The exact number of men surrendering totaled 15,800. This included Navy men, Marines, Army men and civilians. I believe about 12,000 were military; the rest were civilians.
All the men, including Filipinos, were rounded up and marched under point of bayonet to the 92nd garage, which was called the "Flats" by Corregidor soldiers. The "Flats" was a large open space running down to Subic Bay. A very large garage was standing very close to the beach, and here were our headquarters. Outside the garage, some of the men had built some tents. Others had tin shacks and some men had nothing but their own clothing.
At first, the enemy let a certain number of men go up to the tunnels and carry a case of food of any kind down to the flats. From the 92nd garage to the food tunnels was a long haul and would take three or four hours to make the trip back and forth.
The water situation was terrible with a single water tap for 8,000 or 10,000 men. All day long, men would line up for water. At about 7:00 p.m. the taps would be turned off. There were three or four wells and these were brackish, but even so, a good number of men were boiling the water and drinking it.
After two weeks, only working parties could bring food into our temporary camp. All this food was divided among the men. Quite a bit of food was in the hands of a few men and lots of trading went on.
The enemy was very mad at U.S. officers and showed it in many ways. Rumors were going around that all officers would eventually be shot.
The enemy was quick to work up some propaganda before the surrender of Corregidor, as they said American officers were living in luxury with plenty of food, radios, books, etc., while the common soldiers were forced to do without any comforts and had starvation rations.
The enemy did not land on Fort Hughes until the evening of the 6th of May. Far offshore, earlier in the afternoon, a large transport could be seen and aboard were the Japanese soldiers who were to land on Fort Hughes. When they did land, they used bamboo rafts, floats and a few landing boats. As soon as they landed, they quickly seized control of all vital points.
All the defenders of Fort Hughes were rousted out of their various posts and forced to sit huddled up all night on the ground with no smoking allowed.
About 10:00 a.m. the next day, the Japanese soldiers started to bring out some Battery Woodruffs dry stores. Some of the guards took their bayonets and opened a 7-1/2 lb. can of tomatoes and held up four fingers to indicate this would be divided among four Americans. The Americans had formed a line to receive food when an 8 lb. can of shortening was handed to a man. He quickly tried to indicate to the Japanese guard that the shortening could not be eaten. Of course, the Japanese tried to put the can in the man's hand and push him off, but ten or twelve men in line put up such a holler and showed the guard the shortening was not edible, so the Japanese threw the can away and brought out cans of cream-style corn.
After a while everyone had been fed, and the enemy decided to have everybody together in the huge burnt-out barracks, which had no roof.
All the American officers were called together and given orders by a big Japanese Army sergeant who made no bones that he did not like Americans. Some of the orders were for half a canteen of water per day; also, an order to detail men to bring stores from Battery Woodruff and Craig Hill. They were to bring them just inside the burnt-out barracks. These stores were to be our evening meal. When the canned goods were issued, it was to be only canned peas and catsup.
Two lines were formed about 1800 p.m. (6:00 p.m.). One line was for peas and another for catsup. Two tablespoons of peas were issued to the men in one line and two tablespoons of catsup to the men in the other line and no seconds. A good part of the men had some food with them, but the most part had none.
Latrines were rigged in the far end of the barracks and the men were allowed to go a few at a time. Some of the men decided to slip away from the latrines and look for food. They were successful, and many more men would slip away every day and roam around looking for food. Our American officers found out about this and decided for everyone's own good to ask the enemy to place another guard at the far end of the latrine to stop any further slipping away. This was a good thing, as the Japanese soldiers were very hostile and apt to shoot for any reason at all.
The second night, an unfortunate incident happened in the burnt-out barracks. The enemy had 150 cases of dried prunes, which had formerly belonged to the U.S. Army, stacked up just inside the entrance to the barracks. A Japanese soldier was on guard, but he and his relief must have fallen asleep while on guard, for during the night, nearly all the prunes were taken. As most of the men were very hungry and really needed food, and since there was no indication of large amounts of food being issued, most of the men thought we would be gradually starved to death.
Next morning, when the Japanese guards started to issue rations for the day, they discovered most of the boxes were gone. The enemy was furious and threatened to shoot the men who had taken the prunes. After much arguing by the Americans, saying that they had not taken any prunes, the enemy ordered a search of all possible places where the prunes could be hidden and some empty cans were found. The enemy then issued an ultimatum to our American officers. The entire 150 cans of prunes had to be returned to the Japanese.
The time was 0900 a.m. and quickly the word was passed around to all hands to gather up all the cans of prunes and empties to be returned to the Japanese sergeant of the guard. By noon, about fifty unopened cans had been returned and enough loose prunes to fill two cases. This made the enemy very angry, and they were not satisfied. They said thirty Americans would be taken away and shot if the men who took the prunes did not confess. Nobody wanted to go up to the enemy and say they had taken any prunes, and after much pleading to the Americans by our officers thirty or forty men volunteered to go up and face the charges.
All the volunteers were lined up and, through an interpreter, the sergeant stood in front of each man, and asked them how many cans of prunes they had taken. The first man said, "One can." He received several blows on the head with a thick bamboo pole. The next man said he took four cans and the Japanese sergeant gave him a small can of corned beef and several cracks on the head. The other men said they took various amounts of prunes and they all got blows and kicks and some received a can of tomatoes or corned beef. The sergeant of the guard got tired of hitting and kicking, so he ordered the men back to their living quarters.
The Japanese doctor who was in charge of the medical detachment, to which the sergeant of the guard was also attached, thought he would throw a scare into the American officers so that in future, they would make sure that their enlisted men, would not take any food intended for the Japanese soldiers.
They forced all the officers to line up, and the Japanese doctor went up and down the line shouting loudly in Japanese, which the officers failed to understand, although they figured it all had to do with the missing dried prunes. Finally, the Japanese doctor said in English, "All men make shoot!" (meaning all men would be shot.) Some of the officers nearly fainted. They were probably thinking, "why should we be shot for something the enlisted men did?" though quite a few officers had also managed to obtain prunes, too.
After searching the spaces assigned to American officers, open and unopened cans of prunes were found. The officers were really sweating out the shooting threat, but the Japanese sergeant of the guard and the doctor went into a conference and the sergeant, who could speak some English, informed the American officers they would not be shot this time and to let this day be a warning.
As punishment, all men would suffer no water that day.
Well, this didn't go over so good with the P.O.W.s, but there was a well in the barracks and some of the men got some tin cans and rope and brought up some water. It proved too brackish and not drinkable.
A lot of gas masks and canisters lying were around, so someone thought of running the water through the canisters and getting some good water, but this did not work. Some of the men drank the water anyway, though they were told they would suffer stomach aches later in the day.
It was very demoralizing to the men to have to depend on only half a canteen cup of water daily.
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