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King, Pvt. Denver E.

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Born: 25 October 1921 – Putman County, West Virginia
Parents: Ollie & Anna King
Siblings: 6 sisters, 1 brother
Hometown: Plymouth Township, Putman County, West Virginia
Occupation: pipeline worker
Enlisted:
– U.S. Army
– 8 January 1941 – Fort Hayes, Columbus, Ohio
Trained:
– Fort Knox, Kentucky
Units:
– 19th Ordnance Battalion
– trained alongside the 192nd Tank Battalion at Ft. Knox
– August 1941 – Arkansas Maneuvers
– 17 August 1941 – 17th Ordnance Company
– company created from A Company of 19th Ordnance
– received orders the same day 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
– 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 given shore leave for the day
– Sailed: 5:00 P.M.
– escorted by the heavy cruiser, U.S.S. Astoria, and an unknown destroyer
– smoke seen on horizon several times
– cruiser intercepted ships
– 16 September 1941 – crossed International Date Line
– 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 that night
– finished attaching turrets at 9:00 A.M. the next day
– rode bus to Ft. Stotsenburg
– serviced tanks of Provisional Tank Group
Stationed:
– Ft. Stotsenburg, Philippine Islands
– lived in tents until barracks completed – 15 November 1941
– 8 December 1942 – lived through Japanese attack on Clark Field
– company went to a bamboo thicket where they could disperse vehicles
– company set up bivouac
– set up machine shop trucks, half-tracks, and trucks
– received orders to return to Ft. Stotsenburg
– 12:45 P.M. – Japanese attacked
– Japanese wipe out Army Air Corps
– dead and wounded were everywhere
Engagements:
– Battle of Luzon
– 8 December 1942 – 6 January 1942
– Battle of Bataan
– 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– serviced tanks of the 192nd & 194th Tank Battalions
– headquartered in an abandoned ordnance depot building
Prisoner of War
– 9 April 1942
– Death March
– POWs started march at Mariveles on the southern tip of Bataan
– ran past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor
– American artillery returned fire
– gave Shelby Johnson water purification pills to put in water
he had gotten from a ditch – Shelby had his canteen and shared
water
– 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
– Capas – POWs leave boxcars – dead fall out of cars
– POWs walked last ten miles to Camp O’Donnell
POW Camps:
– Philippines:
– Camp O’Donnell
– 1 April 1942 – unfinished Filipino training base Japanese put into use as a POW camp
– Japanese believed the camp could hold 15,000 to 20,000 POWs
– POWs searched upon arrival at camp
– those found with Japanese money were accused of looting
– sent to guardhouse
– over several days, gun shots 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 entire camp
– POWs waited 2½ hours to 8 hours to get a drink
– water frequently turned off by Japanese guards and next man in line waited as long as 4 hours for water to be turned
on again
– mess kits could not be cleaned
– POWs had to carry water 3 miles from a river to cook their meals
– second water spigot installed a week after POWs arrived
– slit trenches overflowed since many of the POWs had dysentery
– flies were everywhere including in camp kitchens and food
– 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 was 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 camp hospital lay on floor elbow to elbow
– operations on POWs were performed with mess kit knives
– only one medic out of six 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
– ground under hospital was scrapped and cover with lime to clean it
– the dead were moved to this area and the section where they had laid was scrapped and cover with lime
– usually not buried for two or three days
– work details: if a POW could walk, he was sent out on a work detail
– POWs on burial detail often had dysentery and malaria
– Japanese opened new POW camp to lower death rate
– 1 June 1942 – POWs formed detachments of 100 men
– POWs marched out gate and marched toward Capas
– Filipino people gave POWs small bundles of food
– the guards did not stop them
– At Capas, the POWs were put into steel boxcars and rode them to Manila
– train stopped at Calumpit and switched onto the line to Cabanatuan
– POWs disembark train at 6:00 P.M. and put into a school yard
– fed rice and onion soup
– Cabanatuan #1
– original name – Camp Panagaian
– Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
– put into use by Japanese as a POW camp
– actually three camps
– Camp 1: POWs from Camp O’Donnell sent there in attempt to lower 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
– 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 they didn’t like the way the POWs looked
– Work Details:
– Two main details
– the farm and airfield
– farm detail
– POWs cleared land and grew comotes, cassava, taro, sesame, and various greens
– Japanese took what was grown
– Guards:
– Big Speedo – spoke little English
– in charge of detail
– fair in treatment of POWs
– spoke little English
– to get POWs to work faster said, “speedo”
– Little Speedo
– fair in treatment of POWs
– 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 wheel barrows
– 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
– 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 cemetery at a time in liter
– a grave contained from 15 to 20 bodies
– daily POW meal
– 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
– rice was main staple, few vegetables or fruits
– Camp Hospital:
– 30 Wards
– each ward could hold 40 men
– frequently had 100 men in each
– two tiers of bunks
– sickest POWs on bottom tier
– each POW had a 2 foot by 6 foot area to lie in
– Zero Ward
– given name because it had been missed when counting wards
– became ward where those who were going to die were sent
– fenced off from other wards
– Japanese guards would not go near it
– POWs sent there had little to no chance of surviving
– medical staff had little to no medicine to treat sick
– many deaths from disease caused by malnutrition
– hospitalized – 26 March 1943
– discharged – no date given
Hell Ship:
Canadian Inventor
– Sailed: Manila – 4 July 1944
– returned – boiler problems
– POWs remained in holds for fifteen days
– Sailed: 16 July 1944
– additional boiler problems
– left behind by convoy
– Arrived: Takao, Formosa – 23 July 1944
– salt loaded into hold
– Sailed: 4 August 1944
– Arrived: Keelung, Formosa – 5 August 1944
– remained in harbor for twelve days for additional boiler repairs
– Sailed: 17 August 1944
– Arrived: Naha, Okinawa
– additional boiler repairs
– stayed six days
– Sailed: Unknown
– Arrived: Moji, Japan – 1 September 1944
POW Camp:
– Japan
– Omine Machi
– Work: coal mining
– mine had been condemned as being unsafe before the war
– POWs who the Japanese believed were not working hard enough were beaten
– shifts were 9 hours 30 minutes long
– Red Cross Boxes were mixed so that the POWs had no idea how much was sent in each box
– what little food given to the POWs had no nutritional value since so little was given to the POWs
– packages were withheld from POWs from three to seven months after arriving at the camp
– Ration: one bun and a bowl of rice each day
Liberated: September 1945
– evacuated from Japan through Wakayama
– returned to Philippine Islands on U.S.S. Sanctuary
– not known how he was transported to the United States
Married:
– Doris E. Jones
– 4 September 1948
– divorced
– Gene Owen
– divorced
Education:
– University of Richmond
Children: 3 sons, 1 daughter
Died:
– 7 April 1997
– Clendenin, West Virginia
Buried:
– Elk Hills Memorial Park, Clendenin, West Virginia

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