Moffitt, Capt. Fred C.

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Capt. Fred Charles Moffitt 
Born: 16 October 1903 – Salinas, California 
Parents: William Moffitt & Jennie McKinney-Moffitt 
Siblings: 1 brother 
Home:1212 First Avenue – Alisal, California  
Married: 11 March 1933 – Mamie Rose Fail 
Occupation: mail carrier – U.S. Post Office 
Enlisted: 
– California National Guard 
– 18 June 1924 – Salinas, California 
– rose in rank from Private to 1st Sergeant 
– 31 March 1931 – commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant 
– completed Officers’ Tank Course – 1937 
– 12 February 1941 – 1st Lieutenant 
Inducted:
– U.S. Army
– 10 February 1941
Unit:
– 194th Tank Battalion
– Commanding Officer – C Company
Stationed:
– Fort Lewis, Washington
– described as constantly raining during the winter
– many men ended up in the camp hospital with colds
– Typical Day – after they arrived at Ft. Lewis
– 6:00 A.M. – first call
– 6:30 A.M. – Breakfast
– During this time the soldiers made their cots, policed the grounds around the barracks, swept the floors of their barracks, and performed other
   duties.
– 7:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. – drill
– 11:30 A.M. – 1:00 P.M. – Lunch
– 1:00 P.M. – 4:30 P.M. – drill
– 5:00 P.M. – retreat
– 5:30 P.M. – Dinner
– men were free after this
– a canteen was located near their barracks and was visited often
– the movie theater on the base that they visited.
– The theater where the tanks were kept was not finished, but when it was, the tankers only had to cross the road to their tanks.
– Saturdays the men had off, and many rode a bus 15 miles northeast to Tacoma which was the largest town nearest to the base
– many went to see the remains of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge which had collapsed in 1940
– Sundays, many of the men went to church and services were held at different times for the different denominations
Uniforms:
– the soldiers wore a collection of uniforms. Some wore new uniforms while other men had World War I uniforms
– The situation was resolved when Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower and other officers rode up on horseback to where C Company was training.
– one of the officers asked why they were dressed like they were
– later that afternoon, at 4:00 P.M., a truck pulled up to the barracks
– inside were brand new Army overalls
– the soldiers wore these as their dress uniforms until real dress uniforms were received weeks later
Training:
– the battalion went on long reconnaissance with trucks and tanks
– drove all over reservation following maps and learned from observation what the land surrounding the fort looked like
– the purpose was to collect tank data which they would use later
– often had to live off the land
– 30 April 1941 – battalion went on an all-day march
– ate dinner in woods brought to them by the cooks in trucks
– march was two hours one way and covered about 10 miles total
– stopped in an abandoned apple orchard in bloom
– Motorcycles:
– first motorcycles arrived in May 1941
– all battalion members had to learn to ride them
– in early May 1941, the battalion, except men who had been drafted, went on its first overnight bivouac
– the new men did not have shelter halves
– left around noon and returned around noon the next day
Specialized Training:
– some members of the battalion received specific training
– many went to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, for training in tank maintenance, radio operation, and other specific jobs
– those men who remained at Ft. Lewis often found themselves policing the base collecting garbage and distributing coal for the base during the week
– the battalion did most of its tank training on weekends

Note: The decision for this move – which had been made on August 15, 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.

Overseas Duty:
– Ship: S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
– Boarded: Monday – 8 September 1941 – 3:00 P.M.
– Sailed: 9:00 P.M. – same day
– Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii – Saturday – 13 September 1941 – 7:00 A.M.
– Sailed: 5:00 P.M. – same day
– escorted by the heavy cruiser, U.S.S. Astoria, and the U.S.S. Guadalupe a replenishment oiler
– smoke was seen on the horizon several times
– cruiser intercepted ships
– Arrived: Manila – Friday – 26 September 1941
– disembarked ship – 3:00 P.M.
– taken by bus to Fort Stotsenburg
– maintenance section with 17th ordnance remained behind to unload the tanks and attached turrets
– 27 September 1941 – job completed at 9:00 A.M.
Stationed:
– Ft. Stotsenburg, Philippine Islands
– lived in tents upon arriving
– 15 November 1941 – moved into barracks
– the barracks walls were open and screened three feet from the bottom of the wall to the floor
– above that, the walls were woven bamboo that allowed the air to pass through
Work Day:
– 5:15 A. M. – reveille
– washing facilities seemed to be limited with the lucky man being able to wash 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
– on the base, the soldiers were not expected to work in the heat
– the tankers worked until 4:30 P.M.
– the afternoon was described as “recreation in the motor pool”
– 5:10 – dinner
Recreation:
– the soldiers spent their free time bowling and going to the movies,
– they also played horseshoes, softball, badminton, or threw a football around
– on Wednesday afternoons, they went swimming
– they also went to Mt. Aarayat National Park and swam in the swimming pool there that was filled with mountain water
– men were allowed to go to Manila in small groups
– they also went to canoeing at Pagsanjan Falls in their swimsuits
– the country was described as being beautiful
Uniforms:
– the battalion wore coveralls to do the work on the tanks
– the soldiers were reprimanded for not wearing dress uniforms while working
– they continued to wear coveralls in their barracks area to do their work
– if the soldiers left the battalion’s area, they were expected to wear dress uniforms; including going to the PX
Alert:
– 1 December 1941 – tanks ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field
– their job was to protect the airfield from enemy paratroopers
– two tank crew members remained with each tank at all times
– 194th guard north end of the airfield and the 192nd Tank Battalion guarded the south end of the airfield
– meals served by food trucks to men with the tanks
– those not assigned to a tank or half-track remained at the command post
Engagements:
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1941 – 6 January 1942
– 8 December 1941
– Clark Field
– 194th guarded northern portion of the airfield
– 12:45 P.M. Japanese bombers bomb airfield
– followed by Zeros which strafed
– watched the attack from inside his tank
– 10 December 1941
– 194th was sent to Mabalcat
– 12 December 1941
– C Company was sent to southern Luzon and put under the command of Brigadier General Albert M. Jones
– To avoid Japanese planes, the company tried to cover the distance at night.
– They were successful and going 40 miles during the night but had to make a run for it during the day.
– They successfully reached Muntinlupa and made it to Tagatay Ridge on December 14.
– The tanks remained at Tagatay until December 24
– During this time, they did reconnaissance and hunted for fifth columnists who would signal planes with mirrors during the day near ammunition dumps
   resulting in the dumps being bombed and shelled.
– At night, the fifth columnists shot off flares near the ammunition dumps.
– The activity ended, when the company shot up native huts suspected as being used by the fifth columnists.
– At 2:00 A.M. on December 24, the Japanese landed 7,000 troops at Lamon Bay. – – The Japanese began advancing in the direction of Lucban.
– The company took a position to aid the 1st Infantry Regiment, Philippine Army, that was fighting the Japanese. 
– One platoon of five tanks – on December 26 – was ordered to advance down a trail in an area where the Japanese were known to be.
– A major ordered the tanks to advance even though no reconnaissance had been done.
– The trail made a sharp turn, and when the tanks made the turn, the first was knocked out by a Japanese anti-tank gun killing the platoon commander and
   the driver of the tank.
– The other two crewmen escaped into the jungle. The remaining four tanks were also knocked out by enemy fire resulting in two more men being killed.
– From this point on the tanks fell back toward Bataan and were serving as the rear guard for Gen. Jones’ troops when they withdrew past Manila.
– C Company at one point saw 100 to 150 trucks belonging to the Philippine Army pass warehouses full of food and other supplies.
– It was at this time that the 192nd Tank Battalion and A Company, 194th Tank Battalion were fighting to keep the roads open so that the troops
   withdrawing from southern Luzon would not be cut off.
– 1 January 1942
– The southern Luzon force with C Company serving as its rearguard crossed the Calumpit Bridge
– After the company crossed the bridge was destroyed. the tanks went through San Fernando and formed roadblocks to keep the junction of Routes 3 and
   7 open.
– Also on January 1, conflicting orders were received by the defenders of the northern force who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down
   Route 5.
– The orders came from Gen. MacArthur’s chief of staff and told the units holding open the bridges to withdraw.
– General Wainwright – who was in command – was unaware of the orders.
– Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River and half of the
   defenders had withdrawn.
– When Gen Wainwright became aware of what was going on, he countermanded the orders.
– Due to the efforts of the Self-Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were halted
   allowing the southern forces – including C Company – to escape. 
– 2 January 1942
– both tank battalions ordered to withdraw to Lyac Junction
– the 194th withdrew there on Highway 7.
– 5 January 1942 – C Company and A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, withdrew from Guagua-Porac Line and moved into position between Sexmoan and
   Lubao.
– At 1:50 A.M., the Japanese attempted to infiltrate their line in bright moonlight which made them easy to see.
– It also helped that the Japanese wore white shirts which reflected the moonlight.
– The tanks opened fire and in an attempt to cover their advance, the Japanese lay down smoke which blew back into them.
– It was 3:00 A.M. when the Japanese broke off the engagement having suffered 50% casualties.
– When the company withdrew, the barrio of Lubao was in flames.
– Battle of Bataan
– 7 January 1942
– night of 6/7 January – 194th withdraw across the river at Culis covered by the 192nd Tank Battalion
– 7 January 1942
– 2nd Lt. Weeden Petree and Pvt Walter Martella wounded
– Martella shielded Capt Fred Moffit from enemy shrapnel
– Petree was also hit by shrapnel
– 9 January 1942
– Pvt. Walter Martella died from gangrene 
– 12 January 1942
– C Company, with D Company, 192nd, sent to Cadre Road
– a forward position with little alert time
– 2nd Lt. Weeden Petree died from his wounds
– 16 January 1942 – Bagac
– sent to open Moron Road so General Segunda’s forces could move south
– at the Moron Road and Road Junction 59, the tanks moved forward knocking out an anti-tank gun
– two tanks were lost to landmines but towed out the next day for spare parts
– mission abandoned
– Segunda’s forces escaped along beach losing its heavy equipment
– 20 January 1942
– west of Bani Bani Road – tanks were sent to save the 31st Infantry command post
– 25/26 January 1942
– battalion holding a position a kilometer north of Pilar-Bagac Road
– four SPMs with the battalion
– warned by Filipino a large Japanese force was coming
– when the enemy appeared they opened up with all the battalion had
– Japanese withdraw
– estimated they lost 500 of 1800 men
– 28 January 1942
– 194th tanks given beach duty protecting southern beaches
– 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.
– recalling this, Moffit said, “Snakes are good eating, so are monkeys- if you can catch them! Guana meat is delicious – it’s considered a delicacy in many parts of the world, and it is. Just like chicken. Horse and mule meat was included in the diet on Bataan – and it was good – too.”  Thinking of mule meat he said, “A bit course and sweeter than horse meat, but it’s good eating.”
– 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 and a milkshake since the men were so hungry that they most likely would have surrendered
   for a good meal.
– Also 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.
– Also at this time, Gen. Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that a platoon of tanks be sent to Corregidor which Wainwright denied.
– Wainwright rejected the idea
– 3 April 1942
– Japanese launch new offensive
– tank sent in to attempt to stop the advance
– 6 April 1942
– C Company was attached to 192d Tank Battalion
– four tanks sent to support 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
– 3rd Platoon sent up the west coast road
– 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 goes out to be prepared to destroy all equipment of use to the Japanese
– 10:30 P.M. – decision made to send white flag across the battle line
– 11:40 P.M. – ammunition dumps were blown up
– At 2:oo A.M. April 9, Gen. King sent a jeep under a white flag carrying Colonel Everett C. Williams, Col. James V. Collier and Major Marshall Hurt to meet
   with the Japanese commander about terms of surrender.
 – The white flag was bedding from A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion
– Shortly after daylight Collier and Hunt returned with word of the appointment
– the tankers received this message over their radios at 6:45 A.M. – 9 April 1942
– circled tanks and fired an armor-piercing shell into each tank’s engine
– opened gasoline cocks and dropped grenades into the crew compartment
– 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.” 
– Gen. King had to take him at his word
– 9 April 1942
– tankers received order “crash” at 6:45 A.M.
– destroyed their equipment and tanks
– 7:00 A.M. – order issued to cease all hostilities
Prisoner of War:
– 9 April 1942
– recalling the surrender he said, “The saddest day of my life was April 9, 1942. With 50 of the boys, we were on the west coast of Bataan. (C Company was attached to the 192nd when the surrender came.) The rest of the battalion was on the east coast, but we were right upfront. After our surrender, my 50 men lined up and each one shook hands with me. It was really sad. Most of us knew we would perhaps never see each other again. And few of us did.”
– Death March
– received order to destroy equipment and report to kilometer marker 168.2.
– Provisional Tank Group Headquarters
– Japanese officers told Col. Ernest Miller to keep them there until ordered to move
– 10 April 1942
– 7:00 P.M. – started the march from Provisional Tank Group headquarters
– 3:00 A.M. – halted and rested for an hour
– 4:00 A.M. – resume march
– at times slipped on remains of the dead who had been killed by Japanese shelling
– 11 April 1942
– 8:00 A.M. -reached Lamao
– allowed to forage for food
– 9:00 A.M. – resumed march
– Noon – reached Limay and the main road
– officers, majors and up, separated from lower-ranking officers and enlisted men
– lower-ranking officers and enlisted men joined the main march
– Death March
– marched through Abucay and Samal
– reached Orani
– herded into a fenced-in area and ordered to lie down
– in the morning found they had been lying in human waste
– latrine in one corner was crawling with maggots
– form 100 men detachments
– POWs marched at a faster pace
– fewer breaks
– when given break, the POWs sat on the road
– At one point, Moffitt witnessed two POWs, Lt. Col. Alf Uddenberg and Col. Frederick Ward jump off a bridge and commit suicide.
– North of Hermosa the POWs reached pavement
– made march easier
– POWs were given an hour rest on the road
– those who attempt to lay down are jabbed with bayonets
– POWs march through Layac and Lubao
– rains – POWs drank as much as they could
– San Fernando
– POWs put in groups of 200 to be fed
– one POW sent to get a box of rice for each group
– pottery jars of water given out the same way
– POWs formed detachments of 100 men and marched to train station
– POWs put into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane
– each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men
– 100 POWs packed into each car
– POWs who died remained standing since they could not fall to the floors
– Capas – dead fell to the floors as living left boxcars
– as POWs formed ranks, Filipinos threw sugarcane to POWs
– also gave them water
– POWs walked last 8 kilometers to Camp O’Donnell
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
– 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 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 – 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 this area and the section where they had laid was scraped and covered 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
– to bury the dead, the POWs held the body down with a pole while it was covered with dirt
– the next day when they returned, the bodies often were sitting up in the graves or had been dug up by wild dogs
– Japanese opened a new POW camp to lower death rate
– 1 June 1942 – POWs formed detachments of 100 men
– POWs marched out the gate and marched toward Capas
– Filipino people gave POWs small bundles of food
– the guards did not stop them
– At Capas, the POWs were put into steel boxcars and rode them to Manila
– the train stopped at Calumpit and switched onto the line to Cabanatuan
– POWs disembarked the train at 6:00 P.M. and put into a schoolyard
– fed rice and onion soup
– In May or early June 1942, his wife received a message from the War Department:

“Dear Mrs. M. Moffitt:

        “According to War Department records, you have been designated as the emergency addressee of Captain Fred C. Moffitt, O, 287, 376, 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 and from hospitals sent there
– camp created to keep Corregidor POWs separated from Bataan POWs
– Corregidor POWs were in better shape
– 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 since they didn’t like the way the POWs lined up
– 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
– in July his wife received a second message from the War Department. The following are excerpts 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, Captain Fred C. Moffitt 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.”

– selected for a work detail to Davao, Mindanao
Hell Ship:
Interisland Steamer
– Sailed: Manila – 1 July 1942
– Arrived: Davao, Mindanao – 9 July 1942
– Davao, Mindanao
– POWs built runways
– selected to be sent to Japan
– sometime in 1943, his family learned he was a Prisoner of War

REPORT JUST RECEIVED THROUGH INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS STATES THAT YOUR HUSBAND CAPTAIN FRED C MOFFITT IS A PRISONER OF WAR OF THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT IN PHILIPPINE ISLANDS LETTER OF INFORMATION FOLLOWS FROM THE PROVOST MARSHALL GENERAL=
        ULIO THE ADJUTANT GENERAL=

Within days of receiving the first message, they received a second message:

“Mrs. M. Moffitt
1015 Main
Salinas

“The Provost Marshal General directs me to inform you that you may communicate with your husband, postage free, by following the inclosed instructions:

“It is suggested that you address him as follows:

Capt. Fred C. Moffitt, 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.

                                                                                                                                                Sincerely

                                                                                                                                               Howard F. Bresee
                                                                                                                                               Colonel, CMP
                                                                                                                                               Chief Information Bureau

– recalling his time at Davao, he said, “We had heard the food was pretty good there. An abundance of coconuts and bananas – just rotting on the ground everywhere. The Japs wouldn’t let us have them, but we managed to steal a lot of food.”

– meals for the POWs consisted of rice, fish, meat, and vegetables for his first six months on Davao
– the amount of food the POWs received slowly tapered off until he was starving

– on Davao, he worked planting rice
– recalling this, he asked, “Did you have see a movie of a Japanese rice dance? That’s just how we did it. You place one foot there and the other one there. Then you take a had full of sprouts – bend, plant, bend, plant – and so on until you finished that allotted distance. At a command from Jap guards you stepped back, and the fanciful weaving, bending, stepping, reaching, starts all over again, just like those Jap rice dances we have seen dozens of times.”

– Moffitt avoided beatings by playing the game the Japanese way and obeying orders
– during his time at Davao, he received several Red Cross boxes
– he also received a birthday package from home
– it contained a comb and brush set that he never got because the Japanese offices stole it
– after the first American planes appeared over Davao, the Japanese made the decision to return half of the POWs to Manila
Hell Ship:
Yashu Maru
– POWs were taken by truck to Lasang – 6 June 1944
– hands tied and shoes removed to prevent escapes
– POWs put in forward holds
– remained in holds for six days
– Sailed: 12 June 1944
– the ship dropped anchor off Zamboanga, Mindanao – 14 June 1944
– Arrived: Cabu City – 17 June 1944
– POWs disembark put in a warehouse
– Sailed: unnamed ship – 21 June 1944
– POWs called the ship “Singoto Maru”
– Arrived: Manila – 24 June 1944
POW Camp:
– Bilibid Prison
– POWs sent there from Davao
– Admitted – 13 October 1944 – hospital ward
– dengue fever
– Discharged – 30 October 1944
Liberated:
– 4 February 1945 – Bilibid Prison
– 37th Infantry Division entered prison
– Moffitt was confined to a bed because had severe malnutrition and weighed 90 pounds
– he had been left behind because the Japanese considered him “too thin” to survive the trip to Japan
-of this, he said, “When a Jap admits you are thin, you are thin.”
– 22 February 1945 – wife informed Fred was free
– 23 February 1945 – his wife received a telegram from him

“Freed today. Love to all. Hope to see you soon.”

– it appears the message was held up by the War Department until she had been officially notified of his liberation
– later, his wife received a letter from him.

“Dear Mamie:

“You just can’t imagine the difficulty to put down in writing, the way to express myself to you and all our relatives, friends and especially the old gang. After receiving two letters from you and the gang, and from Oregon, and the most wonderful thing of all, knowing that I have been liberated by the United States forces after being a prisoner of war for almost three years and considering myself a free man. You would wonder, if you were in my place, just where I might get the few words to do so. These last few days since being freed from under the yolk of our beloved friends, getting back to some of good old American food and not just boiled rice and lugaa is something to make a man happy under any conditions. This is the happiest moment of my life, to be able to write to you knowing that I am free again.

“….After starting off as above I hope that you are in the best of health and that everything is going along fine at home. By those letters received yesterday dated November 15, you seem to be doing a wonderful job in keeping the old home fires burning by the looks of the war bonds and bank account that you mention. Keep up the good work. Old Uncle Sam needs all you can give. Makes me feel proud of you. It will always come in handy in years to come. Never can get too much put away.

“I have been feeling a little under the weather here lately but expect to come around shortly. Will let you know how my health is as often as I can write. Nothing to worry about. Tell Pa to have the fatted calf prepared, because one these bright days I am going to do a little visiting, and when that day comes it will be all the holidays and many new ones all rolled into one. Say hello to all the relatives, friends and especially the old gang, and thank the gang for those nice words that they put in that letter. It sure was a wonderful feeling to read those short notes. That fishing and hunting sure sounds good. We will dine on that one of these days, Strawberry valley and the scales were a memory.

“Everything is on the up and up now so don’t worry. One of these days we will be talking over old times. Go over to the courthouse and see Mr. Causley in the recorders’ office, and tell him his son Sherwood visited me yesterday and today. He is treating me wonderfully. He will know what you mean. I will write more about it as things go on. It should make him happy.

“Well, I think that you will be notified how to address my mail so one of these days maybe I will get a long letter from you telling me all about the hometown news. I will close for this time hoping to hear from you soon and to be able to write another letter to you.”

– 29 May 1945 – returned to the United States
– Letterman General Hospital – San Francisco, California
– promoted – Major
– when asked about his time as a POW, he said, “It already seems like something very dim and distant. When I sit down to good American food, it is hard to realize that little more than two months ago I was nearly starved to death.”
Residence: Salinas, California
Monterey County Board Supervisor – 8 November 1950
– served for four years
Died: 15 December 1969 – Salinas, California

Default Gravesite 1

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