Head, PFC Paul K.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on pinterest
Share on print

PFC Paul Kenneth Head
Born: 17 April 1922 – Davies County, Kentucky
Parents: Forest H. Head & Mary M. Beavin-Head
Siblings: 4 sisters, 1 brother
Occupation: newspaper delivery
Home: 411 Cedar Street – Owensboro, Kentucky
– U.S. Army
– 16 January 1941 – Fort Knox, Kentucky
– Ft. Knox, Kentucky
– electrician
– 19th Ordnance Battalion
Training: Fort Knox, Kentucky
– 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
– trained alongside the 192nd Tank Battalion at Ft. Knox
Maneuvers: Arkansas Maneuvers – August 1941
– A Company, 19th Ordnance Battalion recalled to Ft. Knox
– 17 August 1941 – the 17th Ordnance Company was created from A Company
– also received orders for overseas duty
Overseas Duty:
– traveled by train to Ft. Mason, San Francisco, California
– arrived Thursday, 5 September 1941
– ferried to Ft. McDowell, Angel Island on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
– given physicals and inoculations
– men with medical conditions replaced
– removed turrets from tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion
– Ship: S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
– Boarded: San Francisco, California – Monday – 8 September 1941
– Sailed: 9:00 P.M.
– Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii – Saturday 13 September 1941 – 7:00 A.M.
– soldiers were given shore leave for the day
– Sailed: same day
– escorted by the heavy cruiser, U.S.S. Astoria, and an unknown destroyer
– smoke was seen on the horizon several times
– cruiser intercepted ships
– 16 September 1941 – crossed International Dateline
– the date became Thursday – 18 September 1941
– Arrived: Manila, Philippine Islands – Friday – 26 September 1941
– Disembarked
– 17th Ordnance remained behind to unload tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion
– reattached turrets to tanks
– worked in shifts
– slept on ship
– rode the bus to Ft. Stotsenburg
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1942 – 6 January 1942
– 8 December 1941 – heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor from Capt. Richard Kadel
– that morning he was repairing guns
He said, “We hurried to our barracks and were awaiting the next move of the Japs. We planned to wait until noon, and if there was any further sign of the enemy, we were going to back to our work. However, we hadn’t finished our meal, when we saw a V-formation of planes in the sky. We even saw them drop the bombs on a nearby field.”
– Battle of Bataan – 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– serviced tanks of the Provisional Tank Group
– headquartered in an abandoned ordnance depot building
He recalled, “Always there was the order to ‘move back.’ We kept going back, back, back. In the jungle on Bataan, in the humid atmosphere, we fought to the very last, until finally we were cornered. Our commanding officer, Capt. Kadel, told us the morning of April 9, 1942, that we had surrendered. There was nothing else we could do. So we cooked one more good meal. We cooked up everything we had and ate it. It wasn’t a lot for we were very short on food and water. Then we marched to a pass and waited for the Japanese. We waited and waited. Jap planes came over and bombed us, repeatedly. We’d have to run for the bushes. They bombed us for 24 hours after we surrendered and while we were waiting for the Japs to take us where they wanted.”
When asked about how he felt about surrendering, he said, “Well, when I saw the white flag go up, I just sat down and cried. I couldn’t help it. A lot of other guys did too.”
He recalled his last meal as a free man. “Well. We had intended to have hotcakes, and corned beef, and coffee. Then we lined up and waited for the Japs. Finally, near noon the next day, they came, and the march started.”
Prisoner of War
– 10 April 1942
– Death March
He said this when asked to describe the march. “You know it’s more like a dream. It’s hard to remember everything. I know we started out walking, with Jap guards around us. We marched five days and during that time they didn’t give us a thing to eat. They changed guards every half hour Some of the guards were inhuman. Some were not so bad, and they would at least let us dip water out of the creeks. Other’s wouldn’t. On the third day, I was so hungry I couldn’t stand it anymore and when we passed a patch of sugar cane, some men and I made a dash for the patch, to break off a piece of cane and eat it. The Japs fired. I don’t know if any meant to kill us or scare us, but any
– POWs started the march at Mariveles on the southern tip of Bataan
He said, We didn’t get any food for three or four days, so we had to eat what we could find. We took the banana stalks and ate the inside, as it was sweet. I tried to do as I was told on the march, but the Filipinos caused the trouble. They were up in front, and would refuse to do what the Japs told them.”
– ran past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor
– American artillery returned fire
– saw the bodies of the dead along the road
– when a man fell, the Japanese slapped him, if he did not get up, the bayoneted the man
“We couldn’t stop and help them either, for the Jap s would hit us if we did.”
– did the march with his two friends, Jerry Olson and his brother, Ed.
Recalling the march, he said, “Finally, Jerry’s brother was so weak, he couldn’t go any longer and dropped to the ground. Jerry didn’t dare stop. All he could do was quickly exchange canteens, leaving his full canteen for his brother, and take his brother’s empty one. He never heard any more of his brother.”
– 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 – dead fall-out of cars
– POWs walked last ten miles to Camp O’Donnell
Asked to describe the march, he said, “You know it’s more like a dream. It’s hard to remember everything. I know we started out walking, with Jap guards around us. We marched for five days and during that time they didn’t give us anything to eat. They changed guards every half hour. Some of the guards were inhuman. Some were not so bad, and they would at least let us dip water out of the creeks. Others wouldn’t. On the third day, I was hungry, I could stand it any more and when we passed a patch of sugarcane, some men and I made a dash for the patch to break off a piece of cane and eat it. The Japs fired. I don’t know if they meant to kill us or scare us, but anyway I got back in line.”
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
– Paul was on the detail haul water for cooking
– second water spigot installed a week after POWs arrived
– slit trenches overflowed since many of the POWs had dysentery
– flies were everywhere including in camp kitchens and food
– the camp hospital had no water, soap, or disinfectant
– the senior POW doctor wrote a list of medicines he wanted to treat the sick and was told by the camp commandant, Capt. Yoshio Tsuneyoshi, never   
  to write another letter
– Tsuneyoshi said that all he wanted to know about the American POWs were their names and numbers when they died
– refused to allow a truckload of medicine sent by the Archbishop of Manila into the camp
– 95% of the medicine sent by Philippine Red Cross was taken by the Japanese for their own use
– POWs in the camp hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow
– operations on POWs were performed with mess kit knives
– only one medic out of six 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
– Bridge Detail:
– volunteered to go out on detail to get out of the camp
“I did this because I figured I would get better food if I worked for the Japs. The work was hard and I had to cut trees, carry cement, and do other hard work. The food was only a little better. Then my feet began to swell and I couldn’t work. They sent me to a small camp nearby where there were only 85 men. I was unable to work, all I could do is lie around. At night, other men and I would sneak out to huts of Filipinos and they would have gunny sacks of food ready for us. We’d take it back to the camp. In the camp, the only food the Japs gave us was rice and dried fish full of maggots. Of course, we ate it. For Breakfast, they gave us gourd soup.”
– sent to Cabanatuan
– 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
– 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
– POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
– Note: men who attempted to escape were recaptured
– Japanese beat them for days
– executed them
– 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
– 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
– bunked with Jerry Olson and Walter Vaughn
– Morning Roll Call:
– stood at attention
– frequently beaten over their heads for no reason
– when POWs lined up for roll call, it was a common practice for Japanese guards, after the POWs lined up, to kick the POWs in their shins with their
  hobnailed boots because if they didn’t like the way the POWs lined up
– Meals:
– daily POW meal – 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
– Work Details:
– work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens, plant rice, and farm
– when POWs lined up, it was a common practice for Japanese guards, after the POWs lined up, to kick the POWs in their shins with their hobnailed
  boots because they did not like the way, they lined up
– 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
– selected for a work detail to move houses
– POWs had to move 15 houses up a hill
– hit by a guard
He said about it, “I had been put to work helping move houses up to a hill. It took 100 men to move a house up a hill and across a road. There were 15 houses. I had worked so hard, I could hardly go on and one of the Japs in charge of us thought I was not lifting as much as I should, so he just hit me. He hit me with a whip that had a spur on the end of it. By that time I got to the point that I didn’t care what happened to me.”
– Burial Detail:
– volunteered to work detail
Of this, he said, “Someone had to do it. We tried to be careful and took all sorts of precautions about identification. We’d have to dig graves and put as many as 8 to 12 in one grave. The places where we’d dig the graves were half full of water. It was so wet and swampy that many times we’d have to go back and keep filling in the graves, as the bodies would gradually work to the top through the water and mud.” One day his friend Gerald Olson, came down with dysentery. Of this, he said, “Yes, I helped bury Jerry.”
– men who attempted to escape and caught were executed
– Hospital:
– hospitalized – Friday, 17 July 1942 – dysentery & malaria
– discharged – 2 October 1942
– he said he was fortunate because he was healthy enough to recover
His other good friend, Walter Vaughn also became ill. “He smoked a pipe and wanted some tobacco. I traded some of my possessions for two packages of cigarettes and put them under my pillow, one for Walter and one for me. When I went to get them, to take one to Walter, they were gone, they were gone. Someone had taken them.”
– Port Area Detail – Manila
– POWs worked on docks as stevedores
– on detail for 14 months
– one POW built a radio in his canteen so that they could get news
– first American planes
Of this, he said, “It was on Sept. 22, 1944, we were standing outside when we saw planes fly overhead, and some anti-aircraft fire. We were told it was just anti-aircraft practice. Then we saw the planes bank and drop bombs. We really shouted. By that time the Japanese herded us back on our barracks and locked us in. After that, there were frequent bombings and we saw fires. We knew that the Americans were not so very far away.”
– suffered from beriberi
– had trouble walking and seeing
– sent to Fort McKinley
– Ft. McKinley
– October 1944
– weighed 85 pounds when he got there
– POWs kept a garden to supplement their diet
– the POWs were sent to Bilibid before they harvested the garden
He said, “We had a large garden, and the vegetables were just beginning to come through the ground when the Japs moved us back to Bilibid. We began to suspect something and had a feeling all was not going well with the Japs and their war. Once in a while some of our boys would find a Japanese paper in the garbage, and in that way, we learned that the Americans had landed on Luzon.”
– Bilibid Prison
– POWs left behind were “too ill” to be sent to Japan
– one night the POWs heard the distance rumbling of guns
– the sound got closer and closer
– the Japanese guards quickly left and told POWs not to leave the prison
– Port Area
– loaded and unloaded ships
About the detail, he said, “Sometimes we worked all day and all night loading and unloading ships. Then we would get half a day off.”
– detail ended and he was returned to Bilibid
– he was considered “too ill” to be sent to Japan
– the POWs did not know much about what was going on outside the prison
– one night they heard the distant rumble of guns was heard
– the firing came closer and closer
– all hell broke loose and the guards left quickly
– the commandant told the POWs to stay inside the prison
– they had no idea that bombs had been set to destroy the prison
– the power went out which stopped the timers
– 4 February 1945 – 37th Infantry Division – Bilibid Prison
“I was in bed when two American soldiers crept into our barracks and told us to be quiet, as there might be some shooting. We all gathered around them and began asking about things back in the states. But it didn’t take us long to learn the men didn’t know anything more than we did, for they hadn’t been in the States since 1941 and 1942. They had come up from New Guinea. “
When asked how he felt, he said, “Well, we were happy, of course, after what we had been through from the time we surrendered, well there wasn’t much emotion left in us. I know the first night we were in the American camp, they kept the camp kitchen open all night so that we could eat any time we felt like it. That was the first taste of real food.”
– POWs were taken by plane to Leyte, Philippine Islands
– boarded a landing barge and taken to the ship that was taking them back to the States
“That was our first glimpse of a landing barge. You know they didn’t have landing barges when we were fighting. You know they didn’t have landing barges when we were fighting.”
S.S. Monterey
– Sailed – Manila – Saturday, 24 February 1945
– had a dance on the ship, but he could not dance because of the beriberi
– walking barefoot was the best he could do
– Arrived: San Francisco, California – Friday, 16 March 1945
– taken to Letterman General Hospital for further medical care
Home: Tuesday,25 March 1945
– 10-day furlough
– on being home he said, “Yes. things have changed, Mama’s hair is a little grayer. Papa looks older too, and the kids, my how they have grown.”
– 6 April 1988 – Daviess County, Kentucky
Buried: Rosehill Elwood Cemetery, Owensboro, Kentucky

Default Gravesite 1

Leave a Reply