Pvt. Paul Chester Fonner
Born: 1 April 1919 – Union, West Virginia
Parents: Raymond and Katherine Fonner
Siblings: 1 sister
Home: RFD #1, Friendly, West Virginia
Occupation: worked on the family’s farm
Selective Service Registration: 16 October 1940
Contact: Mrs. Raymond Fonner – mother
– U.S. Army
– 7 January 1941 – Fort Hayes, Columbus, Ohio
– Fort Knox, Kentucky
– 19th Ordnance Battalion
– trained alongside the 192nd Tank Battalion at Ft. Knox
– learned to maintain 57 different vehicles used by Army
– 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 company
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
– Arkansas Maneuvers
– August 1941
– A Company of the battalion was recalled to Ft. Knox
– A Company inactivated
– activated as 17th Ordnance Company
– received orders for duty in the Philippines because of an event that happened during the summer.
– A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots noticed something odd
– He took his plane down and identified a buoy, with a flag, in the water. He came upon more flagged 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. When the planes landed, it was too late to do
anything that day.
– The next day – when planes were sent to the area – the buoys had been picked up and a fishing boat – with a tarp covering something on its deck – was
seen making its way toward shore.
– communication between the Air Corps and the Navy was poor, so the boat escaped
– the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines
– the battalion traveled by train to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California
– on the flat cars of the train were the M3 tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion
– Arrived: 7:30 A.M. – Thursday, 5 September 1941
– spent three days removing the turrets from the tanks
– painted the tank’s serial number on each turret to so it would be put on the same tank
– put cosmoline on the guns to prevent rust
– 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, an unknown destroyer, and the U.S.S. Guadalupe a fleet 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.
– most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Fort Stotsenburg
– 17th ordnance remained behind to unload the tanks and attached turrets
– slept on the ship during that night
– worked in shifts
– 27 September 1941 – job completed at 9:00 A.M.
– Ft. Stotsenburg
– lived in six-man tents
– bivouac in a low lying area
– first night in the area it rained and the area flooded
– 15 November 1941 – barracks completed
– the barracks walls were open and screened three feet from the bottom
– above that, the walls were woven bamboo that allowed the air to pass through
– washing – the lucky man washed by a faucet with running water
– followed the workday of 194th Tank Battalion
– 5:15 A. M. – reveille
– washing – the lucky man washed by a faucet with running water
– 6:00 A.M. – breakfast
– 7:00 to 11:30 A.M.
– Noon – lunch
– 1:30 to 2:30 P.M. – worked
– the shorter afternoon work period was based on the belief that the climate made it too hot to work
– the tankers worked until 4:30 P.M.
– the term “recreation in the motor pool” was used for this work time
– 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 were 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
– 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
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1942 – 6 January 1942
– 8 December 1942
– that morning the soldiers were laying rocks for sidewalks by their barracks
– informed by their commanding officer, Major. Richard Kadel, about Pearl Harbor
– the company went to a bamboo thicket where they could disperse vehicles
– the company set up a bivouac
– set up machine shop trucks, half-tracks, and trucks
– received orders to return to Ft. Stotsenburg
– the alert had been canceled
– lunch had just been served so they remained at the thicket
– 12:45 P.M. – Japanese attacked
– sauerkraut and hot dogs flew everywhere
– took cover under their trucks
– the Zeros banked and turned around over the thicket after strafing
– ordered not to fire at them
– one reason was the trucks had the only machines in the Philippines that could make parts for the tanks
– Japanese wiped out Army Air Corps
– dead and wounded were everywhere at the airfield
– after the attack on Clark Field, 17th Ordnance ordered to leave by General James R. N. Weaver to Pulilan
– the company moved as the tanks moved
– the company set up fuel dumps for tanks as they withdrew toward Bataan
– it also converted WWI anti-personnel shells for use by tanks
– the company was never on the front lines but lived with the bombings
– individuals did do tank repairs on the frontlines
– repaired disabled tanks
– converted shells into anti-personnel shells
– 17th Ordnance was always in the same area where the tanks were fighting
– Battle of Bataan
– 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– serviced tanks of the Provisional Tank Group
– repaired damage done by Japanese or tank crews
– headquartered in ordnance deport building
– 3 April 1942
– Japanese launch new offensive
– tanks sent into various sectors to stop the Japanese advance
– 6 April 1942
– four tanks sent to support the 45th Philippine Infantry and 75th Infantry, Philippine Scouts
– one tank knocked out by anti-tank fire at the junction of Trails 8 & 6
– other tanks covered withdraw
– near Mt. Samat ran into heavy Japanese force
– the tanks withdrew to Marivales
– 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 went out. “You will make plans, to be communicated to company commanders only, and be prepared to destroy within one hour after receipt by radio, or other means, of the word ‘CRASH’, all tanks and combat vehicles, arms, ammunition, gas, and radios: reserving sufficient trucks to close to rear echelons as soon as accomplished.”
– 10:30 P.M. – decision made to send white flag across the battle line
– 11:00 P.M. – the company was given a half-hour to evacuate the depot before the ammunition dumps were destroyed
– 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
– 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
– as King left to negotiate the surrender, he went through that was held by the tank group and spoke to them
– he told them he was going to get them the best deal he could get
– he also said, “When you get home, don’t ever let anyone say to you, you surrendered. I was the one who surrendered.”
– 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 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.”
– King found no choice but to accept him at his word
– 6:45 A.M. – the order “CRASH” was sent for equipment to be destroyed
Prisoner of War
– 9 April 1942
– Death March
– POWs started the march at Mariveles on the southern tip of Bataan
– ran past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor
– American artillery returned fire
– San Fernando – POWs packed into small wooden boxcars
– each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men
– Japanese packed 100 POWs into each boxcar
– POWs who died remained standing since they could not fall to the floors
– Capas – POWs leave boxcars and the dead fell to the floors of the boxcars
– POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O’Donnell
– took Fonner six days to complete the march
– 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
– the Japanese always had a sufficient supply of water
– Breakfast – ½ cup of soupy rice and occasionally they got some sort of coffee
– Lunch – ½ mess kit of steamed rice and a ½ cup of sweet potato soup
– Dinner – the same as lunch
– 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 the Philippine Red Cross in a truck was taken by the Japanese for their own use
– a second truck of medicine sent by the Red Cross was turned away
– the Japanese took what they wanted from the cookies and fruit brought by the Philippine Red Cross for the POWs and gave what was left to the POWs
– POWs in the camp hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow
– the floor was covered in human waste
– there were only primitive supplies improvised by the POWs to clean the floor
– 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
– the floor was covered with human excrement
– the POWs made improvised cleaners to clean it
– each morning dead were found everywhere in the camp and stacked up under the hospital
– in an attempt to stop the spread of disease, the dead were moved to one area
– the ground under the 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 the dead were not buried for two or three days
– inadequate number of barracks
– POWs slept under buildings and on the ground
– those who did sleep in a building slept as many as 80 POWs in buildings designed to house 40 men
– Work Details:
– if a POW could walk, he was sent out on a work detail
– the less sick from the hospital had to dig latrines
– given one canteen of water that was expected to last for three days
– on the details, they did road construction, loading, and unloading trucks, and carrying goods on their backs
– men returned to camp and died
– POWs on burial detail often had dysentery and/or malaria
– the next morning the dead were often sitting up in the graves
– wild dogs dug up the dead
– Japanese opened a new POW camp to lower the death rate
– In May, his father received a letter from the War Department
“Dear Mrs. K. Fonner:
“According to War Department records, you have been designated as the emergency addressee if Private Paul C. Fonner, 15,016,389, 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)
The Adjutant General”
– 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 Calumpit
– 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
– 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 sent there
– camp created to keep Corregidor POWs separated from Bataan POWs
– Corregidor POWs were in better shape
– January 1943 – 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
– in early June, four POWs were caught who tried to escape
– they were made to dig their own graves and stand in them facing a firing squad
– after they were shot, a Japanese officer took his pistol and shot into each grave
– 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
– Blood Brother Rule
– POWs put into groups of ten
– if one escaped the others would be executed
– housed in same barracks
– worked on details together
– Morning Roll Call:
– stood at attention
– frequently beaten over their heads for no reason
– 26 May 1942 until November 1942
– 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
– did this if they didn’t like how the line looked
– daily POW meal – 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
– sometimes rotten fish was given to the POWs which was crawling with maggots and lice
– most of the food the POWs grew went to the Japanese
– Work Details:
– Two main details
– the farm and airfield
– farm detail
– POWs cleared land and grew camotes, cassava, taro, sesame, and various greens
– Japanese took what was grown
– Big Speedo – spoke little English
– in charge of the detail
– fair in the treatment of POWs
– spoke little English
– to get POWs to work faster said, “speedo”
– Little Speedo
– also used “speedo” when he wanted POWs to work faster
– punished the POWs by making them kneel on stones
– always smiling
– could not be trusted
– meanest of guards
– Airfield Detail:
– Japanese built an airfield for fighters
– POWs cut grass, removed dirt, and leveled ground
– at first moved dirt in wheelbarrows
– later pushed mining cars
– Air Raid
– in charge
– usually fair but unpredictable
– had to watch him
– Donald Duck
– always talking
– sounded like the cartoon character
– unpredictable – beat POWs
– POWs told him that Donald Duck was a big American movie star
– at some point, he saw a Donald Duck cartoon
– POWs stayed away from him when he came back to camp
– Work Day: 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
– worked 6 days a week
– had Sunday off
– Other 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 on their heads to drive their faces deeper into the
– 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
– Burial Detail
– POWs worked in teams of four
– carried 4 to 6 dead to the cemetery at a time in litters
– a grave contained from 15 to 20 bodies
– the bodies floated in the graves because of the high water table
– the POWs held the body down with a pole while it was covered with dirt
– 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
– June 1942 – first cases of diphtheria appeared in camp
– 26 June 1942 – six POWs executed
– had left camp to buy food
– caught returning to camp
– beaten and tied to a fence in front of Japanese Headquarters
– tied in such a way they could not stand or sit down
– no one allowed to give them food or water
– no one was allowed to give them hats against the sun
– after 48 hours, they were cut down
– four were executed on the duty side of the camp
– two were executed on the hospital side of the camp
– July 1942 – diphtheria broke out in the camp
– 130 POWs died before the Japanese released any anti-toxin for treatment
– In July 1942, the father 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, Private Paul C. Fonner 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.”
– 12 September 1942 – three POWs escaped
– 21 September 1942 – recaptured and brought back to the camp
– their feet were tied together
– their hands were crossed behind their backs and tied with ropes
– a long rope was tied around their wrists and they were suspended from a rafter
– their toes barely touched the ground
– their arms bore all the weight of their bodies
– they were subjected to severe beatings by the Japanese guards
– the punishment lasted three days
– next, they were tied hand and foot and placed in the cooler for 30 days
– the diet was rice and water
– one of the three POWs was severely beaten by a Japanese lieutenant
– 29 September 1942 – three POWs were executed by the Japanese
– stopped by American security guards
– the guards were to stop escapes so other POWs would no be executed
– the Japanese heard the commotion
– during questioning, the POWs were severely beaten for two and a half hours
– one man’s jaw was broken
– taken to the main gate and tied to posts
– their clothing was torn off them
– beaten for the next 48 hours
– at the end of three days, they were cut down and thrown into a truck
– POWs were shot in a clearing in sight of the camp
– Davao, Mindanao
– October 1942 – The Japanese needed 1000 POWs to go on a work detail to Davao
– On October 24, the POWs were marched to the barrio of Cabanatuan
– they were loaded into boxcars, and sent by train to Manila arriving in the afternoon – During the trip, the doors of the boxcars were left open so there was
– they arrived at Manila but remained in the boxcars until after dark
– after dark, they were marched through the empty streets to Bilibid Prison
– Once at Bilibid, they were fed mutton soup and rice.
– The next day they were assembled in 100 men formations
– marched to the Port Area of Manila where they boarded the Erie Maru
– The hold was divided into box spaces and twelve men were assigned to each box.
– There was only enough room in a box for six men to sleep at a time.
– The POWs quickly became infested with bedbugs and lice.
– The hold smelled from the gasoline that was being stored in it
– it quickly was joined by the smell of human excrement.
– The next morning the POWs were fed rice and spinach soup.
– At noon, they received rice and dried fish.
– For dinner, they had corned beef and rice.
– The POWs assigned to cooking discovered the Japanese officers had a large stock of captured American pork and slipped it to the men in the holds
– many of the POWs developing dysentery
– The trip to Lasang took thirteen days
– the ship made stops at Iloilo, Panay, and Cebu, Mindanao
– At Iloilo, they buried one man who had died.
– November 7 – the POWs arrived at Lansang
– The POWs were in such bad shape that the ranking Japanese officer, Major Mida, ordered them fed.
– They ate pork and beef, rice cabbage pinch, squash onions, potatoes, and peanuts which were all produced on the farm.
– From the orchards, they were given fruit which included raw and cooked plantains. – The sick were given medical treatment and there was enough water
for drinking, bathing, and laundry.
– When the recuperation took too long, their diet was cut to rice and greens soup.
Various Work Details:
– 30 men were assigned to work as carpenters, 25 POWs worked in the orchards, 50 POWs made rope, 20 POWs worked the bodega (storeroom) detail, and
for four months the POWs cut and picked coffee.
– smaller details – 2 to 35 men that lasted weeks or months
– other details were continuous, such as the farm detail that 250 to 300 POWs worked on plowing fields and harvesting crops.
– 50 to 100 POWs were sent to a plantation and given the job of building roads
– In the opinion of the POWs, they did more damage than good and intentionally kept the roads impassable.
– The Japanese decided that they were getting nowhere, so they sent the POWs to the ricefields to plant rice.
– 350 to 750 POWs were used in the rice fields.
– The POWs were responsible for planting 1600 acres of rice
– The POWs attempted to grow as little rice as possible and would drop the rice stalks in the mud and “unintentionally” step on them.
– The number of POWs on the detail varied
– planting and harvesting took more men.
– Many of the POWs became ill with what was called, “Rice Sickness”
– This illness was caused by the POWs cutting their feet or legs on a rice stalk.
– The POWs developed a rash and suffered from severe swelling.
– POWs who bruised themselves often developed ulcers
– POWs moved to Lasang and built runways and revetments
– 550 POWs worked on the airfield at Lasang each day
– 50 POWs went to coral pits at Trabuco
– dug coral broke it up, and loaded it on trucks
– coral was used as surface of the airfield’s new runway
– Most, if not all the prisoners, suffered from malaria.
– At first, the work details were not guarded as the POWs plowed, planted, and harvested the crops.
– The sick POWs, who could not do this work, made baskets.
– In April 1943, the POWs working conditions varied.
– The treatment the POWs at this time changed.
– Those POWs working the rice fields received the worst treatment.
– They were beaten for not meeting quotas, and there were misunderstandings between the POWs and guards.
– In addition, the translator could not be trusted to tell the truth.
– Beatings were common
– usually, the guards slapped the POWs in their faces
– on occasion, there were severe beatings
– This occurred if the Japanese suspected the POWs were planning an escape.
– POWs made to kneel on the sharp edge of a railroad rail
– sticks placed behind their knees
– when one POW was caught stealing tin snips he was stripped naked
– “Little Caesar,” Lt. Hashimoto, used judo on him
– POWs were hit across the face, thrown to the ground kicked in his groin, kicked in other parts of his body
– his face was stamped on with Little Caesar’s boots
– the beating went on for an hour
– dragged to the kitchen where he had stolen the snips and had to reenact the crime
– afterward, he was beaten again for another three hours
– thrown into guardhouse for 21 days
– made to stand at attention, kneel for an hour, then stand halfway erect
– stood at attention 18 hours a day
– beaten every day
– The POWs were still receiving three meals – which were measured – with a sardine tin – a day
– they received one water buffalo a week but they were being worked harder and longer
– At times, after the POWs had slaughtered the water buffalo and had it ready to cook it, the Japanese made them bury it.
– Trees at the experimental farm were loaded with bananas, oranges, and other fruits – these fell to the ground and rotted since the POWs were not allowed
to eat them
– 4 April 1943 – Capt. William Dyess, LTC Melvyn McCoy, Maj. Stephen Mellnik, Maj. Michael Dobervitch, and another POW escaped
– the 600 remaining POWs from their barracks were moved to another compound
– their rations reduced and they were confined to quarters
– they were physically abused
– they were not allowed to sit down
– The Japanese commanding officer ordered and allowed collectives punishment on all the POWs.
– If the POWs were found to have food on them when they returned from work, they were brutally beaten.
– At night the guards walked through the barracks a poked the sleeping POWs with bamboo poles to disrupt their sleep.
– two other POWs escaped
– 22 other POWs were confined to the guardhouse for ten days.
– They were made to stand at attention all day in the cells.
– The cells were eight feet long and three and one-half feet wide.
– Eleven prisoners were put into each cell
– At night they were beaten with sticks when they attempted to lie down
– They were fed one meal a day of rice with a little salt.
– The Japanese ended the detail at the farm
– 2 March 1944 – the POWs to Lasang
– The POWs thought that it would not be as bad as the farm; they were wrong.
– The barracks of the POWs were only 400 yards from the airfield.
– The POWs believed this was done so if American planes attacked, they would kill their own countrymen.
– 550 POWs either built runways
– other POWs were sent to a quarry to mine coral for runways
– The POWs dug out the coral, broke it up, and loaded it onto trucks that were driven to the airfield.
– When the POWs slowed the pace of their work down, the Japanese resorted to torture to get them to work.
– American forces got closer to the Philippines
– 6 June 1944 – many of the POWs boarded trucks
– Japanese took their shoes
– POWs had on outside of column had their wrists tied to each other with a string to prevent escapes
– Yashu Maru
– Boarded: 6 June 1944
– remained in hold for six days
– Sailed: 12 June 1944
– the ship dropped anchor off Zamboanga, Mindanao
– Sailed: 14 June 1944
– Arrived: 17 June 1944 – Cabu City, Cabu Island
– POWs disembarked and put in a warehouse
– Sailed: 21 June 1944 – Unknown Maru
– Arrived: 24 June 1944 – Manila
– Bilibid Prison
– served as a transfer center for POWs being moved from the Philippines
– Canadian Inventor
– Sailed: Manila – 4 July 1944
– returned to Manila 5 July 1944
– Sailed: 16 July 1944
– additional boiler problems
– left behind by convoy
– Arrived: Keelung, Formosa – 5 August 1944
– remained for twelve days for boiler repairs
– Sailed: 17 August 1944
– Arrived: Naha, Okinawa
– additional boiler problems
– stayed six days
– Sailed: Unknown
– Arrived: Moji, Japan – 1 September 1944
– Nagoya #5-B
– POWs worked in the production of sulfuric acid
Note: Many of the punishments received by the POWs were the result of the Japanese interpreter, Shinshi Kirio, intentionally misinterpreting orders, or outright lying so that the POWs would be beaten. He also made POWs, as punishment, run in circles in the cold.
The POWs were frequently punished by being hit with sticks, clubs, fists, leather belts, shoes, ropes, belt buckles, and bamboo sticks while standing at attention. Afterward, it was not uncommon for the Japanese to rub salt into the man’s wounds and had their food rations cut. They would also be made to stand at attention with their arms outstretched hold a bucket of water at arm’s length. Other men were suspended from ladders – by their wrists – and beaten while they hung there. They also were made to kneel on rocks or bamboo poles with heavy rocks behind their knees or squat for hours at a time.
When Cpl. Takeo Shuraki discovered that the POWs had cut two bars on a window of a bay of the barracks that Roy lived in – for a possible escape during an air raid – the 20 POWs who lived in the bay were questioned one at a time, in Japanese, to find out who had cut them. This was done even though two POWs confessed to cutting the bars. Paul was transferred from the camp on May 25, 1945.
– Nagoya #7-B
Note: The camp was built by and on the property of the Nippon Soda Company, Ltd., and opened on June 6, 1945, about 300 feet from its plant where the POWs worked. The first POWs arrived on July 7. The camp was made up of one barracks, a kitchen and a bathroom, a camp office, and an unknown building. All the buildings were wood and were surrounded by a 10-foot high wooden fence.
The POWs barracks was the largest building with the camp hospital at one end. Along the walls, were two decks of bunks which were merely platforms. Each POW had a 3 foot wide by 7-foot long area to sleep in on straw mattresses. The POWs slept on the side of the building nearest the fence until an air raid on July 30 when they moved to the bunks along the other wall because of damage to the barracks.
The POWs received three meals a day mostly of rice and beans with a few vegetables. Each meal was 4.8 grams and was eaten from mess kits, in the barracks, on tables down to the POWs.
The factory manufactured a steel alloy used in the war effort. The POWs were involved in the melting and forging of metal, and three types of work. 65 POWs worked melting the ore, another 65 worked at forging the metal, and a final 65 did miscellaneous jobs. One detachment worked the night shift. A workday was 12 hours long and the POWs received two days off a month.
On August 1, the City of Toyama was bombed by American planes doing a great deal of damage leaving only five buildings standing. A bomb fell near the camp on July 20, blowing out windows, damaging walls, and roofs on the barracks, while the factory had a great deal of damage.
– 5 September 1945
– returned to the Philippine Islands
– U.S.S. Joseph T. Dyckman
– Sailed: Manila – not known
– Arrived: San Francisco – 16 October 1945
– sent to Letterman General Hospital
– 4 March 1946
– State of West Virginia
– worked as a laborer for the state highway department
– March 1961 – became center of a political battle when he lost the job because of his political affiliation
Married: Mary Jane Pinkley
– 10 October 1981 – Middlebourne, West Virginia