Defenders of the Philippines

picture of captivity and picture of release from captivity

Edward W. Weiss

Edward W. Weiss was born in New York, New York in 1921. When he was four years old, his mother died of tuberculosis, and his father was unable to keep him and his brother. They were placed in various orphan homes about the U.S. until they were around 12, when his father's sister and then brother took them in.

He enlisted in the Army at the age of 17 in May of 1939, having lied about his age. He went through basic training at Fort Slocum, New York, then passed the Signal School exam and headed to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. After completing training there, he was assigned to the 10th Signal Service Company in Manila, reporting for duty in the Philippines on May 20, 1940. He worked at the U.S. Philippine Department Headquarters radio communications center, WTA, at Fort Santiago in Manila. U.S. communications between the Philippines and Washington, D.C. went through this station in Morse Code.

As a sergeant in September 1940, Weiss was put in charge of the Army radio station at Camp John Hay, near Baguio, for a year. In September of the following year he returned to Fort Santiago. In mid-October Weiss, along with two other radio operators--Clyde Rearick and Ed Chmielewski--were told to report to Colonel James, the Chief Signal Officer, who informed them that they had been selected for a secret assignment and that they would be leaving Manila in two days. At the appointed time, the three men went to the Army pier (Pier One) in the Manila Bay port area, where they boarded the Don Esteban, an inter-island transport ship run by a Filipino crew. Linked to the Asiatic Fleet communication station in Cavite, the men were to monitor a frequency--codenamed "Baker"--employed to transmit cryptic messages. Five days later, after a brief stopover at Zamboanga, they arrived at Darwin, Australia.

Recognizing Army Air Force members, Weiss concluded that the U.S. was preparing for war with Japan. Two days later, Weiss and the other men sailed to Thursday Island, picked up two Australians, and continued onward to Cairns, where the cargo was removed before the vessel sailed to Townsville. There they contacted the Cavite naval station, which ordered them to proceed to Brisbane and then to Port Moresby. Then they were told to return to Manila due to extenuating circumstances which took precedence over the mission originally planned. A few hours after the attack of Pearl Harbor, the men received a coded message telling them that if they were north of the equator they should proceed to Manila, but if they were south, they should go back to Darwin. Because they were 100 miles north, they returned to Manila, reaching the port on December 9.

On December 10, they were ordered to go to Pier One, where the USS Canopus was painted grey and loaded with bombs. That afternoon, a total of 63 Japanese bombers flew overhead, obliterating the naval base at Cavite. Iba and Clark Field were also attacked, eliminating the fighting capacity of the Air Force. The Don Esteban sailed for Mariveles Harbor--where the USS Canopus would remain for the duration of the war--to finish loading the bombs, then departed for Mindanao and the Del Monte Airbase on December 13. Weiss, Clyde, and "Ski" took shifts working in the radio room and also standing guard to watch for any enemy vessels or aircraft.

Word was received via radio on December 15 that a Japanese convoy was in the same area as the Don Esteban, so the latter reversed course and hid near the island of Negros. Most of the crew was taken ashore, while Weiss and his two comrades continued their duties aboard ship until it was deemed safe to continue. The Don arrived at Bugo on the Mindanao coast the next day, and Army trucks took the bombs
 to Del Monte. Weiss rode in one of the vehicles.

Their mission accomplished, the men on the Don Esteban began the return journey to Manila on December 19, stopping at Iloilo to drop off small arms and ammunition. Shortly after they set sail again, they received word that Japanese aircraft was bombing and strafing the area.

Docking at Manila Bay again on December 21, the men were on standby. At noon the air raid siren sounded, and Japanese Betty bombers were seen overhead. Weiss noticed some of the bombs being deployed and headed for the safety of the lower deck. When the danger passed, Weiss, Clyde, and Ski helped those who were still in the office buildings, most of which were now burning. The attack had taken its toll on the Filipinos, as there was no Civil Defense organization.

Radio Manila reported on December 22 that the Japanese had made landfall at Lingayen Gulf. The air raid siren sounded around noon and the vessels began scrambling to leave the dock. The Don reached the open waters of Manila Bay as the enemy bombers came into view, and although they became a target to three attacks that day due to their large size, the vessel was unscathed.

The Don's next mission was to take supplies to Corregidor, and after offloading the supplies at the North Mine Pier wharf on Bottomside, they returned to the Manila port area to load more boxes and crates. Once again the air raid sounded as Japanese bombers appeared, and once again the Don escaped damage.

On Christmas Eve, 1941, the Don was standing by in Manila Port. That afternoon, five P-40s flew overhead, and a truck deposited millions of dollars worth of gold ingots onto the pier. The men then carried the ingots aboard the Don by hand, and MacArthur, with his wife Jean and son Arthur, also boarded. After unloading the supplies and passengers, the Don returned to Manila, now an open city, on Christmas Day and witnessed more enemy bombing, which struck a nearby ship. The next night, 100 Army nurses and hundreds of Philippine Army medical personnel were evacuated to Corregidor and Bataan, and the Don then made nightly trips into Manila to transport supplies and military men. One night U.S. Army trucks pulled up and gave them the contents of the 31st Infantry Post Exchange to take to Corregidor. There was a large amount of supplies in a warehouse, but without the means to get it back to the ship, it had to be left behind.

On New Year's Eve, the Army began burning whatever could not be taken, and Manila became a firepit. The Don gathered as many barrels of motor oil as possible and was then ordered to Pier One to pick up any remaining military personnel as well as rifles and ammunition, including British-manufactured Lee-Enfield rifles, which were heavier than the crew's outdated Springfield rifles. However, not all of the equipment could be brought aboard because the demolition of the port area quickly grew out of control; the Don was able to pull out when the rope tying it to the dock caught fire and broke, and the crew were able to save those aboard a nearby barge by pulling them away from the fire.

The Don was instructed to tow seven barges to Corregidor, but, unable to locate them, the vessel made its way to Corregidor and the North Mine Dock, where, in the process of offloading, an air raid occurred. Again the ship escaped serious damage. Between December 29 and January 6, the Japanese carried out several bombing raids on Corregidor. The Don anchored offshore between Mariveles and Cabcaban, and Weiss, Clyde, and Ski kept watch over the radio channels. They also taught themselves how to fire the forward gun at the ship's bow. One morning, Weiss heard a Japanese plane, and he fired on it, causing it to leave the area. Meanwhile, Weiss spent time attempting to locate the remainder of his Signal Company, and he eventually found them bivouacked in the jungle and took some supplies to them.

Around February 21, 1942, the Don was given a mission to transport passengers, namely Philippine government officials and the vice president, Sergio Osmena, from Corregidor and Bataan. A U.S. submarine was likewise arranged to evacuate the Philippine president, Quezon, and his family. These arrangements were to serve as a cover to safely remove the Philippine government to Australia. The Don and the submarine made contact less than two days later and decided to meet at Iloilo, where the president and his family boarded the Don. However, they did not remain aboard during daylight hours, and because he would not board before darkness fell, Quezon was left behind when the Don finally took off. The Philippine officials were taken to the pier at Iloilo to arrange their own havens.

The next day, the Don arrived at Cebu City, where Weiss, Clyde, and Ski were given a 24-hour shore leave. Although they were a few crew members short the following day, the Don nevertheless set sail for Corregidor to deliver much-needed supplies and food. Early on the morning of February 27, 1942, two Japanese Val bombers began attacking, and Weiss sent an SOS radio message to Corregidor. Captain Afable ordered the men to abandon ship due to the extensive damage and to the fact that the gasoline they had been carrying was leaking. Weiss sent a radio message conveying their evacuation and then destroyed the communication equipment; he was the last person to board the second and final lifeboat, which sank due to holes incurred during the attack. Those aboard were saved by the first lifeboat, and they landed on a bay.

As the Japanese bombers returned, Weiss decided not to go to the nearby native village. A Japanese destroyer appeared, followed by a second, and he hid in a coral crevasse, watching as the Don erupted in flames. At dusk, he walked through the jungle and came across a single room Filipino farmer's hut, where he found Clyde and Ski.  Weiss remained there for two nights, and then all three men left and walked to the village of Paluan. There natives took them to the place where most of the villagers had evacuated, and there they found the rest of the Don's crew. The Filipinos would blend in with the natives and try to make their to their various homes on Luzon, while Weiss, Clyde, Ski, Lieutenant Wilson, and Captain Afable would attempt to return to Cebu. They were provided with Filipino horses and a guide.

They left at night and reached Mamburo the next day. They were then taken in a banca to a small settlement, near which a Japanese cruiser was anchored. They escaped detection and set off for the next small village, which gave them passage aboard a small sailboat en route to San Jose, at which pier they arrived the next morning. They boarded a sailboat transporting a cargo of pigs to San Jose pier and then rode a railroad flatcar to San Jose itself. They were able to contact Cebu via radio and inform them of their circumstances and pending arrival. Weiss found a forty-five men Air Force unit and an officer sent to prepare the San Jose airfield for the arrival of the rest of the unit along with supplies.

The men located a sailboat owner who agreed to take them to Panay for $150, and they arrived on March 10. They then made their way to Iloilo, and from there to Negros and on to Cebu, finally arriving on March 15, 1942. Weiss, Clyde, and Ski were given quarters in a Catholic school and, under command of Colonel Cook, were to copy the news reports from the U.S. regarding the progress of the war, information which would then be placed in the newspapers. Cebu itself was under the command of General Chynoweth from the U.S. Army; the defensive forces were comprised of Philippine army units and a few U.S. Army officers who acted as advisors, training officers, and general liaison.

On the northeast coast of Cebu, at a village called Bogo, a Philippine Army unit commanded by a U.S. Naval officer attempted to ward off the theft of a launch by a Japanese destroyer. However, while those who came ashore were mostly killed, gunfire from the destroyer wounded many of the defenders and decimated the village.

A plan was concocted for a seven-ship convoy, under the command of Captain Afable, to leave Cebu with food supplies for Corregidor and Bataan. Two U.S. Navy PT boats were commissioned under the command of Lieutenant Bulkeley to serve as escorts, and three P-40s that had arrived at Cebu in mid-March were to provide aerial cover. Weiss, Clyde, and Ski drew straws to determine which one of them would accompany the convoy as the radio operator, and Weiss ended up with the short straw. The departure, however, was delayed as the Navy PT boats designated as escorts engaged Japanese naval vessels in a skirmish. The PTs were driven off, and one was destroyed, while the other landed at Mindanao.

Cebu received word of Bataan's fall on April 9, 1942, and the next day a Japanese convoy landed north and south of Cebu City in order to isolate the southern half of the island from the northern part. Cebu City became a scene of chaos as the defenders destroyed items of military value. Colonel Byrd ordered the remaining men to go to Camp X, a pre-designated area in the Balamban Forest. En route, Weiss and the others came upon the bivouac of a Philippine Army unit commanded by a U.S. Army officer named Captain Sharp, who told them how to get to Camp X but urged them to remain until the next morning, when he would be leading a patrol there. However, word was received at daybreak that Camp X had been taken by the Japanese.

Weiss and the men with him decided to travel ahead of Captain Sharp and his unit to another Philippine Army battalion in the jungle. They came across a civilian camp, where Colonel Byrd chose to remain, and the rest proceeded to Adloan, only to discover that it was being evacuated, in the process of which the Japanese launched an attack. The Filipinos dispersed, and the Americans, Weiss among them, were left to make their own escapes. The officers preferred to go it alone, and one who passed through informed Weiss and his companions that General Chynoweth's orders were to surrender, hide in the Balamban, or leave the island.

Weiss made an attempt to go to a Filipino farm in hopes of garnishing food, but on the way he encountered Lieutenant Bob Grainger, whose leg was in a cast following a motorcycle accident, and two Filipino escorts. The Filipinos returned to their homes, and Grainger joined Weiss, Clyde, and Ski. After two days spent in an abandoned hut without food, the men learned about a military encampment nearby. Weiss and Ski investigated and found Camp Cook, a food supply depot stocked with supplies from Australia. It was commanded by Colonel John D. Cook, who ordered Weiss and Ski to remain in case radio equipment was obtained while someone was sent to bring Bob, Clyde, and Lieutenant Clossen to the camp.

Weiss meanwhile accompanied an American civilian, Jim Cushing, to figure out why there was no communication to the Philippine Army platoon available through the field telephone. They discovered six armed Japanese and an officer and opened fire; Weiss took out the six soldiers with a Thompson sub-machine gun while Cushing killed the officer. Given this encounter, Weiss and Cushing returned directly to Camp Cook, which was ordered to be evacuated. Weiss was told to go to a civilian evacuation camp known as White Horse with twenty Filipinos in order to transfer food there from Camp Cook. Ski would follow with another group. Bob Grainger and Lieutenant Clossen would be evacuated to White Horse with the other groups.

As Weiss, acting as leader, approached the Balamban tree line, a Japanese Val bomber flew overhead and began firing. Weiss and the Filipinos in his group took cover and then continued on their way. Ski and his group met up with them at the trail head. Hearing explosions, Weiss looked from the tree line and saw that Camp Cook was being dive-bombed. Resultantly, he and Ski returned to the hut where they had stayed prior to Camp Cook; Clyde was still there, as was a Navy sailor nicknamed Nap who had been on one of the Navy PT boats and a 17-year-old Spanish boy, Carlos. Later that same day, Bob and Clossen also came back to the hut.

The men decided to try to escape to Negros. Carlos, who had a Japanese-issued pass allowing him to move about the area, went to the coastal area to try to secure transport for the men, and Weiss found a stash of food that had been left by the two ships from Australia. When Carlos returned, he brought two Filipinos with him and a basket in which to carry Bob. He reported that two Filipino fishermen would help them get to Negros, although extreme caution was necessary because the Japanese had issued a reward of 50 pesos ($25) per American turned in to them. Weiss arranged to compensate each of their Filipino helpers with a case of corned beef each.

When they reached the beach, only one Filipino appeared, as the other had changed his mind. This guide, Ski, Bob, Carlos, and Weiss got into one banca, and Clyde, Nap, and Clossen into the other. Despite the leaking of the bancas, they arrived at Negros about six hours later, on April 26, 1942. Clossen and Carlos chose to try to make it back to their families, and Nap decided to join a group of PT sailors.

Clyde, Ski, Bob, and Weiss found a business contact of Bob's, Fliesher, who was involved with the export trade, and they went to his home. Bob was able to obtain a pair of crutches from a doctor, and then the men were taken to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Bryant, American civilians living at the Pamplona Plantation. During their three-day stay, their uniforms were pressed and cleaned, and they received canvas sneakers. Mrs. Bryant also gave Weiss $30 in U.S. currency to reach Mindanao, where some Air Corps personnel were located at Del Monte Air Field.

They were driven to Dumaguete, where they met Roy Bell, an American professor in charge of the area's Civil Aid Administration. As such, he operated a small launch to a missionary station located on Mindanao's northern coast in order to bring back food. The four men were to accompany him on his next trip, but then they received word that the Japanese had invaded the northern and western coasts of Mindanao. Roy told them that there was a coastal village, Asia, 40 miles away, and he invited one of the men to go with him to his evacuation site at Malabo village in order to operate the radio equipment. Ski volunteered. Roy gave the rest of the men civilian clothes, and they boarded a bus out of Dumaguete.

Ski remained at Malabo until April 1943, when the Japanese attacked. He escaped and lived a transient existence until communication was established with the guerrilla leader Wendell Fertig on Mindanao. Ski and other refugees were ensconced in sailboats to Mindanao, where an American submarine picked them up and took them first to Australia and then to the U.S by late 1943. 

Meanwhile, Weiss, Clyde, and Bob arrived in Tolong and spoke with the mayor, who arranged for them to be taken to Asia on a banca for $10. When they were three or four miles to their destination, the banca stagnated due to a lack of wind, and eventually the men asked to be let off ashore. They walked to the plantation of Bill Pflieder, who welcomed them. It was there that they received word of Corregidor's fall by listening to KZRH, the Japanese-held radio station broadcasting from Manila. Weiss, Clyde, and Bob decided not to follow the surrender orders but rather to attempt an escape to Australia.

Fred Pflieder, Bill's brother, took them to his plantation at Maricolom, where two U.S. Army officers had been overseeing the salvage of weaponry from the sunken inter-island ship Panay. They met Captain Armond and Lieutenant Wright, who expressed their intention to surrender at Bacolod. Fearing for their own safety and unwilling to surrender, Weiss, Clyde, and Bob returned to Asia during the night.

Bill contacted Jim McKinley, the Dean of Theology from Silliman University, who had established an evacuation site in the hills. Jim secretly offered Weiss, Clyde, and Bob the opportunity to join him and his family at his evacuation site. The three men set out in the direction of Tolong to make it appear that they were going to Dumaguete to surrender, then met with McKinley, who took them to his hut. Dave Watkinds, who had served in the U.S. Army and elected to be discharged in the Philippines, joined them the next morning. They planned to hike to the Tayabanan River Valley, with Clyde, Weiss, Dave, Dave's wife Ebing, and a 15-year-old Filipino girl named Susing going in advance to Capinganon. They departed on May 20, 1942.

Upon arriving at Capinganon, Augustine, the leader, welcomed the men and set off the next day with some of the villagers to begin transporting the supplies from McKinley's site. Meanwhile, the men worked to construct their own hut, later dubbed Wilderness Castle, with the help of some of the villagers. When all of the supplies had been transferred, McKinley and his family, along with Bob, joined them at Capinganon.

In mid-June, a Filipino from Asia came with a message from Bill Pflieder. Two American military personnel were at Asia and wanted to talk with the men about escaping from the Philippines. Weiss volunteered to travel to Asia to discuss the matter. There he met Captain Nelson ("Nels") of the U.S. Army and Chief Petty Officer Hunter of the U.S. Navy, both of whom had escaped from Cebu in a small motor launch. Weiss agreed to return with Clyde and Bob while Nelson and Hunter brought their launch and supplies as well as the rest of their group in two days to prepare for an escape attempt to Australia.

Weiss and his companions returned to Asia and discovered that the rest of what was to become their escape group was comprised of U.S. Navy officers whom they had previously seen at Cebu City. They began to ready the Maria Del Pilar for the voyage to Australia, although Bill Pflieder forced them to sign a note of confiscation for the Pilar and two promissory notes, one for lumber and one for the Pilar. All of the men signed for the lumber, but only Bob signed the note for the ship because they felt that the vessel was not Bill's to sell.

On June 27, 1942, the men were ready. The next day, before they cast off, they were joined by two Filipinos who had been in the Philippine Army, thus making a total of 11 men (Weiss, Clyde, Bob, "Nels" Nelson, "Swede" Jensen, "Mac" McGibony, "Red" Carson, "Pappy" Hunter, Ed Kincaid, and the two Filipinos, Felix and Shorty). They learned that Bill Pflieder agreed to turn the McKinleys and the Watkinds over to the Japanese under threat of reprisals, and when the families were informed of this by Filipinos, they decided to turn themselves in at Dumaguete. However, some of McKinley's associates from Silliman University urged him to join them at an evacuation site in the Negros interior, and the two families decided to accept. The Watkinds later separated from the McKinleys in mid-1943 and returned to Ebing's family village, where Ebing gave birth to a girl. The McKinleys continued to elude the Japanese, and on February 7, 1944, they were evacuated with 34 other Americans, the Watkinds among them, aboard an American submarine near the mouth of the Tayabanan River. The submarine took them to Darwin, Australia after 8 days of travel, and they were flown to Brisbane to recuperate before returning to the U.S. in early April 1944.

Aboard the Pilar, each man had duties to perform; Weiss served as a deck hand. On the first full day at sea, Weiss noticed a structure in the water. It turned out to be a gray Japanese merchant ship, so the Americans donned Filipino clothing and went below deck while Felix and Shorty stayed topside, and fortunately the passing vessel did not take an interest.

Due to being unable to sail the Pilar into the wind, the men had to adopt a zig-zag course. They survived a storm, losing the jib sail, and narrowly avoided a sudden outcropping of rocks in the Sulu Sea. When they passed into the Celebes Sea, they went through a one-foot "waterfall" separating it from the Sulu Sea. They anchored near Glan, north of Mindanao, and the Filipinos gave them food.

After setting off from Mindanao, the Pilar encountered a fierce storm which led to the entire mast rising several inches out of the hull, thus making it necessary to turn the vessel into the wind. They were finally able to position the mainsail boom to allow for the lowering and securing of the mainsail. The next day the men set to pumping water out of the hull. They constructed a makeshift sea anchor from the remnants of the jib sail, and in so doing were able to face the vessel into the winds.

Around July 20, 1942, Pappy Hunter became ill with what the men suspected was pneumonia. Resultantly, the men anchored in a small cove at the base of a volcano, and Weiss and Felix went ashore to a village. They came upon a Chinaman, who gave them aspirin and confirmed that they were at Halmahera. As they were making repairs on the Pilar, the Chinaman and an Indonesian boy warned them that the Japanese were nearby and knew of their presence. As they prepared to leave, three bancas with Japanese flags approached; although they were Indonesians, they seemed to want to prevent the men from leaving. Weiss and Nels fired shots in their direction, which discouraged them sufficiently to allow the Pilar to move out into the Molucca Sea.

Caught in the doldrums near Halmahera, the men decided to try to proceed through the strait passing between Halmahera and Morotai. They were forced to row by hand. One day, a banca carrying three men appeared, and one of the men, clad in a white suit and a straw hat, came aboard the Pilar and asked them questions. He told them that he was the harbor master of Tobelo on Halmahera; he had been appointed leader by the Japanese when they occupied Ternate. He was later charged with collaborating with the Japanese and held in a Dutch Military Prison on Morotai.

The Pilar made it through the strait on August 10, 1942. Shortly afterward, Weiss spotted a Japanese patrol boat entering the strait. He and Nels both dropped their weapons into the sea, and all of the men donned their uniforms as the boat approached. After 43 days of sailing, they were captured by the Japanese. They were tied up and their shoes were removed, and as the Pilar was put in tow, Clyde was ordered to man its tiller. The rest of the men were put in a storage hold on the Japanese ship.

When they reached Ternate, the men's shoes were returned to them, and they were led to a jail. The next day, the men were taken to the pier and loaded onto a freighter. Felix and Shorty, being Filipinos, were not permitted to go with them; in September 1944, Felix was shot while attempting to hail American planes flying overhead, but Shorty survived the war and returned home to Negros.

The freighter docked at the pier at Ambon, Netherland East Indies on August 16, and the men were taken to Victoria Barracks, a military compound. The men were forced to construct their own cubicles within the prison using barbed wire and lumber. Weiss wanted to escape, but realized that the jail doors were kept locked. The men were kept there for forty-three days, then removed to Tan Toey POW Camp in Ambon on September 28, 1942.  They were imprisoned along with 275 Dutch military personnel. A week later, they were joined by five more Americans, including three whom Weiss knew from Signal School--Mike Maslak, Stan Kapp, and Irv Stein. The other two were George Lindahl, a field artillery Captain, and John Biss, a B-17 radio operator and gunner.

On October 25, 530 POWs--none of them American--were taken to Hainan island. Weiss' group, along with 7 Dutch prisoners, were moved to the Australian side of the camp, where the officers were separated from the rest of the men. The prisoners were put on work details, carrying sand and gravel from Ambon Bay to the roadway and also unloading supply ships. This continued until December 8, when the Japanese man known as "Icky" informed them that Americans as well as Allied officers would not be participating in work parties. Instead, Icky would give them assignments, the first of which was filling in potholes on the roadway. When Weiss observed an officer entering the latrine, he would sneak in as well so that they could converse with one another, earning the latrine the nickname "The Bridge of Sighs."

On February 15, 1943, Weiss saw an American B-24 Liberator overhead. It dropped bombs, one of which landed in the bomb dump shed, which then exploded. Weiss was uninjured, but 28 Dutch women and children were killed, along with 10 Australians, while many others received serious injuries. The next day, Icky ordered the American prisoners to collect the bombs which had not detonated and load them on to trucks.
Following further bombings, Weiss and a Dutch prisoner were chosen to remove bombs which had failed to detonate.

Early in 1944, six of the men received new duty orders from Icky. Weiss was in charge of six men; they were to distribute fresh water to the hospital hut, the cook hut, and the area inhabited by the Japanese guards. They were also to cut the logs which the Australians brought in from the jungle into three-foot lengths, stack them for drying, and then take them to the Japanese guards' kitchen and the camp cook hut.

Weiss and Bob Grainger arranged to meet every other day at the latrine to exchange information. In this manner, Weiss learned that Mac McGibony was seriously ill with dysentery, from which he died on March 31, 1944. Clyde, John Biss, Mike Maslak, and Weiss buried him the next morning.

In June, Clyde and an Australian named Barney Porter were sent out of Tan Toey on a special project. As Weiss learned when the war ended, the two men were taken to Victoria Barracks, where Clyde monitored morse code news broadcasts from United Press, Associated Pres, and Reuters. Porter gathered topics which related to the war. The information was sent to the Naval Commander on Ambon and eventually published in a newspaper of sorts. The two men were then moved to Ceram island in September 1944, continuing with their duties. Clyde became ill with malaria and dystentery but survived because the Japanese officer in charge, Lieutenant Katayama Hideo, brought in a Japanese medical officer to care for him. Clyde and Porter also received better rations than they had previously.

Meanwhile, Weiss and the remainder of the American "Convict Gang" were ordered to build air raid shelters in the evenings after completing their water and wood cutting tasks. They constructed three shelters by August of 1944. Also, Weiss found a little mongrel dog, Tojo, near the wood shed one day, and it took to following him around and sleeping with him. Another pet was a cockatoo named Pete, which lived in the men's hut and which Weiss taught to say "look out" and "Jap" when the camp commander made his rounds.

Six American airmen were brought to Tan Toey and placed in a barbed wire enclosed hut near the Japanese camp headquarters. Weiss used onion paper to write a note to the airmen and concealed it in a lipstick holder which he had salvaged from the Dutch civilian camp. He put the container into the tea bucket and carried it, along with the food container, to the airmen. When he returned to take back the containers, he jangled the bucket to let them know that the lipstick was inside, at which the airman reached in and grabbed it. About two days later, he found the lipstick holder in a wash basin; the note inside told him what had been transpiring on the warfront, and that American aircrews were unaware of Tan Toey's location.

On August 28, 1944, the air raid alarm sounded, and 75 B-24s began bombing Ambon. They were followed by B-25s. Weiss survived, although he felt the concussive impact as the bombs fell around him. One man in the hospital hut died, as well as three Australians. The water line was broken and out of commission for a week, forcing Weiss and the others to carry water from a well in nearby Galala every day. The extensive bombing closed Ambon Bay to supply shipments, resulting in even fewer rations for the prisoners, and Tojo and Pete disappeared. Apparently the Japanese killed the dog. In September, Icky told Weiss and the rest of the "Convict Gang" to begin cultivating a camp garden in addition to their other duties. 

Beginning in mid-October, American P-38s started raiding Ambon, although their appearance dwindled over time. Stan Kapp developed tuberculosis and, with insufficient nutrition and no medication, he died on January 18, 1945. In February, Weiss suffered from malaria, and Dr. Ehlhart, a Dutch physician, gave him bark from the cinchona tree, from which quinine is derived. He broke the bark apart and soaked it in water, then drank the liquid, and after 11 days he was able to return to some of his assigned duties.

In April, 100 prisoners were injected with what they were told was vitamin B1 to stop the spread of beri-beri. Some of the men experienced increased lethargy and shortness of breath, although Weiss, Maslak, Biss, and Stein suffered no ill effects. Later, the Japanese claimed that it had been outdated typhoid vaccine. The issue was never resolved.

The "Convict Gang" was instructed to begin digging graves in May as the number of dead prisoners escalated due to malnutrition, various diseases, and sheer exhaustion. Irv Stein passed away on July 26, 1945, and "Swede" Jensen followed on August 3. Weiss contracted dysentery, but after five days he recovered. Between January 1 and August 10, 1945, 293 Australians and three American prisoners died. In early August, Weiss noticed the camp guards practicing maneuvers and positioning two machine guns at the entrance to the camp air raid shelters, and he realized that if Ambon was invaded, the Japanese intended to kill all of the prisoners.

On August 21, 1945, an interpreter informed the prisoners that the war was 80% over and that the work details would cease at least temporarily. Two days later, it was announced that the war was over, and Clyde and Porter returned to Tan Toey. The men were given much better food than they had previously received, and medical supplies arrived. Each hut was equipped with a light bulb and the camp furnished two radios for news broadcasts and music. Although conditions vastly improved, the Japanese Army Commander on Ambon was determined to keep fighting, so none of the men could leave.

On September 3, Lindahl, Carson, Clyde, and Weiss, as well as Van Nooten, an Australian, went to the Japanese headquarters and asked Icky what the Japanese had done to notify the Americans or Australians as to the presence of the ex-POWs on Ambon, and they demanded more food and medical supplies. Two Japanese officers arrived--Colonel Katsura of Naval staff headquarters and Captain Wadami--and with the help of an interpreter, Carson and Lindahl presented their requests. The Japanese denied having the items, but after much vehement speech from Carson, they said that they would supply them and find out if anyone had contacted the American or Australian military.

The next day, Katsura sent an abundance of supplies and agreed to give the men portable radio equipment. They were unable to find the correct frequency, however, and were not able to make contact. Meanwhile, Nels died on September 5.

Katsura took Clyde, Van Nooten, and Weiss to the Japanese radio station at Galala village on September 8, and Clyde was able to make contact. Rescue ships were sent on September 10, but due to animosity between American and Australian officers, Lindahl told them that they would not be leaving with the Australians. That night, an Australian officer arrived in a truck and told them that they would be going with him. In Amboina town, they boarded four Australian corvettes docked at the pier. The Australian Naval officer demanded the Japanese responsible for the POWs' poor condition, and Icky was brought and placed in a vegetable storage area. Following the war crimes trials, Icky was sentenced to death by firing squad.

The corvettes arrived at Morotai on September 12, in the same spot where Weiss and his comrades had been captured in August 1942. They were greeted by the Commanding General of the United States 93rd Army Division and taken to the division hospital. On September 26, the men left on a C-47, and after a stop at Clark Air Base, they were taken to Nichols Field for processing. Then, on October 10, Weiss boarded the USS Marine Shark and arrived in San Francisco 22 days later. He then spent time in various military hospitals until being released from Rhodes General Hospital in Utica, New York in mid-December 1945 for a 10-day leave. He visited his father, who had moved to New York City, but he did not like the closeness of the city and the apartment, so he returned to the hospital early. He applied for a 90-day leave and visited Clyde in Oil City, Pennsylvania.

Weiss chose to be discharged from the Army and began a 30-year career with the Civil Aeronautics Administration, now the Federal Aviation Administration.

Read Weiss' entire account in his book, Under the Rising Sun: War, Captivity and Survival 1941-1945.