The day came when the word was passed to break camp.
We would go to Manila in an old Japanese freighter. We
were packed into freighters like sardines, and towed to
the ship where we climbed aboard to take the 29 mile
trip to Manila. The last glimpse of Corregidor would
be ours, and we were never to see it again.
It certainly was a terrible sight! No trees were
standing --- just black and brown earth, with
everything else flattened.
We thought the Japanese freighter, in which we were
packed into dirty holds, would go alongside the docks
of Manila, but instead we headed for the beach and
A Japanese landing craft came alongside and all
POWS were disembarked. About 25 feet from the shore we were told to jump out and wade ashore.
The depth of the water was about four feet, so everybody
got good and wet. The place where we landed was five or six
miles from Manila. Our shoes were full of sand and
water, but the enemy quickly formed us into a line four
abreast, and we were force- marched to Manila.
Most of the guards rode horses, but a few walked. When
we were marching along, the Filipinos tried to give us
cigarettes, candy, water, etc., but the enemy kicked
them and beat them off. There were also some Swedes or
Swiss people, but they too were warned away.
In a little while, we reached Manila and were forced to
march around the city while the enemy humiliated us in
front of the Filipinos. If anyone fell down, or failed
to move fast enough, he was kicked and beaten.
General Jonathon Wainwright passed us in a big
limousine with two Japanese body guards. He looked
The palm trees we passed were full of shrapnel. We
also passed the Army-Navy Y.M.C.A., which was being
used as a post office and living quarters for Japanese
soldiers. Our destination was Bilibid Prison.
The men were mustered in a few at a time, and the
others had to wait their turn standing outside. A
Filipino constable was standing outside who was
supposed to be guarding for the enemy. He got up close
to some Americans and said, "Take it easy boys, the
Filipinos are all for you and hoping that you will get
freed quickly." He said he had to cooperate with the
enemy or be tossed into jail and his family harmed.
After we mustered with the enemy, we lined up for food.
Giant cast-iron pots were full of rice and there was
onion soup, which sure did taste good after that march.
A sign on a small brick building read, "Execution
Chamber." Having never sat in an electric chair, I
thought I would try it out, but it was very
uncomfortable sitting there. I wondered if the enemy
would ever make use of the chair.
Our clothes were still very damp, and there were no beds
of any kind. We just lay down on the bare concrete
floors and tried to sleep. Before we entered to sleep,
we were told to stand by for transfer to the railroad
yards for transportation to a prison camp.
The rumor boys were on the job and the dope was that we
would go to Fort Stotsburg, or Fort McKinley, or
Bagio. Nobody knew definitely. Next morning at 4
a.m., we were called out by name and told to fall in
certain groups after we had eaten.
Our breakfast consisted of plain steamed rice and we were
given two rice balls the size of baseballs, which, we
were told, was to be our noon lunch.
We were really "packed" into the little Filipino
box-cars. There were about 100 men to a car, which
were made of steel, making them very hot. About 9
a.m., the locomotive stopped to take on water, and men
who had to go to the latrine were let out and went to
gullies alongside the railroad.
About 5 p.m., we arrived at Cabantuan
and camped in a Filipino school-grounds. Here were
hung huge cast-iron pots and rice and onion soup was
We all lay on the ground to sleep and during the night
it started to rain, so everybody tried to get into the
schoolhouse, which was raised and sitting on concrete
blocks about 1 1/2 feet off the ground.
The rest of our journey was to be marched and the
distance was 20 kilometers, (approximately 11 or 12
miles). We left about 6 a.m. with two rice balls to take with us and started the March.
Among the POWS. were a lot of old men, men with
disease and lots of men without shoes. We were to walk
on gravel roads. The enemy changed guards every three
or four miles and nobody was excused from marching.
After we had been given a few minutes of rest, some of
the men could not get up as they were stiff or ill. But
the Japanese threatened to shoot or bayonet anybody who
failed to march. Some of the men passed out and they
were tossed into a Japanese truck that was behind our
men. Most of the men made the march, but many died
after reaching our destination.
The sun bore down on us for the entire march, and
everybody wanted water. There were caribou wallows
alongside the road and many men drank from these, and
once in a while we would stop at a Filipino shack that
had a well and we would try and get water for
everybody. We rounded bend after bend and passed many
Filipino army barracks, and every time we came to one we
all said, "this is the one," but it wasn't. Finally, we did come to a
large group of wooden barracks.
Here was to be our home for five months for some, permanently, for they soon died.
A Navy CPO had been packing a big burlap bag and it
really appeared to be heavy. He just got inside
the gate and fell over dead. He wouldn't need what was
in the bag any more.
We all poured inside the camp. The enemy had a place
marked off where the men were to be searched. All
knives, scissors and other valuables were taken. They
also wanted any money the men had. It didn't take long
to finish the search, as most of the men had hardly any
clothes or valuables.
There were a lot of Filipino Army barracks made of
clap boards and bamboo. They were two decks high.
That is, a lower and a higher bunk space. They were
very hard and uncomfortable. For supper that night, we
had gooey rice and onion soup. There was hot water
available for those who had tea leaves, or soluble
coffee. Those who had neither tea leaves or soluble
coffee could drink hot or cold water. The galley had
seven or eight large cast-iron pots holding about 10
gallons of rice or soup each.
The camp area was laid out, into three
Each had a galley. The total number of prisoners was
between 9,000 to 10,000. This included civilians, Navy
and Army men and Marines. The food situation was very
bad around the area we were held in, and we went on
human guinea-pig rations. Every time we got greens we
would mix in various kinds of flowers, like sunflowers,
chrysanthemums, daisies, etc. The enemy gave us some
bags of onions that started to crawl away from us.
They were full of maggots, but we cooked the onions,
maggots and all, and ate them. The enemy would always
take the best part of the greens and give us the vines
Once in a while some pigs were killed by the enemy and
we were allowed to have the skin, guts and the head,
the enemy getting the rest. Meat really was scarce and every week or two, three caribou were killed and the
meat, weighing about 1,000 lbs., was divided among
9,000 or 10,000 men. It was cut into very small pieces and made into soup. After we had been in camp NO.3 about two or three weeks, our barracks leader
told us the enemy was going to segregate all the Army,
Navy, Marines and civilians. So all the Navy and
Marines were told to go to the far side of the camp.
After we got there we went into the barracks and stayed for a few days. We had to muster once per day, usually in the evening, with our barracks officer taking the
total number of men counted to the Japanese officer in
a report. We were again called out.
The enemy decided to put all the men in trade
categories, such as truck drivers, cooks, bakers, carpenters, electricians, etc., in separate barracks. The cooks and bakers, as I remember, totaled 126 men. About 50
cooks would be used in the galley, and quite a few good
jobs would be had there.
Our galley master-at-arms was a man named "Tiger" Jack, a Marine who claimed to have once fought Jack Dempsey. We also had a storekeeper and his assistant who were in charge of our small storeroom.
Our rice was cooked in large cast-iron pots set in the
ground with a pit dug underneath. We had mostly green
wood to burn and all the cooks eyes were red-rimmed.
We usually got up at 1 a.m. and started breakfast,
which consisted of sloppy rice, some kind of green
beans and sometimes field corn, which never would get
soft. We were quickly turning into vegetarians. We
used to get a treat of dried fish once in a while, but
it had plenty of worms.
The reason we had a master-at-arms in the galley was
that while the food was cooking, our men would be
outside the galley looking in. As soon as the food
was cooked, they would make a wild dash into the galley
and scoop up a canteen-cup of food and dash away. The
master-at-arms was to stop this practice. Also, many
cooks had friends outside the galley and they would
slip food to them. This could not be allowed, as all
food was strictly rationed.
At first, our men suffered stomach pains from eating
bird-seed rice partially cooked. That happened because some of the cooks who would cook
the rice would not put enough water in it or they let
the fires go out while the rice was cooking and then
rebuild them. They would start to cook the rice
again but the rice would not get soft anymore, as it
crystallized. Sometimes pockets of raw rice would form with the cooked rice and subsequently would be mixed
up with the good rice. Many times when this happened,
a large group of men would congregate in front of the
galley and start whistling like fiends to the cooks,
which served the purpose of making them feel bad.
Because the wood was green, many a time it would be a
struggle to cook the rice properly.
We had an American officer who was in charge of the
galley, and under him were several enlisted men who did their best to see that all the food was cooked
properly. Five-gallon empty gasoline cans, thoroughly
washed and cleaned with the tops cut out, were used to
put our rice and soup in. The ration was five gallons
of cooked rice to every 75 men. The men
would get more or less, depending on how much the rice
would expand while cooking. We seldom got over a half
a canteen cup of soup, which consisted of a few egg
plants boiled in water with no salt. Sometimes we got
fish soup, which that very few men could swallow without
vomiting, as it was extremely bad. Whenever the cooks
would take the big wooden covers off the pots,
everybody would hold their nose and groan.
The enemy never did give any food to the Americans that they thought was good. Most of the vegetables were
wilted and rotten. The enemy figured we were living
only through their whim and we were to be treated
indifferently, with no kindness or care.
The men who survived the time spent in the Philippine
prison camp would be taken to Japan for slave labor. I had forgotten to mention that before we left the 92nd
flats, a Japanese submarine lieutenant told a group of
men that they would be taken to Japan and placed in
camps surrounded by heavy industries and factories. If the Americans ever bombed Japan, the American prisoners of war would be killed along with the enemy. This rang true later in the war.
We had been in Camp III a short time when four American POWS escaped and headed for Manila. They were
caught a short time later and brought back. They were
chained to posts in front of the Japanese guard's
barracks. Their hands were tied behind them and a
piece of wood placed between their knees. A piece of
chain was then looped around their knees and hands, and secured to the post. They were not allowed hats in the blazing sun, nor water or food. They were supposed to
endure this for 72 hours and then be set free, but this was only hearsay. After about 36 or 40 hours, the four Americans could not endure the
tortures any longer and pleaded with the enemy to free
them or shoot them. We had also heard that these four
men would be shot after 72 hours whether they
survived the tortures or not.
The Japanese officer in charge, who was a colonel, said that he had direct orders from Japanese headquarters in Manila to shoot all escaped American prisoners of war. They were supposed to be having a court martial of the
four men, but the verdict would have undoubtedly been
death by firing squad. Before the 72 hours
were up, these four men were marched to four shallow
graves and stood up. They were given a drink of water
and a cigarette. They were then blindfolded and shot
by an eight-man squad of Japanese soldiers. After the
first volley of shots, each Japanese soldier would run
up and empty his rifle into the four presumed dead
Americans until all the eight rifles were empty. They
then shoveled dirt on top of the dead men and marched
This scene happened in full view of the other
prisoners. No doubt the enemy wanted to set an
example of what would happen if any of the others
thought of escaping. Very soon after this, an order
came from the Japanese commander to organize all the
American prisoners into 10 man shooting squads.