Has been quite some time since I last wrote anything concerning Bataan. Have answered a few other postings, but during the Holidays I seemed to have very little time to do anything but read the postings and answer some. I do hope some of you found them. It seems very quiet on the WW II board, haven't noticed anything from the regulars who were writing so often a few weeks ago. I suppose it was the same with all, The Holidays. Will try to write a few lines taking up where I left off last year. My last post, concerning my tour on Bataan, I had just arrived on Xmas Day. I, along with the rest of my squadron ended up at Mariveles Air Field. Very soon we had no aircraft left, and the Japanese made some landings along the west coast of Bataan. Most of us were made instant infantrymen and sent to clean up the area. Probably the only instance in WW II where Air Corps personnel were awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, and were still considered Air Corps. I personally was at the Battle of Longaskawayan Point, for about a month.

Then back to Mariveles Air Field. No Airplanes, but had a Telephone switchboard, and Radio connections with Corregidor. It was really pretty much of nothing to do except endure the almost daily bombings of the airstrip, and try to find something to eat. By the last month before the surrender, we were down to an official ration of musty rice flavored with salmon. Our Sq. of about 220 men received 50 lbs. of rice, and 6 cans of salmon per day. This amounted to about 2 GI spoons full of rice flavored with salmon twice a day. Not quite enough to live on, so a great lot of our time was spent trying to find something to eat. By this time, the jungle had little to offer. The Bataan jungle was not a tropical paradise of fruit, etc.

There were a few banana trees. After the bananas were gone, we ate the buds, then the trees themselves. There were no coconut trees. However, other palm trees yielded some food. The top portion where the new leaves issue from was edible. The few caribou were soon gone, the Philippine Cavalry was next, and the monkeys were getting scarce. Anything that moved was in dire danger of being eaten. Did discover a few odd plants that were edible, but never enough. One was Cashew trees!! A cashew is inedible direct from the tree. The tree also produces a watery fruit which is also inedible, or nearly so, broke out in a rash whenever you ate one. The cashews were impossible until a Filipino showed me what to do. The husk contains a volatile oil, so if you threw the whole thing into a fire, the husk would burn very intensely, and at the same time remove the undesirable oil from the nut, and you ended up with a roasted cashew that was edible. A great discovery, just wasn't enough trees.

There is only one nut attached to each apple-sized fruit, but they did provide a little food. Also did a little fishing, (with hand grenades) but not much success. My most vivid memory of the food came about one day when I was invited to share a bowl of monkey stew with some friends. I was given the bowl, and as I stirred the stew, a small hand came to the surface, not a usual ingredient, but placed there for my benefit, a practical joke, but at the first glance, the hand of a human baby flashed in my mind. Although I ate the stew, I still see that small hand in my mind. There is much more to tell, but a Prodigy note does not allow much room to expand. Let us hear from some of you who previously kept the WW II board going. George Idlett


Hi George T. Glad to hear you are still around. Thought I would make a few comments about the note I wrote last night.

 After reading my unedited note this morning, I think I should clarify a thing or two. I mentioned eating the Philippine Calvary. Before I am accused of cannibalism, I meant the horses, not the men!!

Also, concerning the carabaos; it was expressly forbidden to kill one, as they belonged to the native farmers, and their livelihood depended on the animals. Of course, it soon was to make no difference anyway. Everything was destroyed during the battle of Bataan. Unfortunately, some of the beasts seem to wander into the line of fire or were injured by shrapnel as they wandered across the air strip, and had to be dispatched speedily, in order to end their suffering!! We had a pilot, a good friend of mine from Okla. who was a farm boy and was very knowledgeable concerning butchering procedures. He was a Godsend, if it hadn't been for him, much of that meat would have gone to waste. Ha!

The food situation was getting desperate, and much of the food stored away was lost when the Japanese took over. We were not allowed to take the food with us on the Death March. I had thought I was hungry on Bataan, but I had no idea what real starvation was until later. Even the Death March where I received no food for about 9 days was a picnic, compared to later days when we were really experiencing the effects of malnutrition and starvation. I guess the term "Picnic" is not the correct thing to call it, as none of it was easy for anyone, regardless of his treatment.

There was a Bataan Death March subject on the "Other" topic under WW II. It was initiated by a young Filipino. I answered it, asking some questions, but I do not think he ever read the note. He did read my second note and acknowledged it. Did you happen to read it? It was written about the 17th, or rather my reply was on the 17th of Jan. I did not check to see if it is still on the board.
Til later, George I.


Keep it up Ray, I am reading all your posts, you are more constant than I. My writing is sporadic, and usually disconnected from any chronological line. You have a very good sense of recall, my memory needs jogging at time. Others such as you remind me of like incidents, which prompts me to write. Hope you don't mind. Your last two posts reminds me of a similar period on Bataan when I was involved with wounded, both US and Japanese prisoners. I think it was probably the best detail I chanced to have while on Bataan. At the beginning of the Battles of the Points, we had no medics attached to our Sq.( the old one we had was disposing of the ethel alcohol at too great a rate, and was relieved.) Our commander asked if anyone had any medical experience. I told him I had been a Boy Scout, so they gave me an ambulance, a medical kit, and I was an instant medic, Ha!! All in all, it was a pretty good deal, I was the only man at Longaskawan Point with a bed, (a stretcher), and a means of transport. When I wasn't using the ambulance to "liberate" drums of gasoline from other sites on Bataan, (our cook needed it for the kitchen stoves, not much to cook, but the rice did taste better, and was safer to eat) I made trips back and forth across the mountains from the Mariveles area to the Hospital.

Did get to take one wounded Japanese, who wandered into our bivouac area one night and got himself shot in the leg. My guard and I stopped at a few places along the road to show him off. I can tell you that not all Japanese soldiers were unafraid, every place we stopped and opened the doors to let someone see him, he would panic, begin to cry and cringe. He apparently thought we were just taking him someplace to execute him. Anyway, it was a good excuse for stopping to see friends along the way, as some of them would offer to share a little food with us, and in those days I never passed up any chance of eating.

The ambulance thing did get a little worrisome at times, as most of the trips were made in daylight. I finally had the crosses painted off, (they made too good a target), and also mounted a machine gun in the rear. I suppose this was not quite regulation, but I felt a little safer. I also had the experience of driving those mountain roads at night with no lights as Ray mentioned. However, the main road from Mariveles to the Hospital was well stocked with MP's, and they made it very difficult, especially on moonless nights. Quite frequently I would be stopped and the MP would get out his little can of black paint and paint over my headlights.

Then, would have to feel my way along the road until the next curve, get out and wipe the paint off with rags I carried for this purpose. It was very dangerous on those mountain roads at night without lights, but it was a constant battle with the MP's as they had stations at several places along the way. I do not know which was best, night or day trips. I worried about snipers, etc. at night, and aircraft in the day. The ambulance was an old Dodge 4x4 and made so much noise in the lower gears, that you could not hear an approaching aircraft. A few times I had to bail out of it, warned by others walking along the road, that a Japanese plane was diving at the road. Actually I think I worried more about some Japanese dropping a hand grenade in my lap through the window. Fortunately, it never happened, my luck never ran out, and I will always grieve for those whose lives were taken from them, so young. George Idlett


Ray, I too will never forget that last night on Bataan before the surrender. It was one of the most memorable, and exciting nights that I had ever experienced. I am not sure that I can put it into words that will convey the memory. I was already at Mariveles Air Field, as you know. Only myself and two other men were stationed at the dugout we called the Operations Office, the remainder of the Sq. was a couple of miles up the road in the jungle. We had already learned of the coming surrender, and were just waiting. That night we set about destroying all of the equipment we could, and also gathering any food that we could find. I don't think that I went to bed that night. From the air field, I could see and hear most all of what was happening.

It was an unbelievable sight when the main Ammo Dump went off. The entire sky was lighted, and of course the sound of the blast along with other blasts was quite impressive, and at almost the some moment, the earthquake began! My first impression was that the explosions had shaken the earth, but it instantly became apparent that it was a real earthquake. Our shack was beneath a large kamanchili (sp) tree. Small limbs and debris were falling and of course the earth was shaking as it does in any earthquake. Did not last long, and was not severe, but was the moment, more than anything that impressed me, I think. Spent the rest of the night just watching the explosions, etc.

When the morning came, we had disposed of all of our equipment of any worth, and were waiting to see what would happen next. The telephone rang, and it was a Chaplain at the barracks in Mariveles. This was the only phone line we had left, all the rest had been destroyed by bombing. He told me that the Japanese troops were coming into the area, and that he would stay there in the Quarantine barracks, to be taken by them.

I went out to the edge of the field and could hear a few rifle shots in the direction of the end of the field near Mariveles, and could then see Japanese soldiers coming out of the jungle and moving toward the field. At this point, I decided that the troops happening on two men might be more inclined to dispense with them than if it were a large group of men. So, we decided to run for it, and go to the hills where the rest of the Squadron was located. We had one vehicle still operating, as old aircraft tug, with one flat tire. We took our gear and started across the runway to the road that led to the Sq. Area. We had almost reached the end of the runway, when a flight of Japanese bombers bombed the runway. Why, I shall never know. The war was over, Japanese soldiers were on the runway, and there were no aircraft on the ground. We abandoned the tug at the end of the runway and crawled into a culvert for shelter during the bombing. I had two cans of "C" rations, which I opened and ate while in the culvert. I always did this during bombing raids. My reasoning was that if this was it, I didn't want what little food I had going to waste. At least I could die with a full stomach. Ha! As soon as the bombing ceased, we took off on the tug and made it to our camp in the jungle. The next few days are a different story, and it is too long to fit in this note. Will try to write more about our actual surrender and our start of the Death March later. My walk lasted 9 days, and covered 130 KM, about 78 miles. All of our food gathered the previous night was taken from us, and I was not fed again for 9 days.
More later, George Idlett

My last note dated 3/27 at 9:26 PM ended on the 14th of April. The next day, the 15th, I have a ? in my note book. I remember at the time I was trying to fill in the dates, there were several days I was not too certain about. So, for this day a few more generalizations about the march. I also teamed up with two friends to try to help each other make the march. One is still alive and lives in Ariz. I have told in previous posts some of our experiences, escapes, etc. This one, I will tell of a very unusual thing that happened, which I am not sure how believable it will be. But it did happen.

At one point about this time of the march, we were stopped along the side of the road waiting for Japanese trucks to pass. I noticed an open glass bottle in the ditch, there was water in the ditch, but not as deep as the bottle mouth. When no guard was watching, I picked it up and pocketed it.

It had a label written in Japanese, and was filled with a white powder. I tasted it and it was Quinine. You cannot imagine how valuable this was at that time. One of my buddies, the one who is in Arizona now, had Malaria, and was beginning to have great difficulty. I had no idea of the strength of the quinine, or the correct dosage, but we guessed, and it worked, he made it and is still making it. I did not have malaria, but the last two days of the march before we reached San Fernando, I developed a fever of some sort, which I thought was probably Dengue, rather than Malaria. I started taking the quinine myself, but it seemed to do no good, so I increased the dose considerably. Kill or cure, was my theory. For two days I took approx. one tablespoon three times a day. Later, in Cabanatuan I showed the bottle to a Dr. and he said I took enough of it to kill me. However, within a couple of days my fever was gone, my ears were ringing pretty good, but I still had quinine left for a few others. Some will say this was a gift from God, others a miracle, or maybe just serendipity. I leave it to you to make your judgment.

Now comes the part that even I find hard to believe, and I have discussed it with several physicians at odd times. They usually look askance at me and shrug their shoulders. I have never had a measurable fever since. I have had many diseases that should cause a fever, pneumonia, flu, etc. but I can never get a thermometer above the 98.6 mark. I do not know enough about the workings of the human body, but I have asked these doctors if it were possible to have destroyed the fever producing mechanism, whatever or wherever it is. I get the same answer. None. They are probably considering in their mind which psychiatrist to refer me to. I probably should not have told this last part, will probably cast doubt on my credibility for all time.

You may discard the above concerning my lack of fevers, but I consider the finding of the quinine a -- You tell me. This was not much about the March itself, but thought someone might like to hear this about this event.
Sincerely, George I.

George, fist Happy Birthday --Late!! and I really enjoy the stories that defy reason. I call it listening to "That Still Small Voice"" and I have had some so called unexplainable things to happen too. After all He knows our needs before we do!! Nadine Shoemaker Arnold

This is a continuation of my note of 3/26 at 9:43 pm. Since I cannot number these future inserts, perhaps this dating method will keep them in some sort of order.

I mentioned the gallon of prunes, and their trading value. I checked my notebook that I mentioned finding, and it appears that I stayed at the area by Mariveles for nearly 3 days, the 10th, 11th, and 12th of April. This apparently was a kind of staging area for the Death March. Mariveles was the farthest point south in the Bataan Peninsula. There were some prisoners who were farther north on the west coast of Bataan, but the great majority were taken from Mariveles to the north along the south and east parts of Bataan. The road we were to follow more or less followed the coastline around the peninsula and then on north to San Fernando. There was very little, if any, organization among the Japanese concerning taking the prisoners out of Bataan. It was not one organized march of all prisoners at the same time. The march and the circumstances varied depending on where you happened to be when the Japanese troops encountered you. I would surmise that we stayed so long in Mariveles, merely due to the only road out of Bataan being so clogged with prisoners, and Japanese equipment, that there was just no place to walk. It may have been fortunate for me to be among the last to leave.

I had a chance to eat a few good meals by trading my prunes for other items. For instance, perhaps 2 prunes for a slice of spam, etc. The one trade I remember the most distinctly was for a spoiled can of evaporated milk. One man opened his can of milk and it was curdled, didn't smell too good either. I traded him a prune or two for the milk, then heated it over a small fire made of rice straw, and it became somewhat like cottage cheese. In fact, it turned out so well that I tried to find someone else with the same problem, but no luck. This was pretty much the story for that period. On the 12th I began my march. Then is when the real misery began. Within a very short time, anything I had of any value was taken by the soldiers. I did not have much left. I had destroyed my camera, and hid 10 pesos in a seam of my coveralls. I also had a Longines watch that my parents had given me on my graduation from High School. The band was broken, and the crystal was cracked in several places, and I thought I could probably keep it, as it appeared to be junk. I let it run down and had it in my pocket. The first soldier I encountered searched me and found the watch. I tried to tell him it was broken, but he wound it and held it to his ear and it was ticking. He slapped me, put the watch in his pocket and then with a blow from his rifle butt, sent me on my way. I did manage to make the whole march without losing my 10 pesos. We ended up that night in the vicinity of Little Baguio.

The next day, the 14th we were told we were to be fed. A very large number of us were stopped for some time in an open area very close to the coast. When we were all in place, a battery of Japanese Artillery behind us began firing over our heads at Corregidor. Of course Corregidor returned the fire. We were lucky again, the guns on Corregidor very quickly bracketed the Japanese emplacements and then made a few direct hits. No prisoners were killed and I believe only 2 men were wounded. We never got the food? And we were not to get any for the next 5 days, a total of 7 days with no food, and 130 km of walking. Will add more later. George Idlett

TOPIC: WORLD WAR II TO: MSVH09A SUBJECT: BATAAN DATE: 03/30/1993 Jake, Thinking a little more about the serendipity thing. You remember I mentioned that there were three of us, buddies for the purpose of trying to help each other. It strikes me as a curious coincidence that there were Three Princes of Serendip, who made their fortuitous discoveries. So, perhaps we too were -- well, maybe not Princes, but more likely, "Three Frogs of Serendip." I remember a saying that it may require kissing a lot of frogs to find a Prince!  Mabuhay, my friend, George I.

Previous note was 3/29, 10:38 PM, concerning finding the quinine.

I cannot possibly tell all that happened on the Death March, but I will say that whatever you may have read in many other books, it really happened. I have never read anything that I thought was untrue. I saw enough to know that it did or could have happened. Along the march, I personally saw men beheaded, bayoneted, shot, beaten, buried alive, and any variations of the foregoing you may imagine. I have not previously been very specific concerning these things, but I will tell of a few examples, that I personally witnessed. Some men who could go no farther were executed on the spot by any Japanese soldier who happened to be there. Filipinos were bayoneted, or shot for attempting to give us food or water. I watched 4 men dig their own grave, they were then shot and other prisoners were forced to push them into the open pit and bury them, although some were obviously still alive. They were killed for trying to buck the line to get water. This happened to be further up the road, at a place called Lubao, where we first were fed anything, and hundreds of men were lined up to also get water at a single water spigot.

Our own men inadvertently caused their deaths, by their understandable objections to someone trying to get in the line ahead of them. The Japanese solved the problem by taking the four and executing them. This place was a warehouse of some kind and had a large fenced enclosure. We spent the night there. We of course had nothing but the ground to sleep on. Next to me on the ground, a young Filipino made a small fire with twigs, to try to heat some food he had saved. Several others were doing the same. The Japanese guards began yelling for all to put out the fires. The young boy, for some reason ignored the orders. I noticed a guard coming in our direction, and I too urged him to dowse the fire. The Japanese approached and kicked him face forward into the fire, and ran the bayonet through his chest once and left him bleeding to death. He was still bleeding and breathing blood as the one who stabbed him ordered two other men to drag him away. I do not know what they did with him. This was the common and ordinary thing to happen all along the way of the March.

There were many men who did not have the endurance, will, or whatever to make the march. Why, I do not know. Of course there were some wounded or very ill that were understandably weak. However, some I could not understand. I do not know why, as I never once felt that I would not make it through.

I made the march with no real difficulty, I weighed about 120 lbs., about 5' 10" tall. Not a very strong appearing person. Of course I was hungry, tired, etc., but at no time did I ever have thoughts of giving up. I do not intend this to sound as if I was superhuman, I was not the only one, most men were like this. As to the lack of food, I will mention that one is very hungry for about the first three days, but then the hunger pains go away. You still would very much like to eat, but it is easier to do without the food. Water is a different story, I drank from the ditches along the road, any place water could be obtained. We did not march at night, we were always herded into some kind of enclosure standing as tightly as we could be packed, with bayonet jabs, the gates or doors were closed and we were told to sleep. Out of space, more later.   George

Previous note was posted 3/30 at 10:01 PM, concerning a few executions on the March.

I skipped a day in the last post, the 16th. We spent the night at Balanga, the day at Lubao in the previous post was April 17th. Then I have no date entered for the 18th, but show April 19 as date of arrival in San Fernando. San Fernando was the end of the Death March. From there we were crowded into the metal boxcars and sent to a place called Capas Station. Here we were taken from the train and walked again a few miles to Camp O'Donnell, which was the first large prison camp established by the Japanese. I do not know when I left San Fernando, but I show that I arrived in O'Donnell on April 22. I was at O'Donnell until June 2, when I was taken to Cabanatuan, where I was to stay until Sept. of 1943. At that time I was sent to Japan.

This is the approximate chronology of my PI prison days. I have previously told a few incidents of the March, and I will not repeat them now, unless someone has a specific request, as much of what I would tell is in many books, and other posts by myself and Ray. You all know the torture of the March, the closed steel RR box cars in which we were packed, standing up. The heat, the lack of sanitary facilities, water, or ventilation, and the many men with dysentery were more than some could stand. But most did survive the train ride. Then the walk from Capas Station to O'Donnell was a comparative pleasure. Fresh air, the road lined with Filipinos, all trying to and many succeeding in giving us little bits of food and fruit. I shall never forget the kindness and compassion of the Filipino people as they stood there, weeping for us, and risking their lives to try to help.

On arrival at the Camp we were greeted by the Japanese Commander with the speech I have mentioned in a previous note. "You are our enemies forever, if it takes a 1000 years we will win." He also mentioned that we were not Prisoners of War, we were Captives. Therefore, we were not entitled to the provisions of the Geneva Conference, and would not be treated accordingly.

As I also said in a previous note, I was among the last of the prisoners to arrive at O'Donnell, and there were no more barracks or shelters left. Did not make much difference, the barracks were only partially finished Philippine Army barracks for a planned training camp. I selected a spot beneath one of the buildings. It was better than being inside, a little shelter, and cooler. We had no mosquito bars or for that matter, any other equipment, no blanket, nothing.

They did begin to feed us, three times per day. (Actually, more food than our own Army was feeding us near the end on Bataan. It was not the best of food, as you can imagine. It would be whatever was available. My clearest memories were of the squash and camotes. For two weeks I received only boiled green squash, no salt, no anything. Then for two weeks, boiled camotes (Camote is a primitive relative of our sweet potato, some were white, some yellow, and nearly all were half rotted.) I have not eaten squash or sweet potatoes since! The Camotes tasted terrible, but they also caused so much gas, that my stomach would be so distended at night that I could not bend at the waist. I would have to roll over on my stomach and push myself up, then burp and burp to relieve the gas pains. Out of space, will tell more of O'Donnell in a later note. George

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