NOAA History Banner
gold bar divider
home - takes you to index page
about the site
noaa - takes you to the noaa home page
search this site
white divider
arrow A Nation at War
arrow WWII
arrow Personal Accounts


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

Page: left arrow 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 click for next page

By the time we were in Korea, the guards were Japanese.

When we were in Korea we had to work for our food. We had the jobs of making some very flimsy khaki jackets. We had to make four button holes and put four buttons on. We had to use like six threads per hole, and so many threads per button. Now some of the fellows would double up on the threads on the buttons so they were too thick. We had a two wheeled cart to take the finished garments up the street away and pick up the load for the next day. If we were assigned to the cart, we didn't have to do the sewing, and if we did the sewing, we didn't have to pull the cart. And that was about all we were fit to do.

After the war, we waited about a month before the Americans got to us. We had a compound, a pretty big building, that we lived in. There was an area a little bit bigger than the building beside it and in that open place we had a garden. There was a path around the inside of the fence, which was about eight foot high, and the Japanese guards would walk around this path. One day we were called into assembly outside, and the commandant of the camp said that the war was over, and that they would protect us until our people got there to get us. So after that the guards walked around the perimeter on the outside of the fence instead of the inside. We learned later that if the Russians had come into Korea for us, we would have been executed by the Japanese before they got there.

Once we were taken by the Japanese with some guards up a hill someplace to see a shrine or something as a sightseeing trip.

There were two outfits of B-29s, I don't know where they were from, that dropped us supplies. You could tell they were two different outfits by the markings on the planes. They'd take two 53-gallon drums and knock the head out of one and the bottom out of another, fill them with stuff they thought we could use, welded them together and parachute them to us. We'd go out, and take the Japanese guards out with us to pick up what they dropped to us. I guess they had no idea how many men that we had in camp, but they must have thought it more than the hundred that were there. Less than a hundred. Anyway, one load was 156 gallons of chewing gum! I still have some clothing that was my share of what they dropped, that I've never worn. The one thing that they never dropped that I would have liked was milk. We never got any of that.

Like I said, the first thing the Japanese did after the war ended was give us our back pay in occupation script. After we got paid, we went out with two of the Japanese and bought a bull, so we had meat.

Finally the Seventh Fleet came in to Inchon, and they decided to make a practice landing to get the troops off the ship to stretch their legs. Of course, I don't know how long they'd been at sea. Well, we were at the beach to meet them.

We were first taken out to a Navy Hospital ship with a big Red Cross painted on the side, and our bags were all sprayed with de-lousing spray, and we were sent to the shower and de-loused, and put on clean clothes. We spent the night aboard the hospital ship. Then the next day we were transferred to a troop transport ship. Then we were transferred back to the hospital ship. Then finally they decided we'd go back on the troop ship. So we were released from the fleet, and we went down to Manila.

They had a bunch of officers on board. We were practically all officers by this time, you see, because all the enlisted personnel had been shipped out of the Philippines early. We had company grade officers mostly, though we did have three or four Lieutenant Colonels and several Majors with us. By this time I was pretty much one of the senior officers. So I palled up with a graduate of Penn State who was an Army Engineer Captain at the time, and we ate at the second officers' mess. They said we could have seconds to eat if we wanted, but the mess stewards didn't think we should have seconds, and were nowhere to be seen when we wanted seconds. So Gil and I decided we'd do something about that. So we went down to the enlisted men's mess for our second helpings. And of course, as you'd leave the mess there was a box of apples or a box of oranges and you could take one with you. They'd opened a small store so we could get candy bars in the middle of the morning. Same thing in the afternoon and in the middle of the night. They couldn't make ice cream fast enough to give us every day, but we got ice cream every other day. In the 29 days between when we were picked up and got to Manila I put on thirty pounds.

I flew back to the states from there on a PBM gull-winged seaplane. Every place we stopped there was a Red Cross person there breaking out the gear and we could have anything we wanted. Now Kay had it different. She came back to the States in February or March of 1945 on the USS Capps, which was manned with a Coast Guard crew. When she got to Leyte, she didn't have any shoes or money. I don't know how she bought her shoes because the Red Cross wouldn't give her any. From then on she was after me every time I mentioned the Red Cross. She didn't like it at all. When we got to Honolulu, they got us down to the airport pretty early. I was with a Navy Warrant that I'd been through the camps with, and we got the Red Cross busy cutting us slices of pineapple. We ate more pineapple.

In the States, they put us in a hospital in Sacramento. When it came to mealtime, they'd bring us just a little skimpy portion of whatever it was, and we asked, "What's this?" And the nurse said you can't eat too much food, you can't rush things. I just couldn't convince her that she was thirty pounds too late. They only kept us there a couple days and then we flew back to Washington.

I had a big parade in my honor: Kay, Mary Ann, and Scott came to meet me. I was still attached to the hospital out in Bethesda, and they wanted me to go to work getting ready to go take command of the Tampa office. I was working in the office for two or three weeks before I was discharged from the Naval Hospital.

I got four years back pay. I took what they gave me and signed for what I got. When I was Chief of Party, and was paying the men on the Party, I had to be darned careful about the money, and I figured that I didn't have to worry about how much I got paid. Whoever had to pay out that money had to be just as careful about it as I was. When you're dispensing government money you don't make mistakes, at the level I worked at. Or you didn't in those days, anyway. I think Kay got paid a dollar a day for the time she was in the camp.

Some years ago I got from our director the Coast Survey Asiatic Service Medal and one other, but they were both service medals. So I wrote and asked about the Bronze Star, the P.O.W. Medal and the Purple Heart, which I believed I was eligible for. I got back quite a pile of letters showing my service. One of the letters said that enclosed was the Purple Heart and the Certificate. Now this was the first I'd ever heard of the letter or the award. I certainly never received it. I still have not received the medal or certificate. Then there was something dated in the forties from someone connected with the War Department in some way saying I was not eligible for the Prisoner of War Medal nor the Bronze Star, but I'd never received that letter either. They based that decision on the fact that I had never been officially transferred to the Navy. I had reported for duty and was accepted on the local level on Corregidor, but that's where it started and ended. I was considered an officer of the Navy all during the war and on the way home. I was recognized by both the Americans and the Japanese as being an officer of the Navy. For example, as far as I know, the civilians were never put on work details, although we had civilians in, and to my knowledge, no civilian was taken from our camp and sent to Japan, Korea or Manchuria. Even after I'd gotten back, until I was discharged from Bethesda Naval Hospital. But on the record, I'd gotten all my back pay from the Coast Survey.

When I was in about the third grade in Minneapolis, I started saving money. The Farmers and Mechanics bank in Minneapolis started a program where every other week or maybe once a month you could bring in your pennies and get savings stamps. When you had a dollar worth of stamps, you could turn them in and get a dollar, or start a savings account. So I started a savings account when I was in third grade. I kept that up, and by the time I was in the Philippines I had about $5,000 in that account. Kay used my passbook with Chinese merchants in Manila and forged my name on the withdrawal forms. Kay was allowed to stay out of Santo Tomas until November of 1942, when Scott turned one year old, and she used the money to buy food and supplies during that time, and to stock up with things to take inside when she went in. I guess she also used the money to buy things when she was inside the camp. She established a friendship with some of those people, and kept in touch with them after the war, though of course I never knew any of them. I was back maybe six months or so when I got a letter from the bank asking about Kay's draft, which the merchant had sent in for payment, and I said go ahead and honor it.

What do I think of the Japanese? Well, if history is correct, an American who was pretty well known in his time used to say, "War is Hell." I agree. If the price differential didn't enter into it, I'd own a Honda, rather than a Hyundai.

Do I ever see any of my fellow prisoners? Yes. There's one I correspond with at Christmas time, Gilbert Radcliff, up in York Pennsylvania. He's a retired Colonel in the Army Engineers. He was a captain in prison camp, and a graduate of Penn State. He wrote me a couple of years ago and wanted me to tell him about that sugar incident, but I never have. Maybe this will do it.

How long did it take me to get back in the swing of things after I got back to the States? A couple of days. I can't remember ever getting stressed.

- Top of Page -

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.

Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:24 AM

Privacy Policy | Disclaimer