Tayabas

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The POWs were drafted to go out on a work detail to the Provence of Tayabas to build a bridge for a road through the impenetrable jungle. They were taken there by truck. The POWs lived along a creek and their meals were prepared in a wheelbarrow with a fire built under it. The food was described as having been adequate when the POWs first arrived and, at first, most of the food was captured canned American food. As the food ran out, the POWs were fed rice. They slept on the rocky ground of the creek banks without any covering from the elements. The filthy water they drank came from the stream. The American doctor sent there three weeks after the detail had started, stated that when he arrived 30 men had already died. He also described the 300 POWs on the detail as being in pitiful condition and suffering from malaria, dysentery, and exposure. Men who were dying from malaria and dysentery were forced to work from daylight to dark. The guards beat these men with pick handles, bayonet scabbards, or anything else available to them. The POWs worked without clothes and shoes and did the work with only wheelbarrows, picks, and shovels. POWs who stopped working to relieve themselves were beaten. The Japanese divided the POWs into teams. The teams raced each other and were rewarded with food, water, and breaks for the amount of work they did. Teams that performed poorly were made to work harder which resulted in them becoming weaker and weaker since they went without rest and the food they needed. Being in a weakened condition, the POWs came down with malaria and dysentery.
Once the POWs began getting sick with malaria and dysentery, many of them could not eat resulting in deaths from malnutrition. The doctors on the detail stated that three or four POWs died each day and were buried near the campsite. The living stripped the dead of their clothing and gave the clothing to other men. The cemetery was said to have 68 graves before the Japanese finally allowed 30 sick POWs to be sent to Bilibid Prison where the medical staff referred to them as “the dead walking.”