Everett D. Reamer
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.
Feb. 2, 1941 I enlisted in the Army at Cincinnati, Ohio. I
selected the Coast Artillery with the Philippines as my designated
I was in service nearly two months before leaving San Francisoo, March
31, 1941 on the USAT Republic
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
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
prison campsL 92nd Garage, Corregidor, Bilibid, Cabanatuan
In September, 1942, a large group of us were selected for slave labor
assignments in Manchuria and Japan.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
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,
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
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 Interview with Peter Parsons 2006 including memories of surrender
Soldier’s Bible by
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
I was able to visit my
mother’s sister, Aunt Ida Atteberry, who did missionary work in the
District of San Francisco.
After my arrival on Corregidor
in April 1941, Aunt Ida sent me a New Testament Bible encased in a
khaki cover. On the
inside cover, she
had written an inscription to me in which I was encouraged to read
scriptures from the word of the Lord, which would help me find peace
when I was feeling lonely and in despair.
World War II began and I was in the heat of battle, I
carried this Bible with me. When
fell, hope for us on Corregidor
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
uniform and into its left shirt pocket, I tucked the New Testament that
Ida had sent to me. I
buried the box
containing my two most prized possessions below ground level to protect
shellfire or shrapnel damage.
the invasion came in the middle of the night on May 5,
1942, my comrades and I, fighting as infantrymen, were captured
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
along with the New Testament, I
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
approximately 2000 POWs; 1600 were taken off at Pusan,
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,
the spring of 1943, while in Camp #1, a fellow POW from
approached me. In
his hand was a
khaki-covered New Testament. He
think this belongs to you.” I
speechless; the chances of that bible ever being found and returned to
unbelievable under the circumstances.
The inscription Aunt Ida had written so long ago,
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
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
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
brutality of the Japanese.
Ida died many years ago, but not before she had had a
chance to personally welcome me home at Letterman
Experience at Osaka Camp # 1 and
Osaka Sakai Prison (Solitary Confinement)
We docked at Osaka,
November 11, 1942. It
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
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
British had been
captured in Hong Kong and Singapore. There were a few pilots
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.,
and India. Most were survivors off
ships that had been
sunk by the Germans in the South Atlantic and brought to Japan
together we numbered
800. We were used
for slave labor; we
unloaded ships’ cargo into barges; worked in steel mills, foundries,
yards; dock and warehouse labor as well.
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
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.
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
constantly patrolled inside the camp
compound. A squad
of guards was
stationed at the main gate.
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.
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
you’d ever make it, with that back.”
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
outside to walk. We
all stumbled and
and dysentery also continued to be a real
problem. I didn’t
know it at the time,
but I carried the amebic bug.
supplement our meager rations, we stole everything we
could, as often as we could. We
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.
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
wenches, however, were more
difficult. One time
we were unloading a
ship continuing pig iron. We
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,
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.
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.
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
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.
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
holding an American flag. When
Japanese sergeant saw the tattoo, he put his head down like a charging
and repeatedly rammed the sailor, knocking him to the ground. When Jack was able to
stand up again, he put
his shirt back on.
the spring of 1944, when I was working the lumber detail,
hungry and disillusioned, some Japanese fighter planes were exercising
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
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
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
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
do almost anything to get food. There
were other work details that did not present such opportunities.
worked seven days a week—long hours. When
we were unloading ships we had to meet a
quota set by the Japanese. Sometimes,
were required to work fourteen hours a day in order to meet the quota.
harsh as the work details were, I believe that was what
kept most of us alive. We
challenging the Japanese—criticizing their crude, inefficient work
saying that in America,
those kind of jobs would be done by automated machinery; that they
expect to win a war with such outmoded methods, etc.
It was just a mild form of put down, but it
kept us going.
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
the Japanese people were always hostile to us.
To rate the degree of their hatred:
Americans were #1; British #2; Australians, New Zealanders
Indians #4; and the Chinese #5.
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
my friends made it more difficult for me.
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
an open trench for urinals were located at the rear of the main
units. Near the
toilet area was a table
with basins and water spigots for hand washing.
was a British merchant seamen in our camp, whose ship
had been sunk in the South Atlantic
German submarine. He
had been brought to
the camp and turned over to the custody of the Japanese. As we worked together on a
appeared to be in a daze. He
muttering mostly to himself: “I
believe this. I was
captured by the
Germans twice during World War I, and now this.”
March 1943, after almost a year in captivity, I was
allowed to write a “coached” message to my family, and a second message
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
attempts were made to send mail and packages to me.
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
is over, mom. We’ll
be coming home
soon.” He died the
following day. In
another incident, a young soldier from Arkansas
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.
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
parcel would be split between four of us; although, the Red Cross had
intended for one whole parcel to be distributed to each man. The parcels were kept in a
located just across from the entrance to our room and extended to the
area. From our
room, we could see
Japanese camp staff enter the store room and take the supplies that
intended for us. This
was just more than
we could bear. Those
supplies were meant
for us—not the Japs.
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
shortest; so the two of us got the assignment.
Bradsher’s job was to stand guard in our room, as was the
to prevent more than one of us from leaving the room or any one time;
was go into the storeroom and take the parcels.
One of the other men in our room was able to make a key
unlock the storeroom. We
were now ready
to proceed with our plan.
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
turned off the light outside the toilet area, and returned to the room
guard. I then left
the room, went into
the unlocked storeroom, grabbed three Red Cross food parcels and
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
guards huddled in front of the storeroom door, I decided that the only
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
guards knew which room I had entered.
They questioned Bradsher, when he refused to tell them who
they began to kick him and slap him around.
Other guards checked everyone in the room and finally left.
the next morning, August 11th, all food
was cut off to our room. We
that there would be no food for anyone in the room until the culprits
discovered. I felt
terrible that my
roommates were being starved.
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
intended for our benefit but was being taken by the Japanese; that we
want to see our roommates continue to suffer and asked him to intercede
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.
came to me in a letter from a comrade years
later, that Chief Sanders had floated a false story, claiming that
I had refused to do extra work after our work details, and because of
refusal, the Japanese would not relent on our punishment and that he,
could do nothing to help use; that he had no control over it.
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
Japanese guards. We
were taken to the
Japanese Camp Commander’s office.
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.
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.
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
was impossible for us to continue, we were ordered to stand at
front of the main gate—24 hours a day, no food or water.
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
became like a zombie.
Sunday evening, as the Japanese Camp Commander started
the evening muster of all POWs and the guards were called to attention,
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.
had also brought Bradsher who was still standing, into their room with
me. They gave us
food and water.
next morning, when work details started to leave the
camp by the main gate, the guards came and got Bradsher and me, and
us at the main gate for all to see.
would be forced to stand attention by the gate every day, and at night
be taken inside and places in a small brig adjacent to the Japanese
manned the front gate. Because
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.
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
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
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
bastards! I wanted
to kill them.
mid-day we arrived at army headquarters.
Why were we here? We
didn’t know. Death
We waited and waited—finally, Bradsher and I were taken
courtroom; we stood before three Japanese army officers on the bench. Speaking only in Japanese
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
given to us as intended, that the Japanese camp staff had been taking
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.
deliberations were complete, the judge stated through
the interpreter, “I sentence you to one year solitary confinement.” He asked me, “What do you
that”? I said, “I
do not think it is
fair, because we only attempted to take what was ours to begin with.”
hands were cuffed behind our backs and straw hoods
placed over our heads. I
that blindfolded men were usually beheaded—or are they going to shoot
walked for some distance before being placed on a
leaving the train, we again
walked under the guard for some distance before arriving at our
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.
was late in the evening, after dark, when we were taken
into the prison cell block. We
taken to the top cat-walk. This
we became separated. Bradsher
one cell and I to another. The
that cell door as it locked behind me will never be forgotten; I had
such isolation; I was completely alone; now I knew what solitary
really meant. I
wondered: What now?
Will this be the end for me?
being placed in my solitary cell on September 18, 1944,
I discovered that in addition to Japanese convicts, there were also
Allied military personnel being held there.
There were five Americans (including myself), two British,
total of eight; mostly being falsely accused of trying to escape.
were also civilians of various nationalities being held
there in solitary cells; two German Nationals for suspected espionage;
French and two Russians, also for suspected espionage, two Dutch for
and one man who had no identified country also being suspected of
of us were released on about August 22, 1945.
One died in Solitary, at least two became
was suffering from
malnutrition/starvation, and we all looked like the walking dead. I weighed 92 pounds.
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
ignored the rules to get attention and medical help; and another
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
in Solitary Confinement meant being in isolation
twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week; outside walks were rare;
also was a rare occasion; food was limited to 500 calories a day; and
body lice were always present,.
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
foreign and Japanese civilian prisoners who had been convicted of
is a description of the Solitary
Cells in which I was held for almost a year.
Size of Cell was 5 feet x
One Light—hanging from
ceiling, burned 24 hours a day
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
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.
following were denied or forbidden:
bed or bedding
No fixed toilet with
No fixed water source—(no
tap, spigot, faucet)
No facility for shower or
No heat to the cell
No coat or warm clothing
No chair or bench
No exercise allowed in
cell—even standing was forbidden
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.
end of the cell, there was a barred four-pane window about 6 feet off
floor. The walls
were solid masonry, the
cell door was solid wood with a small screened slot at eye level
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
smallest amount. I
was placed on #7
rations—barely enough to keep alive.
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
were eight of us
military prisoners: two
whose last name was Smith; besides me there were four other Americans: Louis J. Bradsher, 59th
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
French, two Dutch, two Germans, two Russians and one man without a
whose name I remember; Mike Bonifer.
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.
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
pit. Each of us
would climb into the first
drum and get wet; from the second drum, we would dip out a small pail
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
would climb into the third drum for a final rinse.
After our baths, we would be marched naked
back to our cells.
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
call out the cell
number through the
screen slot in the door. The
would respond with his prison number.
prison number was ichisen gobeyoko hatchiju ku. (1589)
were a constant problem, but yet entertaining.
The cells were so quiet that when the fleas
jumped, they could be heard.
exercising in the prison yard in November, a bilingual
civilian prisoner reported that the war was closing in, that Allied
were occurring in the Marianna Islands.
December one of the Dutch civilians in a cell directly on
the other side of my own, died. I
told that he had been the Governor General of the Dutch East Indies.
the war I learned that in December 1944 in Alongapo
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.
attacked the unmarked ship and sunk it.
Many American POWs died, including my Battery F Commander,
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
hidden from view, watched as Japanese soldiers charged the men with
continued to bayonet them
until all twenty men were dead. The
others who had been left back at the tennis court were placed on
and transported to Japan,
where they remained to the end of the war.
winter of 1944-45 was one of Japan’s
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
there was snow on the
ground and we had no shoes or sandals, our monthly exercise program was
we were allowed to
continue our monthly baths.
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.
my condition worsened, I knew I had to do something to get some
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
continued to lie on the floor of my cell with my right
hand under my left armpit. As
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.
continued to lie on the floor of my cell with my right
hand under my left armpit. The
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
escorted barefoot through the snow approximately one and one-half miles
prison infirmary. I
was placed on a
flat, firm sofa, and while being held down by two Japanese medical
prisoners, an old Japanese doctor, without anesthesia, cut open the
area between my right thumb and forefinger.
I squealed like a stuck pig.
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.
was given a pass to return, and every day for a week I
went back to have the gauze changed.
the last time I went back to the medical section to have the gauze
two medical staffers scolded me about the pass being outdated and began
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.
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
that the Philippines
had been retaken, and that the Mariannas were now occupied by American
This wonderful news lifted our spirits.
April the announcement came over the public’s address
system that ROOSEVELTO was
SENDAI. President Roosevelt dead! I could hear the Japanese
“BANZAI, BANZAI! This
was the best news
they had heard.
Japanese thought that President Roosevelt’s death
assured their victory. They
that with the loss of our leader, the war would end and they would be
they held this belief
because they thought their own Emperor Hirohito was a god. Everything the Japanese
did, they did for
their emperor. It
that they would believe Americans would no longer pursue the war after
of their “god.”
relief didn’t last long. When
American bombers began to hit Tokyo and other
cities, they had to know that the victory they expected was only a vain
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
and more intense.
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
the door open and was able to see the rice portions being given to
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
that they were starving me to death; that I was not getting the same
the others; and if they didn’t start to give me enough food, they would
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
guards to throw me back in my cell.
never complained again about my food ration, although it got smaller
the end of June with the air raids intensifying over Japan,
the German civilian prisoners began to pound on his cell door, yelling,
don’t you Japanese give up? You’ve
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.
now the air raids were so frequent our prison yard
exercise stopped; and in early July, the guards stopped their practice
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.
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.
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
August 6 and August 9, 1945 atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This got the attention of
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
of the homeland began.
August 18th, all of use eight military
prisoners held in solitary were treated to a bath and a swim in the
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.
used the universally recognized sign of a head being cut off.
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
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
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?
were taken to the center of the cell block to the control
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
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
eight of us were escorted to the prison entry
section. We were
weighed and given shoes
and Japanese army clothing to wear.
weighed in at 92 pounds. We
into a Japanese army truck. The
officials sat facing us with their backs against the cab of the truck,
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
contain his feelings anymore—he began to berate our Japanese escorts. Pointing to the dead
bodies; he was
bastards, you got what you
continued with those kind
of remarks. The Jap
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.”
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,
he had a chance to tell me. He
he thought Bradsher and I were arguing and he didn’t want to get
that. After our
meeting at the reunion, Newton and I
a close friendship that remained until his death in 1997. Out of our group of eight,
I believe I am now
the only survivor.
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
ground and that after the camp was burned, the American POWs had been
to work on the rice fields. They
still there when the war ended.
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
burn, clapping his hands for joy and saying: “Burn you S.O.B., burn.” Charlie Coleman died in
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
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
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
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.
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
where I received
excellent treatment on the hospital ship Marigold.
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
him. I even made a
trip to Ralston,
the address he gave me when we exchanged family information in Sakai
but I couldn’t find him.
spending about a week on the Marigold,
I was taken
with by ambulance to Atsugi Airbase and transferred to a C-54 hospital
and was flown to the 148th General
Saipan. What a welcome! American interrogators
were waiting. I was
so upset I couldn’t communicate with
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
interviewed by a correspondent from Time Magazine, but I think my
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.
late September, I was flown back to the United States; stopping
at Hickham Field in Hawaii
en route to San
prior to our landing at Hamilton Field, we flew directly over to the Golden Gate
Flying over this beautiful bridge, I recalled sailing
under the bridge
on March 31, 1941 on the USAT
bound for the Philippines;
and as I looked North
out of the window of the C-54 hospital plane, I could see on the
large white letters WELCOME HOME. What a glorious sight!
God bless America,
My home, sweet home. My
prisoner of war experiences over,