The Sheboygan Press
Tell Jap Torture
Of Yank Philippine Captives
account of how starvation, thirst and torture inflicted by Japs have
taken at least 5,200 American lives on the Philippines has been
released by the War and Navy departments, based on sworn statements of
three escaped officers: Lt. Col. William E. Dyess (left) who has since
been killed in a plane crash; Lt. Col. S. M. Mellnik, and Comdr. Melvyn
H. McCoy. -- (NEA Telephoto).
Abandon Hope Of Getting Aid
Tokyo Into Hades, Cries Congressman, After Reading Factual Account Of
How Americans Of Bataan And Corregidor Have Been Tortured And Slain By
--(UP)-- This government, outraged by Japanese extermination of at
least 7,000 American war prisoners, has given up hope of getting relief
supplies to surviving prisoners of war in Japanese hands, the White
House said today.
documented story of Japanese brutality toward war prisoners in the
Philippines was published by the army and navy last night. Today White
House secretary Stephen T. Early explained the timing of the release.
time has come," he told reporters, "to release factual, carefully
authenticated reports on Japanese atrocities. The government can no
longer expect to get further relief to American prisoners of war in the
hands of the Japanese."
The army-navy report, based on sworn
statements of two army officers and a navy officer who escaped from
Davao after 361 days of suffering, dealt only with Japanese treatment
of prisoners captures at Bataan and Corregidor. It was a story of
deliberate starvation, torture, and murder. Early's statement appeared
to indicate that additional reports detailing similar horrors in other
areas might be forthcoming later.
statement, which followed close on congressional demands for ultimate
vengeance against the Japanese, also caused speculation that there may
be no further exchanges of civilian internees between this country and
It was pointed out that in the past supplies of
clothing, and food for war prisoners twice were sent to Japan aboard
the exchange ship Gripsholm. This avenue of relief, in view of Early's
statement, apparently has been closed.
The state department for
some time had been attempting to make arrangements for a third
Gripsholm exchange, but Secretary of State Cordell Hull recently
disclosed there had been little progress.
In any event, the
army-navy report left no doubt that the Japanese government had
brutally discarded all civilized rules in the treatment of prisoners
captured in the Philippines.
The story aroused congressmen and
government official alike to deep anger which, many of them declared,
can be quenched only by the visiting of retributive justice -- if not
after the war -- against responsible Japanese from the Emperor down.
was little demand, however, for an eye-for-an-eye policy toward
Japanese in American hands. As of Jan. 7, the War department said only
377 Japanese fighting men had been taken prisoner since the start of
the war. Indicative of American treatment of war prisoners is the fact
that none of the 377 Japanese prisoners has died.
Steam Right Into
Chairman Andrew J. May, D. Ky., of the house of
military affairs committee, said, "We ought
to quit fooling around with islands and outposts and steam right into
Tokyo and blow it to Hades. This shows the kind of barbarian enemy we
Rep. Clair Engle, D. Calif., said the disclosures
confirm the opinion of the west coast residents that Japanese "are
nothing but a savage, uncivilized people and not just 'sunburned
am glad the army and navy have finally seen fit to let the American
people know what type of enemy they are fighting so we get down to
business and get this thing over with," Engle added.
New Zealand Minister Walter Nash communicated with
Hull after reading the atrocity report. Later he told reporters:
"It is one of the cruelest things I have ever
heard of in history."
A similar reaction was voiced by Sen. Charles O.
Andrews D. Fla., who said:
the most gruesome thing I can imagine. It makes even more certain that
we must fight this was to the finish. Japan will have to understand
that to live in this world it will have to live up to accepted
standards of civilization, in war and peace."
Sen. Warren R.
Austin R. Vt., called for "that extra effort necessary to get
boys out of prison as quickly as possible."
Sen. Edwin C. Johnson
D. Co., hoped "this will not be a springboard for a wave of racial
uprisings" against the thousands of civilian Japanese in this country.
In Denver, all military and civil police were
placed on alert to prevent any
demonstrations against the large number of persons of Japanese ancestry
in that area.
The three escaped prisoners who brought back the
report of beatings, starvation, outright murder,
forced labor, and death marches from the Philippines were Comdr. Melvin
H. McCoy of Indianapolis, now on duty in this country; Lieut. Col. S.
M. Mellnik of Dunmore, Pa., now on duty in the SW Pacific, and the late
Lieut. Col. William E. Dyess of Albany, Tex., recently killed in a
fighter plane at Burbank, Calif.
In Seattle, McCoy announced that he has "work to
do yet in the Philippines" and wants to go
back there "to square accounts" with the Japanese. Mellnik is already
getting back at the enemy as an artillery officer under Gen. Douglas
report added a new ugly chapter to the story of
Japanese atrocities made so clear when the Tokyo government, again in
complete violation of accepted rules of war, executed some of the
captured American flyers who took part in the historic April 1942,
raids on Japans principle cities.
connection with those executions, President Roosevelt sent a stern
warning to Japan. He said that if "such acts of barbarity and
manifestations of depravity" were continued, '"the American government
will hold personally and officially responsible for those deliberate
crimes all of those officers of the Japanese government who have
participated in their commitment and will in due course bring these
officers to justice."
The report disclosed these facts;
Denied Food For
Camp O'Donnell, about 2,200 American prisoners from Bataan died during
April and May of 1942. The death rate among Filipino prisoners was
higher. By October, another 3,000 Americans had died at Cabanatuan and
2,500 others were in such condition that American doctors were certain
all would die.
of the approximately 20,000 American fighting men in the Philippines
when the end came, at least 7,700 were dead or dying by October of
1942. How many more have died since then is a problem almost to grisly
to consider, for the death toll on some occasions reached 50 a day.
a full week after the American defenders of Corregidor had surrendered,
they were denied food. Then they received meager portions office and
Many technical men -- at least 400 and possibly
were shipped off to Japan for slave labor in war factories in complete
defiance of the Geneva Convention on Prisoner treatment to which Japan
claimed she is abiding.
At least three Americans and three Filipinos were
buried alive, others were beheaded.
were given the sun-treatment, a form of torture in which they were
forced to remain under the blistering sun with no covering.
nightmarish memory to the men who escaped was what he prisoners called
the "march of death." With no food, water or shelter from the sun, they
were forced to make a 12-day march for 85 miles to work in labor
Herded Like Cattle
who fell screaming in agony of approaching death were beaten with
sticks, whipped or shot if they dared ask for food or water. Some were
run over by Japanese trucks -- deliberately.
Men who once weighed
200 pounds shrank to 90, became human skeletons, and died by the
hundreds. Diarrhea and dysentery almost universal, as was beri-beri.
Because they asked for water, six Filipinos were
shot, one was disemboweled and others were bayoneted.
who survived the bestiality were herded like cattle into small
enclosures, which reeked with the stench from the decaying bodies of
whom they once knew.
In contrast to the staggering death toll
described by the three officers, the Japanese have reported only 1,555
Americans as having died from disease in the camps in the Philippines.
army and navy made it clear that nothing in the report was hearsay --
that it contained "only facts which the officers related from their
own personal experience and observations."
The three officers
were Comdr. Melvyn H. McCoy, U. N. N., Indianapolis, now on duty in
this country; Lt. Col. S.M. Mellnik, coast artillery, Dunmore, PA., now
on duty in the southwest Pacific, and the late Lt. Col. (then captain)
E. Dyess, air corps, Albany, TX., who was killed recently in the crash
of a fighter plane in Burbank, Cal.
At Camp O'Donnell prisoners
had to stand in line 6 to 10 hours for a drink. They wore the same
clothing without change for six weeks. Food was almost entirely rice.
Twice in two months they received enough meat so that about a quarter
of the prisoners managed to get a piece of an inch square each. They
received a few vegetables on three of four occasions.
Japanese worked many prisoners to death. One week the death rate at
Camp O'Donnell was 20 Americans and 150 Filipinos a day. After two
weeks it was 50 Americans and 500 Filipinos a day.
taken on Corregidor, including McCoy and Mellnik, were concentrated in
a paved square about 100 yards on each side for a week. They numbered
7,000 Americans and 5,000 Filipinos. There was one water spigot. It
usually was a 12-hour wait to fill a canteen.
On May 23, 1942,
these 12,000 prisoners were transported to Manila by barge, forced to
jump off and wade for about 100 yards, and then marched through Manila
in what was intended to be a triumphal victory parade. But Filipinos
citizens everywhere demonstrated their friendliness. Those who tried to
assist collapsing prisoners with ices, water and fruit were beaten.
June 1 American prisoners at camp O'Donnell were separated from their
Filipino comrades and moved to Cabanatuan concentration camp, where the
three officers met. There conditions slightly improved. There was
adequate drinking water and muddy well water in which to bathe. But the
food continued mostly rice.
Three Chickens For
the Japanese gave the prisoners three chickens and another time 50 eggs
for 500 prisoners. Then their propaganda machine announced to the world
they were feeding American prisoners eggs and chickens.
At Cabanatuan three officers were caught trying to
escape. They were beaten until they could no longer stand.
next morning the three Americans, stripped to their shorts," the report
related, ''were taken out on the road in full view of the camp, their
hands were tied behind them, and they were pulled up by ropes from an
overhead purchase, so that they had to remain standing, but bent
forward to ease the pressure on their arms.
"They were kept in
this position in the blazing sun for two full days. Periodically the
Japanese beat them with a two-by-four, and any Filipino unlucky enough
to pass that way was compelled to beat them too. If he failed to beat
them hard enough the Japanese beat him. After two days of this, one of
the officers was beheaded and the other two were shot."
October 26, 1942, McCoy, Mellnik and Dyess, with 966 other American
officers and enlisted men were crowded into a captured British
freighter and taken to Davao penal colony. This time those who fell out
were thrown in trucks and hauled along. Food was somewhat better, but
insufficiently balanced to counter act the beri-beri from which many
prisoners were suffering. Oranges and lemons were abundant thereabouts,
but the Japanese would not allow the prisoners to have any.
The commandant of the camp spoke to the prisoners
have been used to a soft, easy life since your capture. All that will
be different here. You will learn about hard labor. Every prisoner will
continue to work until he is actually hospitalized. Punishment for
malingering will be severe."
He made good on his word. When the
three officers escaped from Davao April 4, 1943 only 1,100 of the 2,000
prisoners were able to work.
The officers reported the few Red
Cross boxes that reached the men caused joy beyond description. For
some unknown reason they were delayed seven months in Japan proper.
all his labor during 361 days of captivity Dyess received $10 dollars
in pay after he signed a statement saying he had received more than
$250, as well as clothes, food and lodging.
The army and navy
disclosed that other Americans are known to have escaped from Japanese
camps in the Philippines, including Major Michiel Dobervitch, Ironton,
Minn.,: Major Austin C. Shofner, Shelbyville, Tenn., Major Jack
Hawkins, Roxton, Tex., Cpl. Reid Carlos Chamberlain, El Cajone, Cal.,
all U.S. Marines.
Wants To Square
--(UP)-- Comdr. Melvyn H. McCoy, one of the three officers who made the
report on atrocities in Japanese prison camps in the Philippines said
today he has, '''work to do yet back in the Philippines" and wants to
return "to square accounts" with the Nipponese.
McCoy, who celebrated Christmas day 1941 by
escaping from the Japanese to Corregidor and
eating a ham sandwich for "Christmas dinner," is now in command of
radio activities at the naval station on Bainbridge Island, across
Elliott Bay from Seattle.
The 37-year-old commander came here
last November, a few months after his arrival in the United States
following his escape from the Japanese prison camp.
graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1927 and went to the
Philippines in July 1940. He was stationed at Cavite, his wife and two
children returned to the United States in December of that year and he
did not see them again until August 1943.
served as communication officer during the siege of Corregidor and was
forced to send the final message marking the fall of that island May 6,
"Going off the air now, goodbye and good luck.
McCoy," the message said.
"Then," he said, ''the Japs got hold of me."
His experiences from that day until his escape
April 4, 1943, were revealed in the army navy story of Japanese
his return McCoy remained in Washington, D.C., until ordered to
Bainbridge Island last fall. He said he hoped to go on active duty
again this year.
Denver. --(UP)-- All
military and civilian police in the Denver were placed on alert today
prevent any demonstration against the large number of persons of
Japanese ancestry in this area following the announcement of Japanese
atrocities in the Philippines.
Lt. Col. Jesse E. Marshall,
district commander for internal security, said the action was taken on
orders from the Seventh Service Command as "a precautionary measure."
special squads of detectives were assigned to patrol the lower downtown
area of Denver and military police reinforcements were ordered held in
readiness Marshall said.
(For the original report on this story of the escape of 10 POWs from Davao Penal Colony, see Ten Escape From Tojo by Cmdr. McCoy and Lt. Col. Mellnik.)
The Sheboygan Press
Writer Bares More
by James R. Young
- February 1943 issue
The Story of the Capture of Guam
by Marion Olds,
Chief Navy Nurse
SHARED UNFORGETTABLE experiences. Left to right, Navy Nurses Yetter,
Olds, authoress of the story; Jackson and Christiansen.
--Washington Star Photo.
has same recollections which remain forever sharp. I have many, but if
I were asked which are the most unforgettable I should have no choice
between two. That day at Guam when I saw the American flag hauled down
by the Jap invaders and that morning in New York harbor some nine
months later when the exchange ship Gripsholm
dropped anchor, and I was
back again in the States, safe from the horror and desolation of a
Japanese internment camp.
In the interim are months crowded with
They are months during which I and the four brave nurses who
shared my experiences lived alternately in despair and hope, months of
interminable length and darkness.
In those months I was a
prisoner of the Japanese.
As their prisoner of war I saw many things
and heard even more.
I saw the arrogant, war-crazed Nipponese take the
American flag and use it as a target!
I saw them cockily demonstrate
their weapons of war to captured Americans, unwilling spectators at the
I saw them force Americans to bow -- almost in
supplication it seemed -- to the sentries and to the officers.
evidence of their barbarism, though I did not actually see it committed.
heard Jimmy Doolittle's air raid on Kobe -- and the bursting bombs
filled me with pride to think that America was striking back.
I heard the boastful little yellow men announce the capture of Hawaii
and the destruction of the United States Fleet, and predict that
America would be on its knees, beseeching for peace within four months.
them? Of course not! I was already too well versed in the slimy
treachery of the yellow Aryans to take their word at face value. And I
faith in the aggressive daring of our Navy.
You see, I am Navy.
I'm steeped in Navy tradition. That tradition calls for more than
dauntless courage and sacrifice. It calls for offense. The Navy's
record tells more than any words of mine. Navy men can take a temporary
setback indomitably. So can Navy nurses. Defeat isn't written in the
log book. The Navy may lose battles, but it is never defeated.
isn't something that you learn. It's a spirit that grows with Navy
years. It's an intangible that's handed down through the service.
Intangible -- yet something very real that grips and holds you in the
face of peril and disaster. It's -- well, Navy.
Perhaps I had it
long before I entered the Navy. It might have come down to me from my
aunt who died in 1918 while in the Navy service. Her career as a nurse
was more than service to her country. It was duty -- and pride.
natural that I should take up nursing. My father, W. J. Olds, was a
doctor in Virginia. My aunt was a nurse with the Navy. When I was
graduated from high school at Strasburg, Va., I was determined upon
nursing as a life career and entered George Washington University,
After I had served my training period I
entered a private hospital. There was no call then for Navy nurses, but
in 1926 I was appointed. From that first day in the service I felt the
surging thrill, the pride of being Navy. It's something you can't
really describe. You've got to feel it.
The work was interesting
and time-occupying and I served at many bases -- in the West Indies,
Brooklyn, Boston, Annapolis and San Diego.
Each transfer, it seemed,
was bringing me nearer to the grim reality of war. Ominous rumblings
sounded in 1932 when a blandly rampant little yellow fox of Japan
gobbled up the choice morsel of Manchuria. As I look back upon it now
that was the "go" signal for the aggressors. Each new year brought new
aggressions and dragged the world closer to its inevitable plunge into
Hitler's armies had already devastated Poland and
France when I was assigned to San Diego.
In December, 1940, orders came from Washington. I was
directed to report with four other nurses to the island
of Guam, distant Pacific outpost of the United States. With me were to
go Mrs. Leona Jackson, Miss Virginia J. Fogarty, Miss Doris Yetter, and
Miss Loraine Christiansen.
I was to be in command. My title of Chief
Nurse was the equivalent to the rank of lieutenant, junior grade. The
four nurses had ranks equivalent to ensigns. Our duties were to train
the Chamorros, the natives of Guam for nursing work. At the same time
we were to administer to the needs of the island garrison.
I wondered what it was like, for I had read only recently of a refusal
by Congress to grant funds to the Navy to fortify the island.
Congressmen’s refusal was explained in that they wanted to do nothing
with antagonizing the Japs. I thought it was strange reasoning. But the
whole matter carried little significance then.
We landed at Guam
February 1941, and plunged into our work with all the vigor and energy
that usually signifies a new assignment. Our class of student nurses
was waiting. There were thirty-four Chamorros, and they proved willing
and intelligent. Every one of them, I am sure,
realized the importance of the work for which they were training. How
soon they were to be called upon to perform their duties!
during that Spring and Summer, war clouds loomed menacingly across the
horizon. The crescendo of the guns in Europe echoed ever more
distinctly across the waters of the Pacific. We discussed it among
ourselves, for we knew that should war break out between Japan and the
United States, Guam would be first in the line of fire. We were
prepared for the shock of war. We were unprepared for the treachery
that was to unloose it.
It was shortly after seven o'clock on
Monday morning, December 8, when we heard the news. I was busy at my
headquarters in Agana, capital of Guam, when two sailors knocked at the
door. As I opened it, I had no chance to ask what they wanted.
"The Japs have bombed Pearl Harbor,” one said. "War has broken out."
didn't ask for details. I had no time to waste. I turned on the radio
and summoned my nurses
and my class of students. They received my announcement with a calmness
that was hardly understandable. Then I found out why. Most of them
already knew about Pearl Harbor.
Assignments were accepted eagerly and not a moment too soon.
Jap planes were overhead.
moments like that you are without fear. The reactions may come later.
I know only that I was unafraid. The planes -- I counted nine
them -- came
in at great height. I can't say that they were traveling swiftly. They
passed by and I wondered if they were merely on reconnaissance. Then I
knew they had come on business. Dull, flat echoes sounded in the
distance. The Japs had flown over the capital to drop their bombs on
naval installations at the farther end of the island.
GOVERNOR'S palace was scene of surrender.
let me explain, was bombed the same day as Pearl Harbor. Guam lies west
of the International Dateline, Pearl Harbor and Hawaii to the east.
Thus while the attack on Pearl Harbor preceded the stab at Guam by a
matter of only a very few minutes the date of the latter attack is
officially listed as December 8th.
Fortunately, all of us knew
exactly what to do when the wounded came in at about nine o'clock.
There were surprisingly few. Bomb splinters and bomb shrapnel can cause
nasty wounds -- and agonizing pain. For myself and the nurses with me,
and for the doctors also, it was our first wartime experience. And
whatever the lack of military equipment on the island to fight off the
Japs, the hospital and the nurses were well equipped and prepared for
We worked feverishly. Every moment was made to
count. We knew there would be more bombings and in greater force. That
would mean more wounded, more dressings, more beds. So far we had
treated only Navy personnel and a handful of civilians. The civilians
casualties, we knew, would increase rapidly when the Japs started their
indiscriminate bombing -- the checkerboard variety.
will tell you they thrill to battle. A Navy nurse -- or an Army nurse
that matter -- doesn't. The care of the wounded with their torn and
bleeding bodies isn't a thing that brings you thrills. It does bring a
reassurance of hate against those responsible for the wounded and dying.
after one o'clock we heard the drone of planes again. I didn’t see
them. I was too busy at the hospital, but I heard our flak guns go into
action. That sound soon was buried under the deafening detonations of
enemy bombs. This time they were falling on Agana.
learned later, the civilian population of the island behaved admirably.
There was a minimum of confusion and no hysteria. Wounded civilians
carried on with almost incredible courage.
And I can say the same for our nurses. They showed then the courage and
the faith that aided us for long months afterward to endure the
privations and hardships of an enemy internment camp.
tell you how many patients were cared for in those few hours of enemy
attack. I can say they were fewer than we expected. And I might add
with justifiable pride that each and every one received prompt and
adequate medical attention.
The afternoon sun was low in the sky
when the Japs struck for the third time that day. "They're here in
force this time" was the word. "They're coming in at low altitude.
They're going to strafe the hospital."
THEY came in waves --
bombers and fighters. The bombers dropped their eggs and the ground
shook. The hospital beds rattled out of position and several of the
medical tables were upset. I pitied the wounded in their beds -- should
a bomb strike what chance had they of rescue? But they seemed to take
it with characteristic Navy gameness. And through it all we nurses
moved with apparent unconcern.
The sudden drum of machine gun
bullets on the roof of the hospital sent several of us sprawling to the
floor. I dropped instinctively. A moment later the Jap pilot played an
encore. Some of the bullets penetrated the roof and entered the ward
room. Most of the bullets ricocheted off, but several remained embedded
in the tough wood floor.
That night we slept in shifts. As chief
Nurse, I was responsible for the assignment of nurses. It was possible
that the Nips would continue their bombing through the night. Rest was
essential. I realized that should the attacks continue, and perhaps be
supplemented by a shelling by warships, there would be no time at all
for sleep. And with each attack our duties would be doubled.
|PEACEFUL SHORES of Guam were the
battlefields where the Nips landed in their treacherous attack.
||SCENE AT ZENTSUJI: Seated in Jap
war prison are two Navy men. They look worn, thin.
Japs gave a repeat performance next day, Tuesday. By this time our
nerves were steeled against the sound of explosions and the screech,
thud and detonation of shells. I noticed then for the first time how
almost unconcernedly we took the enemy barrage of bombs and shells. One
grows accustomed quickly to the horrors of war and it makes for a
Someone once wrote -- it was Quentin
Reynolds, I think-- that the "wounded don't cry." Ours didn't. With
characteristic American grit they grinned at us, wisecracked a bit. I
know it made my task a lot easier.
The Japs operated on schedule
that day, bombing us three times. During each lull in the bombing I
could hear the distant sound of gunfire.
About four o'clock
Wednesday morning I was awakened by thunderous explosions. It wasn't a
bombing attack. That I knew, for I had already learned by this time the
difference between the sound of a bursting bomb and that of an
exploding shell. This, I was sure, was the latter. It appeared to be
quite some distance away ceaselessly for about an hour. Just about the
time I reported at the hospital at five o'clock the thundering stopped.
were several new patients at the hospital, among them an American, his
native wife and her brother. They had been shot -- and bayoneted. The
bayonet wounds meant only one thing. The Japs had landed on Guam.
soldiers have landed," the man gasped. "They shot us, then attacked us
with bayonets. They left us for dead. There are swarms of them all over
While I was giving first aid to the two men and the
woman, the stillness of the early morning was shattered by a shout,
followed a moment later by a terrific burst of machine gun fire
directly outside the hospital gates.
Instinctively I dropped to the
floor. Then I turned to look. Everyone had done likewise. We literally
hugged the floor for at any moment a shell might come crashing through
the building or machine gun bullets crack through the windows or walls.
air was heavy with explosions. Machine guns rattled an accompaniment.
Evidently the whole town was under fire. But our own guns were
answering the challenge. Gradually the savage cracks cease and the
sudden stillness is quiet as startling as the barrage.
How many dead and dying lie in their homes or in the streets? Can our
pitifully small garrison repel the invasion? Will aid be sent in time?
Is this what has happened in Hawaii? On the floor some of us were
whispering words of encouragement, some are sitting up, others
standing. The gunfire had ceased. Is the danger over?
I expected to hear, or see next, whether the screech of shells, the
rattle of machine guns, the bursting of bombs or the rush of Jap
soldiers through the hospital gates, I did not expect that which I
heard -- the sound of an automobile horn.
It burst upon us with sudden
furry. What it was for I could not imagine, but it blared away
unceasingly for perhaps six to eight minutes, then stopped. I looked at
others in the room in search of explanation but their wonderment was as
great as mine. Word came then for us to return to our quarters. We
didn't ask why. A Navy nurse obeys orders.
Hardly we had reached
our rooms when the hospital gates were swung open and several hundred
Japanese soldiers spilled through and swarmed over the grounds. From my
window I saw them rush in, shouting and gesticulating wildly. They
scrambled for the shade of trees, dropping their packs and guns as they
flopped to the ground. And then they did an amazing thing. They
produced bamboo fans and started fanning themselves. It was almost
IT was then that I received word that Guam had surrendered.
That long blast of the automobile horn was the signal for capitulation
by Captain George Johnson McMillan, Governor of Guam.
My feelings? I ask any American to describe them. I was a prisoner of
ten o'clock that morning we were told to return to duty. The Japs were
told to return to duty. The Japs were in control of the hospital, and
we were to take care of our own patience only. Later that order was
countermanded and the Jap doctors took full charge, aided by their own
hospital corp men. These latter were merely boys, trained more or less
haphazardly in the duties of nursing.
From my window that
afternoon I saw a sight I never want to see again. I have seen the dead
and the dying, men horribly wounded and torn. I have never flinched at
that. But that afternoon I saw the Stars and Stripes hauled down.
one awe-inspiring moment the flag fluttered in the breeze. The next, it
sagged a bit and then disappeared from view. I couldn't see all that
was happening, but I heard the crash of drums and the blare of bugles.
The ropes on the flagstaff were moving again. The Japanese flag was
hoisted to the top and the breeze whipped it out -- the cruel blood-red
emblem of the Rising Sun on a background of white.
It was a sad and sickening sight. I wept. Those who watched with me
soon learned what it was like to be prisoners of the Japs. Twice a day
in the morning and evening we had to report for roll call. Probably
because we were confined to our quarters and the immediate grounds
around them, we were not molested, but our armed guards gave us little
They would enter our rooms whenever they so desired.
Occasionally they would chat with us in English and it was English that
was well-spoken and well-delivered. Often they would bring parties of
sightseers to inspect our room. The sightseers were new Jap arrivals,
mostly navel men.
There was no respect for personal possessions.
When it prompted our guards to do so they walked into our rooms, opened
our desks, bureau drawers and trunks and took what they wanted.
Cigarettes and clocks seemed their particular desire, although they
seized anything that took their fancy.
During the first few days
I saw and heard of no acts of barbarism or brutality. But soon
afterward I began to hear stories of atrocities throughout the
island -- of attacks on women, of the bayoneting of men and children.
was forced to undergo but one ordeal. Whenever I met a sentry or an
officer I was compelled to bow. That command applied to all of us. At
first some of us only nodded. That seemed to annoy the Nips and we were
called back and made to bow sufficiently low to please them.
not bowing to the sentry or to me" an officer explained, "You are
bowing to the Emperor, you are now a conquered people."
confident they were of victory. A Jap naval officer inspecting our
rooms one day told us smilingly that the Japs had captured Hawaii and
Manila, that our entire fleet had been sunk.
"Soon," he added
with that sibilance so characteristic of the tongue of his nation, "we
shall have occupied Singapore. Then the war will be over. Japan will be
an all-conquering nation."
One morning I saw a group of our
officers march by. They were heavily guarded. I thought then that they
were being taken aboard a boat for Japan and an internment camp.
Several hours later they returned. I had ways of obtaining information
and I learned that the officers had been unwilling spectators at Jap
That experience was to be mine several days later.
Together with my four nurses, a group of American sailors and some
civilians, we were summoned to the hospital grounds and told that we
were going to witness maneuvers. None of us wanted to go. We were
forced to attend.
I stood by silently while the Japs paraded the
captured American equipment -- guns and trucks. Then while they
in offensive formation, an American flag, probably the one that I had
seen hauled down, was placed on a hillside. A cocky little Jap officer
barked commands. Rifles and machine guns started firing at the target
-- the flag. Within a few seconds it was torn to shreds. The Japs
grinned and smirked. But they were not yet finished. They hauled out a
particular looking instrument operated by several men. Apparently they
wanted to impress us with the variety and quality of their machines of
death. It was a flamethrower and the Japs took almost childlike delight
in its operation.
Christmas and New Year's were hardly merry or
happy occasions though I tried to lighten the burden. The days were
passed mostly in recollection and in apprehension. Were the Japs going
to keep us here indefinitely? Was it true about Hawaii, Manila and the
fleet? I cautioned against pessimism.
ON January 10 I
received the dreaded order. We were to pack and be ready to leave.
Where? The officer smiled blandly. He didn't know. We were limited to a
few personal possessions -- what were left -- and our clothing. My
nurses and I remained together and when we appeared for roll call we
were assigned our place in the line of march. All of us were prisoners,
and among us were many American civilians whose native families were to
be left behind.
We rode in a truck on top of our baggage for
about six miles to a small port. Far out beyond the reef lay a huge
ship. That told us that the worst had come. We were going to be shipped
to an internment camp. To Japan? To one of the mandated islands? One
guess was as good as another.
The boarding was tiresome. Small launches took us to the steamer.
I climbed aboard I turned to take a last look at Guam, but smirking
Japanese guards ordered me to move on. I climbed down into the hold of
the ship. It was dark and musty. The porthole of the cabin to which I
was assigned was covered and I was under strict orders not to attempt
to remove the covering.
I counted noses. There was myself,
Mrs. Jackson, Miss Yetter, Miss Fogarty and Miss Christiansen. And we
had two newcomers, Mrs. Ruby Hellmers and her
Charline [Charlene]. Mrs. Hellmers was the wife of a petty
officer in the Navy.
He, too, was aboard the ship, but the Japs would not permit him to be
with his wife or child. [See photo of four nurses and the Hellmers.]
Fortunately. I had been told that Mrs.
Hellmers and her baby would accompany us and I had managed to obtain a
nursery basket from the hospital. Otherwise there would have been no
place for the infant to sleep. There were just four bunks in the
cabin -- four bunks for six women and a baby. We agreed quickly. Two of
us would have to sleep on the floor, alternating each night. We tidied
up the cabin, arranged our belongings and waited, endlessly it seemed,
for the ship to sail. But when at length it did I was seized with a new
This was a Japanese ship. As such, it was a target for our
American planes and warships. Would it be bombed or shelled, perhaps
sunk? United States planes or ships would have no way of knowing that
the ship carried American prisoners of war. I confided my fears to my
companions. They had similar thoughts. That fear remained with us
constantly. We were not concerned then so much with our unknown
destination and our problematical fate as we were with the fear that
the ship would be bombed or shelled or sunk.
Adding to our desolated
spirits was, the food. We were served rice twice a day, occasionally
with a bit of fish. For breakfast we had two pieces of bread and a
liquid that might have been either coffee or tea but tasted like
neither. It was scarcely a sustaining diet, no less a nourishing one.
I counted the days. Each day was becoming increasingly colder. From
that I assumed we were traveling northward. Toward Japan? I didn't
The coldness penetrated our cabin and chilled us, but somehow the
mustiness remained. It seemed to cling to the walls with apparent
unfriendly determination. Since we were not permitted to open the
porthole we kept the door ajar for ventilation. Every so often the
guard, who stood with a bayonet-fixed rifle just outside, would stick
his head through the aperture, count us and then pull back his head
like a jack-in-the-box. That guard had a penchant for looking in at us
at wrong moments. It was disconcerting, to say the least.
on the fifth day after we sailed from Guam we felt the ship slowing
down. I sensed a feeling of impatience among the officers and guards.
They barked commands and the conversational tome which they had used
during the voyage was dropped suddenly. I was cautioned by the guard
outside our cabin to await orders. My first thought was that we were
going to be transferred to another ship. Then came the word. We were
I think my courage then was at its lowest. It was
the infectious smile of Mrs. Hellmers' that gave it buoyancy. I think
now that perhaps she was the bravest of us all. We nurses were alone,
but Mrs. Hellmers had a six-weeks-old infant daughter to care for and a
husband whom she might never see again. Even now I marvel at her
conduct, her genuine optimism that everything would turn out all right.
And when the order was given to appear on deck, she picked the infant
from her basket, wrapped the baby warmly and stepped from the cabin.
on either side by heavily armed guards we remained on deck until it was
dark. It was bitterly cold and the wind cut through our tropical
clothing. Mrs. Hellmers shivered and I took off my Navy cape and draped
it over her shoulders.
Off in the distance toward the east,
shore lights flickered. We were apparently in a port of considerable
size. Small boats ploughed shoreward and we could see that some were
covered with snow and ice. Much later, when we were ashore, I was told
that it had been snowing that day. Small wonder it was so desperately
cold. We were near famished, too, having eaten nothing since seven
o’clock that morning -- the usual two slices of bread.
was becoming numbing and I wondered how much longer we were going to be
forced to endure it. Then the scow arrived, mooring fast to the ship.
We marched aboard and were taken immediately to the wheelhouse. There,
for the moment, we were sheltered from the biting, cutting wind.
pitchy darkness surrounded us. I saw the ship fade out into the night
as the scow churned through the rough and choppy water. Some minutes
later we landed on a dock swarming with soldiers, sailors and what
looked like police. Although we didn't know it, we were in Japan!
ashore the Japs wasted no time. Everything had been pre-arranged. The
five of us and the infant were bundled into an ambulance that jounced
and jolted for at least six to eight miles and then braked to an abrupt
stop. There was little formality now. We stepped from the ambulance and
were led to what seemed to me to be an enormous soldiers' barracks, and
indeed it was. Weak from hunger and cold we almost stumbled our way in.
first impression was heart rending. The barracks, fully 250 feet long,
was divided into many compartments. We were assigned to one of them.
The beds were extremely narrow scarcely two feet wide, and hard as
wood. The straw mattresses served no purpose what so ever, but we
dropped upon them out of sheer exhaustion.
I reached the point
of utter desolation that night. Even the brave Mrs. Hellmers faltered.
The kaleidoscopic events of the day had drained our strength into
nervous exhaustion. What we wanted most was food and warmth and sleep.
The barracks were miserably frigid.
Then from somewhere an
officious little Japanese bustled up. He brought us soup, cabbage soup,
tasteless but hot. It was far from satisfying but its warmth sent us to
To the best of my recollection we arrived at the camp on
January 15 and for almost two months we faced the ordeal and privations
of the temporary alien camp in Zentsuji
on the island of Shikoku, one
of the larger islands of the sprawling Japanese archipelago.
it was mid-winter and winters in Japan are severe as we soon found out.
Our barracks were not heated and the charcoal pots, later replaced by a
small coal stove, provided little warmth. Our blankets were of
synthetic material, and to keep warm at night we went to bed fully
dressed even to our coats and gloves.
I had succeeded in
inducing one of the attendants to rearrange our beds, explaining that
they were too narrow for comfort or for rest. A small wooden platform
was built and the straw mattresses were placed side by side, and in
six-in-a-bed fashion. We slept, not always comfortably, it is true, but
at least more warmly than would have been the case had we slept alone.
Charlene, the baby, remained trundled in the nursery basket and under
real blankets that I had taken from the hospital at Guam.
what there was of it was far from nourishing. At first we received soup
and rice three times a day. Later the menu -- I grace it by that name
changed to vegetable soup. There was no meat and no salt. During the
fifty-odd days that we were at Zentsuji we received eggs twice and
three times. Occasionally we were honored by receiving a small loaf of
At that, I think the women fared far better than the men.
I know for certain that our quarters, bad as they were, were luxurious
in comparison to those of the male prisoners. In the same barracks
there were rooms for men. Forty enlisted men were assigned to one room,
ten to 12 officers to another. Communication with them was forbidden,
and the Japanese soldiers took particular delight in issuing orders to
Toward the end of February I noticed for the
first time that the faces of my companions were becoming drawn and
thin. Experiences such as we had shared cannot help but sear an
individual. This was something more than that. It was
under-nourishment. All of us were beginning to lose weight. Our
vitality was ebbing fast. Our transfer to the new internment camp at
came just in time.
I left Zentsuji with no misgivings.
Whatever fate lay before us at Kobe could hardly be worse than
Zentsuji. It wasn't for when we arrived on March 12 it was as if we
stepped back into the sunlight. To begin with, the camp was
comparatively new and our room decidedly larger and warmer. And there
was a noticeable lack of soldiers. Here, the police were on guard.
the food was better. There was meat, vegetables, butter, milk and eggs.
Not every day of course, but far more frequently than we had thought
possible. Salt was still a scarcity and sugar was rationed to a
teaspoon a day. Here, too, without explanation we were free at last
the constant and embarrassing practice of guards entering our room. I
wondered why. This sudden transformation was almost incredible of
belief. I didn't know the reason then. I do now. Sooner or later, there
would be an exchange of prisoners. The Navy nurses and Mrs. Hellmers
would undoubtedly be among those to be exchanged and when we got back
to America, the Japs would want no stories of privation, brutality, and
The guards were almost courteous. Several times,
under police escort of course, we went for walks through the streets of
Kobe, and twice we were permitted to go on shopping trips.
the camp were many nationalities -- Dutch, Scotch, British, Canadians,
Guatemalans and ten Catholic priests, two of whom were subjects of
Spain, who were released later with profuse and profound apologies.
was an incessant flow of rumor, much of it so wild as to be utterly
unbelievable. We discussed these reports briefly among ourselves, for
the recurrent topic was how the war was progressing and, what our
chances were of being rescued. Naturally we, received, only such items
of news as the Japs wanted us to receive. Always they were the same --
Japan had won another great victory at sea, Japan had conquered the
East Indies, the United States fleet was now all but destroyed. We
didn't believe these statements but we couldn't challenge them.
IT remained for Jimmy Doolittle to answer them for us -- with bombs.
say I saw the raid would be, an exaggeration. I saw one plane on that
April morning but I heard many. It was close to noon when the American
bombers dropped over the city of Kobe. From my vantage point at the
window I could see the one plane swoop down low, its glass-like nose
pointing earthward. It was not extremely high. The funny part of the
whole thing was I didn't recognize it as an American plane. From any
distance beyond several hundred feet, particularly when a plane is in
the air, the U. S. Army insignia, the star in a circle can be mistaken
easily for the Japanese insignia. In fact, there was so close a
resemblance that the Army changed its markings by eliminating the star
with in a circle.
My first intimation that Kobe was being bombed
came when I heard several loud explosions, followed almost immediately
by the wail of sirens. Faint columns of smoke arose at scattered points
over the city.
Was it an American attack? I reasoned it was. Japan was not at war with
Russia for we certainly would have been told
that. Nor could the planes have been Chinese. British, perhaps, but far
more likely American. To me, and I can speak for my friends also, those
bursting bombs sounded awfully good. I was filled with pride that
America was striking back, taking the war directly to the heart of the
enemy, launching the offensive.
What damage the American raid
caused I cannot tell for I have no way of knowing. I believe it must
have been extensive for the Japanese were considerably less cocky after
that. Not until days after were we told that it was a raid by American
planes, but with the announcement was a strong hint of retaliation.
was, at our camp, a police officer, Isumida, who was in charge of
immigration before the war. He spoke a perfect English and he
frequently talked with us. He had lived in the United States for 25
years. It was his Americanization, perhaps, that made him appear more
human, more of a gentleman, than the rest.
It was he who summoned us to his office one morning in June. He smiled
have good news for you," he said. ”You are going to be exchanged as
prisoners of war."
Is it necessary to describe our reactions?
days later we were taken by train to Yokohama. It was early morning and
had had no breakfast. We were taken to Tokio [Tokyo] for that. When we
to Yokohama there was little delay. Within a half hour we were aboard
the ship Asama Maru.
Then -- something happened. The ship did not
sail that night or the next morning or the night after that. There were
wild rumors -- negotiations had broken down, the exchange of prisoners
all a trick. Each day brought new desperation and fear. Would we be
taken back to Kobe? Were we destined for another camp? If the
negotiations for the exchange had been broken off would we face a new
ordeal at Zentsuji?
For eight days the Asama Maru lay in the
harbor at Yokohama and it seemed as if the entire activity of the port
was centered around it. Japanese officials climbed aboard and left,
then came back and left again. I saw our Ambassador to Japan, Joseph
Grew, confer with them and then they would bustle away.
exactly one-thirty in the morning of June 25 when the whistles of the
Asama Maru shrieked and the anchor
chains rattled. The propeller screws
churned and the ship slowly turned toward sea. Ambassador Grew had
obtained comfortable cabins for us -- the same six women and the
now seven months old, who had remained together constantly since our
departure from Guam. The ship stopped at Hong Kong, at Saigon and at
Singapore. Naturally, there was no shore leave, and in each port the
ship anchored far enough off shore so that none of us could see the
At Mozambique we parted company with Virginia Fogarty,
one of my nurses. She was married there to Frederick Mann, former Vice
Consul at Osaka, Japan.
It was at Mozambique, a Portuguese
colony on the southeastern coast of Africa, that we exchanged, ships.
We boarded the liner Gripsholm which was to take us
home. Above the
huge lettering Gripsholm was the word DIPLOMAT
which was to assure the
The rest of that voyage home is anti-climax. We
traveled 20,000 miles to get back into the United States and when, on
that morning of August 29, I saw again the Statue of Liberty and the
towering buildings of New York I knew it was the most glorious moment
of my life.
There was one peculiar incident in connection with
our arrival. Each of the nurses received a Christmas present, the
long-delayed gifts which the Navy had intended to deliver to us at Guam.
experience is that of hundreds of other Americans who are in Japanese
hands today. From what I have learned since then I consider myself
fortunate that I was spared the horror that others have faced and are
It is an awful thing to be in their hands. That
experience has seared my memory. Even now I sometimes wake up believing
I am still in the Camp at Zentsuji or Kobe.
the Japs. They are tough and tricky and possess a fanatical desire to
conquer the white man. We are fighting for our very lives.
continuing the fight against them. I am now stationed at the United
States National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Maryland. When and if
we're called to take up posts at the firing line we'll be ready.
I'll be glad and willing to go anywhere I'm ordered. A Navy nurse
always follows the flag.
opinions and assertions of Miss Olds' article are solely the writer's
and are not to be construed as official or reflecting Navy Department
policy. Editor's Note.)
AMBASSADOR GREW SPEAKS
story of Navy Nurse Marion Olds is more than just a first-hand account
of life in a Japanese war prison. It is in itslef a challenge to
America to wake up to the fact that in the Japanese it is meeting a
tough, tricky and resourceful foe. Miss Olds' story is but one of the
many corollaries to the account given to the American people by the
Honorable Joseph C. Grew, former United States Ambassador to Japan,
when he returned from the semi-feudal, half-barbarian nation last
"The Japanese Are Tough"
Miss Olds says that she herself saw no acts of brutality
of barbarism, although she heard of many. Ambassador Grew gives direct
evidence of terrible atrocities. His radio address to the American
people on August 30, 1942, entitled, "The Japanese Are Tough," follows.
SENSATION reprints it with the hope that it will help reawaken
Americans to the yellow peril across the Pacific. EDITOR'S
[The article, "The Japanese Are Tough," has not been transcribed yet.
However, you may read the LIFE
of December 7, 1942, for Grew's Report From Tokyo:
An Ambassador Warns of Japan's Strength.]
[Copy of SENSATION
magazine courtesy of Charlene Gloth. Transcription courtesy of Chris