Pvt. Daniel N. 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. They 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. His plans 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 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; the 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, pistol, 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. Afterwards, they attended the various schools which they had been assigned to on January 13, such as mechanics, tank driving, 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 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, the selectees for all the companies joined the battalion.
At 7:00 A.M. on Monday, June 16th, 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. It also prepared them for the Louisiana maneuvers which they were scheduled to take part in during September.
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.
Daniel took part in maneuvers in Louisiana, from September 1st through 30th. Afterward, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and its members learned that they were being sent overseas for additional training. Over different train routes, the battalion traveled by train to San Francisco, California, and was ferried, on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they received inoculations and physicals by the battalion’s medical detachment. Those men found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Some men were simply replaced.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27. During this part of the trip, many tankers had seasickness, but once they recovered they spent much of the time training in breaking down machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP. They arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a two-day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
On Wednesday, November 5, the ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes. It was at this time it was joined by, the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville, and the S.S. President Calvin Coolidge. Sunday night, November 9, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11. During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Dateline.
On Saturday, November 15, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon. The Louisville revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it shot off in the direction of the smoke. It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly country, but two other intercepted ships were Japanese freighters hauling scrap metal to Japan.
When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila the next day. At one point, the ships passed an island at night and did so in total blackout. This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm’s way. The ships entered Manila Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20, and docked at Pier 7 later that morning. At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.
At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized that they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field. He made sure that they had what they needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner – a stew thrown into their mess kits – before he went to have his own dinner. Ironically, November 20 was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
The members of the battalion pitched the ragged World War I tents in an open field halfway between the Clark Field Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg. The tents were set up in two rows and five men were assigned to each tent. There were two supply tents and meals were provided by food trucks stationed at the end of the rows of tents.
The area was near the end of a runway used by B-17s for takeoffs. The planes flew over the tents at about 100 feet blowing dirt everywhere and the noise from the engines as they flew over was unbelievable. At night, they heard the sounds of planes flying over the airfield which turned out to be Japanese reconnaissance planes. In addition, the khaki uniforms they had been issued also turned out to be a heavy material which made them uncomfortable to wear in the tropical heat.
The day started at 5:15 with reveille and anyone who washed near a faucet with running water was considered lucky. At 6:00 A.M. they ate breakfast followed by work – on their on the tanks and other equipment – from 7:00 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. Lunch was from 11:30 A.M. to 1:30 P.M. when the soldiers returned to work until 2:30 P.M. The shorter afternoon work period was based on the belief that it was too hot to work in the climate. The term “recreation in the motor pool” meant they actually worked until 4:30 in the afternoon.
For recreation, the soldiers spent their free time bowling or going to the movies on the base. They also played horseshoes, softball, badminton, or threw footballs around during their free time. On Wednesday afternoons, they went swimming. Men were given the opportunity to be allowed to go to Manila in small groups.
At Ft. Stotsenburg, the soldiers were expected to wear their dress uniforms. Since working on the tanks was a dirty job, the battalion members wore coveralls to do the work on the tanks. The 192nd followed the example of the 194th Tank Battalion and wore coveralls in their barracks area to do work on their tanks, but if the soldiers left the battalion’s area, they wore dress uniforms everywhere; including going to the PX.
On December 1, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. From this time on, two tank crew members, or half-track crew members, remained with each vehicle at all times and received their meals from food trucks.
On the morning of December 8, 1941, the soldiers heard of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor from Capt. Walter Write the company commander. Some men thought that it was just a way the army had selected to start maneuvers. Other soldiers believed that the news was true and Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor. Daniel belonged to the latter group.
That morning American planes went out on patrol, and everything the U.S. had was in the air. The planes returned at noon to refuel and were lined up on the runway in front of the mess hall, so the pilots went to lunch.
Around 12:45 that afternoon, the Americans saw planes, which many believed were American. It was only when they saw the “red dots” on the rings that the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese. The devastation of the attack was tremendous. Almost all the American planes were destroyed as well as most of the facilities. The soldiers felt helpless as they fired rifles and machine guns at the planes. Most of the soldiers laid 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 planes machine guns hit between the two men.
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 that if it was possible to be wounded a certain way, he had seen a man with that 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 had 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. On December 23 and 24, the company was in the area of Urdaneta, where the tankers lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write. After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get south of Agno River. As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening but successfully crossed the river in the Bayambang Province.
If it was necessary, the Filipino and American defenders were to withdrawal into the Bataan Peninsula. 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 withdraw 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.
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.
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 tanks were asked to hold the position for six hours; they held it until 5:30 in the morning on December 27.
On a road east of Zaragoza, on December 30, 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, the night of December 31 to the morning of January 1, 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 and 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.
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.
On January 28, the tank battalions were given the job of protecting the beaches. The 192nd was assigned the coastline from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan’s east coast. The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.
The company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets – from January 23 to February 17 – to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line after a Japanese offensive was stopped and pushed back to the original line of defense. The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time to replace a tank in the pocket. Another tank did not enter the pocket until a tank exited the pocket. Doing this was so stressful that each tank company was rotated out and replaced by one that was being held in reserve.
To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used. The first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank. As the tank went over a Japanese 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 and grinding its way down into the foxhole. The tankers slept upwind of their tanks so they wouldn’t smell the rotting flesh in the tracks.
While the tanks were doing this job, the Japanese sent soldiers, with cans of gasoline, against the tanks. These Japanese 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 a 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. It was for their performance during this battle that the 192nd Tank Battalion would receive one of its Distinguished Unit Citations.
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 so hard was that the Japanese dug “spider holes” among the roots of the trees. Because of this situation, the Americans could not get a good shot at the Japanese.
The tankers, from A, B, and C Companies, were able to clear the pockets. But before this was done, one C Company tank which had gone beyond the American perimeter was disabled and the tank just sat there. When the sun came up the next day, the tank was still sitting there. During the night, its crew was buried alive, inside the tank, by the Japanese. When the Japanese had been wiped out, the tank was turned upside down to remove the dirt and recover the bodies of the crew. The tank was put back into use.
At the same time, the tanks were also used to clear out the Japanese in what was called “The Battle of the Points.” The Japanese had attempted to land troops behind the main defensive line and ended up with troops trapped on two different points on the peninsula.
The Japanese Marines were driven to the cliffs and hid in the caves below the cliff lines. They used the caves for protection and would climb down the cliffs to enter them or leave them. The tankers fired into the caves repeatedly until the Japanese were dead or came out of the caves.
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. 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.
The Japanese also were dropping surrender leaflets with a scantily clad blond on them. The Japanese would have been more successful at getting the Americans to surrender if the picture had been hamburger since the men were so hungry that they most likely would have surrendered for a good meal.
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. A large force of Japanese troops came over Mount 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. On April 7, the 57th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, supported by tanks, attempted to restore the line, but Japanese infiltrators prevented this from happening. During this action, one tank was knocked out but the remaining tanks successfully withdrew. C Company, 194th, was attached to the 192nd and had only seven tanks left.
It was the evening of April 8 that Gen. Edward P. 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.
At 2:oo A.M. April 9, Gen. King sent a jeep under a white flag carrying Colonel Everett C. Williams, Col. James V. Collier, and Major Marshall Hurt to meet with the Japanese commander about terms of surrender. (The white flag was bedding from A Company.) 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 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.”
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.
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 no attack for thirty minutes while King decided what he would do.
After a half-hour, no Japanese officer had arrived from their headquarters and the Japanese attack had resumed. King sent Col. Collier and Maj. Hunt back to his command with instructions that any unit inline with the Japanese advance should fly white flags.
Shortly after this was done a Japanese colonel and interpreter arrived. King was told the officer was Homma’s Chief of Staff and he had come to discuss King’s surrender. King attempted to get insurances from the Japanese that his men would be treated as prisoners of war, but the Japanese officer – through his interpreter – 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.
Daniel began a Prisoner of War on April 9, 1942, and started what was to become known as “the Bataan Death March” at the town of Mariveles at the southern tip of the peninsula. He recalled that the Filipinos were separated from the American troops before the march began. 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.
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.
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.
The only man to die during this incident was Lt. Bloomfield who had given them the order to double-time it across the road. After he had made it to safety, he simply dropped to the ground. The members of A Company guessed that he had died from either heart failure or heat stroke. The POWs were allowed to bury him alongside the road.
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.
After midnight, the POWs 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. Daniel and the other POWs were left to bake in the sun inside the pen 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 and maggots. They also had to deal with the mosquitoes which seemed to be everywhere.
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.
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. 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.” The reason was that the boxcars could hold forty men or eight horses, but the Japanese packed the POWs in so tightly that the men could not move. They also 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 did not 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.
When Daniel arrived at Camp O’Donnell, 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 and executed. One survived the execution and fought with the guerrillas.
Not too long after this event, Daniel witnessed another group of American soldiers who arrived at Camp O’Donnell led away by Japanese guards because each man had Japanese money on him. The American soldiers were never seen again.
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 from 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 situation improved when a second faucet was added.
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. The slit trenches in the camp were inadequate and were soon overflowing since most of the POWs had dysentery. The result was that flies were everywhere in the camp including the POW kitchens and in the food. Anyone who was caught using the water to wash was beaten to death with a club.
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. When the Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medical supplies to the camp, Tsuneyoshi refused to allow the truck into the camp. When the Philippine Red Cross sent medical supplies to the camp the Japanese took 95% of the supplies for their own use.
The POWs in the camp hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow and only one of the six medic 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 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.
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. The death rate among the POWs reached 50 men dying a day.
Another problem for Daniel and the other men was trying to eat the food. The POWs were fed watery rice and in the rice were worms. Daniel like many others had a hard time eating the food because of the worms. He often ate it with his eyes closed so that he could not see the worms.
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 the men who captured on Bataan and taken part in the death march where held. Camp 2 did not have an adequate water supply and was closed. It later reopened and housed Naval POWs. Camp 3 was where those men captured when Corregidor surrendered were taken. In addition, men from Bataan who had been hospitalized when the surrender came were sent to the camp. Camp 3 was later consolidated into Camp 1.
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.
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.”
It was at this time that Daniel ended up working in the hospital. Daniel’s first job was to feed the sick in “Zero Ward.” This was 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 would die, 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.
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. Around this time, Daniel and his fellow POWs learned that Corregidor had fallen which was a blow to the prisoners and made them feel bad.
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 had 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 awhile, 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 on 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 a 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 that 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 the food to 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 ever 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 anyway 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 ricefields 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 were 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 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=
form letter from the War Department that 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 peppers 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 the powder 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 collectives 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 with 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 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 until the Philippine Islands would be 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 in 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.
The next day, June 6, Daniel and his fellow prisoners were loaded onto trucks. The trucks were tied to each other with a rope. When the prisoners got to their trucks each had to blindfold himself with a piece of cloth. 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.
When a second POW jumped overboard and made a successful escape, the POWs were not allowed to go on deck to use the toilets. Rice was sent down to the POWs in buckets and from that time on, a tub was lowered into the hold to 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.
The ship sailed for Cabu City arriving on June 17. The POWs were taken off the ship and held in a warehouse. The POWs were returned to the dock and boarded an unnamed ship and arrived at Manila on June 25.
The prisoners disembarked the ship and marched to Bilibid. 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 was 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 had 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 in 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 the 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, mechanics. Those who did not have these skills were assigned to working 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 on 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 civilian 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 in 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 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.