
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 assigned to care for 50 sick POWs, in the hospital, the Japanese
   determined who 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 this area and the section 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 #1
– 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
– POWs later moved to Camp 1
– Camp 1:
– “Blood Brother” rule implemented
– if one POW in the group of 10 escaped, the other nine would be killed
– POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
– 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
– Work Details:
– Work Day: 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
– work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens, plant rice, and farm
– 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
– most of the food the POWs grew went to the Japanese
– 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
Hell Ship:
Nagato Maru
-Boarded: 6 November 1942
– Sailed: Manila – 7 November 1942
– three-ship convoy
– attacked by submarine
– Japanese put hatch covers on hold
– POWs felt explosions from depth charges
– dysentery spread among POWs
– seventeen POWs died
– Arrived: Takao, Formosa – 11 November 1942
– Sailed: 14 November 1942
– Arrived: Pescadores Islands – same day
– lice spread among POWs
– Sailed: 18 November 1942
– Arrived: Keelung, Formosa – 18 November 1942
– Sailed: 20 November 1942
– Arrived: Moji, Japan – 24 November 1942
– POWs disembarked, deloused, showered, fed, and issued new clothes
POW Camp:
– Japan
Tokyo 12-B
– also known as Mitsushima
– during the trip to camp, the train the POWs were on had to stop because of a train wreck at a tunnel
– the POWs left the train and climbed a mountain at night to reach the camp
– 26 November 1942 – Americans arrived at 10:00 P.M.
– when POWs arrived at the camp, the Japanese commanding officer tried to intimidate them by saying they would never leave Japan
– Barracks:
– 18 feet wide by 75 feet long
– divided into three sections
– 120 POWs in each barracks
– slept on two tiers
– each POW had an area of 2½ feet wide by 6 foot 2 inched long to sleep in and call his own
– barracks flooded when it rained
– floors were dirt and sand
– barely heated
– 3 foot by 3-foot fire pit for heat
– 10 pieces of wood each day
– each was 4 inches thick and 2 feet long
– no flu for the smoke to escape through
– barracks filled with smoke which hurt the POWs eyes
– only heated from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M.
– not enough wood provided
– Japanese intentionally did not give wood to POWs
– always used an excuse that a rule had been broken
– the wind blew through barracks because of poor construction
– barracks infested with fleas, lice, and other pests
– Latrines:
– two latrines
– each one could accommodate 30 men
– trenches that had no drainage
– POWs had to empty trenches
– Food:
– mostly a mix of barley & rice
– once in a while they received vegetables
– almost never fish or meat
– fish had to be boiled to make it edible
Note: The Japanese intentionally failed to give the POWs adequate food, and the Japanese supervisor of the POW kitchen, Tomotsu Kimura, also known as “The Punk,” was known to take sacks of rice – meant for the POWs – home. The food the POWs did receive consisted of under-cooked rice and barley, and a soup that was made from mountain greens and weeds. On very few occasions, the POWs received vegetables, meat or fish. To make the fish edible, the POWs boiled it until they could eat it. The portions given to the prisoners were smaller than they should have been because Kimura skimmed food from the POWs and gave it to the guards.
– Clothing:
– POWs wore summer clothing
– Japanese supplied rags so the POWs could patch their clothing
– wore shoes made of straw made by POWs who were too sick to work in steel mills
– worked in rain without raincoats or change of clothes
– Note: After the war, a warehouse full of Red Cross clothing, shoes, and coats was found at the camp
– Punishment:
– Japanese practiced “collective punishment” when one POW violated a rule
– POWs made to stand at attention in cold for hours and had cold water thrown on them
– Japanese hit and clubbed POWs
– POWs were required to hit each other in the face
– any excuse was used to beat POWs
– POWs forced to kneel on sharp pieces of wood
– hung POWs from iron bars
– guards used jiu-jitsu on the POWs
– strenuous exercise also used as a punishment
– called out of barracks at night and beaten for no real reason
– stood at attention, for hours, in winter weather for no reason
– POWs were thrown into guardhouse without bedding and had rations reduced
– Work:
– POWs worked in detachments at multiple steel mills
– shoveled coal into furnaces without proper protection
– fumes made them sick and they frequently vomited
– day off:
– no real day off
– POWs expected to clean campgrounds on their day off
– Medical Treatment:
– Japanese raided Red Cross packages
– medical supplies not issued to POWs
– medicines used by Japanese
– sick slept with soiled blankets
– sick POWs forced to do hard labor which resulted in men dying
Note: 9 guards from this camp were executed after the war for war crimes
Tokyo 16-B (Kanose)
– 16 April 1944 – 100 POWs transferred to camp
– also known as Kanose
– POWs worked in a carbide mill located in a mine shaft
– owned by Showa Denko Company
– worked in dangerous conditions – poor lighting and supervision
– no safety devices
– Collective Punishment:
– Camp Commandant treated POWs decently but did not stop subordinates from mistreating them
– all the POWs were punished when one broke a camp rule
– POWs were beaten while standing at attention
– July 1945 – POWs failed to fall-out for an air raid
– all the POWs lined up
– beaten and knocked to the ground
– after they were on the ground, they were kicked
– Red Cross packages were withheld from POWs
– Japanese took what they wanted from packages
– also took clothing, blankets, and shoes meant for POW use
– POWs issued Red Cross boxes for Red Cross visit but were told not to touch anything in them
– after the visit, the boxes were confiscated
– Medical Treatment:
– sick POWs were not forced to work
Liberated:
– September 1945
– returned to the Philippine Islands
Transport:
U.S.S. Gosper
– Sailed: Manila – 24 September 1945
– Arrived: Seattle, Washington – 12 October 1945
– sent to Madigan General Hospital – Ft. Lewis, Washington
Military Career:
– transferred to U.S. Army Air Corps
– rank: Sergeant
Married
– 2 daughters – known
Occupation: welder
Note: 5 May 1950 – Fields met with General Jonathan Wainwright in Kentucky at the Kentucky Colonel’s Dinner
Residence: Jefferson-town, Kentucky
Occupation: welder
Note: Fields commented on eating rice. “Since the end of the war, I can’t look at the stuff.”
Died:
– 13 December 2005 – Louisville, Kentucky

 

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