Bad day. Dysinger died.
My best friend, Dysinger, died of diphtheria in the camp this winter. The ground was frozen so deep, the bodies of dead prisoners have to be stacked inside a house until spring thaws the ground and they can be buried.
When is this ever going to end?
13 months earlier… Dec. 8, 1941
Dysinger and Russ walked out of the PX at Nichols Field. Russ raised his drink bottle to his mouth and looked skyward. Planes screamed downward and some men yelled, "Look, navy planes!", but Russ dropped his drink and both men hit the ground. Bombs exploded on either side of them, killing some and injuring others. The war had begun.
At 11:27 a.m. the silver medium range bombers with red rising suns painted on their wings headed toward Cavite Naval Base. The attackers main base was Formosa (now Taiwan). To defend the islands, there were only 160 U.S. aircraft. 35 of which, were Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers. Quite useless for defensive purposes.
The Japanese bombers circled the naval base twice,
then leveled off and dumped their fiery destruction. Another formation
passed over Manila and hit Nichols Field with demolition and incendiary
bombs. The fuel dump took a direct hit. Most of the U.S. aircraft
were lined up in a straight row making for easy prey by the Jap bombers.
Only a small number survived to get off the ground. Russ
never knew why the aircraft had not been concealed, for they had been on
alert for over a week and were sleeping under the
planes. The Americans lost 86 aircraft against 7 Japanese Zero fighters
Day 215 - Mukden, Manchuria
Mukden was built on the presumption that Japan not only would win the war but would keep many prisoners at work for years to come. When we arrived at Hoten compound, the Japs told us that if we obeyed orders for the next 10 or 20 years to come, our relatives would be permitted to visit us!
Hoten compound is a work camp of about 1,500 enlisted POW’s. There are many other such compounds in Japan and other areas.
We are placed in barracks that had once been chicken houses. There is very little heat and the winters in Manchuria go down to 40 degrees below zero, so I slept with all of the clothes I owned and even leave my shoes on, trying to keep warm. The prisoners sleep on hard benches. There are not any tables or chairs. Many times throughout the winter, snow has to be shoveled from the roofs of the barracks to keep them from collapsing.
It takes courage to wash your clothes in winter, Plunging our scaly, red hands into the icy water. But clean clothes are such a rarity, one has to do it.
With no utensils, I made a spoon from a piece of drainage pipe. We have small wooden bowls for our fish heads and rice. I have to hunt constantly for food. I trade cigarettes for fish that others would not eat. I see so many men just absolutely refuse to eat. They just sit down and die. I try bribery on them, offering cigarettes for each bite they eat, to see if I can't help some of them fight off starvation, but it is a losing battle for most. With winter in full fury, there is little to eat besides the handful of bug infested rice and rotten fish scraps that the Japs give out.
On the morning of December 22nd came over 43,000 troops from the enemy vessels. Not a bomb, not a torpedo came from the Americans. No American bombers or any presence of American sub-marines were observed. The main Japanese invasion of the Philippine Islands had begun.
General MacArthur's War Plan, known as Orange No. 3 (or WPO-3) , a 20 year old plan, stated that in the event of a successful Japanese landing on the main island of Luzon, the Philippine Division and the Philippine Army, if unable to beat off landings and advances of the enemy, were to fight delaying actions and withdraw into Bataan Peninsula. The plan envisioned a six month stand by which in time, aid from the United States would arrive.
MacArthur's plan, written in 1928, was based on a major defense at the beaches. They were to catch the enemy when transports were close to shore. After locating the landings, the navy and air corps would engage the convoy and then artillery would bombard the beaches and infantry would mop up any remaining troops reaching shore. But this plan was altered. There would be only a relatively small defense at the beach. Delaying actions were to be fought while the bulk of the forces dropped back to Bataan. Holding Bataan was their main goal. Artillery batteries pounded the enemy, but did little to slow the advance.
We set about destroying equipment and supplies we no longer could use. Large tanks full of aviation and diesel fuel were being burned. I asked a lieutenant if we could pour gasoline into the bay and set it on fire to perhaps hinder a few of the troops coming ashore but was told that this would be cruel and inhumane!
If only he realized what lay ahead.