T/4 Frank Goldstein was born in Chicago on October 24, 1915, to Max and Sarah Goldstein. With his sisters, he grew up at 1958 West Henry Court, 4433 North St. Louis Avenue, and later at 2030 West Montrose Avenue. He graduated from Roosevelt High School where he became interested in amateur radio operation. As an amateur radio operator, he became good friends with T/5 Charles Corr, who also was an amateur radio operator. While he was still in high school, Frank signed up with the Illinois National Guard to practice army communication. Doing this meant that he was slated to be a radioman in the with an Illinois National Guard unit.
Frank was drafted in April 1941 and went to the Madison Street Armory, of the Illinois National Guard, in Maywood, Illinois, for induction. It was there that he was selected to join Company B, 192nd Tank Company as a radio operator. He was sent to Camp Grant, in Rockford, Illinois, and then to Fort Knox, Kentucky, to join his new company. With Frank was his friend Charles Corr.
When the two soldiers arrived at Fort Knox, at 2:00 o’clock in the morning, they were met by Sgt. Albert McArthur, who was the sergeant in charge of communications. Sgt. McArthur gave Frank a choice of jobs. He could either repair the radio equipment or train other men to operate radio equipment and use Morse Code. Frank ended up repairing the equipment while his friend, Charlie, taught high-speed Morse Code.
Frank said, “I had a small Hallcrafter ham radio receiver in my footlocker which I used when we were at Ft. Knox. My buddy, W9KRK, was stationed at West Point teaching the cadets to used radio equipment. In the evening he would tow the transmitter up to a hill, throw a wire antenna over a high tree limb and send me the news of the day – I couldn’t answer of course. He would get home (Chicago) on occasion, visit my folks, and relay info to me. Unfortunately, when we got to Manila and unloaded, that was the last time I saw my footlocker and my receiver.”
Next, Frank went on maneuvers with Company B at Camp Polk, Louisiana. It was here that he shared a tent with Pvt. Lester (Tenney) Tenenberg. After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to remain behind at Camp Polk. None of the members of the battalion had any idea why they were there. On the side of a hill, the members learned they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM. Within hours, many men had figured out they were being sent to the Philippine Islands.
The decision for this move – which had been made during August 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.
From Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over four different train routes. Arriving in San Francisco, the soldiers were ferried, on the U.S.A.T General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, the soldiers were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases. Those with health issues were released from service and 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 they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield. He made sure that they had what they needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner – which was a stew thrown into their mess kits – 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.
On December 1, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers. Two crew members had to be with their tank at all times. They received their meals from food trucks. On the morning of December 8, the officers of the battalions met and were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier. The 192nd letter companies were brought up to full strength at the perimeter of Clark Field.
All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes. At noon, all the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch. At 12:45 planes approached the airfield from the north. The tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54 planes. When bombs began exploding, the men knew the planes were Japanese. After the attack, the 192nd remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for almost two weeks. They were then sent to the Lingayen Gulf area where the Japanese had landed.
In the Philippines, Frank’s job was to keep in touch with every tank of the 192nd. To do this he had a jeep and a half-track, with a 100-watt transmitter, at his disposal. If he could not reach a tank, he would have to take the jeep, which was driven by Sgt. Zenon Bardowski, and try to find out why he could not make contact with the tank. In his opinion, the tanks were useless in the Philippines since they could only be used along the main highway and not in the fields where they would get stuck.
Of his job, Frank said, “I was chasing tanks all over Bataan and reporting their location to Hq, Charlie Corr and I never had any problem with ‘blind spots.’ Our 100 watt transmitters, together with resonant vertical whip antennas worked very well.”
About his half-track, he said, “My communication half-track was equipped with a Western Electric all-band receiver and I tweaked one of the unused bands so it would receive the shortwave transmissions from KGEI atop the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. This is where we heard about the attack on Pearl.”
Although Frank was not involved in any major engagements, Frank did find himself fighting a personal one. Like everyone else on Bataan, Frank was always hungry. One day he took the jeep and his Tommy-gun and went scrounging for food. In the town of Pilar, he found an abandoned candy store that supposedly had some food. It turned out that the store had been stripped bare. As he left the store he heard the voices of Japanese soldiers. Since he was near a sugar cane field, Frank jumped into the field with his Tommy-gun and hid hoping that he hadn’t bee seen. As it turned out, the Japanese soldiers apparently heard him enter the field and followed him. He wound up playing hide-and-seek in the sugar cane field with the Japanese soldiers. He tried to kill them before they killed him. As far as Frank knew, only he came out of the sugar cane field.
Frank also was present when Japanese planes bombed the area where B Company tanks were bivouacked on February 3, 1942. According to Frank, the tankers guarded the beach each night to prevent the Japanese from landing troops. Every morning “Recon Joe” flew over attempting to locate the tanks. The jungle canopy hid the tanks from the plane. Walter Cigoi aggravated about being woken up, pulled his half-track on the beach and took a “pot shot” at the plane. He missed. Twenty minutes later, Japanese planes appeared and bombed the position. Frank took cover under a tank.
On this event, Frank said, “About Walter Cigoi … Toward the end of our activities on Bataan, my half-track was placed on beach defense since there not too many tanks left to worry about. Cigoi joined our platoon at that time. We were positioned onshore of Manila Bay in case the Japs beach after darkness and pulled back under the bamboo groves before dawn to keep them hidden from ‘Photo Joe,’ a small recon plane the Japs used to spot enemy positions.
“On this particular day, Joe hung around for quite a while – he knew we were there somewhere – and his engine noise kept us from sleeping. Cigoi became annoyed, so he grabbed my half-track, drove it out from under the trees, and using twin 50 caliber guns Bardowski and had welded to the back wall, he attempted to shoot down photo Joe. He missed and Joe took off. About 20 minutes later, four Jap diver bombers approached our area from out of the sun, and really laid it on us. Result … Privates Graff, Heuel, and Peppers lay dead and sx others injured. I felt particularly bad because Heuel’s sister had visited him at Ft. Knox before we left the States and I had promised her I would keep an eye on him – he was 18, I was 25.”
After the attack, the tankers found Pvt. Richard Graff, Pvt. Clemath Peppers, and Pvt. Charles Heuel dead. Another man had his leg partially blown off. To get him into the jeep, Frank cut off his leg. Pvt. Francis McGuire was also wounded in the attack and so were a few other men. Frank felt guilty about Heuel’s death because he had promised his sister to watch out for him.
On another occasion, Frank added, “He (Heuel) had been living with a sister and he entered the service more to find a home rather than any other reason. After I became acquainted with him, we discovered we discovered he lived right around the corner from me. In Chicago, I lived on Montrose Avenue near Damen Avenue and he lived on Damen Avenue near Montrose! Our back porches were within view of each other. I met his sister once when she visited Chuck at Fort Knox. As you know, the bombing when we were on beach defense caught him out in the open and killed him instantly.”
Frank spoke about Richard Graff, “Bob(?) Graff was one of the few married men prior to enlistment. I believe had been a newspaperman in civilian life – I believe the Chicago Tribune – and he enlisted to get his ‘one year’ over with so he could get back to work. We found him hiding behind a tank but he had picked the wrong side. Actually, no side would be good because most of the bombs exploded on contact with the bamboo branches above our heads.
“You’re probably wondering where I was during this time? Our area had previously been occupied by a Philippine Army kitchen. They had created a slight overhang about ten yards from us. When I heard the screech of the bombs coming down, I did the first five yards on foot and at least airborne right into that hole! Other than a bunch of red ants blown up my overall legs, I was ok.”
On Clemath Peppers, Frank stated, “I wasn’t acquainted with Peppers. He was not from ‘B’ Co. and I don’t recall seeing him on the Louisiana maneuvers. He may have been one of the fellows we licked up as replacements as we came thru San Francisco on the way west. In any case on that fateful day we’re discussing, he was sleeping on the top deck of his tank and never knew what hit him.”
Frank also said about one of the wounded. “One of the fellows lost a leg and I had to cut it loose so we could get him to an aid station. He died on the way. I can’t seem to remember who it was.” After saying this, Frank said he had to stop or the dreams would start all over again.
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.
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.
In March, the amount of gasoline was reduced to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles except the tanks. This would later be dropped to ten gallons a day. At the same time, food rations were cut in half again. Also at this time, Gen. Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that a platoon of tanks be sent to Corregidor.
On April 3, 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. On April 7, the 57th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, supported by tanks, attempted to restore the line, but Japanese infiltrators prevented this from happening. During this action, one tank was knocked out but the remaining tanks successfully withdrew. C Company, 194th, was attached to the 192nd and had only seven tanks left.
It was the evening of April 8 that Gen. Edward P. King decided that further resistance was futile, since approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to fight, and 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. At 10:30 that night, he sent his staff officers to negotiate surrender terms.
Tank battalion commanders received this order: “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.”
On April 9, 1942, Frank received word that the Filipino-American Forces were to destroy their equipment and surrender to the Japanese. Frank and the men with him destroyed their equipment but decided they would try to escape to Corregidor. They found a Filipino boat that was used to carry water. Since the approach to Corregidor was mined, the captain was not too willing to try to go there. At the point of Frank’s 45, the captain of the boat had a change of heart and took them to the island.
Since it was night and they did not want to be spotted by the Japanese, they approached the island in total darkness. Frank took his flashlight and wrapped it in a newspaper to prevent the Japanese from spotting their position. He kept signaling to the island that they were Americans. While he was doing this, they could hear the Japanese troops along the shore of Bataan. Finally, they received a response signal and were told to go to a buoy, then turn sharply to the right. This maneuver got them through the minefield.
On Corregidor, Frank was separated from the other men with whom he had gone to Corregidor. When the Japanese attacked the island, Frank was shot in his leg. He managed to make his way to a tunnel occupied by Navy personnel and according to medical records, was hospitalized the day of the surrender. Frank awoke to find the tunnel full of Japanese soldiers with bayonets attached to their guns. Being wounded he thought he was going to be killed, but to his surprise, the Japanese were actually very nice to him.
What he could do that they could not do was read the codes on the cans of food in the tunnel. The soldiers were looking for cans that contained fruit. They took Frank to another tunnel where Dr. Edwin Wade performed surgery on his leg which had been shattered by the bullet. Dr. Wade performed more surgeries on Frank’s leg and saved it. It should be noted that Dr. Wade did not survive the war.
From Corregidor, Frank was taken to Bilibid Prison in Manila, which was used by the Japanese as a hospital for American Prisoners of War. There, he spent the next thirteen months in bed. When he was healthier, Frank was sent to Cabanatuan for one year. By the time he arrived, Camps 1 & 3 had been consolidated into one camp.
During May or early June 1942, his parents received a message from the War Department.
“According to War Department records you have been designated as the emergency addressee of T/4 Frank Goldstein 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 (Frank Goldstein) is contained in the list of prisoners of war.”
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.
The POWs were sent out on work details to cut wood for the POW kitchens. Meals on a daily basis consisted of 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, and sweet potato or corn. The POWs were forced to work in the fields from 7:00 in the morning until 5:00 in the evening. Most of the food they grew went to the Japanese not them. Other POWs worked in rice paddies. What details Joe took part in from the camp is not known.
The POW barracks were built to house 50 POWs, but most held between 60 and 120 men. The POWs slept on bamboo slats without mattresses, covers, or mosquito netting. In addition, the lack of proper bathrooms contributed to many became ill.
Each morning, the POWs lined up for roll call. While they stood at attention, it wasn’t uncommon for them to be hit over the tops of their heads. In addition, one guard frequently kicked them in their shins with his hobnailed boots. 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. 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 camp hospital was composed of 30 wards. The ward for the sickest POWs was known as “Zero Ward” which got its name because it had been missed when the wards were counted. The name soon meant the place where those who were extremely ill went to die. Each ward had two tiers of bunks and could hold 45 men but often had as many as 100 men in each. Each man had a two-foot-wide by six-foot-long area to lie in. The sickest men slept on the bottom tier since the platforms had holes cut in them so the sick could relieve themselves without having to leave the tier.
During his time at the camp, he worked on the camp farm tending the vegetables being grown there. The POWs were expected to water the crops by carrying the water in cans. The cans they were given to use had holes in them. These holes were, in most cases, intentionally made in the cans by the guards. When the prisoners got to the place where they were supposed to water, the guards would beat them for not having full cans.
While he was in the camp, his family received a second letter from the War Department in July 1942. 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, Tec 4 Frank Goldtein 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.”
Next, Frank was sent to Clark Field, where he believed that he was one of the few members the 192nd on the detail. Being on the detail without any friends actually had its benefits. Frank witnessed men beaten by the guards because they had tried to communicate with their friends. The beating was given because the men had violated the “no talking” while working rule.
On the Clark Field detail, Frank dug revetments to hide planes. The Japanese guards encouraged the POWs to take their time when digging. The guards didn’t care how much dirt the POWs moved all they had to do is look busy. The reason the guards did this was that they liked the detail and wanted to stretch it out as long as possible. The only time the POWs were expected to work hard was when big shots came around to expect the work.
At some point, Frank was injured and had a broken tibia in his right leg. He was admitted to Ward 2 at Bilibid Prison in October 1942. The medical staff did what they could, but medical supplies and medicine were never available in large qualities. Meals consisted of two meals of day which were in the form of half a mess kit to three-quarters of a canteen of rice. POWs often ate garbage from scrap cans and pig troughs. The POWs also concrete floors without mosquito nets which resulted in may having malaria. He remained hospitalized until February 10, 1943, when he was discharged and returned to Clark Field.
Frank also had to dig out volcanic rock which was used in the construction of runways. He did this work until August 1944. How the POWs did this was to sift the sand through a screen trapping the rocks. The rocks were used as a base material for new runways for heavy bombers. When the rock ran out, the Japanese engineers told the POWs to use sand for the base material for the last half of the runway.
The first time a Japanese heavy bomber landed on the runway it sped across the first half of the runway. When it hit the second half of the runway, the bomber’s carriage suddenly sank out of sight and the bomber flipped over. Frank recalled that he and the other prisoners hid their laughter.
While working at Clark Field one of the jobs Frank had was to transport drums of coconut oil from the railhead to the airfield. Some of the POWs on the detail took the opportunity to fill their canteens with oil from the drums. They would take the oil and boil it until it was eatable and then pour the oil on their rice to add flavor to the rice.
One time as Frank and the other POWs were working the detail, the Japanese pulled a surprise inspection. The “gunso” in the guard tower a quarter of a mile away ordered the guards to have the POWs to empty their canteens. When the guard got to Frank, Frank emptied his canteen and water came out of it. Frank still had water in the canteen from that morning.
The “gunso” knowing that Frank was involved in the stealing, ordered the guard to punish Frank. The guard grabbed Frank’s half-filled canteen and hit him squarely in the mouth with it, knocking out four of Frank’s teeth.
While Frank was on the detail, his family received a message from the War Department that the Japanese government had listed him as a Prisoner of War.
“REPORT JUST RECEIVED THROUGH THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS STATES THAT YOUR SON TEC 4 FRANK GOLDSTEIN IS A PRISONER OF WAR OF THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT IN THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS LETTER OF INFORMATION FOLLOWS FROM THE PROVOST
“ULIO THE ADJUTANT GENERAL.”
Not long after receiving the telegram, they received another letter from the War Department.
2020 Montrose Avenue
“The Provost Marshal General directs me to inform you that you may communicate with your son, postage free, by following the inclosed instructions:
“It is suggested that you address him as follows:
“Tec 4 Frank Goldstein, 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.
“Howard F. Bresee
“Chief Information Bureau”
On August 8, 1944, Frank was then returned to Bilibid Prison in Manila where he had contact with Zenon Bardowski and James Griffin. This was the first time in over two years that he had contact with other members of Company B. To Frank, both men looked to be in bad shape. It was at this time that he received a red cross package that had not been raided containing vitamin pills and clothing. He gave each one of them a handful of vitamin pills. He also received winter clothing in the package which at the time seemed very funny since he was in the Philippines.
On August 25, 1944, Frank was sent to Japan on the Noto Maru. The trip was only twelve days long. During the voyage, the ship stopped at Takao, Formosa, on August 30, before heading to Japan. It arrived in Moji, Japan on September 4th.
The POWs were packed into the ship’s hold so tightly that they could not use the half barrel that was supposed to be the toilet. The floor of the hold was covered in human waste since most of the men were suffering from dysentery. The smell got so bad that the Japanese covered the hatch of the hold. The POWs received water twice a day and were fed once a day.
As the ship made its way to Japan men died of sickness and starvation. With each death, there was more room in the ship’s hold. The bodies of the dead were hosted out of the hold by ropes and dumped in the sea. The suction of the ship’s propellers pulled the bodies into them and resulted in the bodies being cut up.
The Japanese finally decided that the only way to deal with the smell coming from the hold was to bring the POWs on deck and wash them down with seawater. They also washed down the floor of the hold at the same time. The ship arrived in Moji, Japan, on September 4th and rode a train to Hanawa in Northern Japan. From there, the POWs made a short walk to the camp which officially known as Sendai #6.
The camp was approximately 200 feet wide by 350 feet long and had a 12-foot high wooden fence around it and was located at 4,000 feet. The POWs were housed in wooden barracks, with 30-foot ceilings, with two tiers of bunks, against each long wall, with straw matting and a mattress stuffed with straw for sleeping. They also had a 4″ by 4″ by 8″ block of wood for a pillow.
The floors of the barracks were packed dirt with a center aisle. There were covered walkways, without sides, that connected the barracks. To heat the barracks, there was a small potbelly stove. If they were lucky, the Japanese gave them enough wood for an hour’s heat. The POWs – who worked in the foundry – stole coal knowing that if they were caught they would be beaten. The barracks were not insulated and the heavy snow – which was as deep as 10 feet – served as insulation.
Other buildings in the camp were two buildings that served as a hospital for the POWs and an “L” shaped building that was the kitchen and POW bath. The latrines were three low buildings, and there was one building that served as the camp office. The POWs spent several days setting up the camp.
In the camp, 500 POWs worked in the copper mine owned by Mitsubishi Mining Company and worked under company supervision. The POWs woke up at 5 A.M. and ate breakfast which was a small bowl of rice, barley or millet, and watery soup. Meals for the POWs were brought to the barracks, in buckets, and the POWs ate at tables in the barracks. After breakfast, at 5:30, roll call was taken and the POWs and the POWs left the camp. They arrived at the mine at 7 A.M., had a half-hour lunch, and worked until 5:00 P.M. before returning to camp, usually after dark, and had supper. Afterward, they went to bed.
The clothing issued to the POWs was a combination of Japanese clothing, made of thin cloth and shoes, and captured American clothing. For the winter the POWs received a uniform made of burlap and long socks. Those who needed shoes were issued Japanese canvas shoes with webbing between two toes. They also received grass shoe covers so they could get through the snow.
Work details were set up for POWs who were machinists, electricians, mechanics. Those who did not have these skills were assigned to working at a foundry or mining. The POWs worked in a copper mine owned by Mitsubishi. Each day, the POWs were marched up the side of a mountain to the top and then down into the mine. To their amazement, their guards always seemed to be waiting for them. It turned out there was a tunnel into the mine which the guards used so they did not have to climb the mountain.
Each detail had a “honcho” who was employed by Mitsubishi and supervised the POWs. They carried a large stick which they used on the POWs when they felt they were not working hard enough.
The mine had been abandoned because it had become too expensive to extract the copper, but Mitsubishi believed it could make it profitable with the slave labor provided by the POWs.
To get to work, the POWs climbed up the side of a mountain and descending 472 steps into the mine. The POWs noticed that the guards never seemed to be winded when they arrived at the mine. They later learned that the Japanese had cut a ground-level entrance to the mine which the guards used to enter it.
The POWs believed these supervisors wanted to work them to death. The POWs were divided among drillers, car loaders, and car pushers, with the miners having the worst job. The work in the mine was dirty, dangerous, and difficult. Each miner was given a carbide headlamp as his only lighting. A quota was set but the Japanese and the Japanese were always raising the quota. The number of carloads mined by the men was never enough. The POWs were beaten for not working hard enough or fast enough. Many shafts of the mine were so low that the miners had to crawl through to get to the ore. Some shafts had standing water with threats of sudden flooding.
Lighting was poor and most areas were not even shored up to prevent cave-ins. Accidents were frequent and many POWs were hurt. There was no gas detecting equipment and there was always the danger of setting off an explosion from the open burning carbide headlamps. The equipment given to the POWs was worn out and needed to be repaired frequently.
In the mine, Frank worked on a blasting crew whose job it was to blast ore lose. The Japanese engineer had a deal with the POWs that he would mark the walls with the amount of dynamite to blast. He would then leave the mine and leave the POWs alone. As it turned out he was deathly afraid of the dynamite because it was old and extremely volatile. Being alone, the POWs would perform “little acts of sabotage” like putting too large of a charge to make the vain of ore useless.
Mitsubishi expected the Japanese Army to supply a certain number of POWs to work in the mine each day so men too sick to work were sent to work. The sick had to be carried between two healthier POWs to the mine. Since the Japanese found that the sick were too ill to work, the company came up with work for them to do in the camp like making nails or rope. If a POW still could not work, his rations were cut in half.
At one point as a POW, Frank was so sick from pneumonia that he could not walk up the road to the mine. He fell in the snow and had to be carried the rest of the way. On the second day, he again was too weak to walk up the incline to get to the mine. This time, when he fell in the snow, he was left lying there for twelve hours while the other prisoners worked. On their way back to camp, the other POWs picked him up and carried him back. The Japanese decided that he was too ill to work in the mine so they had him make nails from copper wire in the camp.
While working in the mine from November 1944 until August 15, 1945, the POWs were abused by the civilian foreman, Hichiro Tsuchiya, who was known to the POWs as “Patches.” Tsuchiya used any excuse to abuse the POWs. He was known to hit the POWs for no reason in their faces and to also use a wooden club or pickaxe handle. He also used a sledgehammer to hit the POWs on their heads. His parents received a postcard from him in January 1945.
In the camp, the Japanese withheld the Red Cross packages from the POWs and took the canned meats, canned fruit, canned milk, and cheese for themselves. Blankets and clothing intended for the POWs were used by the guards. If a POW violated a rule, the grain ration, for all the POWs, was reduced by 20 percent. At one point, 49 POWs were lined up – because one POW had broken a rule – and beaten with leather belts.
In August 1945, the POWs lined up to go to work as usual. This time they were sent back to their quarters. The same thing happened repeatedly over the next few days. The POWs knew something had happened, but no one wanted to think that the war was over. Finally, a Japanese officer stood on a box and announced the Japanese Empire and the United States were no longer enemies. He also told them that the camp was theirs. This was the first time the POWs received news on how the war was going.
An American Naval plane flew over the camp. The pilot dropped a note to the POWs and told them to paint one stripe on the roof of a barrack if they needed medicine, two stripes if they needed food, and three stripes if they needed clothing. The POWs painted one stripe on one barrack, two stripes on another barrack, and three stripes on a third barrack.
When the plane returned. he dropped another note saying that there was no way for him to drop everything, so B -29s would have to drop the supplies. The POWs had no idea what the pilot was talking about. When the B-29s appeared over the camp, the POWs had never seen anything so large in the sky. The POWs received so much food and clothing that they shared it with the Japanese civilians who had been kind to them.
The Japanese townspeople helped the POWs carry the food to the camp. Since the material for clothing was scarce, they were interested more in the silk from the parachutes for clothing than the food in the drums.
One day, a jeep with American soldiers appeared and the soldiers told the former POWs to sit tight until the railroad line had been repaired. After it was repaired, the prisoners took the train and then an LST to Yokohama. He made his way there and took a destroyer back to the Philippines. The reason for the POWs being sent to the Philippines was that the former POWs were in such poor physical shape that the American Military Command did not want them to be seen back home in this condition. In Frank’s case, he weighed 97 pounds when he was liberated.
At some point during this time, his parents received a telegram from the War Department.
“THE CHIEF OF STAFF DIRECTS ME TO INFORM YOU THAT YOUR SON, TEC 4 FRANK GOLDSTEIN HAS BEEN RETURNED TO MILITARY CONTROL AND IS BEING RETURNED TO THE UNITED STATES WITHIN THE NEAR FUTURE AND WILL BE GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOU UPON HIS ARRIVAL=
“ULIO THE ADJUTANT GENERAL.”
After recovering in the Philippines, Frank and other former POWs were boarded onto the Dutch ship, the S.S. Klipfontein, and sailed for Seattle, Washington. The ship arrived there on October 27, 1945. The men were disembarked and taken to Ft. Lewis, Washington.
Frank returned to Chicago where he worked in the radio industry. He married and became the father of two children. He later moved to Monterey, California, where he resided for 25 years before he and his wife returned to the Chicago area to be near their children.
Frank Goldstein passed away on January 21, 2010, and was buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Skokie, Illinois.