Fitch, c. late 1950's

Alva Revista Fitch
(September 10, 1907 - November 26, 1989)

1930 - Graduated from West Point

Spring 1934 - Entered Artillery School at Ft. Sill; assigned to the 2nd Battalion of the 16th Field Artillery.

October 3, 1935 - Married.

January 1940 - Assigned as Executive Officer of Battery A, 23rd Field Artillery Pack; sent to the Philippines.

April 10, 1942 - Surrendered to Japanese forces on Bataan.

April 23, 1942 - Arrived at Camp O'Donnell. By May, 50-60 Americans and 500-600 Filipinos were dying a day. By July, 1600 Americans and 25,000 Filipinos were dead. By the end of November, 2500 more Americans were dead.

December 13, 1944 - Journey to Moji, Japan on Oryoku-maru and Brazil-maru hellships.

January 30, 1945 - Entered Fukuoka Camp #1, then on to Jinsen, Korea till end of war. Shipped to the Philippines, Hawaii and San Francisco.

August 1947 - Entered Strategic Intelligence School, Washington.

January 1948 - Assigned to US Embassy, El Salvador.

July 1950 - Promoted to Full Colonel and assigned to Office of Chief of Staff, Intelligence, Washington.

Summer 1952 - Went to Korea.

1953-1961 - Promoted to Executive Officer, Army Intelligence; Brigadier General; Assistant Chief of Staff, Army Intelligence.

1956-1957 - Went to Germany. Promoted to Major General.

January 1964 - Entered Defense Intelligence Agency. Promoted to Lt. General. Acting Director of DIA under Lt. Gen. Carroll.

May 1966 - Retired from DIA to work with Kiplinger Washington Letter staff as military editor; retired in 1977.


The next morning [Dec. 13, 1944] 1619 of us, all who were fit to be moved, were formed up to leave. About ten o'clock we were dismissed but were reformed about 2:00 P.M. and marched down to pier 7. We sat on the pier all afternoon and watched them load hundreds of Japanese women and children aboard an 8000-ton passenger ship, the Oryoko Maru. About dusk we were put aboard. We were quartered in the freight holds about the waterline. The holds were about eight feet high and had been double decked. We were crowded in until we didn't have room for everyone to sit down. The hatch cover was left off but aside from that there was no ventilation. It soon became extremely hot.

Marshall Hurt, a classmate of mine, and I seated ourselves on the degaussing cable housing and leaned against the hull. We took turns fanning each other as long as we were on the ship. We stripped to our "G" strings and remained as quiet as we could to avoid unnecessary heating up.

That night we were served a meal of rice and fish and about four ounces of water. We lay in Manila Bay all night. It was insufferably hot and a few people went out of their heads and had to be manhandled. About 20 or 25 suffocated during the night. The next morning we were given more rice and fish but no water. We were also promised that we would be moved so as to be less crowded.

The ship left Manila Bay about daylight and started north along the coast of Bataan. About 9:00 A. M. the ship's anti-aircraft guns started firing. I cheerfully announced that it was nothing but target practice. About five minutes later I had to eat my words when a plane dove and strafed us from stem to stern. The bullets ricocheted down the hatch well wounding a few of us and the blood of the forward gun crews started running down on us. There was absolutely nothing we could do. The only exit was up a narrow steel ladder about 25 or 30 feet long at the top of which were guards with rifles cocked waiting for an excuse to shoot. So we sat tight. The attacks continued intermittently until late afternoon. The ship was holed at least twice as I could hear the water rush in.

She was heavily armed for a Jap passenger ship. She carried one long AA rifle of about 60mm forward, a 75mm aft, several 20mm pompoms and 7.7mm machine guns. She fought well. Her gun crews were killed off time and time again but were always replaced. It was a long day. Each time an airplane dived we waited for the bomb to explode in our hold. Most of us had been bombed enough on Bataan and Corregidor to know about what such a bomb would do. We also expected the ship to be sunk. Only a few of us would have been able to get up that narrow ladder. We were a poor risk and we knew it.

About 5:00 P.M. the attacks ceased. Some of our doctors were called topside to work on the Japanese. The doctors, like the rest of us, had been through 24 hours of severe heat without water and were weak from dehydration. The Japs would not give them water but insisted that they begin operating at once. They reported that on the decks and in the passageways the dead, soldiers, women and children, were stacked like cordwood. Bill North told me that one woman approached him with a wounded baby. She gave Bill a can of meat from a Red Cross box and offered the baby for repairs. The baby was beyond help so he gave it back. She took the canned meat also.

During the night the Japs ran the ship into Subic Bay and beached her near the site of the U.S. Naval station at Olonvano. They gave us no food and no water. Exhaustion, dehydration and nervous strain had their effect. That night was the worst of my life. Our hold was a screaming madhouse. A lot of our people became stark maniacs, screaming, fighting and crawling over one another trying to get air and water. Several were killed in a legitimate attempt to keep order, others were trampled to death and not a few were murdered by teams of maniacs who drank their blood. The screaming, clubbing and tumbling went on all night long. It was pitch black so that you couldn't see and people's voices were changed so from thirst so that they were unrecognizable. It might be your own friend attacking you.

Marshall Hurt and I remained in our positions on the degaussing cable and continued fanning each other. We put on our shoes and whenever anyone tried to dislodge us we braced our backs against the hull and pushed them away with our feet. By this time the hold stank. The sweat of 800 people in a space about 25' x 40' x 8' mixed with the odor of the feces of the dysentery patients, blood and the bodies of the dead of the night before was, next to a week old tropical battlefield, the worst stench I have ever encountered.

About 5:00 A.M. we were told that we would be taken off the ship at daylight. This was most heartening news. I think most of us just concentrated on living until daylight. In a truly Japanese fashion we were not taken off at daylight but about 8:00 A.M. we were told to prepare to swim ashore. I put on the new uniform that you sent me, stuffed my pockets with toilet articles and strapped on my canteen and mess kit.

Then the planes returned. Some Americans had reached the deck. The first plane dropped a bomb into the after hold. The ship bounced about a foot, then settled back onto the sand. The people on deck waved their shirts and anything they could lay hands to. The second plane recognized them and pulled off. The planes then left. The bomb in the after hold killed about 150 people and wounded many more. It also inspired us to get off the boat with the least possible delay. The Japanese had, except for the guards, already been removed.

I was surprised that I had enough strength left to climb the ladder to the deck. I am still amazed at the resiliency of the human body, especially mine, and the reserve of strength and endurance that is always there to meet the current emergency. The deck was littered with dead, empty cartridge cases and miscellaneous junk. I made a brief reconnaissance and pushed some hatch planks over the side, located a rope ladder and started to climb doom. I had just put my weight on the ladder when it broke and fell into the water directly under me. I seized the rail and hung on. I hadn't enough strength to climb back aboard and I dared not drop as I would hit the ladder and surely break a leg if not my neck. Some kind soul on deck grabbed my wrists and eased me along the rail to a point where I could drop safely. When I dropped I lost the things I had put in my hat to keep dry but I did recover my hat.

The dunking I received was most refreshing and I surfaced feeling well able to cope with the new situation. It was about two hundred yards or more to the shore -- too far to swim fully clothed. I went to a raft to which some non-swimmers were clinging. There I stripped, put my clothes on the raft and got its possessors organized to push the raft ashore.

Along the beach were a number of Japs with rifles and machine guns. Their mission seemed to be two-fold: to prevent us from escaping and to take revenge for the damage our aircraft had inflicted. They killed a number of us. Some of their victims were trying to escape, some were drifting with the tide and some were just convenient targets. I heard that Dale Kinee was killed trying to escape and I know that ensign George Petritz did escape and is in the States now.

The last bomb fired the ship and by the time I reached the shore she was burning smartly. There were several men still aboard. The guards were hurrying them off. Some were shot on the spot for "looting."

On shore the guards would not allow me time to dress but hurried me along with the others to a shaded spot about five hundred yards up the beach. Near our assembly area was an artesian well. After about an hour of negotiations we were allowed to get much needed water. It was wonderful water and we were quite content to stay there and drink.

Rolls were called and showed 1241 of us present, a loss of 378 in less than two days. Missing were Phil Lauman, Carl Baehr, Brook Maury and several other of my friends. I found Johnny. As usual he was in bad shape. We filled him full of water and a can of salmon that I had and let him sleep. Next I found Scotty [Walter E. Scott?] who had landed squarely on his feet. He had taken his time getting off the boat and had brought ashore considerable food and clothing. This was most exceptional when you consider that several hundred men had nothing but their drawers, if that. Morale was high. We had water again and we considered that the Japs were by now convinced that they couldn't get us out of the islands. I set about getting organized to cook the food which the Japs said would be along soon.

In the afternoon our planes reappeared and gave us a splendid show. They broke up the Oryoku Maru and bombed an AA installation so close to us that we thought they were diving on us. In fact one or two men were wounded by bomb fragments.

Near our assembly area was the sole surviving structure of the Olongapo Naval Station, a single concrete tennis court with a high wire fence around it. At dusk we were all herded into the tennis court. As usual there wasn't room for every one to sit or lie down but we squeezed in somehow. The night was cold and I felt very sorry for the people without clothing. As for bedding, I don't think there was a blanket in the whole group. Scotty and I had tried to carry in some grass but the guards took it away from us. We had about fifty wounded for whom we asked blankets, clothing and medicine. We got nothing. Half of them died on the tennis court. There was one small spigot in the court so we were back on short water rations.

The next morning the Japs allowed us outside of the tennis court to dig a latrine which they allowed only three men to use at a time. Since we had had no food for 48 hours and were still badly dehydrated, only the sick had any use for it.

We sat all that day, the 16th, in the sun on the tennis court without food but with almost enough water. The same thing happened on the 17th. On the 18th trucks arrived with rice, cooking utensils and clothes. Those who had no clothes were issued Jap undershirts and drawers but no shoes or hats. We were allowed to sit in the shade during the afternoon. That night we were issued a sack of rice. This was a ration of about 11/2 ounces per man. We were not allowed to cook it so we ate it raw. If you ever have to eat such a ration I advise you to soak it over night in salt water and then chew it very well. Even then it isn't very satisfying or nutritious. On the 19th we had two sacks of rice, also raw.

By this time many of the wounded had died and those who hadn't smelled pretty rank. Jack Schwartz amputated an arm that had become gangrenous without anesthesia and with very few tools. The patient stood the operation very well but died anyhow.

On the morning of the 20th half of us were loaded onto trucks and started from Bilibid, we thought. Imagine our chagrin when we were dumped into the provincial prison at San Fernando, Pampanga! We did receive a little cooked rice and soup that night. The next day we were given a rice pot and some rice and dried seaweed. We cooked ourselves two meals that day and one the next. The remainder of the people we had left on the tennis court were brought to San Fernando on the 21st and stored in a theater. On the 22nd our cooking equipment was sent to them so that they might eat. We then discontinued eating for the remainder of our stay at San Fernando. On the 23rd a truck carrying 12 or 15 of the most seriously wounded was sent to Bilibid. That spelled the end of our hopes for going there. (After the war we learned that they never arrived at Bilibid nor were they ever heard from again. I presume that they were executed.)

Early in the morning of the 24th we were marched to the railway station. About 9:00 A.M. we were packed into boxcars, 180 to the car, standing room only. The train was heavily guarded. We went north. It was just as hot inside the cars as on our train trip from Camp O'Donnell to Cabanatuan two-and-a-half years earlier. About 2:00 A.M. on Christmas day we arrived at San Fernando, La Union where we were herded into the station yard to sleep until morning.

Shortly after daylight we were marched to the outskirts of town and into a schoolyard. The town was teeming with Japs and stacked high with equipment. There was continuous traffic along the road, trucks, carabao carts and handcarts hauling supplies from the port to the town. Obviously a convoy was being unloaded. We passed Christmas day in the schoolyard. We got two very small meals of rice and about 4 ounces of water. After dark we were marched four or five kilometers to the port and bedded down in the sand. We were surrounded by a deployed infantry unit. Its function appeared to be to guard against surprise attack, and possibly to keep us under control. About 5:00 A.M. rice balls were passed out. It was carelessly done and about 400 of us received none, including me. We sat on the beach in the hot sun all day. Finally, in mid-afternoon after much negotiating we were allowed to get water. We had two 14 qt. buckets to carry water 500 yards for 1200 men. In the course of the day we were allowed to take a bath in the ocean. I have found that drinking salt water in reasonable amounts does no harm and in tropical heat will replace body salt that has been sweated out. Scotty, Johnny and I went out as far as we were allowed and had a good drink to the horror of the adventure story experts.

After our bath we were given a couple of spoonfuls of raw rice for our supper. We spent the night on the beach.

The next morning at dawn we went aboard a freighter [Brazil-maru]. It was a filthy hulk of maybe 6000 tons. The hold in which we were placed had two decks, one about 18 feet above the other. The upper deck had carried horses for a voyage of several days and had not been cleaned out. We weren't quite as crowded as usual since by some mistake 250 men including Johnny had been put aboard the wrong ship [Enoura-maru]. We didn't see them again until they were brought back aboard our ship at Takao, Formosa.

I was on the upper deck of the hold right in the horse manure where you might expect me. The hatch covers were left off so that we had a nice hole of about 20' by 40' in the middle of our deck with no combing around it. We had some deaths and injuries from falls at night. Some poor devil trying to find his way to the urinal can. As often as not the person fallen on in the lower hold was more badly hurt than the faller.

The ship took four days to reach Takao in southwestern Formosa. During the trip we received one or two very light meals of rice a day, sometimes cabbage soup and about 1/2 cup of water. The weather was not unpleasant and deaths very few.

In Takao we anchored out in the harbor and sat. We could see that the port installations had been bombed and burned out and there was visible the superstructure and ribs of a few sunken ships. Here we were finally allowed to throw the horse manure over the side. By this time we were so weak that it was a hell of a chore.

The men from the wrong ship rejoined us and on the 8th of January the English and Dutch prisoners were taken away. The men who had been living on the lower deck of the hold were moved to the next hold forward. That afternoon a lighter was brought along side and the Japs began loading the lower hold with sacks of sugar. When they quit work for the evening the hatch cover was put on and we were told that if we stole any of the sugar many of us would be killed. Hungry as we were there was no threat that could keep us from stealing food that could be reached. Harry Packard came again to the fore. He organized a team and an efficient method of getting the sugar out of the lower hold and distributing it. That sugar was a great help as the nights were becoming cold and the rice we received wasn't nearly enough to keep us warm.

The next morning, January 9th, at about 9:00 A.M., while we were serving out breakfast, a lone airplane came buzzing in. It made a pass at our ship and dropped a bomb into the forward hold. His second pass hit the lighter just outside our hold and sprayed us with splinters. Those two bombs really raised hell. The first bomb killed about three hundred in the forward hold, including Charlie Leinbach, and wounded that many more, including Scotty. It blew the hatch cover off of our hold straight up so that the pieces fell back on us, killing several and injuring more. It blew our food and the people serving it down into the lower hold onto the sugar breaking several bones.

I had just gotten my food and was leaning against a large vertical "I" beam. The blast peeled red lead off the beam. It fell into my mess kit. My breakfast was ruined anyhow when I saw what had happened. The second bomb sprayed our compartment with metal splinters killing a few and wounding more. I've seen a lot of people killed quickly but never the equal of that two minutes.

As I've said before, we had no medicine, dressings or surgical equipment so there was very little we could do for the wounded other than give them the warmest part of the hold. The dead in our hold were collected and stacked in one corner after they had been stripped of their clothing. This was done to help clothe the living against the cold which was becoming serious. In the forward hold the damage was so serious that nothing could be done other than to make the wounded as comfort- able as possible. There was no more food or water that day much as the wounded needed the water.

No effort was made by the Japs to help us. They wouldn't let us remove the dead or take the wounded ashore to the hospital. The wounded in the forward hold were kept there until the 12th. I'll never forget meeting Scotty at the ladder when they were finally allowed to bring the wounded into our hold. He was shriveled and humped up like a very old man. He was covered with dried blood from half a dozen or more wounds. I did what I could for him but never expected him to live. How he managed to I don't know yet but he did. About the 11th a few Japs from a medical detachment came aboard. They sprayed our hold with a phenol solution and painted a few wounds with mercurochrome. On the 13th and 14th we were allowed to remove the dead. They were taken to a cemetery and presumably cremated.

On the evening of the 14th we were moved to another ship. We sailed the next morning. This was truly a hell ship. We had room enough to lie down but not much else. It was an old, decrepit freighter. We were on the first deck below the weather deck. It was double decked with the upper deck of wood about four feet above the steel deck. Tommy, Marshall, Scotty and I were on the steel deck. We had absolutely no bedding. Scotty thought fast and traded his wedding ring to one of the guards for two large straw rice sacks. We stayed under those rice sacks for the entire two weeks of the voyage, day and night. We had one or two meals a day, depending on the Japs whims. Each meal consisted of about a teacup full of rice and four to six mess kit spoons full of water which was frequently salty.

The troops, in general, were still clad in underwear and without bedding. The decks were ice covered. The latrine was a sort of cockpit hung over the side without any protection from the weather.

A part of the hold was designated as the hospital. It was simply a place to put the dying who had no friends to take care of them or who became violent. The killing agent seemed to be a sort of intestinal flu. The first symptom was acute diarrhea. After about three days the victim would become hysterical and irresponsible and in about 24 hours would die. As the time for death approached people would watch them pretty closely so as to be on hand to get their clothing and equipment. Not a few were stripped before they died. Jim Blanning, Joe East, Harry Packard and Willie Farrell died this way. Willie had been slightly wounded in the bombing at Takao. Another common symptom was a preoccupation with the need to have more water. Harry Packard and Tommy both suffered from that. Scotty and I were caring for Tommy and yet he stole our water time and again. The speed and cupidity that he developed was amazing. Johnny had the same trouble with Harry Packard and Ralph Brown.

The guard commander and his interpreter paid no attention to our needs. Their only interest was in a daily report of the number of dead. The usual rate was about thirty-five a day. On the few occasions when it was less than that the interpreter appeared very hurt.

There was considerable traffic with the guards. Trading for water or sacks for bedding, a class ring might bring two cups of water. Johnny made such a trade through a classmate. The classmate then drank the water instead of delivering it to Johnny.

As I have already mentioned there was a lot of diarrhea. There were a number of buckets in the hospital area used as emergency latrines. They were always in use so that many men were forced to defecate in their clothes or on the floor. The aisles were always full of feces. Some days the Japs would let us empty the buckets and some days they wouldn't. We were, in effect, living in a puddle of feces.

There was, of course, no water for any purpose. My mess gear was not washed from the 23rd of December to the 30th of January. The same was true of my face and hands. When we got off the ship in Japan my hands were black as a nigger's, my face was covered with dead skin, a five-week's growth of beard and no skin. Discounting the beard I looked very like the Egyptian mummies in the Metropolitan museum.

The hold was divided into compartments about ten feet square in which lived about ten people. It was very difficult to collect the dead as their mates would keep them so as to collect their rations and water. It became necessary to search the place daily.

This ship also carried a cargo of sugar -- otherwise you would be a widow. We stole the sugar diligently. I ate about half a pound a day. There were others who ate much more than that. Of course it killed most of them. There was no tobacco except that purchased from the guards at exorbitant prices. For one cigarette you could buy a ration of rice. Needless to say I didn't smoke at all.

During the latter part of the voyage there were several submarine scares with much shouting and shooting on the part of the Japanese. Fortunately we were never hit. It was so cold that we would have lived only a few minutes in the water. In fact I had no intention of getting off the ship as I would rather drown than freeze to death.

The ship had been used by the Japs to transport troops and was infested with body lice. We soon got them. I can think of no insect infestation that is worse. They are particularly bad in cold weather as you can't remove your clothes and hunt them out. To get rid of them all you have to do is boil your clothes and move to an uninfested building.

We arrived at Moji, Kyushu on the Inland Sea in the evening of January 28th or 29th and docked the next morning. The Japanese brought woolen coats, trousers and shoes aboard, salvaged equipment, of course, and outfitted all except the very ill. We went ashore just before noon. I was slightly beaten for trying to steal a kapok life preserver. I needed it to sit on as my natural padding was entirely gone. On shore we were helped and guided to a vacant theater by some Americans who had been some time in Japan. They were wearing U.S. Army overcoats and gloves and looked to us well fed and healthy. We were very glad to see them. They cheered us by saying that the food and treatment here were fairly decent. A white lie but it helped.

We spent the day in the theater being counted and grouped. About 500 of the original 1619 had lived to come ashore. Of these 15 died while we were in the theater. It is my opinion that had ice remained aboard another five days there would not have been fifty survivors. There was a modern washroom in the theater with running water. The water was ice cold. The Japs told us it would make us sick to drink it. We were already sick and badly dehydrated. I drank about three quarts of it and was still thirsty.

In the late afternoon we were fed. The food consisted of two little wooden boxes, one contained rice and the other pickled vegetables and a little piece of squid. They are called Binto Boxes and are the common railroad or traveling rations in Japan. By Japanese standards they are a good meal.

About dusk we were moved in groups. Our group of 180 was marched about a half mile to a railroad station and loaded into chair cars. These cars were comfortable and even slightly heated, by far the most comfortable accommodations we had had in years. We went about 60 miles to Fukuoka on the Sea of Japan, that is on the west side of Kyushu. There we were issued overcoats and allowed to stand around bonfires while awaiting our turn to ride to camp in trucks.

The camp contained about 500 prisoners, American, English and Dutch. There were about 30 officers, all English and Dutch. The Americans and English were very kind. They took us to our huts where we were given six or seven blankets apiece. They made up beds for us and put us in them. They then brought us sweetened rice porridge and sweetened tea. I don't remember anything that tasted so good. It looked again as though life might be worth living.

The next morning I was feeling a little more alive and examined my surroundings from my bed. The building in which we were living was of slab pine, about 20' wide and 50' long. Down the center was an unfloored aisle about six feet wide. On either side was a shelf about 18" above the floor. It was covered with thin straw mats and divided into sections about two feet wide. These sections were our beds. The buildings were called by the English, very appropriately, huts. They had no openings, just narrow openings covered by wooden panels. There was no heating system. It was lighted by three small bulbs in the early mornings and evenings.

The place was very cold. The temperature dropped to freezing at night and rose to about 50° F. by noon. We had to stay in bed to keep warm. For the first month we were allowed a small bucket of coals twice a day to heat the hut if the kitchen could spare them. The wind literally howled through the place so you can imagine how effective that heating system was.

We were fed three times a day. All three meals were the same. They consisted of a small bowl of porridge made from rice and rolled barley, without salt, a bowl of soup made of boiled winter radishes, flavored with soya sauce or bean curd, and tea. Once or twice a week the dish would have a little fish or meat in it. We did not recover very rapidly on this diet. In the three months we were there I gained ten pounds, going from a weight of 90 pounds to 100 pounds

After we had been there about five days we were issued ten-pound Red Cross boxes, one box for three men. Johnny and I were lucky. We were paired with Joe Tacy who died before he had eaten very much. It wasn't enough food to do us much good but it did buck us up.

About the only medicine available to us was a little blood plasma and some sulpha-pyridine for the pneumonia patients. The death rate continued high. Of the 180 in our group fifty died including Tommy and Marshall Hurt. How Johnny survived l will never know. He wasn't out of bed three times in three months. He could scarcely sit up the first month. His dysentery recurred and he used to defecate in his clothes about 20 times a day. Laundry was difficult. He had almost no extra clothes. Johnny was too weak to undress himself and I couldn't help him much or often. He sometimes lay in his feces three days at a time without being cleaned up. There was a young English soldier who cared for Joe Tacy. When Joe died he took Johnny under his wing. It was probably his care that kept Johnny alive.

I was miserable. My hands and face were covered with sores and fungus infections. I had bedsores on practically every joint. I couldn't get shaved and I was cold. I well remember lying in my bed hoping that someday I might get a pair of socks to keep my feet warm. I remember one evening noticing that Joe Tacy was about to die. I stayed awake and, sure enough, about 10:00 o'clock he died. I grabbed his socks and put them on. I was going to take his ring to bring it to his wife. By the time I had the socks on I was too tired to deal with the ring and decided to wait until morning to get it. In the morning it was gone.

There were very few of us strong enough to walk the 30 yards to the latrine so again we had our bucket at one end of the hut and a couple of two quart cans for bed pans. The system wasn't too successful but better than nothing.

The Japanese camp commander was anti-American and his subordinates were very corrupt. We got only about half of the food and cigarettes issued for us. We had to buy anything more at outrageous prices. I had no money and very little to trade so I got very little extra. Black market cigarettes cost one yen each, a squid, 10 yen, a bowl of rice, 10 yen, etc. The only good characteristic of this amp -- very few of us were beaten by the guards.

About the first of March the Japs divided us into two groups: those who could walk, and those who couldn't. Those who could walk were moved to other barracks and declared well and available for work. I was in the latter group, however I was able to avoid work for another month because of my arm. I had lost the use of my left arm from muscle atrophication on the last ship. I worked hard to restore it to use and after several months I regained full use of it.

We were put to work in the camp garden. It wasn't hard work but we were barely able to walk so it seemed hard enough to us. Alex and I usually worked together carrying feces from the latrine to the garden and spreading it on the vegetables. We were experts at doing very little work.

On April 1st the Japs declared it spring and took our overcoats away from us. The weatherman was not in accord with the Imperial Headquarters. We had more cold weather and a recurrence of pneumonia but we didn't get our coats back. The weather finally did get warmer and we were able to take our clothes off to hunt lice. Lice are really a terrible thing in cold weather when you have no change of clothing and no warm place to go to remove your clothes and kill the lice. I've seen the clothes come off the dead so infested that you couldn't put your finger any place without touching a louse.

(Here the September 1945 letter ends. I continue from memory in 1982.)

In late April we were taken by night boat to Pusan, Korea and from there by train to Inchon (the Japanese called it Jinsen). There 180 of us, mostly Americans but some English who were already there remained for the rest of the war. The mess in the camp wasn't very well run. It was already in the hands of the English and we couldn't very well do anything about it although I could have run it better. I was made head gardener. My duties were to get the work party out to the garden on time and then have them do what the Japs told me to get done. Food and medicine were a little better than in Japan and by the end of the war I had gotten my weight up to 115 pounds.

At the time of the surrender of the Japanese, Johnny and I were in a small prison camp in Inchon, Korea. It was some days before we learned of it. Word apparently got around Inchon after about two days as that night the Korean guards deserted and left only the Japanese officers and a few non-coms to guard us. We soon took over from the Japs and set up our own procurement system. There were 188 prisoners in the camp, Americans mostly with a few British and Dutch officers and NCO's. We were all hungry and gravely under weight. As soon as we got our system working we ate some 1000 eggs a day and a fair sized bull every three days. At first some people had trouble digesting so much food. But after throwing up a few times they got the hang of it.

We kept expecting parachute drops of supplies from the Americans in Japan. We heard about them on the radio but it was near the end of August before they came. They had used all their parachutes in Japan. When they arrived at our camp they were dropping oil drums from the bomb bay packed with food, clothing, tobacco, etc. An oil drum filled with matches and cigarettes hit one of our barracks and burned it to the ground. Some of the oil drums burst on hitting the ground. One hit a concrete slab and covered it with an inch or two of canned fruit salad. A flying can of tomato juice hit our veterinary officer and broke his leg.

We soon had clothing, food and medicine, none of which we had seen in a long time. Morale went up fast. We kept hoping for release or rescue but no word. Finally on the 7th of September a large convoy steamed into the harbor. The next morning the 7th Division made a landing on the beaches MacArthur was later to use to outflank the North Korean army that was besieging Pusan. I went to the beach to greet them. There I encountered General Gerow, the division commander. He told me there were hospital ships in the convoy to take us out. That afternoon we were taken out to the hospital ship. There we were sorted and those requiring care were kept on the hospital ship and the rest of us were moved to a troop ship and sent to Manila.

-- December 1984


Hurt, Marshall H. Jr. Maj., died 4/6/45 at Fukuoka #1
North, William D. Lt. Col., Med, lived Fukuoka #1and Jinsen
Kinnee, Dale J. Maj. shot in water 12/15/44, Oryoku Maru
Lauman, Philip G. Jr. Maj. died 12/15/44 on Oryoku Maru
Baehr, Carl Jr. Maj. 88th FA Reg. PS, died 12/15/44 on Oryoku Maru
Scotty?--possibly Scott, Walter E. 2nd Lt., lived Fukuoka #1 and Jinsen
Farrell, William E. W. Capt., died 1/23/45 on Brazil Maru
Brown, Ralph W. D. Maj., Chaplain, died 1/31/45 at Moji Hospital]

Page 1 INDEX