1st. Lt. William Dillon Mosiman, M. D., was the son of Edna Dillon-Mosiman & Levi Mosiman. He was born on May 5, 1913, and had two sisters and a brother. His father was the postmaster of Morton, Illinois, where William was raised and graduated from Morton High School in 1931. As a child, his family felt the effects of the Depression, and he worked to earn the money to go to college.
William attended the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and earned his undergraduate degree in 1935 and also went to medical school at Illinois. After serving his residency at Illinois Central Hospital in Chicago, William enlisted in the army in June 1941.
William was inducted in the Army in July 1941, but it is not known where he was stationed. It is known he attended the necessary classes all medical officers took in the army. In October 1941, he was assigned to the 192nd Tank Battalion which was made up of National Guard Units from Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky.
After taking part in maneuvers in Louisiana in September 1941, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana. It was there the soldiers learned they were going overseas. Men over 29 years old, or – in the case of officers – too old for their rank, were released from federal service. He was the replacement for Capt. James Salmon, M. D., who was too old to go overseas.
The reason for this move was an event that took place in the summer of 1941. 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 a when planes were sent to the area – the buoys had been picked up and a fishing boat was seen making its way toward shore. Since communication between the planes and the Navy was poor, nothing was done to intercept the boat. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
The battalion’s new tanks came from the 753rd Tank Battalion and were loaded onto flat cars, on different trains. The soldiers also put cosmoline on anything that they thought would rust. Over different train routes, the companies were sent to San Francisco, California, where they were ferried, by the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they were given physicals by the battalion’s medical detachment and men found with minor medical conditions were held on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27. During this part of the trip, many tankers had seasickness, but once they recovered they spent much of the time training in breaking down machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP. The ship arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2 and had a two-day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
On Wednesday, November 5, the ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes. It was at this time it was joined by, the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and, another transport, the S.S. President Calvin Coolidge. Sunday night, November 9, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th. During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Dateline. It was also at this time the convoy stopped at Wake Island so the B-17 ground crews could disembark.
On Saturday, November 15, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon. The Louisville revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it shot off in the direction of the smoke. It turned out the smoke was from a ship that belonged to a friendly country, but two other ships intercepted by the Louisville were Japanese freighters that were hauling scrap metal to Japan.
When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila the next day. At one point, the ships passed an island at night and did so in total blackout. This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm’s way. The ships entered Manila Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20, and docked at Pier 7 later that morning. At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.
At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield. He made sure that they had what they needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner – a stew thrown into their mess kits – before he went to have his own dinner. Ironically, November 20 was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
The members of the battalion pitched the ragged World War I tents in an open field halfway between the Clark Field Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg. They were set up in two rows and five men were assigned to each tent. There were two supply tents and meals were provided by food trucks stationed at the end of the rows of tents.
The area was near the end of a runway used by B-17s for takeoffs. The planes flew over the tents at about 100 feet blowing dirt everywhere and the noise was unbelievable. At night, they heard the sounds of planes flying over the airfield which turned out to be Japanese reconnaissance planes. In addition, the khaki uniforms they had been issued also turned out to be a heavy material which made them uncomfortable to wear in the tropical heat.
William and Capt Alvin Poweleit, M. D., spent most of the next two weeks going over records for the battalion. D Company of the battalion was to be transferred to the 194th Tank Battalion, so their records needed to be in order. The paperwork was sent to the 194th but the transfer never took place because of the attack on Clark Field.
It is known that during this time he did several things. On November 26, he and Capt. Alvin Poweleit took a 2½ hour plane ride over Luzon. They noticed a large number of fishing boats offshore and were later told by the pilots that the boats were Japanese.
On November 28, he was at the officers club with Poweleit and Maj. Havelock Nelson, and was involved in a conversation on the possibility of a war with Japan. When they left the club they noticed that the night sky was lit up by searchlights scanning the sky over the airfield.
The next day, Poweleit and he were taken on a flight on a B-17. Again they saw large numbers of Japanese fishing boats off the island. It was noted that some of the boats were extremely large for fishing boats.
Mosiman took part in a reconnaissance mission to Lingayen Gulf on December 1 with Poweleit, Maj. Nelson, Capt. Arthur Burholt, and Capt. Donald Hanes. Again, the men noted a large number of fishing boats offshore.
On December 8, 1941, William lived through the Japanese bombing of Clark Field. During the attack, he sought cover in the ditches along a road. In the trench with him was 2nd Lt. Emmett Gibson. William looked at Gibson and asked if he was afraid. He then said to Gibson, “Me too.”
After the first wave of planes, William, Dr. Alvin Poweleit and other members of the medical detachment jumped into an ambulance. At the same time, Japanese fighters came in at low altitude, William and the other soldiers dove out of the ambulance into a bomb crater. Although the attack lasted for a half-hour, the men felt like it went on for hours.
During the Battle of Bataan, William lived through constant bombing and strafing. On one occasion William, Lt. Col. Wickord and Dr. Poweleit noticed that the retreating traffic had stopped. Suddenly, they heard the sound of tanks. From their position, they could not identify the tanks. As it turned out the tanks were Japanese. Later they learned that they had been behind enemy lines.
William is credited with saving the life of Lt. Jacques Merrifield. Merrifield’s Bren-gun carrier was crossing a bridge when a shell landed next to it, The Bren-gun carrier went into the river. Dr. Poweleit pulled Merrifield from the wreckage and brought him to shore. William and Pvt. Curtis Massey worked on Merrifield giving him mouth to mouth resuscitation for forty-five minutes until he regained consciousness. The driver, a Pvt. Long, could not be saved.
It was at the field hospital that William became a Prisoner Of War when the medical staff was ordered to surrender. William took part in the death march and saw Americans bayoneted and shot. He and the other Prisoners of War went days without food or water.
At San Fernando, William was boarded into a small wooden boxcar used to haul sugarcane. The POWs were packed in so tightly that those who died remained standing until the living disembarked the cars. At Capas, William left the boxcar and walked the last few miles to Camp O’Donnell.
Camp O’Donnell was a deathtrap. As many as 50 POWs died each day. It was William’s job to see if the POW had some type of medical treatment. But without medication, there was not much he could do.
William was sent to Cabanatuan when the new camp opened. The death rate in the camp dropped when the Japanese issued Red Cross parcels. It is known that Bill was admitted as a patient in the camp hospital on June 26, 1942. His date of discharge was not recorded. Bill remained in the camp until October. 800 POWs gathered at 2:00 A.M. on October 6 and were given rice coffee, lugow rice, and a big rice ball. After eating and packing their kits, the POWs marched out of the camp at 2:30 A.M. and received two buns as they marched through the gate to the barrio of Cabanatuan which they reached at 6:00 A.M. There, 50 men were boarded onto each of the small wooden boxcars waiting for them at about 9:00 A.M. The trip to Manila lasted until 4:00 P.M. and because of the heat in the cars, many POWs passed out.
From the train station, the men were marched to pier 5 in the Port Area of Manila. Some of the Filipinos flashed the “V” for victory sign as they made their war to the pier. The detachment arrived at 5:00 P.M and was tired and hungry and was put in a warehouse on the pier. The Japanese fed them rice and salted fish and let them eat as much as they wanted. They also were allowed to wash.
Before boarding the Tottori Maru on October 7, the prisoners were divided into two groups. One group was placed in the holds while the other group remained on deck. The conditions on the ship, for those in the holds, were indescribable, and those POWs those on deck were better off. This situation was made worse by the fact that for the first two weeks of the voyage the prisoners were not fed, which resulted in many of the POWs dying during the trip.
The ship did not sail until the next day at 10:00 A.M. and passed the ruins of Corregidor at noon. In addition, there were sick Japanese and soldiers on the ship. That night some POWs slept in the holds, but a large number slept on the deck. The first day, the POWs were given three small loaves of bread for meals – which equaled one American loaf of bread – the loaves were supposed to last two days, but most men ate them in one meal. The men did ration their water. The ship was at sea when two torpedoes fired at by an American submarine missed the ship. The ship fired a couple of shots where it thought the sub was, but these also missed. A while later, the ship passed a mine that had been laid by the submarine. The POWs were fed bags of buns biscuits, with some candy, and received water daily.
The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on October 11. Since most were sick with something, the line to use the latrines went around the ship. The American doctors had no medicine to help the sick, and some were seen as benefiting off the sick. It was at this time that the POWs on the ship, from Mindanao, were moved to a second hold putting 500 POWs in each hold.
On October 14, foodstuffs were loaded onto the ship, and each POW got two candy bags of hardtack and one meal of rice and soup each day. The ship sailed on October 16 at 7:30 A.M. but turned around at 3:30 P.M. arriving back at Takao at 10:30 P.M. It was believed the ship had turned around because American submarines were in the area.
The ship sailed again on October 18 and arrived at the Pescadores Islands at 5:00 P.M. There it dropped anchor off the Island of Makou, Pescadores Islands, where it remained anchored until October 27 when it returned to Takao. During this time the quality of food deteriorated and was barely edible. Two POWs also died and their bodies were thrown into the sea at 4:00 P.M. The ship sailed again on October 27 and returned to Takao the same day. While it was docked foodstuffs were again loaded onto the ship.
The next day, the POWs were taken ashore and bathed with seawater at the same time the ship was cleaned. They were again put into the holds and the ship and remained there until the ship sailed on October 29. At 5:00 P.M. it again arrived at Makou, Pescadores Islands. During this time the POWs were fed two meals a day of rice and soup. The ship sailed on October 31, as part of a seven-ship convoy. During this part of the voyage, it rode out a typhoon for five days on its way to Fusan, Korea. On November 3, three more POWs died. On November 5, one of the ships was sunk by an American submarine and the other ships scattered.
The Tottori Maru arrived at Fusan on November 7, but the 1400 POWs leaving the ship did not disembark until November 8 and were issued fur-lined overcoats and new clothing. Those POWs who were too ill to continue the trip to Mukden, Manchuria, remained behind at Fusan. Those who died were cremated and had their ashes placed in small white boxes which were sent to Mukden. The 400 POWs still on the ship were sent to Japan.
When they got there, they lived in dugouts and were later moved to a two-story brick barracks with electricity and cold running water. Each enlisted POW received two thin blankets to cover themselves with at night. The officers got one blanket and a mattress. The barracks were divided into 10 sections with five on the ground floor and five on the second floor. Each section was divided into four double-decked sleeping bays which held 8 men. In all, 48 men slept in a section that was infested with lice, fleas, and bedbugs. There was a shelf two feet higher for the men’s clothing. The heat was provided by stoves known as“patchkas” which apparently provided adequate heat. Temperatures during the winter average 40 degrees below zero and over 200 POWs died in the camp the first winter.
Meals were the same every day. For breakfast, they had cornmeal mush and a bun. Lunch was maize and beans, and dinner was beans and a bun. The food was good, but the POWs did not receive enough, and during the first winter 205 POWs died from malnutrition and not having the proper clothing.
Since they were underfed, the POWs trapped wild dogs to supplement their meals of soybeans which usually came in the form of soup. They continued to trap dogs until, while marching to work, they saw one eating a dead Chinese.
Stealing from the Japanese was a way of life, and the POWs stole the raw materials for what they needed on a daily basis. From the raw materials, they manufactured what they needed.
Punishments were given out for no reason or for violating a rule. The POWs were beaten, hit with bamboo poles, kicked, hit with shoe heals, hit with clubs, punched with fists as they stood at attention. The Japanese, on one occasion, made the POWs come out of their barracks and line up at attention as they searched the barracks. They had all the POWs strip bare because they believed some POWs had bought cigarettes from the Chinese. All the POWs stood barefooted in the snow, for 45 minutes, as the Japanese searched 700 POWs. Another time, when three POWs escaped and were recaptured, the other POWs watched as they were hit on their heads, shoulders, and backs with sticks for hours. At other times, the POW’s food ration was cut in half because the Japanese believed POWs were not working as hard as he should have been, or someone had been caught smoking in an unauthorized area. They would also withhold Red Cross packages.
One guard, Eiichi Nada, who was born, raised, and educated, in Berkley, California, was considered to be the worse abuser of the POWs. It was common while the POWs were lined up at morning assembly for him to hit men for no reason. He continued to hit them until they fell to the ground and said, “Get up, you yellow, white, son of a bitch.” Another guard walked through the barracks and hit the POWs, with a 3-foot club, for no real reason. On one occasion, a Lt Murado ordered the prisoners to remove their shoes. After they had, he hit each man in the face with his shoes.
Red Cross boxes were sent to the camp but were raided by the Japanese. According to POWs, the Chinese who they worked with, told them that there was a warehouse full of Red Cross food. When the Red Cross visited the camp, the rations were larger and the sick were told to lounge around. None of the POWs were allowed to talk to the Red Cross representative.
The POWs worked either at a machine shop or a sawmill from 7:30 A.M. until 5:30 or 6:00 P.M. each day. The machine shop never produced anything that was useful to the Japanese. Each morning, the POWs were marched three miles to the shop where they worked manufacturing weapons for the Japanese. To prevent the production of weapons, they committed acts of sabotage like pouring sand into the machine oiling holes. The Japanese usually blamed these acts of sabotage on the Chinese in the plant because they believed the Americans were not smart enough to commit the sabotage.
William was sent to Shenyang sub-camp. That POWs in this camp worked in either a machine shop or woodshop. In William’s case, being a doctor, he was assigned to the camp hospital but could little since he and the other American doctors had few medical supplies. Many of the POWs who died in the camp died from treatable illnesses. The Japanese Army doctor, Jiechi Kumashima, denied the POWs Red Cross medicines that had been sent to the camp. The Chinese workers at the machine shop told the POWs there was a warehouse full of Red Cross supplies. Another Japanese doctor, Juro Oki, who was a civilian, smuggled medicine into the camp for the POWs. If he had been caught, he would have been shot. After the war, Kumashima was hung for being guilty of war crimes.
In a letter his parents received in August 1944, he said:
“Working each day in the camp hospital. Not as busy now than in the winter. Wish I had some medical books to read but perhaps they will be just that much more interesting when there are some.”
In another part of the letter he said:
“Have not received your package so you see it takes a long time for things to arrive here. Do not worry about the packages.”
He ended the letter by telling his family:
“I think of all of you so often and hope that we can soon meet again. Home will be such a wonderful place after such a long absence.”
As the war went on American planes began to appear over Mukden. On one occasion, in December 1944, a bomb, from one B-29, hit the camp killing 20 POWs. The air raids became more frequent until the end of the war. The Army Japanese doctor for camp attempted to get the POWs wounded from the bombs to write letters to the International Red Cross to ask the Americans to stop the bombing. Instead of doing this, the POWs wrote letters saying that they were happy to receive the bombs and asked for more to be dropped.
The POWs in the camp had no idea how the war was going since the camp was so isolated. On August 20, 1945, American OSS officers parachuted into the camp. Two of the team were Chinese-Americans and the other member was Japanese-American. They demanded to meet with the camp commandant. When they did, they informed him the war was over. On August 29, Russian soldiers liberated the camp. The POWs were taken by train to Dalian, China. From there they were returned to the Philippines.
On October 27, they received word that he was on his way home. He arrived in San Francisco on November 1, 1945, on the U.S.S. Marine Shark from there he went to Letterman Hospital.
William returned to the United States and was discharged from the army as a captain on August 3, 1946, and worked at Hines Veterans Hospital, Hines, Illinois. The hospital was located just outside the town of Maywood which was the hometown of B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.
During his two years of employment at the hospital, William met his wife, Eileen, who was a second lieutenant. He married Eileen Thomson on September 2, 1950, in Morton, Illinois, and they would move to Peoria and raise a family of five children.
Dr. William D. Mosiman died at the age of 76, from a heart attack, on January 18, 1989. He was buried in Lot 11, Grave 4, at Fon du Lac Township Cemetery in East Peoria, Illinois.