There was a doubles tennis court there at the Marine
Barracks, with a chicken wire fence around it. They put us in there,
and there was a water spigot in there. There weren't too many people
left, and we had room to lie down. A lot of them headed for the tennis
court itself, but I took the dirt area alongside where I could dig
a hole for my hip. We were there for a couple days, and didn't have
anything to eat. We asked for food, and the Japanese said,
"Your food is on the ship." They didn't have any either, and they'd
had to send to Manila for it.
Finally they got a sack of rice, I guess about a
hundred kilo sack. It was a good sized sack, anyway. Someone had saved
an empty preserved butter can out of a Red Cross package. It was called
preserved butter, but it was more like cheese. It was about the same
size as a four ounce tuna can. They measured out one can of raw rice
a day for our ration. That was all. We just ate it raw. Grind it with
your teeth and swallow it. And drink plenty of water.
During the day they'd let us go outside where we
could sit around. We had several wounded, some of them quite severely.
The senior officer was a Marine Lieutenant Colonel, and of course
his staff was all Marines. No Navy, no Army Air Force, no Army. His
interpreter told the Japs that, "These men ought to go back to Manila
to the hospital," that they couldn't travel. The Japanese finally
agreed that they'd get a truck and take them back. The Marine got
one of his Majors, who was slightly wounded, but not badly, and briefed
him on what he would do when he got back to Bilibid, what complaints
to make and all that. Well, we found out after the war was over that
the Japanese took the whole bunch out and shot them and buried them
in a mass grave. They hardly got out of gunshot range of us. There
was a whole truckload of them.
Finally, they took us by truck to San Fernando in
Papanga, which is on the railroad. They put some of us in a theater
where they had taken the seats out, and the others into a school house
somewhere. Now I had been eating in a fixed mess the whole time I
was on Corregidor, so I had no mess gear at all. I had no canteen.
So I scouted around and I found a one-liter oil can. Someone had a
knife and I cut the lid out of it. There was a lot of water, there
was a spigot in the theater, and I cleaned that can out. I carried
that can with me 'all the way to Japan. That was my canteen, so when
we got water, that was my container.
We were in the theater two or three days and they
furnished us rice balls with some greens mixed up in it. Some sort
of cabbage or lettuce. They were fair sized rice balls, and we got
one a day.
Finally, they marched us down to the railroad station
and loaded us into boxcars. They had the narrow gauge railroad and
the forty and eight type boxcars. We counted and we had 126 men in
our boxcar, and about 30 on the roof. We finally got started, and
it got hot. The ones by the door were pretty lucky, and the ones on
the roof were very lucky. I don't know what they were using for fuel,
but when we came to a steep grade, it was all the train could do to
make the grade. You almost had to get out and push. Well, at night,
the ones on the roof were freezing, while we on the inside, as far
as temperature was concerned, weren't too uncomfortable.
reached San Fernando la Union, up on the Lingayan Gulf. They put us
on the beach. It was about a quarter of a mile from the nearest water
spigot. Somewhere they got a couple of water buckets, about twelve
quart pails, and we started a bucket brigade. The Japanese had us
form up in groups of twenty, and get the water ration from those pails.
I drew the water for twenty people. We lined up our
containers in a line, and kept the same line-up every time we got
water. I had a spoon, and spoon by spoon I would go through the line
passing out water. I'd remember where I stopped and start there the
next time we got water. We did that for two or three days.