Tarlac Camp

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At some point, the Japanese transferred the generals and colonels to Tarlac and he went with them since he was acting as an orderly for an officer. What is known about Tarlac is that the POWs had a prison yard that was about 100 yards wide and 200 yards long. The POWs were awakened early and a roll call was taken. Next, they had a breakfast of rice. They were not sent out on work details or expected to do physical labor. The monotony drove the POWs crazy. He remained there the entire time he was in the Philippines.

It was on August 7 that the POWs at Tarlac learned they were being sent to Formosa or Japan. On the morning of the 11th and the POWs were awakened earlier than usual. They ate and then cleaned the barracks and grounds. At 7:00 A.M. they marched – in columns of four – to the Tarlac railroad station. As they made their way toward the station they heard the sound of someone whistling the “Star-Spangled Banner.” They looked at each other, but it was no one in the column. They spotted a ragged Filipino boy – who was looked like he was 10 to 12 years old along the side of the road who was whistling it. The guards passed close to him but had no idea what he was whistling. By 8:00 A.M., they were on the train and on their way to Manila arriving there at 1:00 P.M.

After they got off the train, they boarded trucks that were driven by American drivers. The drivers told the POWs that the Marines had landed in the Solomon Islands on an island named Guadalcanal and captured it. The trucks took the POWs to Pier 7 where they disembarked and marched to a ship. They stood on the pier for an hour and a half when they were ordered to face in the opposite direction. The POWs were able to look over their shoulders and see Japanese sailors passing small boxes from one man to the next with Japanese characters written on them. The boxes contained the ashes of dead soldiers and they did not want the Americans to know how many casualties they had suffered.

The POWs boarded the Nagara Maru but it remained all night at the pier. The next day, it moved to a point outside the breakwater and sat there until 3;00 P.M. when it sailed. The POWs figured it had waited until the afternoon to sail in an attempt to avoid American submarines. The conditions in the hold were terrible but the trip to Takao, Formosa was over on August 14th.

While in the harbor, the POWs formed ranks on the deck of the ship and were given medical examinations so they would not bring any illnesses with them to the island. The Japanese were extremely afraid of dysentery. After the examination was done, the POWs were put on boats and taken to a smaller ship the Suzuya Maru and put in the holds. The hatch covers were put on and soon the temperature was above 100 degrees inside the holds. The ship sailed and arrived in Karenko the next day. They disembarked and walked to the camp arriving at 3:00 P.M. Once there, the POWs stripped down to their shorts, if they had them, and were searched. They were allowed to dress but had their shoes replaced with Japanese wooden clogs.

The camp was a large 150-yard square formed by barbed wire. Inside the barbed wire were a dozen buildings one of which was a large, gray, cement-coated barracks with a black tiled roof built for Japanese troops. Behind it were toilets and on the back porch of the barracks were troughs and water spigots for washing. There was a large grassy parade ground in front of the barracks and 100 yards from the building were kitchens and a bathhouse. wit a 12-foot round tank that was waist-deep. There were also two administrative buildings.

The enlisted men were put to work on a farm. Since the Geneva Convention stated that officers did not have to work. the officers, being colonels and generals, refused to work and had their rations cut. This resulted in the deaths of three POWs. The officers finally went to work clearing land for a truck farm since they concluded they either worked or starved to death. The Japanese had promised them extra food but they never gave it to the POWs. During their time in the camp, the Japanese, on a daily, told the POWs how they were winning the war, but one day the Japanese they were going to start holding air raid drills with the POWs.

Beatings were common in the camp, and the Japanese used any excuse to give them. The POWs who went to the latrines at night had guards waiting for them. Most of the POWs at the latrines were slapped, kicked, or abused in some way. Those POWs who resisted the beatings were placed in the confinement cells receiving little food. The men in the cells stood from 6 A.M. until 9:00 P.M. each day, day after day. Most were carried out of the cells by other POWs when their sentences ended. The officers noted that the enlisted men were beaten even worse and many were beaten at least three times each day. Most of the beaten enlisted men had black eyes and broken noses. The officers also saw lumps on the enlisted men’s heads and bodies.

In June 1943, most of the POWs were transferred to Shirakawa camp. The camp was on the side of a hill and covered 10,764 square feet. The POWs grew food on a farm and tended cattle.


From here, the info depends on whether or not the man remained on Formosa.