Fitzgibbons, PFC Handren K.

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Fitzgibbonsk

PFC Handren Karl Fitzgibbons 
Born: 29 April 1919 – Gonzales, California 
Parents: Thomas E. Fitzgibbons & Constance I. Young-Fitzgibbons 
Siblings: 1 sister, 1 brother 
Nickname: “Karl”  
– did not like his first name – Handren 
– preferred Karl be used as his first name 
Home: 137 West Gabilan Street – Salinas, California 
Student: Salinas Junior College 
Selective Service Registration: 16 October 1940 
– Contact: Thomas E. Fitzgibbons – father 
Enlisted: 
– California National Guard 
– 1940 – Salinas, California  
Inducted: 
– U. S. Army 
– 10 February 1941 – Salinas Army Air Base
– C Company, 194th Tank Battalion
Stationed:
– Fort Lewis, Washington
– described as constantly raining during the winter
– many men ended up in the camp hospital with colds
– Typical Day – after they arrived at Ft. Lewis
– 6:00 A.M. – first call
– 6:30 A.M. – breakfast
– During this time the soldiers made their cots, policed the grounds around the barracks, swept the floors of their barracks, and performed other
  duties.
– 7:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. – drill
– 11:30 A.M. – 1:00 P.M. – lunch
– 1:00 P.M. – 4:30 P.M. – drill
– 5:00 P.M. – retreat
– 5:30 P.M. – dinner
– men were free after this
– a canteen was located near their barracks and was visited often
– the movie theater on the base that they visited.
– The theater where the tanks were kept was not finished, but when it was, the tankers only had to cross the road to their tanks.
– Saturdays the men had off, and many rode a bus 15 miles northeast to Tacoma which was the largest town nearest to the base
– Sundays, many of the men went to church and services were held at different times for the different denominations
Training:
– the battalion went on long reconnaissance with trucks and tanks
– drove all over reservation following maps and learned from observation what the land surrounding the fort looked like
– the purpose was to collect tank data which they would use later
– often had to live off the land
– 30 April 1941 – battalion went on an all-day march
– ate dinner in woods brought to them by the cooks in trucks
– march was two hours one way and covered about 10 miles total
– stopped in an abandoned apple orchard in bloom
– Motorcycles:
– first motorcycles arrived in May 1941
– all battalion members had to learn to ride them
– in early May 1941, the battalion, except men who had been drafted, went on its first overnight bivouac
– the new men did not have shelter halves
– left around noon and returned around noon the next day
Specialized Training:
– some members of the battalion received specific training
– many went to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, for training in tank maintenance, radio operation, and other specific jobs
– attended radio school at Ft. Knox
– qualified as a radio operator
– those men who remained at Ft. Lewis often found themselves policing the base collecting garbage and distributing coal for the base during the week
– the battalion did most of its tank training on weekends

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:
– rode a train to Ft. Mason, San Francisco, California
– Arrived: 7:30 A.M. – 6 September 1941
– ferried on 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 U.S.S. Astoria – a heavy cruiser – and the U.S.S. Guadalupe a replenishment oiler
– 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
– disembarked ship – 3:00 P.M.
– taken by bus to Fort Stotsenburg
– maintenance section with 17th ordnance remained behind to unload the tanks and attached the turrets
– 27 September 1941 – job completed at 9:00 A.M.
– Stationed:
– Ft. Stotsenburg, Philippine Islands
– lived in tents upon arriving
– 15 November 1941 – moved into barracks
– the barracks walls were open and screened three feet from the bottom of the wall to the floor
– above that, the walls were woven bamboo that allowed the air to pass through
– washing facilities seemed to be limited with the lucky man being able to wash by a faucet with running water
Work Day:
– 5:15 A. M. – reveille
– soldiers washed
– 6:00 A.M. – breakfast
– 7:00 to 11:30 A.M. 
– Noon – lunch
– 1:30 to 2:30 P.M. – worked
– the belief on the base was that it was too hot in the afternoon to work
– the tankers worked until 4:30 P.M.
– this was referred to as “recreation in the motor pool”
– 5:10 – dinner
Recreation:
– the soldiers spent their free time bowling and going to the movies,
– they also played horseshoes, softball, badminton, or threw a football around
– on Wednesday afternoons, they went swimming
– they also went to Mt. Aarayat National Park and swam in the swimming pool there that was filled with mountain water
– men put their names in to be allowed to go to Manila in small groups
– they also went to canoeing at Pagsanjan Falls in their swimsuits
– the country was described as being beautiful
Uniforms:
– the battalion wore coveralls to do the work on the tanks
– the soldiers were reprimanded for not wearing dress uniforms while working
– they continued to wear coveralls in their barracks area to do their work
– if the soldiers left the battalion’s area, they were expected to wear dress uniforms; including going to the PX
Alert:
– 1 December 1941 – tanks ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field
– their job was to protect the airfield from enemy paratroopers
– two tank crew members remained with each tank at all times
– 194th guard north end of the airfield and the 192nd Tank Battalion guarded the south end of the airfield
– meals served by food trucks to men with the tanks
– those not assigned to a tank or half-track remained at the command post
– 1 December 1941
– tanks ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field
– 194th guarded the north end of the airfield with 192nd guarding the south end
– two crew members of each tank and half-track remained with the vehicles at all times
– meals served by food trucks
– those not assigned to a tank or half-track remained at the command post
Engagements:
– Battle of Luzon
– 8 December 1941
– lived Japanese attack on Clark Field
– planes did not go after tanks
– after attack 194th sent to a bivouac three kilometers north of Clark Field
– from there they were sent to Barrio of San Joaquin on the Malolos Road
– 12 December 1941
– C Company was sent to southern Luzon and put under the command of Brigadier General Albert M. Jones
– To avoid Japanese planes, the company tried to cover the distance at night.
– They were successful and going 40 miles during the night but had to make a run for it during the day.
– They successfully reached Muntinlupa and made it to Tagatay Ridge on December 14.
– The tanks remained at Tagatay until December 24
– During this time, they did reconnaissance and hunted for fifth columnists who would signal planes with mirrors during the day near ammunition dumps
   resulting in the dumps being bombed and shelled.
– At night, the fifth columnists shot off flares near the ammunition dumps.
– The activity ended, when the company shot up native huts suspected as being used by the fifth columnists.
– At 2:00 A.M. on December 24, the Japanese landed 7,000 troops at Lamon Bay. – – The Japanese began advancing in the direction of Lucban.
– The company took a position to aid the 1st Infantry Regiment, Philippine Army, that was fighting the Japanese. 
– One platoon of five tanks – on December 26 – was ordered to advance down a trail in an area where the Japanese were known to be.
– A major ordered the tanks to advance even though no reconnaissance had been done.
– The trail made a sharp turn, and when the tanks made the turn, the first was knocked out by a Japanese anti-tank gun killing the platoon commander and
   the driver of the tank.
– The other two crewmen escaped into the jungle. The remaining four tanks were also knocked out by enemy fire resulting in two more men being killed.
– From this point on the tanks fell back toward Bataan and were serving as the rear guard for Gen. Jones’ troops when they withdrew past Manila.
– C Company at one point saw 100 to 150 trucks belonging to the Philippine Army pass warehouses full of food and other supplies.
– It was at this time that the 192nd Tank Battalion and A Company, 194th Tank Battalion were fighting to keep the roads open so that the troops
   withdrawing from southern Luzon would not be cut off.
– 1 January 1942
– The southern Luzon force with C Company serving as its rearguard crossed the Calumpit Bridge
– After the company crossed the bridge was destroyed. the tanks went through San Fernando and formed roadblocks to keep the junction of Routes 3 and
   7 open.
– Also on January 1, conflicting orders were received by the defenders of the northern force who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down
   Route 5.
– The orders came from Gen. MacArthur’s chief of staff and told the units holding open the bridges to withdraw.
– General Wainwright – who was in command – was unaware of the orders.
– Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River and half of the
   defenders had withdrawn.
– When Gen Wainwright became aware of what was going on, he countermanded the orders.
– 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
   allowing the southern forces – including C Company – to escape. 
– 2 January 1942
– both tank battalions ordered to withdraw to Lyac Junction
– the 194th withdrew there on Highway 7.
– 5 January 1942 – C Company and A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, withdrew from Guagua-Porac Line and moved into position between Sexmoan and
   Lubao.
– At 1:50 A.M., the Japanese attempted to infiltrate their line in bright moonlight which made them easy to see.
– It also helped that the Japanese wore white shirts which reflected the moonlight.
– The tanks opened fire and in an attempt to cover their advance, the Japanese lay down smoke which blew back into them.
– It was 3:00 A.M. when the Japanese broke off the engagement having suffered 50% casualties.
– When the company withdrew, the barrio of Lubao was in flames.
– Battle of Bataan
– 7 January 1942
– night of 6/7 January – 194th withdraw across the river at Culis covered by the 192nd Tank Battalion
– 7 January 1942
– 2nd Lt. Weeden Petree and Pvt Walter Martella wounded
– Martella shielded Capt Fred Moffit from enemy shrapnel
– Petree was also hit by shrapnel
– 9 January 1942
– Pvt. Walter Martella died from gangrene 
– 12 January 1942
– C Company, with D Company, 192nd, sent to Cadre Road
– a forward position with little alert time
– 2nd Lt. Weeden Petree died from his wounds
– 16 January 1942 – Bagac
– sent to open Moron Road so General Segunda’s forces could move south
– at the Moron Road and Road Junction 59, the tanks moved forward knocking out an anti-tank gun
– two tanks were lost to landmines but towed out the next day for spare parts
– mission abandoned
– Segunda’s forces escaped along beach losing its heavy equipment
– 20 January 1942
– west of Bani Bani Road – tanks were sent to save the 31st Infantry command post
– 25/26 January 1942
– battalion holding a position a kilometer north of Pilar-Bagac Road
– four SPMs with the battalion
– warned by Filipino a large Japanese force was coming
– when the enemy appeared they opened up with all the battalion had
– Japanese withdraw
– estimated they lost 500 of 1800 men
– 28 January 1942
– 194th tanks given beach duty protecting southern beaches
– March 1942
– two tanks were bogged down in mud
– the tankers were working to get them out
– Japanese Regiment entered the area
– Lt. Col. Ernest Miller ordered tanks and artillery to fire at point-blank range
– Miller ran from tank to tank directing fire
– wiped out Japanese regiment
– gasoline rations cut to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles except the tanks
– Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that one platoon of tanks be sent to Corregidor
– Wainwright rejected idea
– April 1942
– tanks sent into various sectors in an attempt to stop the Japanese advance
– 3 April 1942
– Japanese launch new offensive
– tank sent in to attempt to stop the advance
– 7 April 1942 – Raymond sent to Medical Casual Hospital
– 8 April 1942
– Gen. Edward P. King decided that further resistance was futile since approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to fight
– he estimated they would last one more day
– In addition, he had over 6,000 troops who sick or wounded and 40,000 civilians who he feared would be massacred
– His troops were on one-quarter rations, and even at that ration, he had two days of food left.
– 6:30 P.M. – order goes out to be prepared to destroy all equipment of use to the Japanese
– 10:30 P.M. – decision made to send white flag across the battle line
– 11:40 P.M. – ammunition dumps were blown up
– At 2:oo A.M. April 9, Gen. King sent a jeep under a white flag carrying Colonel Everett C. Williams, Col. James V. Collier and Major Marshall Hurt to meet
   with the Japanese commander about terms of surrender.
 – The white flag was bedding from A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion
– the driver was also from the Provisional Tank Group
– Shortly after daylight Collier and Hunt returned with word of the appointment
– the tankers received this message over their radios at 6:45 A.M. – 9 April 1942
– circled tanks and fired an armor-piercing shell into each tank’s engine
– opened gasoline cocks and dropped grenades into the crew compartment
– Gen. King with his two aides, Maj. Cothran and Captain Achille C. Tisdelle Jr. got into a jeep carrying a large white flag
– They were followed by another jeep – also flying another large white flag – with Col. Collier and Maj. Hurt in it
– As the jeeps made their way north they were strafed and small bombs were dropped by a Japanese plane
– The drivers of both jeeps and the jeeps were provided by the tank group and both men managed to avoid the bullets
– The strafing ended when a Japanese reconnaissance plane ordered the fighter pilot to stop strafing
– About 10:00 A.M. the jeeps reached Lamao where they were received by a Japanese Major General who informed King that he reported his coming to
   negotiate a surrender and that an officer from the Japanese command would arrive to do the negotiations
– The Japanese officer also told him that his troops would no attack for thirty minutes while King decided what he would do
– After a half-hour, no Japanese officer had arrived from their headquarters and the Japanese attack had resumed. King sent Col. Collier and Maj. Hunt back
   to his command with instructions that any unit inline with the Japanese advance should fly white flags
– Shortly after this was done a Japanese colonel and interpreter arrived.
– King was told the officer was Homma’s Chief of Staff and he had come to discuss
   King’s surrender
– King attempted to get insurances from the Japanese that his men would be treated as prisoners of war, but the Japanese officer – through his interpreter
– he was accused of declining to surrender unconditionally
– At one point King stated he had enough trucks and gasoline to carry his troops out of Bataan
– He was told that the Japanese would handle the movement of the prisoners
– The two men talked back and forth until the colonel said through the interpreter, “The Imperial Japanese Army are not barbarians.” 
– Gen. King had to take him at his word
Prisoner of War:
– 9 April 1942
– received order to destroy equipment and report to kilometer marker 168.2.
– Provisional Tank Group Headquarters
– Japanese officers told Col. Ernest Miller to keep them there until ordered to move
– 10 April 1942
– 7:00 P.M. – started the march from Provisional Tank Group headquarters
– 3:00 A.M. – halted and rested for an hour
– 4:00 A.M. – resume march
– at times slipped on remains of the dead who had been killed by Japanese shelling
– 11 April 1942
– 8:00 A.M. -reached Lamao
– allowed to forage for food
– 9:00 A.M. – resumed march
– Noon – reached Limay and the main road
– officers, majors and up, separated from lower-ranking officers and enlisted men
– lower-ranking officers and enlisted men joined the main march
– Death March
– marched through Abucay and Samal
– reached Orani
– herded into a fenced-in area and ordered to lie down
– in the morning found they had been lying in human waste
– latrine in one corner was crawling with maggots
– form 100 men detachments
– POWs marched at a faster pace
– fewer breaks
– when given break, the POWs sat on the road
– North of Hermosa the POWs reached pavement
– made march easier
– POWs were given an hour rest on the road
– those who attempt to lay down are jabbed with bayonets
– POWs march through Layac and Lubao
– rains – POWs drank as much as they could
– San Fernando
– POWs put in groups of 200 to be fed
– one POW sent to get a box of rice for each group
– pottery jars of water given out the same way
– POWs formed detachments of 100 men and marched to train station
– POWs put into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane
– 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 floors
– Capas – dead fell to the floors as living left boxcars
– as POWs formed ranks, Filipinos threw sugarcane to POWs
– also gave them water
– POWs walked last 8 kilometers to Camp O’Donnell
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. YoshioTsuneyoshi, 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 covered with lime to clean it
– the dead were moved to the cleaned area and the area where they had lain 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
– In May or early June 1942, his parents received a message from the War Department:

“Dear Mrs. C. Fitzgibbons:

        “According to War Department records, you have been designated as the emergency addressee of Private First Class Handrewn K. Ftizgibbons, 20, 900, 707, who, according to the latest information available, was serving in the  Philippine Islands at the time of the final surrender. 

        “I deeply regret that it is impossible for me to give you more information than is contained in this letter.  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 other islands of the Philippines.  The Japanese Government has indicated its intention of conforming to the terms of the Geneva Convention with respect 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 surrender of Corregidor, May 7, 1942, until definite information to the contrary is received.  It is to be hoped that the Japanese Government will communicate a list of prisoners of war at an early date.  At that time you will be notified by this office in the event that his name is contained in the list of prisoners of war.   In the case of persons known to have been present in the Philippines and who are not reported to be prisoners of war by the Japanese Government, the War Department will continue to carry them as “missing in action” in the absence of information to the contrary, until twelve months have expired.  At the expiration of twelve months and in the absence of other information the War Department is authorized to make a final determination.

        “Recent legislation makes provision to continue the pay and allowances of persons carried in a “missing” status for a period not to exceed twelve months;  to continue, for the duration of the war, the pay and allowances of persons known to have been captured by the enemy; to continue allotments made by missing personnel for a period of twelve months and allotments or increase allotments made by persons by the enemy during the time they are so held;  to make new allotments or increase allotments to certain dependents defined in Public Law 490, 77th Congress.  The latter dependents generally include the legal wife, dependent children under twenty-one years of age and dependent mother, or such dependents as having been designated in official records.  Eligible dependents who can establish a need for financial assistance and are eligible to receive this assistance the amount allotted will be deducted from pay which would otherwise accrue to the credit of the missing individual.

                                                                                                                                                                    “Very Truly yours

                                                                                                                                                                            J. A. Ulio (signed) 
                                                                                                                                                                       Major General
                                                                                                                                                                   The Adjutant General”
  

– 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
– 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, to kick the POWs in their shins with their hobnailed boots because
  they didn’t like the way the POWs lined up
– hospitalized – Friday – 19 June 1942 – malaria
– discharged – Wednesday – 16 September 1942
– 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
– hospitalized
– put in Zero Ward
– dysentery
– lay naked on a wooden platform which had a hole in it so he could relieve himself
– told 1st Lt. Ted Spaulding he wasn’t going to die
– coded and decoded messages for the POWs
– messages were smuggled out of the camp and sent to American forces
– 19 April 1943 – family officially notified he was a POW

REPORT JUST RECEIVED THROUGH INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS STATES THAT YOUR SON PRIVATE FIRST CLASS HANDREN K FITZGIBBONS IS A PRISONER OF WAR OF THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT IN PHILIPPINE ISLANDS LETTER OF INFORMATION FOLLOWS FROM THE PROVOST MARSHALL GENERAL=
        ULIO THE ADJUTANT GENERAL=

Within days of receiving the first message, they received a second message:

“Mrs. C. Fitzgibbons
137 Gabilan
Salinas

“The Provost Marshal General directs me to inform you that you may communicate with your husband, postage free, by following the inclosed instructions:

“It is suggested that you address him as follows:

PFC Handren K. Fitzgibbons, U.S. Army
Interned in the Philippine Islands
C/O Japanese Red Cross, Tokyo, Japan
Via New York, New York

Packages cannot be sent to the Orient at this time. When transportation facilities are available a package permit will be issued you.

Further information will be forwarded you as soon as it is received.

                                                                                                                                                Sincerely

                                                                                                                                               Howard F. Bresee
                                                                                                                                               Colonel, CMP
                                                                                                                                               Chief Information Bureau

POW Postcards:
– 30 August 1943 – parents received a postcard from him
– He stated: “health is poor, I am sick in the hospital, I am improving”
– in the area he could write, he wrote: “this can’t last forever and please give my best
   regards to grandmother.”
– 23 August 1944:

“Dear Mother, I am hoping everyone at home is all right. I hope you received the card I sent previously. Reply to this letter if
possible. Give my best regards to grandmother and Agnes and everyone at home. Your loving son, Karl.”

Hell Ship:
Nissyo Maru
– POWs boarded – 17 July 1944
– 18 July 1944 – moved to breakwater – dropped anchor
– Sailed: 8:00 A.M. – dropped anchor off Corregidor – 2:00 P.M.
– Sailed; 24 July 1944
– as part of a convoy
– one ship sunk – 26 July 1944
– Arrived: Takao, Formosa – 28 July 1944 – 9:00 A.M.
– Sailed 28 July 1944 – 7:00 P.M.
– sailed through a storm – 30 July 1944 – 2 August 1944
– 3 August 1944 – POWs issued new clothes
– Arrived: Moji, Japan – 4 August 1944 – midnight
– POWs disembark – 8:00 A.M.
– herded into theater
– POWs marched to train station in 100 men detachments
– rode a train to POW camps
POW Camp:
– Japan:
Fukuoka #3
– a wooden fence surrounded the camp
– Barracks:
– flimsy wooden barracks
– 150 POWs in a barracks
– two tiers around the perimeter of barracks
– POWs slept on straw mats on tiers
– bottom tier 6 inches from the floor
– top tier 6 feet from the floor
– reached tier by ladders
– little heat from charcoal stoves
– POWs were constantly cold
– venom
– barracks were infested with lice, bedbugs, and fleas
– Latrines:
– in a separate room in each barracks
– 6 wooden stalls
– 1 urinal
– 4 sinks
– waste from latrines used in gardens
– Bath:
– dirty water used to bathe in
– smelled like sulfur
– POWs could bathe daily in winter
– every other day in summer
– went to bed right after bathing
– Meals:
– no mess hall
– breakfast and dinner consisted of millet and daikon soup
– the daikon was a white radish
– lunch
– millet in a bento box
– POWs working outside received the largest meals
– no Red Cross food was ever given to the POWs
– on two occasions, POWs received rotten meat or fish
– gladly ate it
– Hospital:
– held 50 to 60 men
– averaged 200 a day
– fever was the only illness that got a POW out of work
– those sick with a temperature of 102 degrees or lower were sent to work
– To meet worker quotas, the sick POWs were required to work even if it meant they could possibly die from doing it
– contributed to the deaths of POWs
– surgery was performed with crude tools or hacksaws
– Japanese withheld Red Cross medicine, medical supplies, and equipment from POWs
– found in a warehouse after the war
– Japanese doctor misappropriated the medical supplies
– also made them sick stand at attention in cold for four or five hours
– as they stood there they were beaten
– only after this was done did they receive medical treatment
– Clothing:
– Five days a month the POWs could exchange clothing
– Japanese guard beat with fists or kicked the POWs who showed up to exchange clothing
– felt the clothing was not worn out enough or too dirty
– POWs stopped attempting to exchange clothing
– 1300 work uniforms were found in a warehouse after the war
– 500 pairs of socks were also found
– Shoes:
– POWs who attempted to exchange shoes for new ones were beaten with their own shoes
– Japanese claimed they had no shoes for the POWs, but after the war, over 100 pairs were found in a warehouse and 250 pounds of leather for shoe
  repairs were also found
– Work:
– POWs worked as stevedores, mechanics, machinists, and laborers
– at Yawata Steel Mills they did manual labor shoveling iron ore and rebuilding the ovens
– workday was 9 to 10 hours long
– sent into hot ovens to clean debris, since Japanese would not let them cool off
– POWs worked as fast as they could
– many of the products from the mill helped the Japanese war effort
– manufactured hand grenades and shell casings
– If an air raid took place while the POWs were at the mill, they were put into railway cars and the train was pulled into a tunnel.
– Those POWs further from the tunnel took cover in two air raid shelters.
– Punishment:
– The POWs were beaten daily with fists and sticks for nor reason or violating camp rules, not saluting,
– POWs were taken to the guardhouse
– beaten up with fists and clubs
– stripped of clothing and thrown into the water tank
– stood at attention outside in the cold, while standing water
– poured water over them.
– after a few hours, the POW was sent back to his barracks
– POWs in man’s barracks were punished by not receiving their cigarette ration
– two brigs in the camp which had as many as 20 POWs in them at a time
– POWs given water treatment
– water forced up POW’s nose until he passed out
– revived and beaten
– water treatment administered again
– POWs burned with cigarettes
– collective punishment
– all the POWs were beaten for one POW violating a rule
– made to stand at attention for long periods of time
– 60 to 70 POWs were made to crawl on hands and knees
– beaten as they crawled
– rations were often reduced
– POW Postcard: June 1945

“Dear Mom: I hope this message finds you and the rest of the family in good health. I am feeling fine. Give my regards to grandma and say hello to Aunt Agnes and her family. From your loving son, Karl.”

Liberated: 13 September 1945
– returned to the Philippine Islands
Medical Treatment:
– appendectomy
Letter Home:

“Dear Mom;

“This is the first letter I completed. I have written two or three others but I always was moving too fast to get them in the mail.
“I have been here (in the Philippines) a week and will probably move on before long. I have received one letter and one cablegram from you since arriving. I have only received one other message in the three and one-half years, and it really had me worried.
“In Japan, I have been at Fukuoka camp 3. I have been working in a steel mill and it hasn’t been easy. I worked there one year to the day. I arrived in Japan on August 4, 1944.

“Well, this is all for now. I expect to me on my way home soon.”

Promoted: Sergeant
Returned Home:
– taken to Okinawa
– flown to Saipan
– sent to Tinian Island
– flown to Hickman Field, Hawaii
– flown to Hamilton Field north of San Francisco, California
Hospitalized:
– Letterman General Hospital, San Francisco
– Dibble General Hospital, Menlo Park, California
Discharged: 6 June 1946
College:
– Hartnell Junior College, Salinas, California
– Colorado School of Mines – graduated in 1950
Career:
– engineer
– worked with oil companies in the United States and Saudi Arabia
– retired in 1974
Married: Eleanor Halverson
Children: 1 daughter, 2 sons
Residence: Flathead, Montana
Died: 4 April 1998 – Kalispell, Montana
Buried:
– C. E. Conrad Memorial Cemetery – Kalispell, Montana

Default Gravesite 1

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