Defenders of the Philippines

picture of captivity and picture of release from captivity

Everett D. Reamer


Everett Reamer photographPAST ADBC Commander


Autobiography of Everett Reamer

I was born Jan.20, 1923 in Elizabethtown, OH, located at the extreme southwest corner of Ohio, attending schools in Three Rivers School District, Hamilton Co., OH.

On Feb. 2, 1941 I enlisted in the Army at Cincinnati, Ohio.  I selected the Coast Artillery with the Philippines as my designated final destination.

I was in service nearly two months before leaving San Francisoo, March 31, 1941 on the USAT Republic via Honolulu for Manila.  On April 21, 1941, I arrived in Manila Philippine Isalans and then transported to the Island of Corregidor.  I was assigned to Battery F (Flint) 60th Coast Artillery Antiaircraft where I received my first hands-on-basic training.  This training was completed in June, 1941.  Our battery field position was the northwest tip, opposite Mariveles Bay on Bataan.  I was a fuse range setter and relay man on a three-inch anti-aircraft gun with additional special training as a Browining automatic weapons man.

I was taken prisoner on May 6, 1942 near Middleside Corregidor by Japanese troops.  I was in the following prison campsL  92nd Garage, Corregidor, Bilibid, Cabanatuan No. 3.

In September, 1942, a large group of us were selected for slave labor assignments in Manchuria and Japan.

In late September 1942 with this group, I was transported to the Manila Dock area and placed on a freighter, via Formosa, Pusan, Korea and then on to Osaka, Japan Headquarters Camp No. 1, arriving Nov. 11, 1942 after a f 44 day nightmare voyage from the Philippines.  On Aug. 15, 1944, I was tortured and forced to stand at attention.  On August 20, I collapsed.  On Sept. 18, 1944, I was taken to Japanese Military Court Headquarters in Osaka.

This court comprised of three Japanese military officers, the charge, attempting to steal food from a store room.  I was sentenced to one year solitary confinement in Osaka Sakai Prison.

On August 22, 1945, two Japanese Army officers and an interpreter came to release me from solitary confinement stating, "The war is now over, we are now friends."

After my release, I searched for other Americans and found a group in Kobe, Japan and joined them.

On Sept. 6, 1945 a small group of 1st Cav. with medical technicians arrived and evacuated the Kobe group.  I was directed to the hospital ship Merigold in Yokohama Harbor.  On Sept. 12, 945, I was transported by ambulance to Asuki Air Base, place on a C-54 hospital plane and flown to the 148th General Hospital on Saipan, via Quagilene.  On Oct. 2, 1945 I was place on a C-54 hospital plane via Johnson Island, Hickham Field, Hawaii and ending up at Letterman General Hospital San Franciso on Oct. 5, 1945.  On Oct. 25, 1945, I arrived at Fletcher General Hospital, Cambridge, Ohio.  Later to Percy Jones General, Battle Creek, Michigna.  I was discharged Nov. 11, 1945 after much medical treatment and excellent care.

I attended college and special training pertinent to my future development.  I became a general supervisor for National Steeel Corporation, Ecorse, Michigan in 1962. I became a production supervisor for General Motors Corporation.  I retired with a medical discharge in 1976.

I am in the Guiness Book of World Records for my forced torture (motionless--August 15, 1944 to August 20, 1944 (132 hours) conducted by the Japanese Osaka Camp No. administrators and guards.

My God and our flag which represents all that our country embraces, gave me strength to endure and sustain life day to day until my liberation and today continues from year to year.


Everett Reamer Oral History at Rutgers Interview

Everett Reamer Interview with Peter Parsons 2006 including memories of surrender

A Soldier’s Bible  by Everett Reamer

 A gift from my aunt Ida Hall Atteberry:  A TRUE MISSIONARY

 

Just prior to my departure from San Francisco to the Philippines on the U.S.A.T Republic, I was able to visit my mother’s sister, Aunt Ida Atteberry, who did missionary work in the Mission District of San Francisco.

 

After my arrival on Corregidor in April 1941, Aunt Ida sent me a New Testament Bible encased in a zippered khaki cover.  On the inside cover, she had written an inscription to me in which I was encouraged to read certain scriptures from the word of the Lord, which would help me find peace and hope when I was feeling lonely and in despair.

 When World War II began and I was in the heat of battle, I carried this Bible with me.  When Bataan fell, hope for us on Corregidor became bleak.  Most of us felt that it was just a matter of time before the Japs would attempt an invasion of Corregidor.  Bombings and shellfire had demolished most everything about ground level, including trees and ground cover.  My feeling was that when the invasion came, I wanted to be prepared with a clean khaki uniform.  So, I dug a hole in the ground near my anti-aircraft gun position and inside a wooden box, I placed a clean khaki uniform and into its left shirt pocket, I tucked the New Testament that Aunt Ida had sent to me.  I buried the box containing my two most prized possessions below ground level to protect them from shellfire or shrapnel damage.

 When the invasion came in the middle of the night on May 5, 1942, my comrades and I, fighting as infantrymen, were captured approximately three (3) miles from our former anti-aircraft gun position; of course, I had no opportunity to retrieve the box.  The clean uniform I had so carefully prepared for the final charge remained buried along with the New Testament,  I was taken from Corregidor by the Japs and a few days later arrived at  a POW camp at Cabanatuan.  I was then taken to Manila and placed on the Hell Ship Totori Maru and transported to Osaka, Japan for slave labor.  The ship carried approximately 2000 POWs; 1600 were taken off at Pusan, Korea and taken to work in Mukden, China.  Approximately 300 went to another camp in Osaka and approximately 100 with me were interned in POW Camp #1 in Osaka, Japan.

 In the spring of 1943, while in Camp #1, a fellow POW from the Philippines approached me.  In his hand was a khaki-covered New Testament.  He said, “I think this belongs to you.”  I was speechless; the chances of that bible ever being found and returned to me was unbelievable under the circumstances.  The inscription Aunt Ida had written so long ago, pertaining to loneliness, despair, and hope was almost prophetic.  For in August 1944, after being tortured for 28 days, I was put on trial by a Japanese military tribunal and sentenced to one year of solitary confinement in a Japanese prison.  At that time, I was stripped of all personal items, including my bible, but during my bleakest days, I recalled Aunt Ida’s inscription and believed the return of the New Testament was nothing short of a miracle.  I believe the message of hope she had promised I would find, gave me the strength to endure the horror and brutality of the Japanese.

 Aunt Ida died many years ago, but not before she had had a chance to personally welcome me home at Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco in September 1945.

Experience at Osaka Camp # 1 and Osaka Sakai Prison (Solitary Confinement)

 

We docked at Osaka, Japan on November 11, 1942.  It was very cold.  One hundred of us were taken to Osaka Camp #1.  This camp was in the heart of the docks and warehouse area of Osaka.  There were so many different nationalities represented at Camp #1 that we nicknamed it “the League of Nations.”  Americans were the minority; there were more British POWs here than any other nationality.  The British had been captured in Hong Kong and Singapore.  There were a few pilots from Australia and New Zealand.

 Because the POWs from Guam were the first ones in the camp, they formed the main staff.  We also had some that were captured on Wake Island.  There were also Merchant Marines from the U.S., England, China and India.  Most were survivors off ships that had been sunk by the Germans in the South Atlantic and brought to Japan for internment.  All together we numbered 800.  We were used for slave labor; we unloaded ships’ cargo into barges; worked in steel mills, foundries, and lumber yards; dock and warehouse labor as well.

 During this time, conditions were somewhat better.  We were housed 72 men to a room; we slept on wooden bays, 12 men to a bay.  A bay is a shelf mounted three high on both the right and left sides, leaving a narrow center for a walkway.  We were also given one thin blanket and a small round pillow filled with hulls from grain.  Although we slept on hard wooden bays, and our bedding was of poor quality, it was better than nothing.

 We had a permanent Japanese camp staff, plus a rotating Japanese guard force and also a staff of guard for work details.  Work details had a Japanese honcho-boss.  We had an American staff commander.  There was also a doctor and medic who manned the aid station under the supervision of a Japanese medic.  At night, one POW would be forced to stand guard in each room.  No more than one man was permitted to leave the room at one time.  Japanese guards would patrol the outer perimeter of the camp.  They constantly patrolled inside the camp compound.  A squad of guards was stationed at the main gate.

 We were required to muster every morning and night.  At muster we were required to count off in Japanese only.  If a mistake was made counting off in Japanese, the offender would be charged and beaten.

 If a POW reported he was too ill for work that determination would have to be made by a Japanese medic.  Invariably, the answer would be “SHINGOTO”—Work!  Work!  My back was a mass of infection.  It was so bad that a former POW recently said to me, “I didn’t think you’d ever make it, with that back.”

 Food was distributed in the morning and at night—a small bowl of rice and sometimes some watery soup.  Malnutrition continued to be a problem.  One of the things caused by malnutrition is night blindness.  When we complained to the Japs about our vision, they didn’t believe us.  One night they tested us; they put timbers across a walkway, and then ordered us outside to walk.  We all stumbled and fell.

 Beriberi and dysentery also continued to be a real problem.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I carried the amebic bug.

 To supplement our meager rations, we stole everything we could, as often as we could.  We were constantly being patted down when returning from a work detail.  If we were caught hiding anything, we were beaten.  But once in a while, we would pull it off and it was worth the effort.

 Also on work details, we always tried to screw up the machinery, under cover, of course.  Diesel wenches on ships could be sabotaged and were, at times.  Steam wenches, however, were more difficult.  One time we were unloading a ship continuing pig iron.  We decided to attempt to break the steam wench by undermining the stack of pig iron.  We did this by forcing the net loaded with pig iron to be pulled against the entire  stacke After many attempts to life the net of pig iron, the Japanese signal man decided that he was going to hoist this net—no matter what!  Finally the supporting mast of the ship toppled won.  It was weeks later before that ship returned from being repaired.

 We were opposed to unloading military equipment.  One day we were ordered to unload a barge of field artillery pieces.  We refused.  We were beaten—finally, after a day of stand off, the Japs relented.

 Days turned into weeks; weeks into months;  I lost track of time.  I felt isolated from everything familiar.  No news from home, no news about the progress of the war—we knew nothing about the advances of our allied forces, although, at times, ships in the Osaka Harbor would show signs of having undergone attacks.  Shell holes would be visible above the water line.

 We worked an army lumber yard detail, run by the Japanese army.  The lumber detail was always harsh and cruel.  One day a U.S. Navy POW, Jack Leonhardt, removed his shirt, on his chest was tattooed and American Eagle holding an American flag.  When the Japanese sergeant saw the tattoo, he put his head down like a charging bull, and repeatedly rammed the sailor, knocking him to the ground.  When Jack was able to stand up again, he put his shirt back on.

 In the spring of 1944, when I was working the lumber detail, hungry and disillusioned, some Japanese fighter planes were exercising overhead.  The Japanese honcho began to brag about the superiority of their fighter planes—how great they were, etc.  I responded by saying that it wouldn’t be long before the Americans would be flying over Japan and would shoot all those planes out of the sky.  Wrong thing to say—the honcho became angry and picked up a 2 X 4 and hit me across my back and knocked me to the ground.  Never again did I make such a statement—I learned to keep my thoughts to myself.

 Although the lumber detail was cruel and harsh, it did present some opportunities for stealing.  The area outside the lumber yard was cultivated.  There were vegetables growing:  onions, carrots, and turnips.  It was a big risk to crawl through the fence to steal them, but it was a risk we took at every opportunity.  If we had been caught, we could have been shot by the guards, or accused of trying to escape.  Sometimes, in the yard we could catch a snake and boil it over an open fire.  We would do almost anything to get food.  There were other work details that did not present such opportunities.

 We worked seven days a week—long hours.  When we were unloading ships we had to meet a quota set by the Japanese.  Sometimes, we were required to work fourteen hours a day in order to meet the quota.

 As harsh as the work details were, I believe that was what kept most of us alive.  We were constantly challenging the Japanese—criticizing their crude, inefficient work methods and saying that in America, those kind of jobs would be done by automated machinery; that they couldn’t expect to win a war with such outmoded methods, etc.  It was just a mild form of put down, but it kept us going.

 Sometimes on work details, we would travel through the streets of Osaka.  School children would throw stones at us.  This didn’t bother me too much.  I was able to put myself in their shoes and understand their feelings.  In general the Japanese people were always hostile to us.   To rate the degree of their hatred:  Americans were #1; British #2; Australians, New Zealanders #3; East Indians #4; and the Chinese #5.

 We all had body lice.  We just couldn’t get rid of them.  There were rats in our rooms that roamed around the room at night as we slept.  I was the only one from my Battery F in the camp.  Being apart from my friends made it more difficult for me.

 We did have a bath house in the camp, consisting of hot tubs.  The problem was that there was never enough soap.  We could bathe after a day’s work.  Trench-type toilets, with an open trench for urinals were located at the rear of the main building units.  Near the toilet area was a table with basins and water spigots for hand washing.

 There was a British merchant seamen in our camp, whose ship had been sunk in the South Atlantic by a German submarine.  He had been brought to the camp and turned over to the custody of the Japanese.  As we worked together on a detail, he appeared to be in a daze.  He kept muttering mostly to himself:  “I can’t believe this.  I was captured by the Germans twice during World War I, and now this.”

 In March 1943, after almost a year in captivity, I was allowed to write a “coached” message to my family, and a second message was allowed in 1944.  I was permitted only to say that I was “well” and that “I am working for pay.”  During the entire time of my captivity, I never received one word or package from my family or anyone, even though many attempts were made to send mail and packages to me.

 In the spring of 1944, a marine who had been captured on Wake Island lay dying near me.  One night he became incoherent and kept talking to his mother, saying:  “The war is over, mom.  We’ll be coming home soon.”  He died the following day.  In another incident, a young soldier from Arkansas started to swell up.  He was dead in two days.  It was easy to die—all one had to do was give up.  It usually took only about ten days for a man to die—after he gave up.

 Our camp was the Headquarters Camp for the Osaka area.  Red Cross food parcels were stored in our camp compound.  As I remember, during almost two years in this camp, I received only two issues of food parcels, and at each issue, the parcel would be split between four of us; although, the Red Cross had actually intended for one whole parcel to be distributed to each man.  The parcels were kept in a locked storeroom located just across from the entrance to our room and extended to the rear toilet area.  From our room, we could see Japanese camp staff enter the store room and take the supplies that were intended for us.  This was just more than we could bear.  Those supplies were meant for us—not the Japs.

 In August of 1944, six of us fellows from room #6 decided to get a few parcels.  We drew straws to determine who would go into the storeroom.  You might now, I drew the short straw; Louis Bradsher drew the next shortest; so the two of us got the assignment.  Bradsher’s job was to stand guard in our room, as was the Japanese rule to prevent more than one of us from leaving the room or any one time; my job was go into the storeroom and take the parcels.  One of the other men in our room was able to make a key that would unlock the storeroom.  We were now ready to proceed with our plan.

 On the night of August 10, 1944, we would carry out the plan.  I stood guard in the room while Bradsher slipped past the rear toilet area and unlocked the storeroom door, turned off the light outside the toilet area, and returned to the room to stand guard.  I then left the room, went into the unlocked storeroom, grabbed three Red Cross food parcels and stashed them in the toilet.  Everything was going as planned—until I heard a Japanese guard alerting the other guards.  I could hear their hob-nail shoes as they came on the run to the toilet area and turned the lights back on.  I immediately locked the door to the toilet I was in, and crawled over to the next toilet.  I knew beyond a doubt that if I was discovered, I would be shot on the spot.  I had to try to get to my room without being detected.  As six Japanese guards huddled in front of the storeroom door, I decided that the only thing I could do was to slip behind them while they were still in the huddle.  I walked rapidly back to my room by going between the end walkway around the building and the fence.  When I entered Room 6, Bradsher was standing guard.  I heard the Japanese guards coming on the run.  I managed to get to my sleeping spot and lie down.  But the guards knew which room I had entered.  They questioned Bradsher, when he refused to tell them who had entered, they began to kick him and slap him around.  Other guards checked everyone in the room and finally left.

 Beginning the next morning, August 11th, all food was cut off to our room.  We were told that there would be no food for anyone in the room until the culprits were discovered.  I felt terrible that my roommates were being starved.

 So on the night of August 13th, I went to the American Commander of the camp, Chief Boatswain’s Mate Sanders.  I told him the whole story:  that I was responsible and that Bradsher was my accomplice; I told him the reason we attempted to take the food that was intended for our benefit but was being taken by the Japanese; that we did not want to see our roommates continue to suffer and asked him to intercede on our behalf.  He led me to believe that he could get the problem taken care of and get food rations restored.  But the problem was that Sanders, himself was also benefiting, the Japs were sharing the food parcels with him.

 Information came to me in a letter from a comrade years later, that Chief Sanders had floated a false story, claiming that Btadsher and I had refused to do extra work after our work details, and because of our refusal, the Japanese would not relent on our punishment and that he, Sanders, could do nothing to help use; that he had no control over it.

 The next morning on Monday August 14, 1944, as we were lined up for our normal work detail, Bradsher and I were taken out of the detail by Japanese guards.  We were taken to the Japanese Camp Commander’s office.  As we were being severely beaten, we were questioned.  We were then taken to Rm. 6, our spaces were searched while we were being beaten.  We were taken back to the guard area and questioned some more.  We were tied down to a bench, as questions were asked and answers given.  A fire extinguisher was used to pump water into our lungs.  By the time it finally stopped, we were near death.

 When they were finished with the “water treatment,” they ordered us to hold an office chair by its rear legs, above our heads.  When we would lower the chair, we would be beaten across the arms and back.  When it was impossible for us to continue, we were ordered to stand at attention in front of the main gate—24 hours a day, no food or water.

 Standing in front of the main gate ensured that the work details would see us as they came and went each day.  We were to be an example of what they could expect.  My ankles swelled beyond recognition.  I became like a zombie.

 On Sunday evening, as the Japanese Camp Commander started the evening muster of all POWs and the guards were called to attention, I passed out.  The next morning, when I regained consciousness, I was among some British POWs.  They told me when I passed out, they defied the Japanese and rushed to save me.  They had also brought Bradsher who was still standing, into their room with me.  They gave us food and water.

 The next morning, when work details started to leave the camp by the main gate, the guards came and got Bradsher and me, and again place us at the main gate for all to see.  We would be forced to stand attention by the gate every day, and at night we would be taken inside and places in a small brig adjacent to the Japanese guards that manned the front gate.  Because it was such a small area, we were forced to sleep in a sitting position on the floor.  We were given only a quarter of a  bowl of rice and a small amount of water twice a day.  This continued day in and day out until the morning of September 18th.

 During the night of the 17th of September a typhoon had surrounded our camp with water.  Because our camp stood on higher ground, we had not been saturated with water as all other areas around the camp had been.  Two Japanese guard came to get Bradsher and me.  They tied our hands behind our backs.  They took off their shoes, tied their shoe laces together and hung their shoes around our necks.  We all waded through the water and finally onto a dry road bed.  When we got on dry land, the guards put their shoes back on, but Bradsher and I remained barefoot, we had no shoes.  We continued to walk with our hands tied behind our backs down the main street of Osaka.  As we walked, we came face to face with two German sailors.  One was redheaded as I was, and the other was blonde.  They looked at us and started to laugh.  I will never forget those bastards!  I wanted to kill them.

 About mid-day we arrived at army headquarters.  Why were we here?  We didn’t know.  Death maybe.  We waited and waited—finally, Bradsher and I were taken into a courtroom; we stood before three Japanese army officers on the bench.  Speaking only in Japanese through an interpreter, they asked us what happened and why we did it.  I explained that we attempted to take only supplies sent by the Red Cross for POWs and that the supplies had not been given to us as intended, that the Japanese camp staff had been taking the supplies for their own use, denying them to us.  One of the judges asked me who I thought would win the war.  I told him that being an American, it was only natural to think that the Americans would win.

 After deliberations were complete, the judge stated through the interpreter, “I sentence you to one year solitary confinement.”  He asked me, “What do you think about that”?  I said, “I do not think it is fair, because we only attempted to take what was ours to begin with.”

 Our hands were cuffed behind our backs and straw hoods placed over our heads.  I was thinking that blindfolded men were usually beheaded—or are they going to shoot us?

 We walked for some distance before being placed on a train.  After leaving the train, we again walked under the guard for some distance before arriving at our destination.  When finally the hoods and handcuffs were removed, we were inside Osaka Sakai Prison.  At the Prison’s receiving center, we were given a two-piece set of light-weight red clothing.

 It was late in the evening, after dark, when we were taken into the prison cell block.  We were taken to the top cat-walk.  This is where we became separated.  Bradsher went to one cell and I to another.  The click of that cell door as it locked behind me will never be forgotten; I had never felt such isolation; I was completely alone; now I knew what solitary confinement really meant.  I wondered:  What now?  Will this be the end for me?

 When being placed in my solitary cell on September 18, 1944, I discovered that in addition to Japanese convicts, there were also other Allied military personnel being held there.  There were five Americans (including myself), two British, one Dutch—a total of eight; mostly being falsely accused of trying to escape.

 There were also civilians of various nationalities being held there in solitary cells; two German Nationals for suspected espionage; one French and two Russians, also for suspected espionage, two Dutch for suspicion, and one man who had no identified country also being suspected of espionage.

 Most of us were released on about August 22, 1945.  One died in Solitary, at least two became insane.  Everyone was suffering from malnutrition/starvation, and we all looked like the walking dead.  I weighed 92 pounds.

 During my confinement there, I was moved to three different cells.  One move came specifically after a major confrontation with the guards—because my hands and fee were froze, I ignored the rules to get attention and medical help; and another confrontation was brought on after I complained that I was starving to death.  I was so severely beaten that I barely remember the time frame, only that when I came to, I was in a different cell.

 Being in Solitary Confinement meant being in isolation twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week; outside walks were rare; bathing also was a rare occasion; food was limited to 500 calories a day; and fleas and body lice were always present,.

 Osaka Sakai prison was of brick construction with a 15-foot wall around its outer perimeter.  In addition to holding eight military prisoners, including myself, it also held foreign and Japanese civilian prisoners who had been convicted of crimes.  Following is a description of the Solitary Cells in which I was held for almost a year.

 

Size of Cell was 5 feet x 7 feet

Solid Walls—Complete isolation

One Light—hanging from ceiling, burned 24 hours a day

Wood floor

Solid Wood door with Screen slot for security

One thin blanket

One Wooden Pail—for toilet use  (Toilet pail was emptied by cell door being opened at random by Japanese prisoners.)

One small Wash Basin

One Bowl-for food (Food was delivered by Japanese Prisoners)

One set Chop Sticks

One Cup—for water (Water was rationed, and was hand-delivered by Japanese prisoners.

 The following were denied or forbidden:

 No bed or bedding

No fixed toilet with running water

No fixed water source—(no tap, spigot, faucet)

No facility for shower or bathing

No towels

No heat to the cell

No shoes

No underwear

No coat or warm clothing

No chair or bench

No exercise allowed in cell—even standing was forbidden

 My cell was about 7 feet long by 5 feet wide; no heat, no running water, a wooden pail for a toilet, a single light bulb hung from a high ceiling and burned day and night.  At one end of the cell, there was a barred four-pane window about 6 feet off the floor.  The walls were solid masonry, the cell door was solid wood with a small screened slot at eye level through which the guards could see inside the cell without being seen themselves.  Next to the solid wooden cell door was a small pass-through for food and water which also had a latched exterior door.  The cell floor was wood.  There were no blankets or pillows.  We were not allowed to stand or exercise in the cell.  Food rations ranged from 1 to 7 in ascending order, with #1 being the largest amount allowed and #7 the smallest amount.  I was placed on #7 rations—barely enough to keep alive.

 Nearing the end of the first month of solitary, I was taken from my cell to the prison yard.

I was permitted to walk in a large circle with other foreign prisoners.   These were eight of us military prisoners:  two British, one whose last name was Smith; besides me there were four other Americans:  Louis J. Bradsher, 59th Coast Artillery; Francis L. Joslin, 59th Coast Artillery; Robert Newton, U.S. Marine Corps; and a soldier from the 31st Infantry, whose name I can’t recall; and one Dutch, Gary DeVoss.  Besides the military prisoners, there were also eight civilians; one French, two Dutch, two Germans, two Russians and one man without a country, whose name I remember; Mike Bonifer.

 Each of the civilian prisoners could speak several different languages, and were specifically fluent in Japanese.  We were permitted to exercise for about one hour.  Talking to each other was not allowed, but we usually managed to do it.

 We were permitted to bathe only once a month.  The bathing facility consisted of three 50-gallon oil drums, tops removed and filled with water over an open fire pit.  Each of us would climb into the first drum and get wet; from the second drum, we would dip out a small pail of water which we would use to scrub our bodies.  There was no soap, so we had to scrub hard to remove the dirt.  We would rinse ourselves with the remainder of the water in the pail.  And finally we would climb into the third drum for a final rinse.  After our baths, we would be marched naked back to our cells.

 We were not allowed to lie down in our cells during the day.  The order to retire would come about 9 pm.  At which time we would lie down for the night.  The guard would call  out the cell number through the screen slot in the door.  The prisoner would respond with his prison number.  My prison number was ichisen gobeyoko hatchiju ku. (1589)

 Fleas were a constant problem, but yet entertaining.  The cells were so quiet that when the fleas jumped, they could be heard.

 While exercising in the prison yard in November, a bilingual civilian prisoner reported that the war was closing in, that Allied landings were occurring in the Marianna Islands.

 In December one of the Dutch civilians in a cell directly on the other side of my own, died.  I was told that he had been the Governor General of the Dutch East Indies.

 After the war I learned that in December 1944 in Alongapo Harbor, P.I, American POWs were being moved out of the Philippines as quickly as possible to Japan, to be used as bargaining chips to negotiate favorable terms for the Japanese.  The Oryoko Maru was loaded mostly with officers and some enlisted men.  U.S. planes attacked the unmarked ship and sunk it.  Many American POWs died, including my Battery F Commander, Major Robert Glassburn, but some managed to get ashore and ended up at a tennis court.  When the survivors were questioned by the Japanese, they were asked who among them were sick and unable to travel.  Approximately twenty of the POWs responded that they were sick and unable to travel.  That evening those twenty men were escorted by Japanese guards to a hillside, secluded from observation, or so they thought; but two Filipinos, hidden from view, watched as Japanese soldiers charged the men with bayonets.  They continued to bayonet them until all twenty men were dead.  The others who had been left back at the tennis court were placed on another ship and transported to Japan, where they remained to the end of the war.

 The winter of 1944-45 was one of Japan’s coldest.  By December the weather had turned bitter cold.  Since we had no heat or warm clothing, it was a challenge each day to stay alive.  And because we were fed so little, our bodies could hardly generate enough heat to prevent us from freezing to death.  My health, as well as my weight, continued to decline.  Because there was snow on the ground and we had no shoes or sandals, our monthly exercise program was discontinued.  But we were allowed to continue our monthly baths.

 Nearing the end of January, my hands and feet froze.  By February my right hand had severe frostbite between the thumb and forefinger.  My hand had swollen to twice its normal size and was turning black.  The swelling and discoloration had extended all the way up my right forearm to the elbow.  To try to warm my hand and find some relief from the pain, I would place my right hand under my left armpit.  As my condition worsened, I knew I had to do something to get some attention.  Since lying down was against all their rules, I decided that lying down was what I would do.  The guards would open my cell door, kick me and demand that I sit up.  I stood at the window at the end of my cell and called out to Bradsher who was two cells away from me.  I finally got his attention.  I told him about my condition and asked him to contact my family if I didn’t make it out.  I also got his family information and I told him that I would do the same thing for him if the situation was reversed.  I told him I was going to lie down until I got help.

I continued to lie on the floor of my cell with my right hand under my left armpit.  As my condition worsened, I knew I had to do something to get some attention.  Since lying down was against all the rules, I decided that lying down was what I would do.  The guards would open my cell door, kick me and demand that I sit up.  I stood at the window at the end of my cell and called out to Bradsher who was two cells over from me.  I finally got his attention.  I told him about my condition and asked him to contact my family if I didn’t make it out.  I also got his family information and told him that I would do the same thing for him if the situation was reversed.  I told him I was going to lie down until I got help.

 I continued to lie on the floor of my cell with my right hand under my left armpit.  The guards continued their usual pattern of kicking and yelling for me to get up.  This went on for about four days.  Finally, a voice came through the screen in the door.  I was shocked to hear in perfect English, “What is your problem?”  I responded that my hands and feet are frozen and infected.  He called to the control center for my cell to be opened.  He was the prison warden!  He ordered the guards to take me to the prison medical section.  I was escorted barefoot through the snow approximately one and one-half miles to the prison infirmary.  I was placed on a flat, firm sofa, and while being held down by two Japanese medical staff prisoners, an old Japanese doctor, without anesthesia, cut open the infected area between my right thumb and forefinger.  I squealed like a stuck pig.  He scraped the infection and packed the one-inch deep wound with medicated gauze.  My toes were raw.  He took a medicated swab and covered the top of my toes.

 I was given a pass to return, and every day for a week I went back to have the gauze changed.  But the last time I went back to the medical section to have the gauze changed, the two medical staffers scolded me about the pass being outdated and began to beat me.  They repeatedly dropped a club into my head.  When I was finally allowed to leave, I swore that I would die before I went there for help again.

 The weather began to warm up again in March and we were able to resume our exercise program in the prison yard.  From the civilian prisoners who could speak and understand Japanese, we learned that the war was getting closer and closer; that the Philippines had been retaken, and that the Mariannas were now occupied by American Forces This wonderful news lifted our spirits.

 In April the announcement came over the public’s address system that ROOSEVELTO  was SENDAI.  President Roosevelt dead!  I could hear the Japanese prisoners yelling, “BANZAI, BANZAI!  This was the best news they had heard.

 The Japanese thought that President Roosevelt’s death assured their victory.  They believed that with the loss of our leader, the war would end and they would be victorious.  Perhaps they held this belief because they thought their own Emperor Hirohito was a god.  Everything the Japanese did, they did for their emperor.  It was understandable that they would believe Americans would no longer pursue the war after the loss of their “god.”

 Their relief didn’t last long.  When American bombers began to hit Tokyo and other key Japanese cities, they had to know that the victory they expected was only a vain belief.

 When the bombing raids began, the Japanese guards would unlock the cell door, enter the cell and handcuff my hands behind my back.  When they left the cell, they would lock the cell door again.  I never could figure out why they did this, but they did it every time the air raid sirens sounded.  It got to be quite an effort for the guards to keep up with all of this as the bombing became more frequent and more intense.

 By mid May, I was becoming more despondent.  I had been moved to a cell on the first floor and my food rations were getting smaller and smaller.  One day I noticed that the door to the pass-through was not latched.  I pushed the door open and was able to see the rice portions being given to other prisoners were much larger than my own portion.  I went bezerk; I started pounding on my cell door and yelling.  The guards came, opened my cell door and jerked me out of my cell.  I told them that they were starving me to death; that I was not getting the same ration as the others; and if they didn’t start to give me enough food, they would have to answer to the Americans when they came.  The senior guard drew his sword and told me that I would never live to see the day the Americans would take me alive.  He swung this sword over my head several times and then ordered the guards to throw me back in my cell.  I never complained again about my food ration, although it got smaller and smaller.

 Near the end of June with the air raids intensifying over Japan, one of the German civilian prisoners began to pound on his cell door, yelling, “Why don’t you Japanese give up?  You’ve lost the war.”  He kept yelling this over and over.  I heard the guards rush to his cell, I could hear them beating him and he kept screaming.  They beat him senseless.

 By now the air raids were so frequent our prison yard exercise stopped; and in early July, the guards stopped their practice of handcuffing my hands behind my back every time the sirens sounded.  What a relief to know that if a bomb hit the prison now, I could probably dig my way out.

 I was moved again—this time to cell #13.  I could sense that things were beginning to get even worse.  The Japanese guards were becoming ever harsher and their attitude toward me colder.  Food was barely a mouthful.

 From the back window in my cell, I could see planes.  They were marked with a white star, with slashes to the right and to the left of the star.  What foreign planes are these, I asked myself.  Russian? or?  I didn’t realize they were our own American planes.  Our insignia had changed—the red circle in the heart of the star had been removed, to avoid mistaking our own planes for Japan’s rising sun insignia.

 On August 6 and August 9, 1945 atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  This got the attention of Emperor Hirohito.  His reign was coming to an end.  The high command of the Japanese military advised him to surrender under the best possible terms.  The order to surrender would nullify the high command’s order to assassinate all prisoners of war before an American invasion of the homeland began.

 About August 18th, all of use eight military prisoners held in solitary were treated to a bath and a swim in the prison water reservoir.  What a treat!  After leaving the reservoir to return to our cells, a Japanese prisoner’s pass-through door was open.  He gestured to us that his #1 man, Hirohito, was going to get his head cut off.  He used the universally recognized sign of a head being cut off.

 On August 22, when the evening serving of rations arrived, I was delighted to find that I had been upgraded to a #1 ration of rice.  I hadn’t seen that much rice at one time since I had been there.  I began to dig in with my chop sticks, when my cell door was opened and the guard motioned for me to come out.  I refused!  I wasn’t about to leave all that rice uneaten—for what?  He finally came into the cell and dragged me out.  Then I saw the other seven allied prisoners lined up.  I thought that maybe all that rice they had given me was intended to be my last meal before execution—are they going to shoot us?

 We were taken to the center of the cell block to the control desk.  Immediately, I noticed that the Japanese flag encased in a frame was now turned, facing the wall.  We were taken to a meeting room where two Japanese officers and the interpreter were waiting for us.  Speaking through the interpreter, the Japanese officer said, “The war is now over, we are now friends.”  They extended their hands to us.  Some shook their hands with them.  I didn’t.

 All eight of us were escorted to the prison entry section.  We were weighed and given shoes and Japanese army clothing to wear.  I weighed in at 92 pounds.  We were loaded into a Japanese army truck.  The Japanese officials sat facing us with their backs against the cab of the truck, we sat facing each other—four on each side of the truck bed.  As we came into the city of Osaka, all we saw was devastation.  Bodies everywhere—some were lying by the roadside covered with metal sheeting.  Bradsher must have felt some vindication, as he saw all the destruction he couldn’t contain his feelings anymore—he began to berate our Japanese escorts.  Pointing to the dead bodies; he was yelling:  “You bastards, you got what you deserved.”  and continued with those kind of remarks.  The Jap officers escorting us just looked straight ahead, faces somber.  I poked Bradsher with my elbow and said quietly, “Brad, don’t screw it up now, we’ve come through too much.”

 When we all got off the truck in Osaka, one of our original eight, a U.S. Marine named Robert Newton, stayed on the truck with the British.  I couldn’t understand whey he didn’t get off with the rest of us Americans.  Fifty years later when we met again for the first time at a reunion in Mesa, Arizona, he had a chance to tell me.  He told me he thought Bradsher and I were arguing and he didn’t want to get involved in that.  After our meeting at the reunion, Newton and I established a close friendship that remained until his death in 1997.  Out of our group of eight, I believe I am now the only survivor.

 After we got to Osaka, Bradsher and I went to a warehouse where there were some POWs from Osaka’s Camp #1.   We learned that the camp we had left about a year ago, when we were taken into solitary, had been bombed and burned to the ground and that after the camp was burned, the American POWs had been sent to the Kyoto area to work on the rice fields.  They were still there when the war ended.

 A few years ago, I had an opportunity to meet with Master Sergeant Charles Coleman at his home in Riverside, California.  Sgt. Coleman, known to us as P-40 for the plane he flew, related to me after the camp was bombed, he sat and watched it burn, clapping his hands for joy and saying: “Burn you S.O.B., burn.”  Charlie Coleman died in 1994.

 After Bradsher found that our camp had been burned and there were no Americans to be found there, we decided to go to Kobe and look for other Americans.  We walked to Osaka/Kobe station and boarded a train.  The Japanese were now very courteous to us, bowing and stepping aside to give us room.  We found other Americans there in Kobe, camped out in and old burned-out school house.  The Frenchman who we had met in Sakai Prison was married to a Japanese woman and had a home outside of Kobe.  He came to the location where we were.  He invited Bradsher and me to go to his beach home where he provided good food and shelter for us.  I wish I could remember his name, but I can not.  His Japanese wife treated us very well; she cooked for us, prepared beds for us and did our laundry.  Another one of the civilians Mike Bonifer, who had been imprisoned with us at Sakai Prison, also came to the camp.  He gave Bradsher and me several hundred Yen to spend.  We were with our French host only a few days.  Because he had a short wave radio, he knew about the formal surrender and the whereabouts of the recovery teams coming into Kobe.  Bradsher and I decided to go back and join up with the group of Americans we had left camped out, back at the school house.

 American planes started air dropping supplies to us on the ground.  Did we ever eat good!  In spite of their warnings not to over eat, I got hives from the rich food.

 On September 6, 1945 the First Cavalry with a medical team came to our camp in Kobe.

All of us were examined and evaluated.   The medical staff determined that my medical needs were urgent and that I needed immediate treatment.  I was put aboard a train for Yokohama where I received excellent treatment on the hospital ship Marigold.

 When I left Kobe for Yokohama, I had to leave Bradsher behind.  I have never seen him again; I lost track of him and have been unsuccessful in my attempts to locate him.  I even made a trip to Ralston, Oklahoma, the address he gave me when we exchanged family information in Sakai Prison, but I couldn’t find him.

 After spending about a week on the Marigold, I was taken with by ambulance to Atsugi Airbase and transferred to a C-54 hospital plane and was flown to the 148th General Hospital on Saipan.  What a welcome!  American interrogators were waiting.  I was so upset I couldn’t communicate with them.

 I also received excellent treatment at the 148th General Hospital.  While I was there, I attended the first movie I had seen since 1941 on Corregidor.  My first two purchases were a Bulova watch and a Parker fountain pen.  I was interviewed by a correspondent from Time Magazine, but I think my statements may have been censored by the Army, and were never published.  However, I have a picture of myself taken by the correspondent, which I cherish enough to include in this book.

 In late September, I was flown back to the United States; stopping at Hickham Field in Hawaii en route to San Francisco.  Just prior to our landing at Hamilton Field, we flew directly over to the Golden Gate Bridge.  Flying over this beautiful bridge, I recalled sailing under the bridge on March 31, 1941 on the USAT Republic bound for the Philippines; and as I looked North out of the window of the C-54 hospital plane, I could see on the hillside in large white letters WELCOME HOME. What a glorious sight!  God bless America, My home, sweet home.  My prisoner of war experiences over,

 Thank God