Pvt. Daniel Nelson Stoudt was born in a log cabin in the Blue Mountains of Pennsylvania on May 17, 1917, to Salome and Joseph Stoudt. The cabin was located two miles from the town of Sharttesville. When Daniel was three years old, his family moved to Rapid City, South Dakota, where, he lived a life that he loved. In South Dakota, Daniel learned to survive from the Native Americans who taught him tracking, how to go without food, and to develop his physical endurance. He learned the habits of animals and birds to find food, how to fish and hunt, and how to trap. He admired these people and tried to live his life as much close to theirs as he could.
In 1931, Daniel’s family moved back to Pennsylvania, but he was not happy about this and had a difficult time adjusting to his new life. At school, he could not get along with the other students which resulted in his quitting and going to work as a laborer on farms for seventy-five cents a day. Daniel joined the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935. This program gave jobs to young men and allowed them to earn a living during the Depression. In the C.C.C., he started as a cook but within six months he was a group leader. During this time, he built roads and also dams for farmers. He left the C.C.C. in 1937.
Daniel always remembered the life he had lived in South Dakota and wanted to return to it. In a car that he had traded for, he left Pennsylvania for South Dakota in 1939. On his way, he stopped at his Uncle John Stoudt’s farm located near Madison, Wisconsin. His uncle convinced Daniel to stay with him, and he remained there for almost two years and began making plans to join the Marines. He registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, and named his mother as his next-of-kin. His plans of joining the Marines changed when he received his draft notice on January 25, 1941.
Daniel started his army career by being sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training. He and twelve other selectees trained with the 1st Armor Division as members of the 7th Company. The men received their training from a composite group of officers and enlisted men from the 192nd. After twelve weeks of training, they joined A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, permanently.
When the draftees arrived at the base, they spent the first six weeks in primary training. Week 1, the soldiers did infantry drilling; week 2, manual arms and marching to music; week 3, machine gun training; week 4, pistol usage; week 5, M1 rifle firing; week 6, training with gas masks, gas attacks, pitching tents, and hikes; weeks 7, 8, and 9 were 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.
After basic training, a typical day for the soldiers started at 6:15 with reveille, but most of the soldiers were up before this since they wanted to wash and dress. Breakfast was from 7:00 to 8:00 A.M., followed by calisthenics from 8:00 to 8:30. Afterward, the tankers went to various schools within the company. The classes consisted of .30 and .50 caliber machine guns, pistols, map reading, care of personal equipment, military courtesy, and training in tactics. At 11:30 the soldiers stopped what they were doing and cleaned up for mess which was from noon to 1:00 P.M. Afterward, they attended 13-week classes at the various schools that they had been assigned to, such as mechanics, tank driving, and radio operating. At 4:30, the soldiers called it a day and returned to their barracks and put on dress uniforms, and at five held retreat and followed by dinner at 5:30. After dinner, they were off duty, and lights were out at 9:00 P.M., but they did not have to turn in until 10:00 when Taps was played. During this time, he was trained to drive a tank. He believed that his learning to drive a truck while working with the C. C. C. qualified him for training as a tank driver.
In late March 1941, the entire battalion was moved to new larger barracks at Wilson Road and Seventh Avenue at Ft. Knox. The barracks had bathing and washing facilities in them and a day room. The new kitchens had larger gas ranges, automatic gas heaters, large pantries, and mess halls. One reason for this move was the men from selective service were permanently joining the battalion. It was at this time, that the selectees for all the companies joined the battalion.
At 7:00 A.M. on Monday, June 16, the battalion was broken into four detachments for a three-day tactical road march. The most important part of this march was to train the soldiers in loading, unloading, and setting up the battalion’s administrative camps. One-half of the battalion traveled with 20 tanks, 20 motorcycles, 7 armored scout cars, 5 jeeps, 12 peeps (later called jeeps), 20 large 2½ ton trucks (these carried the battalion’s garages for vehicle repair), 5, 1½ ton trucks (which were the battalion’s kitchens), and 1 ambulance.
The battalion traveled through Bardstown and Springfield before arriving at Harrodsburg at 2:30 P.M. where they set up their bivouac at the fairgrounds. The next morning, they moved to Herrington Lake east of Danville, where the men swam, boated, and fished. The battalion returned to Ft. Knox on Wednesday, June 18th through Lebanon, New Haven, and Hodgenville, Kentucky. It also prepared them for the Louisiana maneuvers which they were scheduled to take part in during September.
At the end of June, the battalion found itself at the firing range and appeared to have spent the last week there. According to available information, they were there from 4:00 A.M. until 8:30 A.M. when they left the range. They then had to clean the guns which took them until 10:30 A.M. One of the complaints they had was that it was so hot and humid that when they got back from the range, their clothes were so wet that they felt like they had stood out in the rain. Right after July 4, the battalion went on a nine-day maneuver.
The 192nd Tank Battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, in the late summer of 1941, to take part in maneuvers from September 1 through 30, 1941. The soldiers rode trucks to the maneuvers while their tanks and other equipment were sent by trains. HQ Company’s job during the maneuvers was to keep the letter companies supplied with fuel and make tank repairs. The tanks held defensive positions and usually were held in reserve by the higher headquarters. For the first time, the tanks were used to counter-attack, in support of infantry, and held defensive positions. Some men felt that the tanks were finally being used like they should be used and not as “mobile pillboxes.”
The maneuvers were described by other men as being awakened at 4:30 A.M. and sent to an area to engage an imaginary enemy. After engaging the enemy, the tanks withdrew to another area. The crews had no idea what they were doing most of the time because they were never told anything by the higher-ups. A number of men felt that they just rode around in their tanks a lot.
During their training at Ft. Knox, the tankers were taught that they should never attack an anti-tank gun head-on. One day during the maneuvers, their commanding general threw away the entire battalion doing just that. After sitting out a period of time, the battalion resumed the maneuvers. At some point, the battalion also went from fighting in the Red Army to fighting for the Blue Army.
The major problem for the tanks was the sandy soil. On several occasions, tanks were parked and the crews walked away from them. When they returned, the tanks had sunk into the sandy soil up to their hauls. To get them out, other tanks were brought in and attempted to pull them out. If that didn’t work, the tankers brought a tank wrecker from Camp Polk to pull the tank out of the ground.
The one good thing that came out of the maneuvers was that the tank crews learned how to move at night. At Ft. Knox this was never done. Without knowing it, the night movements were preparing them for what they would do in the Philippines since most of the battalion’s movements there were made at night. The drivers learned how to drive at night and to take instructions from their tank commanders who had a better view from the turret. A number of motorcycle riders from other tank units were killed because they were riding their bikes without headlights on which meant they could not see obstacles in front of their bikes. When they hit something they fell to the ground and the tanks following them went over them. This happened several times before the motorcycle riders were ordered to turn on their headlights.
Snake bites were also a problem and at some point, it seemed that every other man was bitten by a snake. The platoon commanders carried a snake bite kit that was used to create a vacuum to suck the poison out of the bite. The bites were the result of the nights cooling down and snakes crawling under the soldiers’ bedrolls for warmth while the soldiers were sleeping on them. When the soldiers woke up in the morning they would carefully pick up their bedrolls to see if there were any snakes under them.
It is known that John Spencer was bitten by a rattlesnake but had no serious effects, while another man killed one. To avoid being bitten, men slept on the two-and-a-half-ton trucks or on or in the tanks. Another trick the soldiers learned was to dig a small trench around their tents and lay rope in the trench. The burs on the rope kept the snakes from entering the tents. The snakes were not a problem if the night was warm. There was one multicolored snake – about eight inches long – that was beautiful to look at, but if it bit a man he was dead. The good thing was that these snakes would not just strike at the man but only struck if the man forced himself on it.
They also had a problem with the wild hogs in the area. In the middle of the night while the men were sleeping in their tents they would suddenly hear hogs squealing. The hogs would run into the tents pushing on them until they took them down and dragged them away.
What made the maneuvers worse was that the rainy season started and the men found themselves living in it. On one occasion the battalion was bivouac near a canal and the next morning the men found themselves in water over their shoes trying to dig ditches for drainage. The members of B Company captured a medium size alligator in their bivouac and pulled it around at the end of a leash made from a rope.
The food was also not very good since the air was always damp which made it hard to get a fire started. Many of their meals were C ration meals of beans or chili that they choked down. Washing clothes was done when the men had a chance. They did this by finding a creek, looking for alligators, and if there were none, taking a bar of soap and scrubbing whatever they were washing. Clothes were usually washed once a week or once every two weeks.
Ten days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the reconnaissance pilots reported that Japanese transports were milling around in a large circle in the South China Sea. On December 1, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers. The194th guarded the northern half of the airfield and the 192nd guarded the southern half. At all times, two members of each tank remained with their tanks and were fed from food trucks.
It was the men manning the radios in the 192nd’s communications tent who were the first to learn of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 8. Major Ted Wickord, the battalion’s commanding officer, Gen. James Weaver, and Major Ernest Miller, the CO of the 194th Tank Battalion, read the messages of the attack. The officers of the 192nd were called to the tent and informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Wickord called the officers of the 192nd to the tent and informed them of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
After hearing the news, Capt. Write went to his company and informed his men that Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor. To an extent, the news of the war was no surprise to the men, and many had come to the conclusion it was inevitable. The remaining members of the tank crews, not with their tanks, went to their tanks at the southern end of the Clark Field. The battalion’s half-tracks joined the tanks and took up positions next to them.
Around 8:00 A.M., the planes of the Army Air Corps took off and filled the sky. All morning long American planes could be seen in every direction. At noon the planes landed and were lined up in a straight line to be refueled near the pilots’ mess hall. While the planes were being worked on, the pilots went to lunch. At 12:45 in the afternoon on December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the tankers lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field.
The tankers were eating lunch when they saw planes approaching the airfield from the north. Many of the men believed they were American planes and had enough time to count 54 planes in formation. As they watched, what appeared to be raindrops – because they shimmered in the sun – appeared under the planes. With the thunderous explosions of the bombs exploding on the runways, the tankers knew that the planes were Japanese. The smoke and dust from the bombs blotted out the sun and made it impossible for the tankers to see more than a few feet. One bomb hit the mess hall where the pilots were eating. The bombers were quickly followed by Japanese fighters that sounded like angry bees to the tankers as they strafed the airfield. The tankers watched as American pilots attempted to get their planes off the ground. As they roared down the runway, Japanese fighters strafed the planes causing them to swerve, crash, and burn. Those that did get airborne were barely off the ground when they were hit. The planes exploded and crashed to the ground tumbling down the runways. The Japanese planes were as low as 50 feet above the ground and the pilots would lean out of the cockpits so they could more accurately pick out targets to strafe. The tankers said they saw the pilots’ scarfs flapping in the wind.
The soldiers felt helpless as they fired rifles and machine guns at the planes. Most of the soldiers lay on the ground to lessen their chance of being hit by shrapnel. Daniel and a friend were laying five feet apart as a Japanese plane came over strafing. Five bullets from the plane’s machine guns hit the ground between the two men.
While the attack was going on, the Filipinos who were building the 192nd’s barracks took cover. After the attack, they went right back to work on the barracks. This happened several times during the following air raids until the barracks were destroyed by bombs during an air raid. According to the members of the battalion, it appeared the Filipino contractor really wanted to be paid; war or no war.
After the attack, Daniel’s tank was assigned to direct emergency vehicle traffic. The crew directed ambulances as they left Clark Field heading to the hospital. Doing this job Daniel saw soldiers who had their arms blown off. He saw others with their heads bandaged. He recalled wondering if it was possible to be wounded a certain way; he then saw a man with the wound. The wounded were carried in trucks, jeeps, bomb racks, and anything else that could be used. When the medical staff ran out of room for the wounded in the hospital, they were placed under the building.
Later in the day, Daniel and the other soldiers learned that Iba Air Field on the west coast of Luzon had also been hit and its planes destroyed. That night they heard that the American planes at Nichols Field had also been bombed. There were not enough planes left to effectively support the American ground forces in the Philippines. That night, the tankers lived through several more air raids. Most slept under their tanks since it was safer than sleeping in their tents. They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed for the next three and one-half years.
In Daniel’s opinion, one of the greatest things working against the tank corps was that they had no knowledge of the terrain that they would be fighting on. The plan to defend the Philippine Islands called for the Filipino and American forces to engage the Japanese on the beaches of the Lingayen Gulf. This was where the invasion was expected.
On December 10, 1941, the first landings of Japanese troops took place at Lingayen Bay. Daniel and the other soldiers learned that if the landings were successful, they were to fall back toward the south and establish a new defensive line. They would fall back three times. On December 12, the company was sent to the Barrio of Dau so it would be close to a highway and railroad from sabotage. They were ordered north on December 21 to rejoin the rest of the battalion. It was there that a platoon from B Company engaged the Japanese. One tank was lost and its crew was captured. The other tanks were considered destroyed but were repaired and put back into use.
The company was in the area of Urdaneta on December 23 and 24. The tankers made an end run to get south of Agno River after the main bridge had been destroyed. As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening. They successfully crossed the river in the Bayambang Province. On December 25, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tankers lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write, on December 26, when the landmine he was planting exploded in his hands. Even though he was mortally wounded he continued to give orders. Before he died, he asked that roses be placed on his grave, but since there were no roses, the men placed a native red flower on his grave.
Life for Daniel and the other American soldiers was hell. They were constantly harassed by Japanese planes. Peace was something that became a rarity. One night, Daniel’s tank and other tanks from A Company were in a banana grove. They were told they were well behind the front lines and that they could get a good night’s sleep. Daniel was asleep on his tank when suddenly screaming and shooting Japanese soldiers appeared all around him.
The company lost 2d Lt. William W. Read on December 30. On a road east of Zaragoza, the same day, the company was bivouacked for the night and posted sentries. The sentries heard a noise on the road and woke the other tankers who grabbed Tommy guns and manned the tanks’ machine guns. As they watched, a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac. When the last bicycle passed the tanks, the tankers opened fire on them. When they stopped firing, they had completely wiped out the bicycle battalion. To leave the area, the tankers drove their tanks over the bodies.
At Gumain River, from the night of December 31, the tank companies formed a defensive line along the south bank of the river. When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts. The tankers got into the tanks and began to fire while they attempted to withdraw from the area. Because the roads were congested with other retreating forces, the tanks could not move. A Japanese soldier used this opportunity to throw a magnetic mine at Daniel’s tank. The mine attached to the bow gun of Dan’s tank burnt through the armor, and fell on the bow gunner, Pvt Emil Schmidt, burning his left leg. Daniel was hit by pieces of the mine in his face and in one eye. He would later develop an ulcer in the eye because of the lack of treatment and lose his sight in it.
The Japanese were taking heavy casualties, so they attempted to use smoke to cover their advance, but the wind blew the smoke into their own troops. When they broke off the attack, they had suffered 50 % casualties. Due to the damage caused by the mine, Daniel’s tank was out of commission and taken back to the battalion’s bivouac to be worked repaired. After his tank was disabled, Daniel did not stay idle. He continued to fight in other A Company tanks until his tank was returned to service. To give the tank crews a rest, crews from tanks that had been lost were used as replacements. At Guagua, A Company, with units from the 11th Division, Philippine Army, attempted to make a counterattack against the Japanese. Somehow, the tanks were mistaken, by the Filipinos to be Japanese. The 11th Division accurately used mortars on them. The result was the loss of three tanks.
On January 1, the tanks of the 194th were holding the Calumpit Bridge allowing the Southern Luzon Forces to cross the bridge toward Bataan. General Wainwright was attempting to hold the main Japanese force coming down Route 5 to prevent the troops from being cut off. General MacArthur’s chief of staff gave conflicting orders, which cause confusion, involving whose command the defenders were under. Gen. Wainwright was not aware these orders had been given. Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River. 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. From January 2 to 4, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape. It was also in January 1942, that the food ration was cut in half. It was not too long after this was done that malaria, dysentery, and dengue fever began hitting the soldiers.
The tanks often were the last units to disengage from the enemy and form a new defensive line as Americans and Filipino forces withdrew toward Bataan. On the night of January 7, the A Company was awaiting orders to cross the last bridge into Bataan over Culis Creek. The engineers were ready to blow up the bridge, but the battalion’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Ted Wickord, ordered the engineers to wait until he had looked to see if they were anywhere in sight. He found the company, asleep in their tanks because they had not received the order to withdraw across the bridge. After they had crossed, the bridge was destroyed making the company the last American unit to enter Bataan.
Once in Bataan, the soldiers were to hold off the Japanese until American reinforcements arrived. Daniel and the other Americans had no idea that 80 percent of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor had been destroyed. This meant that no reinforcements were coming. When this withdrawal took place, Daniel’s tank and other tanks of the Provisional Tank Group were used as the rear guard for the retreating forces. The last American troops to enter Bataan were the tanks of the 192nd Tank Battalion. It was also at this time that Daniel was promoted to sergeant.
A composite tank company was formed under the command of Capt. Donald Hanes, B Co., 192nd the next day. Its job was to protect the East Coast Road north of Hermosa open and to stop Japanese tanks from attempting to use it to overrun the next defensive line that was forming. They were also to support the 31st Infantry. While in this position, the tanks were under constant enemy artillery fire. The rest of the tanks were ordered to bivouac south of the Abucay-Hacienda Road. When word came that a bridge was going to be blown, all the tanks were ordered out of the area, which included the composite company. This could have resulted in a catastrophe, but the Japanese did not take advantage of the situation.
It was at the Pilar-Bigac area on January 14, 17th Ordnance had the opportunity to do long overdue tank maintenance. Six carloads of parts, ammunition, and fuel for the tanks had been sent into Bataan in November which allowed the company to replace worn-out tracks and engine parts. The tanks were sent back into action as they became available. In addition, the tanks received ammunition. While American and Filipino forces were withdrawing from Pilar-Bigac Line, the battalion prevented the Japanese from overrunning the position and cutting off the withdrawing troops.
Sgt. Owen Sandmire of the A Company said that because of the jungle canopy the nights on Bataan were so dark that the tankers could not see after dark. It was at night that the Japanese liked to attack. When the attacks came, if the tankers were lucky they were able to use their tanks’ machine guns on them. They could not use the turret machine guns since the guns could not be aimed at the ground. If the tank commander had attempted to use his pistol standing in the turret, he was an easy target, so the tanks would simply withdraw from the position.
Around this time, drivers were needed for the Self Propelled Mounts, and tank drivers were reassigned to the SPMs. The SPMs had a crew of an American driver, a Filipino Scout sergeant who commanded the SPM, and a gun crew from the Philippine Army. The drivers were replaced by other members of the battalions who could drive tanks.
Gen. James Weaver also issued the following orders to the tank battalions around this time, “Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying in position and firing at visible enemy until further delay will jeopardize withdrawal. If a tank is immobilized, it will be fought until the close approach of the enemy, then destroyed; the crew previously taking positions outside and continuing to fight with the salvaged and personal weapons. Considerations of personal safety and expediency will not interfere with accomplishing the greatest possible delay.”
It was at the Pilar-Bigac area on January 14, 17th Ordnance had the opportunity to do long overdue tank maintenance. Six carloads of parts, ammunition, and fuel for the tanks had been sent into Bataan in November which allowed the company to replace worn-out tracks and engine parts. The tanks were sent back into action as they became available. In addition, the tanks received ammunition. While American and Filipino forces were withdrawing from Pilar-Bigac Line, the battalion prevented the Japanese from overrunning the position and cutting off the withdrawing troops.
On January 24, the tank battalions were ordered to cover all forces withdrawing to the Pilar-Bigac Line. The 192nd covered the withdrawal in the Abucay area. The battalions prevented the Japanese from overrunning the position and cutting off the withdrawing troops. The battalions were sent to cover the junctions of the Back Road and East Road with the Abucay-Hacienda Road on January 25. While holding the position, the 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, fought its way to the position at 3:00 A.M. One platoon was sent to the front of the column of trucks that were loading the troops. The tanks provided heavy fire so that the infantry could withdraw and inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese.
Later on January 25, both the 192nd and 194th held a defensive line on the Balanga-Cardre-BaniBani Roads until the withdrawal was completed at midnight. They held the position until the night of January 26, when they dropped back to a new defensive line roughly along the Pilar-Bagac Roads. When ordered to withdraw to the new line, the 192nd found that the bridge at Balanga, that they were supposed to use had been destroyed by enemy fire. To withdraw, they had to use secondary roads to get around the barrio and tanks were still straggling in at noon.
On the morning of January 27, a new battle line had been formed and all units were supposed to be beyond it. That morning, the tanks were still holding their position six hours after they were supposed to have withdrawn. While holding the position, the tanks, with self-propelled mounts, ambushed, at point-blank range, three Japanese units causing 50 percent casualties.
The tank battalions, on January 28, were given the job of protecting the beaches. The 192nd was assigned the coastline from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan’s east coast, while the battalion’s half-tracks were used to patrol the roads. The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.
While doing this job, the members of B Company noticed that each morning when the PT boats were off the coast they were attacked by Japanese Zeros. The tank crews made arrangements with the PT boats at a certain place at a certain time. The Zeros arrived and attacked. This time they were met by fire from the boats but also from the machine guns of the tanks and half-tracks. When the Zeros broke off the attack, they had lost nine of twelve planes.
The tank battalions, on their own, took up the job of protecting the airfields at Cabcaban, Bataan, and Mariveles, since Japanese paratroopers were known to be available. The tanks and half-tracks were well hidden in the jungle around the airfields and different plans were in place to be used against Japanese forces. There was only one major alert in March when 73 Japanese planes came over.
Part of the battalion took part in the Battle of the Points from January 27, 1942, until February 13, 1942. The Japanese had landed on two points and been cut off. The tankers were sent in to wipe out these positions. According to Capt. Alvin Poweleit, the battalion’s surgeon, the tanks did a great deal of damage.
At the same time, there was another battle taking place known as the Battle of the Pockets which lasted from January 23 until February 17, 1942. Japanese troops had been caught off behind the battleline. Tanks from B and C Companies were sent in to wipe out the Japanese in the Big Pocket.
The Japanese landed troops but ended up trapped. When they attempted to land reinforcements, they landed in the wrong place. One was the Lapay-Longoskawayan points from January 23 to 29, the Quinauan-Aglaloma points from January 22 to February 8, and the Sililam-Anyasan points from January 27 to February 13. The Japanese had been stopped, but the decision was made by Brigadier General Clinton A. Pierce that tanks were needed to support the 45th Infantry Philippine Scouts, so he requested tanks from the Provisional Tank Group.
On February 2, tank platoons from A and C Companies were ordered to Anyasan and Quinauan Points where the Japanese had landed troops. The tanks arrived at about 5:15 P.M. The C Company tank platoon commander did a quick reconnaissance of the area, and after meeting with the commanding infantry officer, made the decision to drive tanks into the edge of the Japanese position and spray the area with machine-gun fire. The progress was slow but steady until a Japanese .37 milometer gun was spotted in front of the lead tank, and the tanks withdrew. It turned out that the gun had been disabled by mortar fire, but the tanks did not know this at the time.
The Japanese, also in January, also launched an attack against the Orion-Bagac Line, but the advance was pushed back leaving two pockets of Japanese soldiers trapped behind the restored defensive line. The two pockets became known as Big Pocket and Little Pocket and tanks were sent in to help exterminate the pockets. The battle took place at the same time as the Battle of the Points and lasted from January 23 to February 17.
The tanks entered the pockets one at a time to replace a tank in the pocket. Another tank did not enter the pocket until a tank that had been relieved exited the pocket. Doing this was so stressful that the tank companies were pulled out and rested. The tanks of the company were replaced by the tanks of another company that had been held in reserve.
In the pockets, two methods were used to wipe out the Japanese. The first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank. As the tank approached, the Japanese dove into the foxholes and the tank went over the foxholes. As the tank passed over a foxhole, the Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole. Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually exploded. The other method used to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole. The driver gave the other track power resulting in the tank going around in a circle dragging the unpowered track and grinding its way down into the foxhole. The tankers slept upwind of their tanks because of the rotting flesh in them.
The Japanese sent soldiers, with cans of gasoline, against the tanks who attempted to jump onto the tanks, pour gasoline into the vents on the back of the tanks, and set the tanks on fire. If the tankers could not machine gun the Japanese before they got to a tank, the other tanks would shoot them as they stood on the tank. The tankers did not like to do this because of what it did to the crew inside the tank. When the bullets hit the tank, its rivets would pop and wound the men inside the tank. Since the stress on the crews was tremendous, the tanks rotated into the pocket one at a time. A tank entered the pocket and the next tank waited for the tank that had been relieved to exit the pocket before it would enter. This was repeated until all the tanks in the pocket were relieved.
What made this job of eliminating the Japanese so hard was that they had dug “spider holes” among the roots of the trees. Because of this situation, the Americans could not get a good shot at the Japanese. Since the stress on the crews was tremendous, the tanks rotated into the pocket one at a time. A tank entered the pocket and the next tank waited for the tank that had been relieved to exit the pocket before it would enter. This was repeated until all the tanks in the pocket were relieved.
In the pockets, C Company lost one tank that had gone beyond the area controlled by the defenders. The tank was disabled by a thermite mine. It appeared that some of the crew were killed by a hand grenade thrown into the tank as they attempted to evacuate it. When the tank was recovered, it was put on its side and it was found at least one member of the crew was still alive as the Japanese filled the tank with dirt from the foxhole they dug under it.
In another incident, a tank from B Company became wedged between two trees after its driver was blinded by a flame thrower. The crew was ordered out of the tank and told to run. As they ran, the Japanese machine-gunned them. The tank commander was killed instantly, while the other three men made it into a sugarcane field. Only one of the three men was found the next day and was sent to the hospital where he recovered from his wounds. Another man was taken prisoner, while the last man was never heard from again and died from his wounds or was killed. It appears that this tank was also recovered. It was for their performance during this battle that the 192nd Tank Battalion would receive one of its Distinguished Unit Citations.
Companies A and C were ordered to the west coast of Bataan while B Company – which was held in reserve – and 17th Ordnance held the southern shore of Bataan. The tankers were awake all night and attempted to sleep under the jungle canopy, during the day, which protected them from being spotted by Japanese reconnaissance planes. During the night, they were kept busy with repeated threats both on and offshore.
It seemed to the members of A Company that they always seemed to have the job of protecting the 155-millimeter howitzers that the Army used in batteries of six guns. The guns were mobile and could be hooked up to the tanks with a special vehicle and moved to another location. It was recalled that moving them took preparation and setting them up also took preparation. The tankers didn’t like this duty because the guns attracted Japanese fire. Whenever the guns started firing, the Japanese would send up Recon Joe to try to locate them. Shortly after this happened, the dive bombers came in and peppered the hell out of the position. On February 3, near Bambang, Limay, at KM 144, A Company’s bivouac was near a 155-millimeter artillery battery that was attacked by Japanese planes which came in low. During the strafing and bombing, Sgt. Ivan Wilmer was attempting to reach his tank when he was hit by shrapnel from a Japanese bomb killing him instantly.
The Americans quickly learned that the strafing of the batteries could be prevented if the guns were set up on a temporary basis and fired as much as possible before being quickly moved to another position before the Japanese found them. The result of this was the damage done to the Japanese was limited, but it improved the defenders’ morale since it caused havoc with the Japanese who never knew where the guns were located.
The 192nd unlike other units had arrived in the Philippines just before the start of the war, so they did not have the opportunity to stockpile food. The soldiers were hungry and began to eat everything they could get their hands on to eat. The Carabao were tough but if they were cooked long enough they could be eaten. They also began to eat horse meat provided by the 26th U.S. Cavalry. During this time the soldiers ate monkeys, snakes, lizards, horses, and mules. 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. Almost everything that it was possible to eat had already been eaten. The Japanese also were dropping surrender leaflets with the picture of a scantily clad blond on them. They would have been more successful at getting the Americans to surrender if the picture had been a hamburger since the men were so hungry that they most likely would have surrendered for a good meal. Malaria also became a major problem and many of the soldiers suffered from it. There was a shortage of quinine and only those men with the worse cases were allowed to be sent to the hospitals.
The amount of gasoline in March was reduced to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles except the tanks. This would later be dropped to ten gallons a day. It was during this time that Gen Wainwright wanted to turn the tanks into pillboxes. Gen Weaver pointed out to Wainwright that they did not have enough tanks to effectively do this, and if they did, they soon would have no tanks. Gen. Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that a platoon of tanks be sent to Corregidor, but Wainwright declined.
The company’s last bivouac area was about twelve kilometers north of Marivales and looking out on the China Sea. By this point, the tankers knew that there was no help on the way. Many had listened to Secretary of War Harry L. Stimson on short wave. When asked about the Philippines, he said, “There are times when men must die.” The soldiers cursed in response because they knew that the Philippines had already been lost.
On April 3, 1942, the Japanese launched an attack supported by artillery and aircraft. The artillery barrage started at 10 AM and lasted until noon. Daniel stated that one shell landed and another landed in the same spot moments later. At the same time, wave after wave of Japanese bombers hit the same area dropping incendiary bombs that set the jungle on fire. The defenders had to choose between staying in their foxholes and being burned to death or seeking safety somewhere else. As the fire approached their foxholes those men who chose to attempt to flee were torn to pieces by shrapnel. Daniel said that arms, legs, and other body parts hung from tree branches. A large section of the defensive line at Mount Samat was wiped out and a large force of Japanese troops came over Mt. Samat and descended down the south face of the volcano. This attack wiped out two divisions of defenders and left a large area of the defensive line open to the Japanese.
It was the evening of April 8 that Gen. King decided that further resistance was futile, since approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to fight, and 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. He also believed his troops could fight for one more day. Companies B and D, 192nd, and A Company, 194th, were preparing for a suicide attack against the Japanese in an attempt to stop the advance. At 6:00 P.M. the tank battalion commanders received this order: “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.”
It was at 10:00 P.M. that the decision was made to send a jeep – under a white flag – behind enemy lines to negotiate terms of surrender. The problem soon became that no white cloth could be found. Phil Parish, a truck driver for A Company realized that he had bedding buried in the back of his truck and searched for it. The bedding became the “white flags” that were flown on the jeeps. At 11:40 P.M., the ammunition dumps were destroyed. At midnight Companies B and D, and A Company, 194th, received an order from Gen. Weaver to stand down. 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 driver was from the tank group.)
Shortly after daylight Collier and Hunt returned with word of the appointment. It was at about 6:45 A.M. that tank battalion commanders received the order “crash.” The tank crews circled their tanks. Each tank fired an armor-piercing shell into the engine of the tank in front of it. They also opened the gasoline cocks inside the tank compartments and dropped hand grenades into the tanks. Most of the company waited in their bivouac for the Japanese to make contact, while others attempted to reach Corregidor which had not surrendered.
As Gen. King left to negotiate the surrender, he went through the area held by B Company and spoke to the men. He said to them, “Boys. I’m going to get us the best deal I can.” 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. Wade R. 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 Japanese command would arrive to do the negotiations. The Japanese officer also told him that his troops would not 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 in line with the Japanese advance should fly white flags.
After this was done, a Japanese colonel and interpreter arrived, and King was told the officer was Homma’s Chief of Staff who had come to discuss King’s surrender. King attempted to get assurances from the Japanese that his men would be treated as prisoners of war, but the Japanese officer – through his interpreter – accused him 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.
Unknown to Gen. King, an order attributed to Gen. Masaharu Homma – but in all likelihood from one of his subordinates – had been given. It stated, “Every troop which fought against our army on Bataan should be wiped out thoroughly, whether he surrendered or not, and any American captive who is unable to continue marching all the way to the concentration camp should be put to death in the area of 200 meters off the road.”
Daniel began a Prisoner of War on April 9, 1942, but the Japanese did not make contact with the company until the 11th. After they were searched and the Japanese took what they wanted from the POWs, they were ordered to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan. He recalled that at Marivles the Filipinos were separated from the American troops before the march began. It was from there that they started what the POWs simply called “the march.” The prisoners were marched in groups of 100 men with eight to ten guards. The guards, although small in stature, looked mean and hostile. Each had a bayonet attached to the barrel of his rifle. The guards expected their orders to be obeyed without question. To disobey meant a beating or possibly death.
It was also at Mariveles that Daniel learned that not every Japanese guard was bad. One guard liked Daniel’s wallet and wanted it. He could have just taken it, but instead of doing this, he gave Daniel a can of C-rations in exchange for the wallet. As the POWs made their way north, the Filipinos filled containers with water and placed them along the road. The POWs could not stop but many were able to scoop water into their canteens. By doing this the Filipinos saved a great many lives. The POWs also could see them flashing the “V” for victory sign under their folder arms.
The guards were assigned to march a certain distance so they often made the POWs march at a faster pace so they could finish their assigned section. Those men who were sick had a hard time keeping up and if they fell out were bayoneted or shot. When the distance was covered, the column was stopped and allowed to rest and the guards were replaced. Not too long after Daniel started on the march his column of Prisoners Of War was stopped to allow Japanese troops to pass. Artillery was also being moved south to begin the assault on the island of Corregidor. The POWs were not allowed to sit even though they were tired and sick. The Japanese passing in trucks attempted to hit the prisoners with their rifle butts. Many succeeded which in most cases resulted in no real harm to the prisoners. In some cases, there were prisoners who had their skulls fractured from the blow.
On the first day of the march, Daniel was marched until well after sundown. When he and the other POWs were finally given a rest it was already late. After midnight, it began to rain. Although the rain lasted for about one-half hour, the prisoners attempted to catch the rain on their tongues or lick the drops off their lips and hands. This water was the first drink the prisoners received on the march.
The march for Daniel and the other prisoners was hot and dusty, and the men had little to no water. If a prisoner was caught begging for water, the prisoner was beaten. Those who fell to the ground and could not get up were bayoneted or shot. If another prisoner attempted to help one of these men he would be beaten or shot. When the prisoners reached Cabcaban Airfield, they saw that the Japanese had set up guns and were shooting at Corregidor. The marchers had to get past the guns that were firing on Corregidor. As it turned out, this was a dangerous undertaking. It was about this time that the American guns on Corregidor began to pinpoint the location of the Japanese guns. Shells were landing on the road that the POWs were marching on. 1st Lt. Kenneth Bloomfield, A Company, ordered the men to double-time it across the area in an attempt to prevent casualties. After he had made it to safety, Bloomfield simply dropped to the ground. The members of A Company guessed that he had died from either heart failure or heat stroke. Some men said he had been hit by shrapnel from a shell fired by Corregidor. The POWs were allowed to bury him alongside the road next to another member of the battalion.
Sometime after midnight, the POWs were ordered to form ranks and began to march again. They covered ten miles and reached Orani by the time the sun began to rise. There they were herded into a filthy pen that had been used by other prisoners before them and left to bake in the sun for the rest of the day. At the end of each portion of the march, Daniel and his fellow POWs would be put into another pen. Since his group was not the first to use them, they were filled with human waste. Often he would see the decaying bodies of American soldiers still inside the pens. The prisoners also had to deal with Blue Bottle flies, mosquitos and maggots.
Each morning, Daniel remembered that there were men who just could not get onto their feet, while others had simply died while asleep. Those who could not get up were beaten to death with rifle butts or bayoneted. Over the next few days, as the prisoners grew weaker, the beatings were repeated more frequently. Daniel watched as soldiers who had fallen had their heads beaten to a pulp with the butts of rifles by the Japanese guards. Daniel witnessed one guard stick a prisoner, who had fallen, in the back with his bayonet. When the man still did not get up, the guard shot him.
About this, he said, “Although we had seen a lot of dead bodies, mostly Filipinos, along the side of the road, from Cabcaben to Lamao, there was an even larger amount of dead. Among the dead Filipinos would be a dead American from time to time. The Japs didn’t let us bury any of our dead.”
Day after day, as the march went on Daniel saw more and more men fall to the ground. The killings continued. For Daniel and the other POWs, the hardest thing they had to do is watch helplessly as the men were executed. Each man knew that if he protested he too would be killed. The prisoners received very little water. When it was given, there was never enough for all of the prisoners. The water they received was not always clean. This resulted in many of the prisoners contracting dysentery. Daniel had a Boy Scout first aid kit with him. For whatever reason, the Japanese had not taken it away from him. In it, he had iodine which he would put into the water to purify it. To keep his mouth moist, Daniel also sucked on a pebble. This was an old trick that he had learned when he was a Boy Scout.
Daniel saw men who attempted to use the water to wash, shot, or bayoneted. The irrigation ditches alongside the road contained the bodies of dead men. Daniel presumed that they had been killed for breaking ranks to get a drink. POWs who had to relieve themselves because they were suffering from dysentery would seek permission to go to the side of the road, but the guards would beat the men and refuse their requests. The men had no choice but to defecate on themselves. They then had to continue to march with the smell making it worse for everyone.
The Filipino people along the road risked their own lives to help the Americans. Daniel could see in their faces the sadness and unhappiness as they watched the soldiers march by. The Filipinos would throw food in the prisoners as they passed. If caught, the Filipino and the POW who had received the food would both be beaten. One Filipino boy threw Daniel a piece of sugar cane without being seen. Daniel nurtured the sugar cane and sucked on it only when he believed he could not go on another step. The sugar cane gave him the nutrition that he needed to continue the march. In Daniel’s opinion, the Filipino boy saved his life.
During the ten days that it took Daniel to complete the march, the guards were changed frequently. He recalled that when they were changed, the guards would search the prisoners and slap them around. Daniel knew that there was no real reason for the beatings except that the guards just wanted to beat them. To make the prisoners move faster, the guards hit them with their rifles or clubs. The guards constantly were shouting, “Speedo, Speedo” at the Americans to get them to move faster.
From the towns of Cabcaben to Lanao, the number of dead alongside the roads increased. Most of the dead were Filipino, but among them, Daniel could see Americans. The guards did not allow the prisoners to bury the dead. During one of the breaks that Daniel and the other POWs had on the march, Daniel experienced his second act of kindness from a Japanese guard. A guard lit a cigarette and offered it to Daniel. While Daniel was smoking the cigarette, the guard taught him how to say, “Thank you,” in Japanese.
When Daniel finally arrived in San Fernando, he and the other prisoners were made to stand at attention in the sun. It appears that unlike other groups of POWs, his detachment was taken right to the train station. Daniel and the other POWs were finally loaded into freight cars at the town’s railroad station. Since the train line was narrow gauge, the cars were only seven feet high, thirty feet long, and eight feet wide and known as “forty or eights” because the boxcars could hold forty men or eight horses, but the Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car because that was the number of men in the detachment. The POWs were packed so tightly that the men could not move. The Japanese then closed the doors. The cars were hot and suffocating and men fainted and died but could not fall to the floor. Others begged for water that would not be given to them. The situation was made worse by the smell of the prisoners’ unwashed bodies and human waste. For Daniel, this train ride was the worst part of the march.
After the prisoners disembarked from the train, they marched another eight miles to Camp O’Donnell. The first thing that Daniel noticed is that the guards for this part of the march treated the prisoners better. They didn’t seem to be as hostile or look as mean. Those POWs who fell were picked up and placed on a truck and taken to the camp.
Daniel arrived at Camp O’Donnell and he and the other prisoners were herded into an area near the headquarters building. There, the Japanese searched them again for forbidden items. He and the other men heard a story of how four POWs in the group before theirs were caught with forbidden items. Three with Japanese money and one with a Japanese flag. They had been led away> Over the next several days to the southeast of the camp, the POWs heard gunshots. Those who had been caught with war trophies had been executed. One survived the execution and fought with the guerrillas.
After being searched, Daniel and the other prisoners were formed into a semi-circle and introduced to Capt. Tsuneyoshi. Capt. Tsuneyoshi told the prisoners that they were captives and not prisoners of war. He also told them they had no rights and no honor. Because of this, the Japanese could use them as slave labor to create a Japanese-dominated Asia. For all practical purposes, he had informed them that they were slaves.
Capt. Tsuneyoshi next told the prisoners that any man who attempted to escape would be shot. If a man approached the perimeter fence, he too would be shot. The officers were separated from the enlisted men and housed in separate barracks. Since there were not enough barracks to house all the prisoners, Daniel found himself with others sleeping on the ground regardless of the weather. When it rained, Daniel and the other men who had to sleep outside heard the coughing and groaning of the sick.
There was only one water faucet in the camp, and the prisoners stood in line for two to eight hours waiting for a drink. The Japanese guards at the faucet would turn it off for no reason and the next man in line would stand as long as four hours waiting for it to be turned on again. This was often done so the Japanese could bathe and wanted more water.
There was no water for washing clothes, so the POWs would throw out their clothing when it had been soiled. In addition, water for cooking had to be carried three miles from a river to the camp, and mess kits could not be washed. This situation improved when a second faucet was added by the POWs who found the piping and dug the trench for the waterline. When the Japanese turned the water off, the POWs had the ability to turn it back on again without the Japanese knowing.
The camp hospital had no soap, water, or disinfectant. When the ranking American doctor at the camp wrote a letter to the camp commandant, Capt. Yohio Tsuneyoshi, asking for medical supplies. He was told never to write another letter. The Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medical supplies to the camp but the Japanese commandant refused to allow the truck into the camp. When the Philippine Red Cross sent a truck of medical supplies to the camp, the Japanese took 95% of the supplies for their own use. A second truck sent by the Red Cross of medical supplies was turned away at the camp gate.
The POWs received three meals a day which were mainly rice. For breakfast, they were fed a half cup of soupy rice and occasionally some type of coffee. Lunch each day was a half of a mess kit of steamed rice and a half cup of sweet potato soup. They received the same meal for dinner. All meals were served outside regardless of the weather. By May 1, the food had improved a little with the issuing of a little wheat flour, some native beans, and a small issue of coconut oil. About once every ten days, 3 or 4 small calves were brought into the camp. When meat was given out, there was only enough for one-fourth of the POWs to receive a piece that was an inch square. A native potato, the camote, was given to the POWs, but most were rotten and thrown out. The POWs had to post guards to prevent other POWs from eating them. The camp had a Black Market and POWs who had money could buy a small can of fish from the guards for $5.00.
The POWs in the camp hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow and only one medic -of the six medics assigned to care for 50 sick POWs – was healthy enough to care for them. When a representative of the Philippine Red Cross stated they could supply a 150-bed hospital for the camp, he was slapped in the face by a Japanese lieutenant.
Each morning, the bodies of the dead were found all over the camp and were carried to the hospital and placed underneath it. The bodies lay there for two or three days before they were buried in the camp cemetery by other POWs who were suffering from dysentery and/or malaria. To clean the ground under the hospital, the bodies were moved to one area, the ground was scraped and lime was spread over it. The bodies of the dead were placed in the cleaned area, and the area they had lain was scraped and lime was spread over it. At one point, the bodies of 80 dead POWs lay under the hospital awaiting burial.
Work details were sent out on a daily basis. Each day, the American doctors gave a list of names to the Japanese of the POWs who were healthier enough to work. If the quota of POWs needed to work could not be met, the Japanese put those POWs who were sick but could walk, to work. Many of these men would return to the camp after working and die. The death rate among the POWs reached 50 men dying a day.
It was at this time that Daniel ended up working in the hospital for the men who had little to no hope of surviving. Daniel found this job difficult because many of the prisoners could hardly swallow the food he was feeding them. When a soldier died, Daniel would strip him of his clothing, and the man would be buried naked. The dead man’s clothing would be washed in boiling water and given to a prisoner in need of clothing. Doing this job, Daniel watched the endless line of Filipino POWs on the road carrying their dead to be buried. Life for the Americans was bad, but for the Filipinos, it was even worse. Thirty to forty Americans died each day, but this was not even half the number of Filipinos who died every day.
One of the things that saddened Daniel was that he and the other POWs were becoming hardened to the deaths. The burial details were so common that as time went on none of the prisoners seem to pay attention to them. To Daniel, it seemed that this was because each man had to look out for his own survival.
At the end of May or in early June, his family received this message from the War Department.
Dear Mrs. S. Stoudt:
According to War Department records, you have been designated as the emergency addressee if Private Daniel H. Stoudt, 36,201,050, 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)
The Adjutant General
On June 1, 1942, the POWs formed detachments of 100 men each and were marched to Capas. There, they were put in steel boxcars with two Japanese guards. At Calumpit, the train was switched onto another line which took it to Cabanatuan. The POWs disembarked and were taken to a schoolyard where they were fed cooked rice and onion soup. From there, they were marched to Cabanatuan which had been the headquarters of the 91st Philippine Army Division and was known as Camp Pangatian. The transfer of POWs was completed on June 4.
The camp was actually three camps. Camp 1 was where most of the men who were captured on Bataan and taken part in the death march were held. Camp 2 did not have an adequate water supply and was closed but was later reopened and housed Naval POWs. Camp 3 was where most of those men captured when Corregidor surrendered were taken and was later consolidated into Camp 1 on October 30, 1942.
When the camp opened, Daniel was sent there on June 2. At Cabanatuan, Daniel came down with malaria and scurvy. Major Alvin C. Poweleit, M. D., of the 192nd Tank Battalion treated his malaria with quinine. Poweleit gave Daniel two quinine pills which saved his life. Daniel would hold Poweleit in high regard for the rest of his life. Daniel would continue to suffer malaria attacks once a month for the rest of the time of his imprisonment. From the scurvy, Daniel’s jaw bone deteriorated. This would result in Daniel’s perfect set of teeth being ruined. Since the doctors had very few medicines to treat the sick with, two hospitals were set up for the ill. One was for men who were sick but likely to recover, and the other one was for those POWs who were going to die. When the Philippine Red Cross attempted to supply medicine, the Japanese refused to allow them to give it to the prisoners.
During June, the first cases of diphtheria appeared in the camp, and by July, it had spread throughout the camp. The Japanese finally gave the American medical staff medicine to treat the POWs, but before it took effect, 130 POWs had died from the disease by August. On June 26, six POWs were executed by the Japanese after they had left the camp to buy food and were caught returning to camp. The POWs were tied to posts in a manner that they could not stand up or sit down. No one was allowed to give them food or water and they were not permitted to give them hats to protect them from the sun. The men were left tied to the posts for 48 hours when their ropes were cut. Four of the POWs were executed on the duty side of the camp and the other two were executed on the hospital side of the camp.
In July 1942, while he was a POW in Cabanatuan, his family received a second letter from the War Department. The following is an excerpt.
“The last report of casualties received by the War Department from the Philippines arrived early in the morning of May 6. Through this date, Private Daniel N. Stoudt 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.”
The food in the camp was terrible in Daniel’s opinion. The rice smelled and appeared to have been swept up off the floor. The other problem was that the men assigned to be cooks had no idea of how to prepare the rice since they had no experience in cooking it. To supplement their diets, the men would search for grasshoppers, rats, and dogs to eat. There, he was assigned the duty of being a camp cook. He believed that he was better at cooking rice than the men who had this duty at Camp O’Donnell. He tried to vary the way the rice was served. Daniel prepared lugau which is a gruel or oatmeal-like meal. Regardless of how the rice was served, Daniel continued to eat his in the dark. Once in a while, Daniel and the other cooks received corn to serve to the prisoners. From the corn, the cooks would make hominy. The prisoners were so hungry that some men would eat the corn cobs. This resulted in many men being taken to the hospital to have the cobs removed because they would not pass through the men’s bowels. When serving the rice to his fellow POWs, Daniel used a sardine can to assure that each man received the same amount. He noticed that he was closely watched by his fellow prisoners who wanted to make sure that everyone received the same portion and that no one received extra rice.
Daniel also was assigned to the burial detail and recalled that the bodies of the dead were nothing but skin and bones. The bodies were carried in a blanket by two men to the gravesite. It would be put into a mass grave with nineteen other bodies. When Daniel arrived at the grave, he would turn his head away so that he would not have to look at the bodies of the dead. Since there were so many bodies in the grave, it was almost impossible to cover the bodies with dirt. Daniel stated that the heavy tropical rains caused the bodies to rise to the surface. The bodies had to reburied quickly before wild dogs dragged the bodies off.
Daniel was also sent out of Cabanatuan on the guava detail. The prisoners went out to a field and picked guava leaves which were made into tea. This tea was given to POWs suffering from dysentery. The guard on this detail allowed the old Filipino who lived near the field where the leaves were picked to go into town for the prisoners and by food and cigarettes. The prisoners would smuggle the items into camp and resell them. If the men were caught, they were beaten for smuggling. When the American officers learned about this situation, they soon took over the detail. As time went on, Daniel reflected on how much like animals the POWs had become. It was not that they were intentionally trying to take advantage of each other, it was because each man was trying to survive.
According to Daniel, prisoners at night would use a drainage ditch that ran through the camp and under the barbed wire fence to crawl out of the camp. They would go into town and buy food and cigarettes. They would sneak back into camp and sell the items to the other prisoners at triple the price on a hillside within the camp. A can of corn would cost $15.00 dollars. Because of the prices charged, the hill became known as “Thieves Hill” to the prisoners.
One night, three prisoners were caught using the ditch to sneak out of the camp. The Japanese tied the men to posts and made any Filipino or American who passed them beat them. If the guards believed that the person was not hitting the men hard enough, the guards would beat the men. For whatever reason, the Japanese did not punish the remaining seven POWs in the group. Instead, they made all the prisoners suffer by cutting the food rations for everyone.
It was around this time that Daniel and the other prisoners were allowed to put on shows for entertainment. The prisoners would tell jokes, perform comedy skits, and play homemade instruments. How good or bad the acts were was of little concern to the men. What was important was that the men had a pleasant experience for one day.
The guards according to Daniel carried short clubs. They would use the clubs to hit the POWs on their heads for rule infractions. The beatings lasted a few seconds to well over an hour. The length of the beating was determined by how major the violation was considered to be.
One evening at dinner time, Daniel and other prisoners saw a formation of twenty or thirty Japanese soldiers marching. On a pole in front of the formation was the head of a Filipino who had disobeyed an order. For violating the order, the man had been beheaded.
As time went on, Daniel’s clothes and the clothes of the other POWs began to wear out. Men walked around camp with no shirts or pants. All they had were loincloths.
The Japanese needed 1000 POWs to go on a detail to Davao in October 1942. On October 24, Daniel was one of 1000 POWs who were marched eight miles to the town of Cabanatuan. At the town’s railroad stationed they were loaded into small wooden boxcars again. The townspeople came out to watch the POWs as they boarded the trains. From their faces, Daniel could see that they had a great deal of sympathy for the Americans.
Unlike the trip to Camp O’Donnell, the doors of the boxcars were left open. This made the trip a great deal easier on the POWs. For whatever reason, the train stopped in several towns. When it arrived in a town, the Filipino people would come out. Many brought rice balls, fried chicken, bananas, and anything else they had with them. Because they were not allowed to approach the train, the Filipinos would throw food at the prisoners. Daniel felt that this was an unbelievable show of support to the Americans because many were giving up half of the food they had to eat.
Daniel recalled that when the train pulled into one town, the people gathered at the station. While the train set in the station, the Filipinos began to hum the song, “God Bless America.” They also called out to the POWs, “Mabuhay Joe,” which in English meant, “Long life Joe.” Because of their courage and support of the Americans at a threat to their own lives, Daniel always loved the Filipino people.
When they arrived in Manila, they remained in the boxcars until after dark. The POWs were unloaded from the trains and marched through the empty streets to Bilibid Prison. Once at Bilibid, they were fed mutton soup and rice. Bilibid had been built by the Spanish and had been a civilian prisoner before the war. The prisoner was a two-story mortar and brick building surrounded by a high brick wall. At the entrance were two heavy iron gates. The POWs were put in what had been the hospital ward. Daniel recalled that there were no beds in the prison. At night every prisoner slept on the concrete floor. The food was also of poor quality. Probably the one good thing about Bilibid according to Daniel was that the prisoners had more than enough water for drinking and washing.
Two days after arriving at Bilibid, Dan and other prisoners were marched through the streets of Manila to the port area. What struck Daniel about the city was how devastated it appeared to be. Dewey Boulevard which had been the most modern street of the city was now lined with burnt-out empty buildings. Ashes were all that was left of the huts that had lined other streets in Manila. At Pier 7, the POWs were boarded onto the Erie Maru. Daniel recalled that he had enough room to lay down without being crowded. The hatches to the holds of the ships were left open to provide ventilation. The POWs were allowed on deck once the ship cleared Manila Harbor.
Food for the prisoners was generous. The food was well prepared and each POW received a full mess kit of rice and a canteen cup filled with a thick cabbage soup containing pork. They even were given corn beef and cabbage one night.
The trip on the freighter lasted 13 days. The reason was the ship made frequent stops in ports along the coast of Luzon. Daniel and the POWs disembarked the ship at Davao. There, they joined another group of 1000 prisoners. Daniel noticed that these prisoners appeared to be well fed when compared to the men in Daniel’s group. Upon the arrival of Daniel’s group, the rations for these men were cut in half. This caused friction between the two groups.
When they arrived at the camp, the POWs were in such bad shape that the ranking Japanese officer, Major Mida, ordered them fed. They ate pork and beef, rice cabbage pinch, squash onions, potatoes, and peanuts which were all produced on the farm. From the orchards, they were given fruit which included raw and cooked plantains. The sick were given medical treatment and there was enough water for drinking, bathing, and laundry. When the recuperation took too long, their diet was cut to rice and greens soup.
At the camp, the POWs were housed in eight barracks that were about 148 feet long and about 16 feet wide. A four-foot-wide aisle ran down the center of each barracks. In each barracks, were eighteen bays. Twelve POWs shared a bay. 216 POWs lived in each barracks. Four cages were later put in a bay. Each cage held two POWs.
The camp discipline was poor, and the American commanding officer changed frequently. The junior officers refused to take orders from the senior officers. Soon, the enlisted men spoke any way they wanted to, to the officers. The situation improved because the majority of POWs realized that discipline was needed to survive.
There were various details. 30 men were assigned to work as carpenters, 25 POWs worked in the orchards, 50 POWs made rope, 20 POWs worked the bodega (storeroom) detail, and for four months the POWs cut and picked coffee. There were smaller details that took from 2 to 35 men that lasted weeks or months, while other details were continuous, such as the farm detail that 250 to 300 POWs worked on plowing fields and harvesting crops.
50 to 100 POWs were sent to a plantation and given the job of building roads. In the opinion of the POWs, they did more damage than good and intentionally kept the roads impassable. The Japanese decided that they were getting nowhere, so they sent the POWs to the rice fields to plant rice.
Daniel and the other prisoners were assigned to a farm. The prisoners grew rice, sweet potatoes, cassava roots, coffee, and squash. The food was used to feed the Japanese soldiers in the Philippines and leftover food was shipped to the military in Japan. The only part of this food the prisoners received was the plant tops from the sweet potatoes. The prisoners were fed rice three times a day. The evening meal would also include mongo beans. For three to four months, the POWs also received tuna fish once a week.
350 to 750 POWs were used in the rice fields and were responsible for planting 1600 acres of rice. The POWs attempted to grow as little rice as possible and would drop the rice stalks in the mud and “unintentionally” step on them. The number varied because planting and harvesting took more men. Many of the POWs became ill with what was called, “Rice Sickness.” This illness was caused by a POW cutting his foot or leg on a rice stalk. The POW developed a rash and suffered from severe swelling. If a POW bruised himself, the bruise developed into an ulcer. Most, if not all of the prisoners, suffered from malaria.
When harvesting the rice, the POWs would “miss” the collection baskets spilling the rice onto the ground. At the threshing machine, the POWs made sure that as much of the rice as possible was blown away with the chaff. They would also “forget” to push the rice carts into the warehouse when it rained which caused the rice to get moldy. Although they did these things, most of the rice still made it to the warehouse. Once piled inside, the prisoners often poked holes into the roof directly above the rice. When it rained, the rice would get wet and moldy.
Unlike the many camps, there was plenty of water available to the prisoners and there was a well in the compound. For the first time since he became a prisoner, Daniel could actually keep himself and his clothes clean. Being clean was a great help in improving the health of the POWs.
The POWs on Daniel’s detail had only one guard and he allowed two men to collect bananas which the prisoners would lay on the ground and cover with leaves. In a couple of days, the bananas would be ripe. While they were working, the guard let the prisoners eat them, but they were not allowed to bring the bananas back to camp. More than one man had been hit or kicked in the shins for trying to bring fruit into the camp.
One POW on Dan’s detail was allowed, by the guard, to pick a stalk of bananas and take them to camp. When he got to the gate, the detail’s guard was not with him. The gate guard kicked and hit the man until he passed out. When he awoke, he was tied to a post with his hands behind him. He remained tied to the post for two days. When he began to slump. the Japanese would beat him. The second day he was tied to the post, a Catholic priest visited the man. Not too long after this visit, the prisoner was cut from the post and fell to the ground. He was carried to his quarters.
In another incident, a prisoner on a rice detail was caught trying to smuggle rice into the camp. From that time on, all the prisoners had to strip and be searched by the guards to assure they were not smuggling rice.
Daniel believed that one of the strangest things that the Japanese did was to allow the groves of oranges, papaya, mangos, coconuts, and bananas to become overgrown. Most of the fruit was simply left to rot on the trees. The prisoners would have gladly worked overtime and cared for the groves but the Japanese would not let them.
It was while he was at Davao that his parents received a telegram from the War Department on January 30, 1943.
REPORT JUST RECEIVED THROUGH THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS STATES THAT YOUR SON PRIVATE DANIEL N STOUDT 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=
Another form letter arrived from the War Department and was dated February 2, 1943.
“Dear Mrs. Stoudt:
“Report had been received that your son, Private Daniel N. Stoudt, 36,201,050, Infantry, is now a prisoner of war to the Japanese Government in the Philippine Islands. This is to confirm my telegram of January 30, 1943.
“The Provost Marshall General, Prisoner of War Information Bureau, Washington, D. C., will furnish you the address to which mail may be sent. Any future correspondence in connection with his status as a prisoner of war should be addressed to that office.
Very truly yours,
J. A. Ulio (signed)
The Adjutant General.
A week or so after this notification, they received a letter from the War Department.
The Provost Marshal General directs me to inform you that you may communicate with your brother, postage free, by following the inclosed instructions:
It is suggested that you address him as follows:
Pvt. Daniel N. Stoudt, 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.
Howard F. Bresee
Chief Information Bureau
As time passed. the shoes of Daniel and the other POWs were wearing out. The prisoners made shoes from wood or leather thongs. One prisoner made shoes thicker than normal. He hallowed out one heel and smuggle rice into the camp in the hollowed-out heal. Everyone was impressed with his shrewdness until one day when he was entering the camp and the heel opened sending rice flying everywhere. The gate guard saw this and beat the man severely.
Right outside the fences that surrounded the prison compound were wild mango trees and hot pepper plants. The prisoners would attempt to smuggle these into camp to mix into their food. From the peppers, they would make a hot sauce that they would mix into their rice. Daniel believed that he and his fellow prisoners would do almost anything to put some flavor into the rice.
On Daniel’s first Christmas in the camp, the prisoners received Red Cross packages. Daniel and other prisoners were sent to the railroad station to get the packages and placed them on railroad baggage carts. They then pushed the carts to the camp. On the way, it started to rain but no one cared. They were too happy with the thought of what was in the packages. One man started to sing God Bless America and soon all the POWs joined in and sang all the way back to the camp. These boxes were their first Red Cross packages which were their first contact with the outside world. The packages contained cigarettes, instant coffee, canned goods, medicines, and powdered milk. At first, the POWs did not know what powdered milk was because it had not been invented until after the war had started.
There were numerous escape attempts while Daniel was at the camp. Some were successful and some were not. Some men escaped but got lost in the jungle. When they became hungry or got sick, they decided that they were better off in the camp and returned. Punishment varied for each man. Usually, the punishment was having rations cut with each escape.
After the escape of Capt. William Dyess, LTC Melvyn McCoy, Maj. Stephen Mellnik, Maj. Michael Dobervitch, and another POW on April 4, 1943, the 600 remaining POWs from their barracks were moved to another compound and had their rations reduced, they were confined to quarters, and they were abused. During the day, they were not allowed to sit down. The Japanese commanding officer ordered and allowed collective punishment on all the POWs. If the POWs were found to have food on them when they returned from work, they were brutally beaten. At night the guards walked through the barracks a poked the sleeping POWs with bamboo poles to disrupt their sleep.
When two other POWs escaped, 22 other POWs were confined to the guardhouse for ten days. They were made to stand at attention all day in the cells. The cells were eight feet long and three and one-half feet wide. Eleven prisoners were put into each cell. At night they were beaten with sticks when they attempted to lie down. They were fed one meal a day of rice with a little salt.
On one work detail, ten men attempted to escape. About half succeeded and the others were shot trying to escape. They had been working outside the camp for months and had hidden supplies for their escape. They had also made contact with a Filipino who guided them to a guerrilla camp. Those who had survived the escape fought with the guerrillas until the Philippines were liberated. After this escape, the guards became meaner to the prisoners.
The Japanese ended the detail at the farm and sent the POWs to Lasang on March 2, 1944. The POWs thought that it would not be as bad as the farm; they were wrong. The barracks of the POWs were only 400 yards from the airfield. The POWs believed this was done so that if American planes attacked, they would kill their own countrymen. 550 POWs either built runways or were sent to a quarry to mine coral for runways. The POWs dug out the coral, broke it up, and loaded it onto trucks that were driven to the airfield. When the POWs slowed the pace of their work down, the Japanese resorted to torture to get them to work.
Not too long after this escape, Daniel’s malaria began to act up and the ulcer in his right eye was giving him trouble, so he was put into the sick compound. The hut had no wall just a roof. One day he heard a group of guards yelling, shooting, and carrying on near the hut. He looked out and watched as the guards shot at a prisoner who tried to get extra water. As serious as the situation was, it was also very funny. The prisoner was zigzagging all across the compound with the guards zigzagging in the same way and shooting at him. Fortunately, the man escaped without being shot and was safe because the guards were not able to identify him.
A Japanese doctor would visit the prisoners in the hut once a week with the American doctors. The Japanese doctor spoke English and seemed very concerned about the sick prisoners. One rumor was that the doctor had been educated in the United States which explained why he spoke English so well. Daniel heard that the doctor had helped the sick prisoners by getting milk and eggs for them. Daniel never saw either one while he was in the sick ward.
When Daniel returned to work, he was assigned the job of plowing in a rice field. At the end of the day, he had to carry the plow back to the camp with him. One day it was raining and the banks of the rice paddies were slippery. Daniel had difficulty walking and slipped into the paddy. He was in mud up to his thighs and had a difficult time getting out with the plow.
Since it took him so long to get out of the paddy, he began to worry because he knew he would be late getting back to the camp. Those prisoners who came back to the camp late were usually shot. When he arrived at the camp, the guard started yelling at him and slapping him around. As the guard got ready to shoot him, one of the other prisoners who had learned to speak Japanese explained to the guard why Daniel was late. The explanation calmed the guard down and saved Daniel’s life. Daniel was happy that he knew someone who knew Japanese.
Sleeping quarters for each man was a little cage with a door on it and a wooden bottom. The wooden bottoms of the cages were so infested with bed bugs that Daniel went outside to sleep on the grass. He also had a pith helmet with a strap on it that he would lay on the floor of his cage. Several times when he fell out for roll call he would put the helmet on the bed bugs would come out from under the strap and crawl down his face while he stood at attention not daring to move. When roll call was over, Daniel would beat the bed bugs out of his hat and step on them.
One POW came up with the idea of scolding the bed bugs to death by pouring hot water over the boards. This proved to be successful and thereafter all the men were scalding the floors of their beds and taking their bed clothing outside to rid them of the bugs.
The one day of the week the POWs had off was Sunday. Daniel and the other prisoners only had to work if there was a special detail. Three of the prisoners in the camp formed a trio. One man would play the guitar and all three would sing. They were very good and Daniel always enjoyed hearing them.
The Japanese had a newspaper for propaganda purposes, and in the paper, the Japanese reported their victories. Once in the paper, they made the mistake and stated that they had evacuated Guam because it was no longer of strategic importance. The prisoners knew that it was only a matter of time before the Philippine Islands were liberated. Daniel and the other POWs were excited by the good news because they knew it meant the United States was winning the war.
Daniel soon learned that the camp at Davao was going to be closed because the Filipino guerrillas were having success against the Japanese. In addition, the Americans were getting closer to the Philippines. Because of these two situations, the Japanese ordered most of the prisoners to Manila for shipment to other Japanese controlled territories.
The prisoners were ordered to pack up all the farm equipment. While this was being done, an American officer in the rope factory walked up to the only guard and jumped him. He next began to beat the guard over the head with a small iron pipe. The other prisoners were caught totally off guard. The guard was screaming for help but could not be heard. The officer grabbed the guard’s gun and was going to shoot him. The gun was not loaded and the guard was able to escape.
Other Japanese guards entered the building and began to beat all the prisoners. One prisoner was able to explain that only one prisoner attacked the guard. The POWs were made to sit with their backs against the wall and their legs crossed tightly under their buttocks. Each man was questioned at the prison headquarters. The officer who attacked the guard confessed and was taken away. He was never seen again. Hearing the man’s screams in the guardhouse left no doubt in Daniel’s mind as to the officer’s fate.
From this time on, if the POWs went out on a work detail it was with a large group of guards. The guards were nervous and kept their guns with bayonets attached pointed at the men at all times. Food rations were also cut so the prisoners were once again hungry. On the last day in Davao, a dog was killed and all the prisoners received a gallon of rice. They were then made to sit out in the sun for hours before they were moved out of the camp.
About half the POWs at Davao were selected to be returned to Manila but the POWs had no idea where they were going. The night before they left, the POWs ate all the cats and dogs they raised. The first group of POWs left the camp at 3:00 AM. As they got ready to leave Decapol, they removed their shoes, were put into detachments of 10 rows with four men in each row, and were tied together with rope around their waists. Each POW had to wear a blindfold and put his hands on the shoulders of the man in front of him and was taken to a truck and climbed into the trucks. Daniel was the last man on the truck and had a difficult time standing in the truck when it went around curves. Daniel felt a man starting to fall so he grabbed him. When Daniel realized it was the Japanese guard, he let him fall out of the truck. When they reached Davao City, the prisoners were loaded onto the ship the Yashu Maru for Manila. They were put in the forward holds and remained there for six days before the ship sailed on June 12.
One night, when the ship was about one mile off the coast of Mindanao, a prisoner jumped overboard and swam toward shore. The Japanese fired at him but did not hit him. His escape was a success. As a result of this event, the remaining prisoners were not allowed on deck except to use the toilets.
At an unknown time on the morning of June 15th, the ship sailed, and a second POW, Lt. Donald H. Wills, escaped off the coast of Misamis, Mindanao. The POWs in the hold heard numerous rifle shots, but they believed that he had not been hit. The Japanese tightened their security and the 1235 remaining POWs were kept in the ship’s hold. Rice was sent down to the POWs in buckets and from that time on, a tub was also lowered into the hold for the prisoners to use as a toilet. With the heat inside the hold and the smell from the waste, the next ten days were almost unlivable. As the ship continued sailing, the POWs were allowed on deck 20 at a time. It passed Japanese ships heading south that were carrying about 18 to 20 thousand troops near Zamboanga. It was estimated by the POWs that the convoy had between 7 to 21 ships in it. It was also stated that each evening the POWs sang songs to show the Japanese they were not getting to them.
At 9:00 AM on June 17, the ship arrived at Cebu City but did not dock until 6:30 PM. The POWs were taken off the ship at 8:00 AM the next morning but did not take their possessions off the ship; it sailed at 10:00 AM with their possessions on it. It was noted by the POWs that all the ships in the harbor left in a hurry. The POWs were told they would sail that afternoon, but at 5 PM, they found themselves in the ruins of old Fort San Pedro in Cebu. The walls of the fort were 30 feet high, 10 feet thick, and encompassed an area of about 300 feet square. There was one sheet metal building that the POWs put the sick in for the night. The rest of the POWs spent the day in the sun on white coral or crumbling cement. Each man was given a canteen of water, but not fed.
The Japanese had cavalry near the POWs in a park but the next morning, June 19th, the unit was gone leaving behind the flies from the horses. It was noted that the horses did not look very well. The longer that they were in the old fort the sanitary situation got worse and so did the flies. It was at this time that a 300-man detail went to the dock to unload their baggage from the Yashu Maru which had returned to the harbor.
At 2:00 PM on the 20th, the POWs left the fort, returned to Pier 1, and boarded a new ship – used to carry coal – that was much larger than the previous one but they were still crowded into one hold. The POWs gave the ship the name Singoto Maru. Other sources state that the ship was the Teiryu Maru. The ship pulled away from the dock at 4:15 PM and it was noted that the trip to Manila would take 36 hours. The POWs were accused of not cooperating on June 21st, so they were not fed on the 22nd. The ship docked in Manila at 10:30 PM that night, but the POWs did not disembark until later in the morning of the 28th. From the dock, they marched to Bilibid Prison where they were searched and personal items were taken from them.
At 5:00 AM on June 29th, many of the POWs were marched to the train station and rode boxcars to the Barrio of Cabanatuan. Those who remained at Bilibid had already been scheduled to be sent to Japan. Once again, Daniel found himself sleeping on the concrete floors of a big warehouse. The only bright spot for the POWs was that Red Cross packages from home were waiting for them. Since they had been sitting at Bilibid for a year, the perishable food had spoiled, but the canned food was still edible. The prisoners were elated to receive the packages because they meant that although two years had passed their families were still thinking of them.
Daniel was assigned to be shipped to Japan when he came down with malaria. When prisoner selection for shipment to Japan was made he was too sick to be sent to Japan. Instead, he was admitted to the hospital ward and discharged on April 27, 1944, and sent to the sick compound at Cabanatuan. The camp, in his opinion, had improved since he had left two years earlier. There were not as many prisoners there and the food had improved. He remained in the sick compound for a month and was treated with quinine which cured him.
Once Daniel was well, he was returned to Bilibid Prison. On August 13, 1944, Daniel was taken to Bilibid Prison and put on the Noto Maru. 1033 POWs were boarded onto the ship on August 25 and packed into one hold. The ship sailed, as part of a four-ship convoy, on the 27th but dropped anchor off Bataan. On its trip to Formosa, depth charges were dropped since American submarines were believed to be in the area. The ships arrived at Takao, Formosa, on August 30th, sailed again on August 31st, and arrived at Moji, Japan, on September 4th.
During the trip to Japan, the POWs were packed into the ship’s hold so tightly that they could not use the half barrel that was supposed to be the toilet. The floor of the hold was covered in human waste since most of the men were suffering from dysentery. The smell got so bad that the Japanese covered the hatch of the hold. The POWs received water twice a day and were fed once a day.
As the ship made its way to Japan men died of sickness and starvation. With each death, there was more room in the ship’s hold. The bodies of the dead were hosted out of the hold by ropes and dumped in the sea. The suction of the ship’s propellers pulled the bodies into them and resulted in the bodies being cut up. The Japanese finally decided that the only way to deal with the smell coming from the hold was to bring the POWs on deck and wash them down with seawater. They also washed down the floor of the hold at the same time.
Once at Moji, the POWs were broken into two groups. Daniel’s group of POWs were marched to the train station and taken by train to the camps along the line. The windows of the train car were covered and the prisoners were ordered to leave them covered. They were told this had been done so that they could not see the civilians. In reality, the Japanese did not want the prisoners to see the damage being done by the American bombings.
The train trip in Daniel’s opinion was the most luxurious means of travel that he experienced while a prisoner. On the train, the prisoners received boxed lunches of fish, rice, and radishes. The POWs were on the train for three days through mountainous country. Daniel did peek under the shades and saw civilians and the countryside.
The further north the POWs went the tougher and more rugged-looking the people became. Women were seen working on the track of the railroad. Their clothing consisted of coats made out of rice straw or big leaves, They also wore ugly straw overalls. Daniel’s POW detachment was taken to Sendai #6, arriving at the camp on September 8th. The prisoners were marched from Hanawa to the newly built prison camp. Some parts of the camp were still under construction when the prisoners arrived. The camp was approximately 200 feet wide by 350 feet long and had a 12-foot high wooden fence around it and was located at 4,000 feet. The POWs were housed in wooden barracks, with 30-foot ceilings, and two tiers of bunks, against each long wall, with straw matting and a mattress stuffed with straw for sleeping. They also had a 4″ by 4″ by 8″ block of wood for a pillow.
The floors of the barracks were packed dirt with a center aisle. There were covered walkways, without sides, that connected the barracks. To heat the barracks, there was a small potbelly stove. If they were lucky, the Japanese gave them enough wood for an hour’s heat. The POWs – who worked in the foundry – stole coal knowing that if they were caught they would be beaten. The barracks were not insulated and the heavy snow – which was as deep as 10 feet – served as insulation.
Other buildings in the camp were two buildings that served as a hospital for the POWs and an “L” shaped building that was the kitchen and POW bath. The latrines were three low buildings, and there was one building that served as the camp office. The POWs spent several days setting up the camp.
In the camp, 500 POWs worked in the copper mine owned by Mitsubishi Mining Company and worked under company supervision. The POWs woke up at 5 A.M. and ate breakfast which was a small bowl of rice, barley, or millet, and a bowl of watery soup. Meals for the POWs were brought to the barracks, in buckets, and the POWs ate at tables in the barracks. After breakfast, at 5:30, roll call was taken and the POWs and the POWs left the camp. They arrived at the mine at 7 A.M., had a half-hour lunch, and worked until 5:00 P.M. before returning to camp, usually after dark, and having supper. Afterward, they went to bed.
Daniel stated that the prisoners were issued two sets of clothing. One set of clothing was a nice, green, cotton outfit, while the other clothing was made from burlap which was issued to the POWs for the winter. When the Red Cross inspectors arrived at the camp the prisoners wore green cotton clothing to make a good impression. They also received split-toed shoes and an English Army raincoat. When the inspectors left, the men changed back into burlap clothing.
Rations for the POWs were 625 grams each day. The meals included rice, barley, or millet. If a prisoner was sick and not working, he would receive 500 grams a day, but all prisoners received three meals a day. Breakfast was a small bowl of one of the grains, while lunch was a bowl of rice and a different grain. Dinner was a bowl of rice, another grain, and shark-head soup. The soup was just broth with a lot of shark head bones in it. Some prisoners could not eat the fish so Daniel and other prisoners made arrangements with those men for their fish.
Work details were set up for POWs who were machinists, electricians, and mechanics. Those who did not have these skills were assigned to work at a foundry or mining. The POWs worked in a copper mine owned by Mitsubishi. Each day, the POWs were marched up the side of a mountain to the top and then down into the mine. To their amazement, their guards always seemed to be waiting for them. It turned out there was a tunnel into the mine which the guards used so they did not have to climb the mountain.
Each detail had a “honcho” who was employed by Mitsubishi and supervised the POWs. They carried a large stick which they used on the POWs when they felt they were not working hard enough. The POWs believed these supervisors wanted to work them to death. At the mine, the POWs were divided among drillers, car loaders, and car pushers, with the miners having the worst job. The work in the mine was dirty, dangerous, and difficult. Each miner received a carbide headlamp as his only lighting. A quota was set but the Japanese and the Japanese were always raising the quota. The number of carloads mined by the men was never enough.
A quota was set but the Japanese and the Japanese were always raising the quota. The number of carloads mined by the men was never enough. The POWs were beaten for not working hard enough or fast enough. Many shafts of the mine were so low that the miners had to crawl through to get to the ore. Some shafts had standing water with threats of sudden flooding. Lighting was poor and most areas were not even shored up to prevent cave-ins. Accidents were frequent and many POWs were hurt. There was no gas-detecting equipment and there was always the danger of setting off an explosion from the open burning carbide headlamps.
Half the prisoners worked days and the other half nights. The group Daniel was assigned to was composed of twenty men. To enter the mine, the prisoners had to go down five hundred very creaky steps into the mine. At the bottom of the steps, they then would have to walk through a tunnel to their work area.
The POWs had to work bent over because the ceilings were low. This was because the miners who had originally worked it were shorter than the Americans. There were no supports in the mine so cave-ins were common. When one happened, the other POWs had to dig out the man who had been buried. Daniel often thought that he would not survive working in the mine.
Daniel was assigned to work as a driller alongside a Japanese worker. As it turned out, the worker was a nice guy. Daniel would be drilling into a section of rock the size of a house. The rock would rumble and shake like an earthquake. The Japanese worker, seeing that Daniel was afraid, would take the drill from Daniel and finish the work. The worker would also carry the drill in and out of the mine because he knew that Daniel was in no condition to do so.
Daniel and the civilians would trade items with each other. One time Daniel received a pipe and a small container of tobacco. The pipe was so small that a bowl of tobacco would last for three puffs. Daniel would keep this pipe for the rest of his life.
In Daniel’s work crew, there was another Japanese worker who was mean and abused the prisoners who worked with him. The man would make the American carry the drill into and out of the mine. He would not help the POW and made him do all the heavy work alone. If the POW did not understand what the man wanted him to do, the Japanese worker would slap the POW around. The prisoner working with this man began to suffer back pains and had to be replaced. The second prisoner was treated no better than the first prisoner.
Daniel was reassigned to the meanest Japanese worker who made Daniel carry all the equipment and do all the heavy lifting. Daniel began to plot in his mind how to kill the worker. The best plan Daniel came up with was to kill the man and set off dynamite to make it look like an accident. His plans changed suddenly when he received two letters from home from his sister. The letters made him feel better, think rationally, and calmed him down.
During lunch, the prisoners would eat in a large room. One day, Daniel decided that he would not return to work. After the other prisoners had returned to work, Daniel remained in the room shaking. A six-foot Japanese supervisor came into the room and asked Daniel, in perfect English, why he had not returned to work. Daniel explained the problem to the man. The supervisor told Daniel to return to work and that he would speak to the Japanese worker. From that day on, things improved for Daniel.
What was strange to Daniel is that he and the other POWs were paid for their work. The amount paid to the prisoners depended on the job, but the POWs were paid each week. Those men who were laborers received ten to fifteen cents a day, drillers received thirty cents a day, while officers received a higher amount of money for their work. Since there was nowhere to spend their earnings, the money was used to buy cigarettes from the guards.
Collective punishment was a regular occurrence in the camp. When one man broke a rule, the entire camp was punished and had their rations reduced by 20 percent. The POWs were also hit with sticks, clubs, belts, sabers, punched, and kicked.
A few weeks after Daniel, and the other Americans, arrived in the camp, fifty British POWs arrived at the camp. The British were kept in an area of the camp away from the Americans, and they also worked a different shift. This kept socializing between the two groups to a minimum.
The winters were cold in the camp and temperatures were often 20 to 30 degrees below zero. The living conditions for the prisoners at the camp were extremely hard. The POWs would have to wait for hours in the cold waiting to take a bath. If the man did not get a bath quick enough he would bathe in cold, dirty water.
The prisoners’ quarters had a wood-burning stove but no wood to burn. Every morning when Daniel went to work he had a laundry bag tied around his neck. In it, he would put small pieces of wood to bring back to camp for the stove.
One night he was caught entering the camp with the wood. It was about ten degrees below zero. As punishment, he was made to stand at attention while he was beaten in the head with a stick. The point of the beating was to get Daniel angry enough to fight back. If he did, he would be beaten more. Knowing this helped Daniel to take the beating without responding to it.
Daniel believed that the guards were pretty fair to the POWs, and there was one incident that he always remembered. He was the last man in line for a bath. This meant the water would be dirty and cold when it was his turn to bathe. The bath for the Japanese guards was in the same building as the bath for the prisoners and was separated from the POWs’ bath by a door. Sitting in the cold dirty water, Daniel could hear the guards on their side of the door. One of the guards opened the door and saw Daniel in the cold, dirty water. For no reason, he scooped up a couple of buckets of hot water from the guards’ tub and poured it into Daniel’s tub. Daniel was amazed by this act of kindness.
On August 14, 1945, the POWs were getting ready to go to work when they received orders to return to their barracks. The next day they again were told not to go to work. Rumors began to spread among the prisoners. On August 16, the POWs noticed all the guards were gone, and only the camp commander who told them to paint the letters “POW” on the roofs of all the buildings so any planes flying over would know they were there. They were told the war was over on August 20 by the camp commandant in his broken English.
“Peace, peace comes to the world again. It is a great pleasure to me, to say nothing to you, to announce it for all of you now. The Japanese Empire acknowledges the terms of the suspension of hostilities given by the American Government even though these two Nations do not still reach the best agreement of a truce. As a true friend from now, I am going to do my best in the future for the convenience of your life in this camp because of having been able to get friendly relations between them, and also the Japanese Government has decided her own Nations policy for your Nation.
“Therefore I hope you will keep as comfortable a daily life by the orders of your own officers from today, while you are here. All of you will surely get much gladness in returning to your lovely country. At the same one of my wishes for you is this: Your health and happiness calls upon you and your life henceforth and they will grow up happier and better than before by the honor of your country.
“In order to guard your life I have been endeavoring my ability, therefore you will please cooperate with me in any way more than usual, I hope.
“I close this statement in letting you know again how peace, the peace has already come.”
It should be noted that nowhere in his speech did the camp commander say that Japan had surrendered.
Many of the POWs held him directly responsible for the deaths of many POWs. Some of the POWs pulled him from his quarters and tore him to pieces. They believed he was receiving the same treatment he had ordered that they receive.
An American Naval plane flew over the camp on August 27. The pilot dropped a note to the POWs and told them to paint one stripe on the roof of a barrack if they needed medicine, two stripes if they needed food, and three stripes if they needed clothing. The POWs painted one stripe on one barrack, two stripes on another barrack, and three stripes on a third barrack.
When the plane returned. he dropped another note saying that there was no way for him to drop everything, so B -29s would have to drop the supplies. The POWs had no idea what the pilot was talking about. When the B-29s appeared over the camp, the POWs had never seen anything so large in the sky. The POWs received so much food and clothing that they shared it with the Japanese civilians who had been kind to them
On August 28, 29, and September 1, food was dropped near the camp by American planes. The Japanese civilians helped the POWs carry it into the camps. A great number of the former POWs gorged themselves on the food and became sick, but no one became seriously ill. The only thing the civilians were interested in was the silk from the parachutes so that they could make clothing.
A jeep with American Military Police arrived on September 2, 1945. The MPs patrolled the camp and kept the former POWs from leaving until arrangements were made to move the men. On September 13, the prisoners were sent to Yokohama by train, where they boarded the American hospital ship the U.S.S. Rescue on the 14 and received medical examinations. This date also became the date he was officially liberated. He was taken to Okinawa on the U.S.S. San Juan and returned to the Philippines on the U.S.S. Monitor.
It was at this time that his family received a telegram from the War Department.
“Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Stoudt: The secretary of war has asked me to inform you that your son, Pvt. Daniel N. Stoudt was returned to military control Sept. 17 and is being returned to the United States within the near future. He will be given the opportunity to communicate with you upon his arrival if he has not already done so.
“E. F. Witsell
“Acting Adjutant General of the Army”
From Manila, Daniel sailed on the U.S.S. Marine Shark for the United States on October 10. The ship arrived at Pearl Harbor sometime around October 22 and sailed the next day. East of Hawaii, the ship suffered a breakdown and drifted for two days until repairs had been made. On October 27, exactly four years to the day that he had sailed from San Francisco. After the ship docked, the ship sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge It arrived in Seattle on November 1, 1945. It was a little over four years since he had left San Francisco for the Philippine Islands.
Daniel was shipped to Mayo General Hospital, Galesburg, Illinois, since he had been drafted into the army while living in Wisconsin. He was next sent to Fort Story, Virginia, where he was honorably discharged for the army on June 16, 1946.
Daniel returned home to Pennsylvania and on May 17, 1947, married Charmaine Landis. Together, they had four children; Daniel, Linda, Stephen, and Alayne. Of his time as a POW, he said, “I learned empathy for people. I learned how to get along with a small amount of things.”
Daniel Stoudt passed away on August 12, 1993, and was buried at Friedens Union Cemetery in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania. On September 8, 2019, Daniel Stoudt’s daughter and granddaughter received his medals from Col. Richard McMahon, USA (Ret.) during the Bataan Day Ceremony in Maywood, Illinois.