When they finally arrived, the prisoners were ordered to disembark and those who could walk were herded down the gang way and sprayed with disinfectants. The fierce biting wind chilled the men. Many were barefoot and had to walk through the snow. The average weight of the men was now between 80 and 90 pounds!
Some prisoners were forced to climb down in the holds and pick up pieces of human beings and load them into cargo nets. The smell was so bad many men fainted. It was a horrible task.
After the men were disinfected, they were taken to an assembly hall with no heat, so they huddled together for warmth.
The Japanese like to talk to the American POW’s especially to brag the fact that they were winning the war. I got into a discussion with a guard one day, listening while he told me that they had destroyed all the American ships and planes and would win the war. Then I said, "Americans are the best swimmers in the world and the strongest, too. Roosevelt told each man to strap a tank on his back and swim to Australia." The guard realized that there were tanks in Australia and because he couldn’t figure out how they got there, after all, all the American ships were sunk. He went to his sergeant to ask him about this story.
Shortly, I received a visit from a Japanese interpreter saying "Speak no propaganda." He turned and left me as a big grin started appearing on my face knowing I had put doubts in the guard's mind.
Nov. 8, 1942 -- Day 213
Russ experienced "deja vu" on the train. They passed through a village and he said he recognized it and felt he had been there before. It was almost like coming home.
He also told of the men exclaiming over the "french fried potatoes" that the Chinese had smuggled to them once when the train stopped. The "potatoes" turned out to be grasshoppers, but everyone was so hungry they were wolfed down with relish.
The train ride was again a miserable experience. Cold this time instead of heat, but all the despair as before.
We arrived at Mukden in the second week of November, 1942. My home for the next one thousand days.