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Escape from a Philippine POW Camp

On April 4, 1943, ten US service personnel outwitted their Japanese guards and escaped from a work camp in the Davao Region of the Philippines. One of those escapees, Lt. Commander Melvyn Harvey McCoy, kept a journal during his imprisonment. After his escape, he gave a detailed report of the brutal treatment of POWs and his remarkable escape. Using his account and other records, we’ve pieced together this amazing WWII story of escape and survival.

Melvyn H. McCoy

Melvyn H. McCoy served as a Radio Material Officer in the 16th Naval District and was stationed in the Philippines. On Christmas Day, 1941, a week before the Japanese entered Manila, McCoy and other personnel evacuated to Corregidor, where they held off Japanese troops until May 6th, when Corregidor fell. McCoy sent the final radio message marking the fall of the island. Along with more than 10,000 Americans and Filipino soldiers, McCoy was taken POW. The men were herded into an enclosed concrete square, where they remained for seven days. There were no toilets and just one water spigot. It was brutally hot. Next, they were packed on merchant vessels and transported to Manila. Just meters from the shore, the men were dunked in the bay and made to swim ashore, then marched through the streets, soaking wet. Some fell, physically unable to make the arduous trek.

Surrender of American troops at Corregidor, Philippine Islands, May 1942

McCoy wound up in Bilibid prison. He described unbearable work detail. One group of 300 prisoners captured at Bataan saw their numbers reduced to 30 after 270 died on the job. McCoy was later transferred to Cabanatuan prison camp where he found more deplorable conditions. He described dead prisoners lying in the barracks and daily fatalities. Prisoners were tortured and starved to death. They also suffered from disease and sickness. Malaria, dysentery, and diphtheria took thousands of lives and there was no medicine available. Some tried to escape but were recaptured and executed. McCoy estimated that 3,400 prisoners died during his time at Cabanatuan.

After six months, McCoy was transferred to Davao Penal Colony. The trip took 11 days on an overcrowded boat. There wasn’t room for all the prisoners, so some stayed topside even though it rained each night. After arriving on land, the prisoners marched 17 miles to the prison. Prison officials were angry when they saw the weakened and diseased condition of the new arrivals, as they expected new workers. After spending several difficult months at Davao, McCoy began plotting an escape.

Cabanatuan Prison Camp

In January 1943, McCoy and nine other enlisted men and officers and began to steal small amounts of food. They needed to build up their strength for the escape. They secreted stolen equipment and supplies in the jungle. On the morning of April 4, 1943, the group left the prison as if they were going on work detail. Instead, they snuck into the jungle, assembled their gear, and began to run.

The escapees, along with two Filipino guides, were pursued by patrols but managed to elude them. For the next five weeks, they traveled mountain paths, swamps, and rivers while playing hide-and-seek with Japanese troops. Along the way, they contended with hunger, sickness, leeches, crocodiles, and exhaustion. They also encountered kindness and hospitality from Filipinos who shared food and lodging.

The escapees linked up with friendly guerilla forces who helped them along the way. With the help of a guerilla radio, they sent messages to officials in Australia and made plans to rendezvous with an American submarine. The sub transported them to Australia where Gen. Douglas MacArthur greeted them and awarded them the Distinguished Service Cross. McCoy and his fellow escapees brought back the first eye-witness account of the atrocities inflicted upon American POWs by Japanese soldiers in the Philippines. Their accounts shocked and infuriated Americans.  

To read McCoy’s full report of the escape, click here. To see other records from WWII, search Fold3® today.

154 Comments

  1. Barbara Fox says:

    Thank you. It meant so much to me to be able to read this.
    I long to understand fully, then write the story of Brigadier General Fort, whose decades of service in the Philippines ended with his capture, torture and death by execution in a Prisoner of War camp. His body has never been recovered.

  2. Linda Shofner Pickle says:

    My cousin was one of the escapees. Known as Shifty Shofner. A Marine during the fall of Corrigedor. There are a few books about this. AC Shofner was told to not tell anyone about their treatment. U S wanted to concentrate on Europe first. I’m in touch with his son. He still owns part of the original farm in Shelbyville TN near the Shofner Chapel where he is buried. AC did return to the Philippines with McArthur to fight against the Japanese

    • Mary Mellnik McQueen says:

      My dad was one of the group. It’s very nice to hear other points of view on the situation. Truly, they were forbidden to speak about the escape or conditions. Ed Dyess broke their silence, then died in a plane crash.

    • Jenny Ashcraft says:

      Mary, your father was such a hero. Thank you for your comment.

    • Jenny Ashcraft says:

      We are so thankful for the bravery and heroic service of your cousin.

    • Anthony says:

      I met General Austin Shofner on a couple of occasions. One of his sons in Nashville is a friend of mine although I have not seen him in years.
      In the late 80’s or early 90’s, General Shofner was introduced at a historical banquet that I attended and asked to stand at his table as a distinguished guest. As General Shofner stood, the head table speaker concluded his summation of Shofner’s career by noting “he was captured by the Japanese.” In a few seconds, when it became clear the speaker was going to end on that note, General Shofner bellowed out, loudly and clearly, “BY GOD I’ll HAVE YOU KNOW I ESCAPED!” The room broke out in laughter and cheers.

    • Linda Pickle says:

      Love that story. Martin or his brother are his sons whom you met. Really nice people. I stay in touch with Martin

    • Angela D Watts says:

      My dad, J. E. “Frenchy” Dupont played football under Gen. Schofner while he was stationed in Shanghai before they were sent to the Philippines. He was a pow of Japs also and was liberated in Bilibid prison. He would often get phone calls from Gen. Schofner and it meant a great deal to him.

    • Linda Shofner Pickle says:

      Then you know how he got the nickname Shifty Shofner. For the football move not procuring provisions. Wish I had met him. Maybe did when we visited the family in TN in the 50s.

  3. Steve K says:

    The best book about the escape and its impact on the resources (or lack thereof) sent to Pacific vs Europe is “Escape from Davao” by Lukacs. One of the best WW2 books I have read.

    • Linda Shofner Pickle says:

      Yes I loved that book. I also have news articles of AC Shofner returning home from TN papers

    • Dr. Nettie Ball Obleton says:

      Thanks for the name of this book. It may provide me with knowledge of my Ancestor, Horace McElderry, whom I have learned was in the Phillipines. A list of names of the escapees would have been beneficial in this announcement to me.
      Kudos,
      Nettie

  4. We always hear of the Nazi atrocities it time we hear of the Japanese atrocities. I personally knew a survivor of the Bataan Death March. He told of the horrors he and others suffered.

    • Jane Penan Spellman says:

      My father said the that the there was a secret Holocaust was never discussed . He meant the Pacific Theatre . His brother never came home and no one really knew what happened.

    • GEORGE LEVY says:

      Too bad that Harry did not drop a few more on them.

  5. Charla Boodry says:

    My step-father, Virgil Hood, also was on the Bataan March, Bilibid, & Cabanatuan. He was then at Las Pinas, Kosaka (Sendai #8) & Tokyo POW camp Shinjuku.

  6. Rodney W Wright says:

    do you know more details about his birth and death dates and his wife name I am trying to do some genealogy about him

    • Charla Boodry says:

      Which man are you researching? If it is Virgil Hood, I have LOTS of information because I am a huge genealogy buff. Message me on Ancestry, CbadRoots.

  7. Phyllis Schulman says:

    My maternal uncle Luther G Prunty was a POW who helped build the railroad to the Bridge Over the River Kwai in Burma. They were captured on the Dutch island of Java when fell to the Japanese about 2 months after Pearl Harbor The Lost Battalion (Pacific, World War II) was the 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery, 36th Infantry Division (Texas National Guard) of the U.S. Army.
    Family members still attend a yearly reunion in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Texas area to celebrate their liberation each August. Sadly most members of this heroic group have passed away.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Battalion_(Pacific,_World_War_II)

    • Carolyn Raz says:

      My father, Lt. Raymond Teborek, a B-17 pilot, was also captured in Java. He, like your uncle, was among the 60,000 Allied POW’s forced to build the Railway of Death – the Thai-Burma Railroad. Dad was in the camps with the men of the Lost Battalion and the survivors of the USS Houston.

      Of the 60,000 POW’s, between 13-14,000 of them died from starvation, disease and the brutal treatment by the Japanese. Fortunately, Dad survived and remained in the Air Force, retiring as a Lt. Col. in 1961.

    • Phyllis Schulman says:

      Carolyn thanks for your reply my cousins are still active in the Lost Battalion group mostly children, grandchildren of the POW group in fact their annual meeting is in a few weeks in early August to remember their Liberation. If you have not watched Railway Man with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman try to see it, it’s a wonderful movie about this group that examines their lives during enslavement afterwards and forgiveness

    • Sarah Crum McKee says:

      I know my grandfather Ed Crum was a POW and from field artillery division in Texas National Guard. He survived and retired later from Air Force. I am trying to find out more info about his time as a POW. Can you tell me how I can find out more? I have found all I can on ancestry. Thank you.

    • Phyllis Schulman says:

      Sarah , Google Texas National Guard Lost Battalion. There is a museum in Decatur, Wise Co. TX that many artifacts. Also Univ of North Texas has a digital oral history of many members. You might also ask to join their private Facebook group. Phyllis

  8. Rene Gonzalez, US Navy 68 to 72 says:

    My father -in-law Anthony Rivera was a Marine POW captured in Corrigador P.I..
    During my years of knowing him he spoke little of his years as a POW in Japan. until the last few years when I would run him to the VA hospital in Prescott AZ.
    He talked only to me about his experiences the hardships the starvation, the work that he and the others were forced to do . He spoke of the tragedies of fellow Marines dying of hunger and lack of medical attention for illnesses that happen as a result of the poor conditions they were in.
    He also spoke of certain Japanese guards who would come in the barracks and rough them up after a days work, one fellow in particular would put on a show in front of his fellow guards and would return later and toss a fish and other supplies into the barracks for them to eat.
    He would say to me that there is good people everywhere.
    Tony passed away in 2001 at the VA hospital in Prescott.
    It is my honor to have known him and to have had him share this period in his life with me.

    • Jenny Ashcraft says:

      It’s hard to comprehend what your father-in-law endured. We are so grateful for his service.

    • Janet says:

      I’m sorry for your loss. It was very special that your relative shared with you. Do you happen to know the name of the prison camp in Japan that he was in? My mother’s brother was captured in Manila, was on the death March, and a POW in Japan. To know the names of the prison camps may help in my genealogy. Thank you.

  9. dick swofford says:

    My father was a tanker in the 44th Tank Battalion and participated in the rush to Manila to liberate Santo Tomas prison.
    Any one know of books, articles etc. for this operation? Like others, he spoke little of his time and experiences during the war. I only realized now (at 74) what a horrific was the Battle of Manila.

    • Bob Gerrish says:

      My father was in the 40th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troup and didn’t participate in that particular operation. Like others have said, he never said much about his time there. After he retired he took up writing and wrote a lengthy story (small book?) about his Army day from enlistment through the end of the war. I didn’t know he had written that until after he passed away in 2001. I had heard a little about a couple of operations he was on that were published in Crisis In The Pacific by Gerald Astor for which he had sent contributions. (Astor used contributions by over 75 participants in the Pacific Theater for his book.)

      This book does cover the liberation of Camp Santo Tomas from one soldier ‘s and one Internee’s perspective as well as the Battle of Manila.

  10. Ann McEwan says:

    My brother Fred A Luc was very young when captured. He endured the death march but died in the prison camp. I have been unable to get anymore information than that. My mother was told by the mother of another prisoner he survived the March but died in the prison camp.

  11. Linda says:

    I knew an American couple in Nevada County, California; who had met in one of the prisoner camps in The Philippines. The woman I knew, her first husband and 3-year-old son were living in The Philippines, where the husband worked for an American company. The Japanese overran the country a few days after the Pearl Harbor attack. The family and hundreds of other American civilians were rounded up. They were first taken to a camp that had been created at a former university. Later the man was sent to one camp, the woman and child to another, where they lived for the entire years of WWII. The husband and wife never saw each other again. Not many know that American civilians suffered atrocities in Japanese camps in The Philippines.

  12. Eloy Zamora says:

    My great uncle PVT. Zaragoza C. Zamora of Penitas,Texas was a POW in the Phillippines captured in 1942. I knew this from my father because he was his first cousin and grew up together. When I started working at Texas Employment Commission back in 1978 in McAllen , Texas, I met a WW2 Vet named Mr. Aguilar from Pharr, Texas whom had also been a POW at the same camp held by the Japanese. He said to me ‘Are you a Zamora from Penitas ‘ ? I said yes I am. He said if I had heard about Zaragoza being held as a POW during WW2. I said yes. Well, I was there with him. He was a courageous, outgoing person that would make music with pots and pans and sing us Mexican songs and help us forget of the horrific situation we were in. He finally died due to a bad leg wound. He faught till the end but never lost his humor and hope.

  13. Rebecca A Bandy says:

    Scecina Memorial High School , in Indianapolis, IN, proudly bears the name of this Indiana priest who gave his life in the service of his God and his country. On October 5,1939 Fr. Thomas Scecina enlisted in the Chaplains’ Reserve Corps. Eventually he was assigned to the 57th Infantry Division at Fort McKinley on Luzon in the Philippine Islands. He participated in the infamous Bataan “Death March” after the Americans had been captured by the Japanese in April, 1942. Following two years of imprisonment he freely elected to accompany the men when they were transported by the Japanese from Manila to Formosa on October 1, 1944. Father Tom was in the first convoy which was mistakenly torpedoed by a U.S. Navy submarine on October 24, 1944. While the ship, Arisan Maru sank slowly beneath the water, Fr. Tom gave general absolution to all the men, then heard confessions over a three-hour period until the ship was completely submerged. At the age of 34, Fr. Thomas Scecina went to his death with his men that day.
    The first graduating class of SMHS was 1958….and Fr. Tom still is a mighty HERO to all Scecina students and graduates. I was in the Class of 1964.

    • James Clark says:

      Just curious – how did Father Tom’s story survive the sinking of the Arisan Maru?

    • Rebecca A Bandy says:

      There were many survivors who were pick up by Americans when they realized that the ship they bombed was carrying American POW’s. Fr. Scecina refused to leave men who could not get out due to their injuries. He was a priest first….a soldier second.

    • Cindi Picou says:

      Thank you for that information, my great-grandfather Howard Guffin Craig was captured at Bataan and on that group of ships that were torpedoed in Manila Harbor. He did not survive and went down with the ship. I appreciate the story of this priest helping the men aboard.
      Cindi Picou

  14. Roberta Allen says:

    Thank you for this information. There was a WWII veteran who survived the Bataan Death March from Danville, IL

  15. John says:

    I’m so tired of hearing propped up accomplicements from every group on earth. So glad to hear about real Americans enduring under unbearable conditions For us.

  16. Al Stearns says:

    My father in law, Wesley W. Wilson was a signalman 1st class and captured on Corregidor. He eventually made it to Japan on a hell ship, and was a slave coal miner near Nagasaki when bomb #2 was dropped from Bock’s Car. He retired from the Navy as a Chief in 1956. Long time member of the Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor. Died in 1993 and is buried at Barrancas Natl Cemetery, Pensacola, FL.

  17. Kenneth J Wisz says:

    Corp. Edward J. Wisz , USAAF, survived the Bataan Death March and the Cabanatuan POW Camp and died in the sinking of the Arisan Maru on Oct 24 1944. Several years ago we were able to obtain a memorial marker for him in Arlington National Cemetery.

  18. Andrea Gutierrez says:

    My uncle, Richard Aust was a brand new 17 year old Marine aboard the USS Houston when it was sunk by the Japanese. He fortunately was able to swim, but lost his shoes and spent the war in a Japanese concentration camp. He was a giant of a man but was skin and bones when he was patriated by American troops. He was so thin that my grandmother didn’t recognize him at first. I loved my uncle. He died in Depot Bay Oregon several years ago. He was my grandmother’s youngest son.

    • Phyllis Schulman says:

      Andrea, the Lost Battalion and the USS Houston survivors and families celebrated their liberation each August in the Dallas-Ft Worth, TX area. The families still carry on this tradition. They have a Facebook page you might want to investigate.

  19. Brad Neff says:

    My Uncle Gene was interred in the camp at Osaka Japan.
    Area Served: Southwest Pacific
    Theatre: Philippine Islands
    Detaining Country: Japan
    Camp: Osaka Main Camp Chikko Osaka 34-135
    Status: Returned to Military Control, Liberated or Repatriated
    Eugene Dayton was captured in the fall of Corregidor and spent the next 3-1/2 years as a POW
    He survived the Bataan death march.

    • Irwin Magad says:

      I have read many renditions of similar events. However this one is just as bad if not worse. It seems very hard to understand how one human can inflict such a punishment to another human.

  20. Sandy Knapp says:

    These comments are so heart-wrenching—it makes my tears fall now! My father, Stanley F Holden, was in the Army and a communications officer during the war. He got captured near or outside of Manilla, but escaped ??? He lived to come home in 1945-46 with malaria, marry, and have me in 1948. He was from Vermont. Does anyone have any recollections of him? Thank you and God bless ALL of you!

  21. Bob Rodgers says:

    My uncle P W Whitley was stationed in the Philippines when it fell . He went into the jungle and eventually was sheltered by the Mindinaou guerrillas for the duration of the war . He never talked much about his experiences except to say he never could learn to eat raw monkey

  22. Jack Y. says:

    My Dad was with the 6th Ing.Div.and was involved in the re-taking of the Phillipines. He landed on Leyte , 20Oct.1944. He didn’t speak of the war except to express his disdain for the Japanese military. They were EXTREAMLY inhumain. God Bless those souls that endured that horrific time. No human being should be treated less than an animal.

    • Patricia says:

      My dad was in the battle of the Leyte Gulf. He never spoke of it, but my mom said he fought the Japanese every night in his sleep. Nightmares almost every knight reliving the war. He became an alcoholic and died in an accident at 42, I was only 11 years old.

  23. Linda Smith Wilson says:

    Lt. Greenwood U S Marine Corps. Survived the death March, was taken to a prison camp near Tokyo. He died 3 days before liberation. He was my great uncle.
    Linda Smith Wilson

  24. Sharon Lee (Davis) Fernberg says:

    My father was also a POW for 3-1/2 years in Japan. He was 19 years old when he earned his first Purple Heart in the Philippines the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked. He typed a Biography of his days in the Army and the years he spent during the war. He was also on Bataan and Corregidor and taken to Cabanatuan in 1942. His story is well known and is in a small room at Andersonville, Georgia in the War Museum, plus the art work he did. Dad developed malaria also and also a second Purple Heart. He tells the name of each camp, each place, and even names of some of his buddies in his biography. He will also be my #1 hero.

  25. Teresa Velasco Vera says:

    I was six going on seven when the Japanese soldiers marched into the city of Manila…..We were a few days of embarking a ship to Spain ( according to my mother) ……My father was either in Coregidor of Bataan building housing for McArthur and US soldiers stationed there……and was taken along with the U.S. soldiers in what was later on described as the death march. The March which were captives by Japanese sodiers( were taken to either Pampanga or Tarlac ). The march was described as the death march as hundreds died from dehydration….I also recall my mother mentioning that her only brother who along with a Philippine aviator, took to the air in what was an only aircraft the Philippine army or air force had at that time, only to get shot down and captured…..because my uncle was fair haired, he was tied to a tree and beaten to death…..my father witnessed this execution and related it to my mother…..I have nightmares of the horrible conditions we endured during the years of the occupation.

  26. Linda Petshow says:

    I just read all the replies. I knew very well one of our ministers who was interred in a Japanese concentration camp during WWll. He kept a diary, and now many of those diaries are online.
    Just recently I found a book in a used bookstore in Nehalem, OR, titled, “ I Saw The Fall Of the Philippines” by Carlos P. Romulo. I read it in one day,so sad, and so riveting. We visited the PI for 3 weeks several years ago. I don’t know of any other group of people who are more compassionate than a Filipino!

    • Sharon Lee Fernberg says:

      Linda,

      How beautiful of a statement you made about the Filipino people being so compassionate.
      My sister’s oldest son married a young woman from the Philippines and she is a sweetheart.
      My sister has met all of her daughter-in-law’s family and in emails mentions how much Rosalina’s family feels like another family to her.

  27. M J Comfort says:

    WWII Pacific was so horrible, for all captured by the Japanese, and those who died at sea after ships were torpedoed and ships sank. I knew a Naval survivor of two separate ships, spending a great deal of time floating at sea when USN didn’t know ship was missing. As a sidelight, a cousin of mine a Bombardier in the AAF died off Tinian, Marianas Islands, when their plane went down no survivors. Never recovered. WWII was not a picnic in Europe. But nothing matches the war in the Phillippines.

  28. Carolyn Rains says:

    Robert W. Sullivan died in the bottom of a Japanese ship being sent back to U.S. and US fired and sunk the ship which had a Japanese flag flying and they didn’t know our soldiers were onboard. He was from Braxton, Simpson County, MS and his parents were William Arch and Fannie Arena Sullivan.
    He has an empty grave because his remains were never found. The tombstone is at Jupiter Baptist Church in Braxton, MS.

    He was my uncle. My mother, (deceased) Leatha Ann Sullivan Crawford, was his sister and she mourned his death and prayed his remains would be found.

  29. Phil Masley says:

    Ready for this! A genealogist representing the U.S. Army Past Conflict Repatriations Branch surprised with me with a phone call in April. The caller said the Army’s program includes locating relatives of military personnel from past past wars with incomplete records. I was called as the oldest relative of a PFC, who was in the 66-mile Bataan March and died of disease a few months later at Cabanatuan. He was a 2nd cousin to me and 1st cousin to my mother. I did ancestry.com a few years ago and couldn’t find much on my mother’s side. Turns out some relatives from another state had a last name spelling I didn’t know of. So with knowledge of a different spelling I found more relatives through ancestry.com. Thank you U.S. Army!

  30. W. Kissell says:

    An amazing story of the strength and willpower to not only survive, but lived to tell their story.
    I had a great-uncle , on my mother’s side. He was a merchant marine working as a cook on the Holland to Indonesia trade ships. He and many others were captured by the Japanese and put in prisoner of war camps. The Japanese believed they were actually soldiers, not civilians and they were tortured in order to extract information. My great-uncle did not talk about his experience, but the many stripes on his back told it all. They were starved and beaten every day, and I believe they were waterboarded as well. My great-uncle survived thru sheer willpower. The atrocities of war should never be forgotten. Man’s inhumanity to man is unconciable, but repeated over and over.

  31. John Shively says:

    LtCom McCoy was also from Indianapolis and attended Arsenal Tech High School. You can read about his escape and about six other Hoosiers, including a woman who was a nurse on Bataan and Corregidor, who were POWs during the war in my book Profiles in Survival available at Amazon.com.

  32. Jennifer says:

    Jack… my grandfather Captain Richard E Long was a member of the 6th as well. He died in action at the air strip at Maffin Bay in Sansapour Oct 2, 1944. My dad was a baby and never knew his father.
    I’m always looking for information about the 6th. If you or anyone else can share.

  33. Julie Dudley Jones says:

    My uncle William A Dudley, from Broughton, Illinois, was captured in the Philippines, survived the Bataan Death March, and was killed on the hell ship Enoura Maru, as it was an unmarked pow ship, and was sunk by American forces. There is an article on the internet that names him and others, and pictures. “ The Marines: From the Philippines to Corrigidor”.

    • Jim Seger says:

      My mother’s first husband, Darrell Shawan Staley, 1st sergeant, was on that ship. His nickname was Jimmy. He also died in the harbor off “Formosa”. Until recently, no one knew his body had been extracted from the mass grave he was “cremated” in. His remains are supposed to be at the Pacific memorial in Punch Bowl. Here are 400 sets of remains there but they are lumped into 20-21 individual caskets. Not much else they could do at the time. Identification was impossible under those circumstances. He died 8 Jan 1945 although he US government said it was Dec 31, 44.

    • Linda Pickle says:

      The Punch Bowl is a beautiful location. Went there for Easter service when I was a military wife.

    • Jim segy says:

      On the right side of Punch Bowl there are the 21 graves. I have been told they now have a special marker outlining the fate of those 21 graves and the near 400 “bodies” entombed there. They are all listed as “unknowns”. It is pretty somber to think about. My mother never knew where he was buried. I only found out because I spent a lot of time searching for his remains. I still don’t have a clear picture from his exhumation in 1946 and the reburial in 1948 when they opened up Punch Bowl.

    • Julie Jones says:

      The Marines: From Shanghai to Corregidor

  34. Jim says:

    . My uncle my mums brother uncle Morgan Calder was captured at the surrender he had been in the army since 1936 they were shipped to Singapore two weeks before the surrender – they were confined to barracks on arrival. A few brave men disobeyed orders and got out to fight the Japs. I do not know what happened but the rest of the soldiers got captured without a shot. Morgan survived the railway and other forced labour. He ended up in the hotorious Changi prison. Mum always spoke softly saying how Morgan came home completely broken in spirit and body. I was to young when we visited Mintlaw to know how Morgan had suffered. He died early in the early 60’s. Bless him one day I hope to visit Mintlaw and pay homage to him.

    • Lynne McLean Brown says:

      Hi Jim my Grandfather Peter McLean was also in Singapore and Changi. He came from Peterhead and suffered greatly physically and mentally due to his treatment as a POW. He died in 1979. Have you read the Forgotten Highlander by Alistair Urquhart?

  35. Nadine Wells says:

    I will never own a jap car and people complain about americans . I forgive but I dont forget.

    • Carlisle says:

      My “jap car” (Toyota Camry hybrid) was manufactured in a plant in Kentucky. Many things have changed in 75+ years.

  36. PAULA W WRIGHT says:

    My husband was born in the Japanese POW camp in Bagio. He along with his family spent 1941-July of 1945 in various POW camps including Bilibid. Having endured the same conditions mentioned in this article, so it range very close to home. He died as a result of another war, Vietnam, from Agent Orange exposure.

  37. Temple Grassi says:

    Trying to figure out who to reply to is quite tough. All these stories are heart rending.
    My Father , Captain EHA Grassi ( OSS) , in Jan 1945 was parachuted in alone at night into Siam in order to train Siamese guerrilla forces to free Japanese prison camps. The war ended before they actually went into action, but he was part of the group who got a hold of the log of The Houston ( mentioned elsewhere) . This was the first anybody had heard what happened to The Houston. He actually stayed on in Bangkok for several months after the war in order to decide which Japanese prison camp officers should be prosecuted. He stayed in the Royal Palace of the King of Siam and became friends with Jim Thompson and attending many of his lavish parties . For his service to Siam, he received The Order of the White Elephant( the highest award the Siamese could give a foreigner.). He also received a Bronze Star- he nominated himself! He was the epitome of OSS ! ( also in on the inception of The CIA!)

    • Anita Mallory says:

      My father, JT Mallory, of Weatherford, Texas was in the OSS too. He was mainly in Detachment 101, Burma, but also served in China,303, and India, 202. They rescued downed American flyers in Burma, among other things, mostly kept secret. He worked behind enemy lines, assassinating Japanese officers while they slept. The Japanese patrols moved around at night, and slept in the day. It was as frightening work, and he had bad dreams for years. He hated crowds, and always stood near the back of an event. There’s an OSS Society, of which I am a life member. There’s a plan to create a beautiful museum honoring the Office of Strategic Services. Land has been bought for it already, near Washington DC. If you’d like to find out more about the OSS Society, there’s a website you can Google.

  38. Larry Patrick Cornwell says:

    Half of this country have no idea of the sacrifices of our brave men during WWII and (women) subsequent to WWII. While they defeated our enemies from without, we are now in a battle against enemies from within, an entirely different struggle. God bless and keep our service members, and the citizens of this country, through the next trial and tribulation.

    Col. Larry P. Cornwell, USAF-Ret. (1968-1996)
    Montgomery, AL

    • Jack Yandell says:

      You are very correct Col.sir. I agree 100%. Thank you for serving from one veteran to another. Vietnam 68/69.. U.S.Navy Take care sir..

  39. Kathy says:

    I read the book and saw the movie “Unbroken”. It was so disturbing what they endured but to find out the perpetrators who were found and jailed were absolved of any wrong doing because the US Government needed Japan as an ally. Talk about adding insult to injury!

  40. Thank you for this true story. We owe so much to these brave men, and to Americans who fought during World War II (and other wars)! At the assisted living community where I reside, there are several World War II Veterans. I try to thank them often. I had the privilege of meeting Louie Zamparini – the American Olympic Champion Runner, who was a prisoner in a Japanese prison camp. GOD bless all of the families of those who gave their lives, and to our Veterans who were able to return home!

  41. Donna Cox says:

    My Great Uncle on my mothers Taylor family, served as a Chaplain in the Philippines and went on the Bataan March and soon there after on the hell ships he was captured, wounded, tortured, and humiliated striped of his possessions, dignity & almost his will to live. There is a book about his time there called Days of Anguish Days of Hope by Billy Keith (Chaplain Major General Robert Preston Taylor) My inspiration in life. When my life is hard I think of Uncle Preston and all he endured and life is not so bad. If all of us had as much faith, what a world we would be. God Bless

  42. JT White says:

    My family members that survived WWII never forgave the Japanese and was appalled by some of the US leniency given them after the war. A few were tried and a few executed but justice was never served our military who suffered at their hands. My family said they were not human. That no human could do what they did and sleep at night. Or they often said they had no soul.

  43. Gary D. McCoy says:

    My Dad went to the Philippine’s in late 1943 until the wars end. He fought the Jap’s to free our boys who were enslaved. He was Oakley McCoy of the US Army and served 1940 thru 1945. I told this story because he was another McCoy that fought there. I don’t know about Melvyn H. McCoy but my Dad was an ancestor of the McCoy’s from the Hatfield and McCoy’s feud. That war and the Jap’s left him with some mental scars as it did many a good men. RIP to all American Soldiers and thank you for your service. God Bless

  44. Pat Deese says:

    My dad was in the battle of the Layte Gulf. He had nightmares fighting the Japanese most nights, my mom said. He became an alcoholic and was killed in an accident at 42. She said he never spoke about what happened, but knew it had to be very bad.

  45. This story is an example of white racism against the innocent Japanese race. You whites hate and envy the Japanese because of their political, cultural, and technological advances, their work ethic, productivity, economic prosperity, and most of all because destiny has ordained that they lead Asia to greater peace and prosperity than Europe and America could ever hope for. Because of their success in the community of nations, you do all you can to make them look like evil monsters. According to critical race theory, the historical events that you report no longer happened; you need to construct an alternate reality.

    • Bob Gerrish says:

      Riuchard,

      You are greatly mistaken! We are talking about the Japanese Imperial Army before and during WWII. It has nothing to do with current Japan and Japanese people of today.

      The Japanese Imperial Army and their service counterparts in the Navy were loyal to the death to the Emperor. They committed many atrocities; murdered innocent civilians, took their food, their animals, and took if not just raped their women. Read about the Battle of Manila! Read “Crisis in The Pacific” that I mentioned earlier in the thread, read what they did in Korea, China, SE Asia, and the Philippines!

      From my dad’s written story of his Army days in the Philippines:
      We would hear the same story many tines without much variation.
      They would say, “For three long years we have waited for you. Under the
      Japanese we suffered very much. They took our rice, they took our pigs,
      they took our chickens, they took our cows and they took our wives.”

      We heard many stories of atrocities perpetrated by the brutal
      Japanese. There were stories of tongues being cut out, water treatments,
      hanging by thumbs and beheadings.

      Our parish priest where I grew up in Coos Bay, Oregon was one of those who was captured in the Philippines and tortured. He was hung by his thumbs and his hands were pretty crippled from that. God only knows what else they did to him! A patrol from the 40th Recon Troup my dad was in rescued him on the Island of Panay.

      Do some research and get rethink your statement! These events DID HAPPEN and many of us knew service members who experienced them. Have some respect for those who served and those who suffered!

      I see you posted searching for 731 on google. If your rant was an attempt at sarcasm, it was way off base!

  46. You can find out all you need to know about Japanese character by going to Google, entering the number 731, and hitting return.

  47. Steve Hamilton says:

    My Great Aunt, Elizabeth Rahe, was a nurse in Honolulu where she met Ethan Allen who fought in the Philippines during the Spanish American war and the Philippine insurrection. They were married in Manila in 1913 and lived in the Philippines owning a Hemp Plantation. He died in 1930, but she was captured by the Japs and was in a prison camp for the war’s duration. My Mom said she never spoke about her imprisonment. She had some Philippine and even some Jap workers. She made it seem like they were held against their will when the Japs got there so they would not punish them.

    My Dad was Marine lieutenant during the war. His job was to install the new technology of radar stations after areas were liberated and was in the Philippines for a while.

  48. Charles A. Temple Jr. says:

    When I was in graduate school at the University of North Texas, I worked as a transcriber for the history department’s oral history program. One of our projects involved interviewing American service men who had survived Japanese prison camps. Every one of those accounts left me gasping. They have been preserved in the university library and are readily available for reading and research.

  49. Richard Armstrong says:

    for a bit of context … Sandakan (Borneo) and the death marches to Ranau are probably the greatest act of cruelty against Australians during WW2, even when compared to the losses and brutaliry of the Burma Railway..
    Of the 800 Aussie soldiers forced to march – only six survived. No one survived the Sandakan Camp in Borneo.

    MACARTHUR cut off these Australians by going into re-take the Philippines..He perhaps had no choice but he knowingly cut them off from any hope..

  50. Paul F. Tainter says:

    Thank so very much for providing this information to those that are extremely interested in the Prisoner of War Camps.
    My brother, Harlow E. Tainter was held prisoner in BILLIBID, CABANATUAN, and other Prisoner of War Camps for three and one half years. Harlow did survive the POW camps but died at a young are after he came back to the states.