Kester, S/Sgt. Basil B.

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S/Sgt. Basil Blake Kester 
Born: 16 November 1924 – Wyoming, West Virginia 
Parents: Otis C. Kester and Bertha Marie Harmon-Kester 
Siblings: 2 brothers, 1 sister 
Home: Wyco, Wyoming County, West Virginia 
Selective Service Registration: 16 October 1940
– since he was 17, he did not have to register
Enlisted: 
– U.S. Army 
– 7 January 1941 
– 16 years old when he enlisted 
Training: 
– Fort Knox, Kentucky 
Units:
– 1st Armored Division
– 19th Ordnance Battalion
– first six weeks was the primary training
– Week 1: infantry drilling
– Week 2: manual arms and marching to music
– Week 3: machine gun
– Week 4: pistol
– Week 5: M1 rifle
– Week 6: field week – training with gas masks, gas attacks, pitching tents, and hikes
– Weeks 7,8,9: Time was spent learning the weapons, firing each one, learning the parts of the weapons and their functions, field stripping and caring for
   weapons, and the cleaning of weapons
– 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
– the company’s machine shop, welding shop, and kitchen were all on trucks
– August 1941 – took part in maneuvers in Arkansas
– A Company of the battalion was recalled to Ft. Knox
Overseas Duty:
– A Company, 19th Ordnance Battalion inactivated
– renamed 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
Deployment:
– the company traveled by train to San Francisco, California
– on the same train were the M3 tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion
– Arrived: 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: 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: 5:00 P.M.
– escorted by the heavy cruiser, U.S.S. Astoria, an unknown destroyer, and the U.S.S. Guadalupe a fleet replenishment oiler
– meals served to the soldiers were the type served civilians on a cruise
– 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: Friday – 26 September 1941 – Manila, Philippine Islands 
– Disembarked:
– 17th Ordnance remained behind to unload tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion
– reattached turrets to tanks
– worked in shifts
– slept on the ship that night
– finished attaching turrets at 9:00 A.M. the next day
– rode buses to Ft. Stotsenburg
Stationed:
– Ft. Stotsenburg
– lived in tents until barracks completed
– the first night in the tents they flooded because of a heavy rain
– 15 November 1941 – moved into barracks
Work Day:
– 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
– during this time, learned about the M3A1 tanks
– read manuals on tanks
– studied the 30-caliber and 50 caliber machineguns
– spent three hours of each day taking the guns apart and putting them back together
– did it until they could disassemble and assemble the guns blindfolded
– could not fire guns since they were not given ammunition
– the base commander was waiting for General MacArthur to release the ammunition
– 5:10 – dinner
– after dinner, the soldiers were free to do what they wanted to do
Recreation:
– the soldiers spent their free time bowling, 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
Battle of Luzon
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1942 – 6 January 1942
– 8 December 1942 – lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field
– 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
– the company was headquartered in an abandoned ordnance warehouse
– the headquarters was surrounded by ammunition dumps
– the men manufactured and scavenged parts for the tanks
– continued to service the tanks on the front lines under combat conditions
– 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 is given a half-hour to leave the ordnance depot before the ammunition dumps are 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. on 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 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’s surrender
– King attempted to get insurances from the Japanese that his men would be treated as prisoners of war, but the Japanese officer – through his interpreter
– he was accused of declining to surrender unconditionally
– At one point King stated he had enough trucks and gasoline to carry his troops out of Bataan
– He was told that the Japanese would handle the movement of the prisoners
– The two men talked back and forth until the colonel said through the interpreter, “The Imperial Japanese Army are not barbarians.”
– 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
– started the march at Mariveles on the southern tip of Bataan
– Bataan Airfield
– the Japanese sat POWs down
– Japanese artillery was firing on Corregidor
– American Artillery returned fire
– knocked out three Japanese guns
– of this, he said, “Bataan field was just an emergency airfield they had set up. They (the Japanese) marched a whole bunch of us in there and sat us down, and they had artillery set up behind us. and they started shelling Corregidor.
“They thought Corregidor wouldn’t shell back, but Corregidor had it all bracketed in. They started sending those 12- and 14-inch
shells over there and the Japanese couldn’t hold us still. We got up and went on.”
-On whether or not Americans were killed during the shelling, he said, “I imagine there would have been because they had Americans who dug the artillery in for them (the Japanese).”
– San Fernando – POWs put into small wooden boxcars known as “forty or eights”
– each car 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
– walked last ten miles to Camp O’Donnell
– Of the march, he said, “I can’t remember exactly how many days it lasted. They all run together. It was four or five days. The march began with 17,000 (exact number not known) Americans and I don’t remember how many Filipinos were there. Along the way, if any water was to be drunk, it would be from mud holes. He also said: “In the Philippines, there are a lot of artesian wells. They’d march you right by one, and there’d be a guard standing there, the guard was there with a bayonet and would not hesitate to use it on you.”
POW Camps:
– Philippine Islands:
– 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
Meals:
– 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
– Barracks:
– 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
Burial Detail:
– 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
About Camp O’Donnell, he said, “Some of them survived, (the march) but they started dying off as soon as they got in the prison camps because the Japanese didn’t feed us and they wouldn’t let us get water. I was determined. There were too many of my buddies that gave up. What kept me going was to get home. I guess. You’d be surprised how strong the human body is when you’re determined, but how week it is when you just give up and don’t think there’s any hope of anything.”

– In May 1942, his family received this letter from the War Department.

“Dear Mrs. B. Kester:

        “According to War Department records, you have been designated as the emergency addressee if Staff Sergeant Basil B. Kester, 15,016,383, who, according to the latest information available, was serving in the  Philippine Islands at the time of the final surrender. 

        “I deeply regret that it is impossible for me to give you more information than is contained in this letter.  In the last days before the surrender of Bataan, there were casualties which were not reported to the War Department.  Conceivably the same is true of the surrender of Corregidor and possibly other islands of the Philippines.  The Japanese Government has indicated its intention of conforming to the terms of the Geneva Convention with respect to the interchange of information regarding prisoners of war.  At some future date, this Government will receive through Geneva a list of persons who have been taken prisoners of war.  Until that time the War Department cannot give you positive information. 

        “The War Department will consider the persons serving in the Philippine Islands as “missing in action” from the date of surrender of Corregidor, May 7, 1942, until definite information to the contrary is received.  It is to be hoped that the Japanese Government will communicate a list of prisoners of war at an early date.  At that time you will be notified by this office in the event that his name is contained in the list of prisoners of war.   In the case of persons known to have been present in the Philippines and who are not reported to be prisoners of war by the Japanese Government, the War Department will continue to carry them as “missing in action” in the absence of information to the contrary, until twelve months have expired.  At the expiration of twelve months and in the absence of other information the War Department is authorized to make a final determination.

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

                                                                                                                                                                    “Very Truly yours

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

– Cabanatuan
– 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
– 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
– 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
– Meals:
– 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
– Guards:
– 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
– Smiley
– 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
– Guards:
– 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
  mud
– the POWs had to go into a shed to get the tools, as they came out, they were hit on their heads
– if the guards on the detail decided the POW wasn’t doing what he should be doing, he was beaten
– many POWs on details were able to smuggle in medicine, food, and tobacco into the camp
– 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 POWs come down with diphtheria
– 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
– hospitalized – Saturday – 27 June 1942 – malaria & avitaminosis
– credited a doctor with saving his life by smuggling sugar and a little quinine to him
– discharged – Wednesday – 16 December 1942
As for his time in the hospital, he said, “It made me more determined, and I never, never, never, never despaired. Those are the ones
who died.”
– July 1942 – diphtheria broke out in the camp
– 130 POWs died before the Japanese released any anti-toxin for treatment
– In July 1942, the family 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, S/Sgt. Basil B. Kester 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
– 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
– “Blood Brother” rule implemented
– if one POW in the group of 10 escaped, the other nine would be killed
– POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
– 29 September 1942 – three POWs executed by 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
– it is not known if he remained in the camp or went out on a work detail
Hell Ship:
Hokusen Maru
– Boarded: 21 September 1944
– moved to buoy and dropped anchor
– POWs start going insane from the heat in holds
– Japanese threaten to shoot POWs unless they are silenced
– POWs kill insane
– Sailed: Manila – 4 October 1944
– stopped at Cabcaban, Philippine Islands
– stopped 5 October 1944 – San Fernando, La Union, Philippine Islands
– joined convoy
– 6 October 1944 – convoy attacked by submarines
– two ships sunk
– 9 October 1944 – airplane scare – convoy broke up
– sailed for Hong Kong
– ran into wolf pack – ship sunk
– Arrived: Hong Kong – 11 October 1944
– attacked by American planes while in port
– Sailed: 21 October 1944
– Arrived: Takao, Formosa – 24 October 1944
– Disembark: 8 November 1944
– POWs in such bad shape that the Japanese decided to leave them on Formosa
Of this time in the camps, he said, “Out of my outfit, there were 150 men and 32 of us got back (in reality 81 men survived). A lot of
them were killed on these death ships. They’d put you on there and they wouldn’t mark them that they were prisoners of war or
anything on them, and American submarines were sinking them left and right. The convoy I was in started off with eight ships and
ended up with three…This was September 1944. When (the Americans) started bombing the Philippines, the Japanese started moving American prisoners out to Japan for labor.”
POW Camp:
– Formosa:
Toroku Camp
– Work: sugar cane cutting and processing
Hell Ship:
Melbourne Maru
– Sailed: Takao, Formosa – 14 January 1945
– Arrived: Moji. Japan – 23 January 1945
POW Camp:
– Japan
– Sendai #8-B
– 29 January 1945 – POWs arrived
– Work:
– POWs worked at Fujita-Gumi Construction Company
– work: mining and smelting of copper
– civilian employees allowed to beat POWs for not working hard enough
– Medical Treatment:
– Red Cross Boxes withheld from POWs
– denied medicine, medical supplies, and medical instruments
– proper medical treatment denied POWs
– POWs who reported for sick call beaten
– sick POWs forced to work
– Barracks
– wooden barracks
– infested with lice, bedbugs, rats
– insufficiently heated
– POWs caught smuggling coal into camp beaten
About the camp, he said, “We were wearing Japanese summer uniforms and tennis shoes. Our barracks was about 40 feet long and 20 feet wide, and they had a stove in there that was maybe 3 feet long and 18 inches wide and they gave us three pieces of wood a day to heat the dag gone thing.”
– Punishment:
– collective punishment common
– when one POW stole a blanket in March 1945, all the POWs stood at attention until the man confessed
– other POWs had to walk past him and slap him in the face which took 10 minutes
– spent two days in the guardhouse
– POWs beaten, slapped, hit with iron pipes, and sheaths of swords
– often made to stand in cold for hours
– on one occasion 5 POWs being punished stood in cold while nude 1½ hours
– POWs were made to crawl or take painful positions for long periods of time
– Meals
– POWs underfed and smuggled food into the camp
– when caught they were beaten
– Red Cross Packages
– Japanese misappropriated food, clothing, shoes, medicines, medical supplies, and medical equipment meant for POWs
Liberated:
– 11 September 1945
– weighed 95 pounds
– taken to Okinawa
– while waiting to fly to the Philippines, he wrote this letter:

“Dear Dad, Mom, and Sis,
Well, I am at an airfield waiting to fly to the Philippine Islands. I am O.K. and think I will be home soon. My health is pretty good, all I need is rest and good food. I can’t write, spell, or do anything now. I saw my first Yank troops on the 15th of this month and they sure looked good. I would write more but I am so excited I can’t think straight. Tell everyone hello and I will be seeing them soon.”

– this was the first letter his parents received from him since the start war
– flown to the Philippine Islands
– On his recovery, he said, “Three months after I got out, I weighed 169 pounds. We’d go out eating and drinking all night. I’d have a spaghetti dinner and a chicken dinner, and a quart of rum and a case of beer a night.”
Promoted: Staff Sergeant
Transport:
U.S.S. Admiral C. F. Hughes
– Sailed: Manila – not known
– Arrived: Seattle, Washington – 9 October 1945
– taken to Madigan General Hospital – Ft. Lewis, Washington
Discharged: 4 April 1946
Reenlisted: 6 February 1947
Discharged: 31 January 1950
Married:
– Ernestine Jett – 22 April 1947
– her family lived across the road from his family
– passed away in January 1988
– Louise Rufus
– married: December 1999
– he had dated her before he enlisted in the Army
Occupation:
– worked in coal mines when he first got home
– electrician – New Process Gear – Syracuse, New York
– worked for the company for 30 years
– retired in 1987
Children:
– 1 son, 2 step-sons, 2 step-daughters
Residence:
– Syracuse, New York
– Auburn, New York
Died
– 26 May 2001 – Auburn, New York
– lung cancer
Buried: St. Joseph’s Cemetery – Auburn, New York

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