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CDR George Edward "Ted" Morris, Jr. Retired Coast and Geodetic Survey

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Then we were loaded aboard freighters. There were three freighters, I forget the names now. They had brought horses down in the one we had, and the hold was just filled with flies. But we had room to stretch out and there were some two by fours, and we laid them out across the ship to demark bays so we could lie down. I don't remember just how long it was before we upped anchor and went up to a harbor on the South end of the Island of Formosa.

Our ship tied up alongside another ship. I found out later it was about a 5,000 ton oil tanker. We were getting the water ration the second day or so when they sounded the air alarm. People were scurrying all around. I had the water bucket and I told them to calm down, that I didn't want to spill the water. I was holding the bucket up against my chest. It was full, I'd just drawn the water and hadn't distributed it yet. Well, a bomb went off...

We found out afterward that the planes had instructions just to hit the airfield, but one slap-happy pilot dropped a stick of bombs on the two ships tied together. One of the bombs hit the oil tanker right opposite our hold. It split our freighter's hull from the deck right up to the upper deck that was in places six or seven inches wide. A jagged hole all the way. We had metal flying all over that hold.

They had opened the holds so there wasn't any flooring over the holds, but the center I-beam was there, and the concussion dropped that I-beam on about fifteen of our men and killed them. The ones over by the side where the bomb had hit, it killed practically all of them. Lieutenant j.g. Stirni was one of them.

A slug about the size of a silver dollar hit my bucket of water and put a hole in it about an inch from the bottom of the can. I looked down there, and I didn't have a drop of water in the bucket. That was my first thought, "I've lost all that water!" My whole thoughts were that I had lost all that water. I had a black and blue spot on the front of me that lasted well after we were up in Japan. But if I hadn't had that bucket of water, that slug would have gone right through me. All over my arms were little gouges where hot metal had hit me. One took a big chunk out, and it took years before it filled up. I didn't bleed any, but the joke afterwards was that that must have been a mean smallpox vaccination.

The ship we were on didn't sink, but it was damaged, so the next day they moved us over to another ship. Some other prisoners had loaded aboard that ship in Lingayan and they consolidated us all in that ship. One of the men on that ship was an Infantry Lieutenant I had met down in Zamboanga. We were basing out of there the last year before the war, and Kay had come down to Zamboanga, and we'd met in that social life among the military and some civilians who were on rubber plantations in the area. So we knew each other. He was with some of the others who had gotten down into the lower hold of the ship, where they were carrying raw sugar. Some of the more enterprising ones who'd been on that ship had gotten some of that raw sugar. Of course they had no containers to put it in.

Well, when we got on the ship, we weren't organized or anything, and I had put my gear down with some of the others on a hatch cover. The Japanese called for a detail to go back on the ship we'd just come from for a burial detail to take the bodies out to this Chinese cemetery for cremation. The Lieutenant had been picked along with some others, and when he saw me, he said, "Take care of my gear." Well, the first thing you know, I had gear from about six or seven people to look after. Then the Japanese wanted to take that hatch cover off and take the sugar out of the hold. The guards started yelling to get that gear out of the way, and I started picking it up. Out of one of these bundles of gear fell a dirty handkerchief with about two tablespoons of raw sugar in it. Now, I had a Navy Warrant Officer with me who was helping me move the gear. Well, the next thing you know, this Navy Warrant Officer and I were up on deck accused of stealing sugar.

The interpreter kept asking me, "Why did you do this? Why did you do this?" I said I didn't do it. They asked who did, and I said, "I don't know." We were there for hours. Finally I convinced them the Warrant Officer was just helping me move the gear, and they let the Warrant eat the sugar and go down below! But they still held me up there. Finally I asked, "How could I have stolen the sugar when I just came aboard the ship?" Of course they knew the sugar had been stolen before that. But they kept asking, "But why did you steal the sugar?" I'd been standing the whole time. Finally the interpreter stood up and slapped me a couple times, not too hard, and told me to go.

I saw this incident written up in somebody's story years later, and I'm sure it was the same incident, because I know there weren't two of them. The story went that some Navy Lieutenant had taken the blame for stealing the sugar to get the rest of them off the hook. But I wasn't as noble as the story gives me credit for. I was insisting that I couldn't have stolen the sugar because I wasn't there.

You know, that little bit of raw sugar meant a lot. Its been my experience that you don't mind a little dirt when you're hungry, and there's very few people who have really been hungry. We were. When the war started I weighed about 150 pounds. When we landed in Mojii, we were put in a bodega along the pier there, and there was a scale there and I weighed 96 pounds.

The trip from Manila to Mojii was pretty uncomfortable. It was hot in the daytime, and then it started to cool down when we got to Taiwan. Now I kept track, because we still had the 20-man ration system. On the trip from Formosa to Japan, on some days we didn't get water, and on some days we didn't get rice, and we never got both on the same day. I kept track of the water because I dished it out, and it measured out to six ounces a day per man, when we got it. And the rice, well, if you were to put the rice in a coffee cup and not pack it down, it would come up about two inches. That was it.

Like I said, over 1,600 of us got on the ORYOKU MARU in Manila. Fewer than 500 of us got out of that last ship at Mojii.

We stayed in Japan until April, 1945. We were scheduled to go to Korea. When we arrived in Mojii, the guards to take us to Korea were there waiting for us, and when they saw us, they wouldn't accept us because we were in such bad physical shape. So they put us in a camp in Japan. We just laid around.

The trouble with the camp in Japan was the way the barracks were constructed. They dug into the ground about two or three feet, and put mat flooring over it. There was an aisle down the middle, and the roof was pitched so that a man could just walk down the aisle standing up. In the winter time the ground was cold, it hadn't thawed out.

They'd issued us overcoats on the way to Japan. They had three kinds of overcoats, all captured, of course. They had Australian coats, American coats and Dutch. If you were lucky you got an Australian coat, if you were not so lucky, you got an American coat. If you had no luck at all, you got a Dutch one. That was because of the cut and the wool content. The American coat was cut nice, but wasn't anywhere up to the standards of the Australian coat for warmth. I, got an American coat. On the 23rd of March, the first day of spring, with snow on the ground, we had to turn in our overcoats! "First day of spring, turn in your overcoats!" We didn't have any blankets or anything, and the only other thing we had was what we brought with us from the Philippines. By that time that meant pretty much just the clothes on your back. We had gotten some clothing in the Philippines, but essentially I was wearing what I had when I was captured.

I didn't see any of the bombing raids in Japan. In Korea we had big pits, like you'd dig for the basement of a house, with matting over the top, and at the first sign of a raid, we'd go into those pits.

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