Histories of Bataan Veterans
Not to interrupt but I'm kind of curious, leading up
to the surrender, what was it like..."
It was hell, it was hell. Our position wasn't near as
bad as the boys on the frontline. We would have to go
into the hospital in Bataan and try to get supplies
for us and there just was nothing to get. We didn't
have hardly anything to eat...
What stuff were you eating...?
We had c rations then...
But you were running out of those....
How was the ammo holding up? We're people getting shot,
injured in battle?
Oh yeah all around us, but like I said, we weren't on
the frontline, we were close to it, because we had to
be up there to observe all the things going on and send
in firing orders to hit. Well the last we done, from
what I found out... we send in firing orders, this group
I was in were placed in behind Jap 10-inch guns and
we had already sent firing orders in. Here they come
lobbing the shells over and we was lucky it was front
and behind us. You take a 1,500-pound shell coming at
you, it made a crater about 15-foot deep, 30-foot diameter.
It'd level everything within 150 yards. But we managed
to get out of that. Well, we got into this group, like
I say, and they put us, I think it was on the tailend.
But they had bombed and shelled the hospital, I don't
know how many times. The wounded were getting re-wounded
and killed. You didn't couldn't stick your head up out
of your foxhole a foot 'cause you'd get it shot off
But anyway they started us march[ing]...
Did the call for surrender come into you guys, or were
you told to surrender?
Yeah, we got it on the radio. They said destroy your
weapons and all the equipment...
So you were in Bataan in the south, or where in the
Bataan island were you, up north?
No I was about the middle part of, I can't think of
the province. I remember the names of the hills very
So you started walking...
Well they started march[ing] us and these two Filipino
guys, said "Joe. We're gonna make a break. Whenever
it's clear we'll give the signal you hit the brush."
So I says well hell I'm willing to try anything. We'd
heard rumors about what they'd done once they captured
you. You know, they had their hands wired behind their
back, bayonet 'em, shoot 'em. That's what we were scared
to death of. So anyway we made it, I'd say, approximately
12, 15 miles on the march and this guy says "Let's
hit it Joe" Man there was no guards right there
like this on this side, they were all on that side,
so we made a dive for the brush. And we crawled, I guess,
four or five miles on our belly, through the brush.
Hell, we was all torn and scratched to hell.
Did anybody see you?
No. Well the guys around us that didn't [come]...see
there was about 15 of us that made the break and the
guys that didn't, they were too afraid to do it or something
you know. It was "Good luck to you". So we
crawled I guess about five miles. We stood up and then
we heard a patrol coming. So we climbed up a damn tree.
The patrol come by they were firing their damn machine
gun, all over, up in the air and around and I got hit
in the left leg. Damn thing started bleeding, going
down my boot and that and I was afraid to fall down
on the ground so I tightened up my pants and hid up
there. Finally, after they went by, we gave about 20
minutes, we got back down. When we got [down] I raised
up my leg and the damn bullet was still sticking out
from the machine gun. He goes. "I'll get that out."...had
a bayonet, pried it out. See, I still got a pretty clean
scar you can see it there. But it was stickin' out like
that and he just dug in like that and got it out. And
we'd come across a place, well it was a...what the hell
you call it, a barrio and we got us some gin before
we got up in them trees. And he had a bottle of that
gin with him and I had a bottle and that guy poured
that damn gin and Whew man. I took mine like this [pretends
to drink from bottle]. Yeah, you talk about burn. Well
you know, you figure pouring alcohol over an open cut.
But anyway that healed up and we made it down to Mariveles...
You guys are going through the jungle or how
are you moving around...?
We're following the Filipinos.
Everybody's sticking together in a group?
Yeah. Well, we're kind of spread out, but in sight of
each other. You don't want to go in one group 'cause
hell they hit you head on. This way you're spread out,
you can duck behind a tree or lay down if you spotted
something. But we didn't spot another thing. We got
down to Mariveles and we didn't go through the town
part, we went around the side and there was a bunch
of bancos, these little canoes with outriggers on them,
we called them bancos, we got aboard, waited till dark
crawled on those. These Filipinos, they led us. Hell
I didn't know where I was or where I was going. And
they led us on that and we had to go across the bay,
it's a mile across the bay. Now we're getting shot from
the Japs and from our own troops. So coming into the
docks there in Corregidor, to the beach ...
Because everybody is down in Corregidor right? So that's
where you're headed?
Yeah. Yeah, see that's my home base. Anyway they said
"Halt, raise up your hands and give us the code."
Hell we didn't know what the hell the code is, nothing,
you know. We said "We're Americans" I identified
myself as Battery A 59th name, rank, serial number.
So they come in "Advance and be recognized"
The man had spotlights on us, you know. We couldn't
see....in front of them. So we came ashore, to the head,
they interrogated us, and we told them we sent firing
orders from Pucat Hill, said "Yeah we got them"
So then they sent us back up to our outfit.
Well the bombings and the shelling, we went 48 hours,
24 hours a day bombing and shelling. You couldn't get
out of a foxhole. And it seemed like every time one
of those damn shells that came in or bomb. It seemed
like it had your number. You'd just hear that whistle
right down, you know.
Were people really starting to kind of lose it...?
Yeah. Well, we were losing patience, because we kept,
oh you'd hear MacArthur's bringing in reinforcements.
Then the thing that pissed us off Eleanor Roosevelt,
that was Roosevelt's wife...well before the war she
would say anyone doing tropical service, when they come
back to that states would have to be put in a camp to
get reindoctrinated to be an American again, which is
a bunch of crap. But then she was making radio speeches,
"Butt your heads against the rocky shores of Corregidor.
You will never take Corregidor" and all this crap
you know. Then on top of that Tokyo Rose telling about
our girlfriends getting married and deserting us and
nobody wanted us anymore you know, that they were going
to "live like kings" under the Jap control.
That turned out to be a bunch of crap. So anyway...
What did you think about MacArthur when he left?
Very few of us thought a hell of a lot about it. We
thought he should have stayed there. Of course, now
I look back on it now and he did the right thing. Well,
he did what he was ordered to do, but yeah he done the
right thing, the other thing is...
Did you feel like you were being abandoned?
Yeah. Yeah. Oh hell, you better believe it. We'd sit
there and think and that...depressed, oh very depressed.
And the rations on Corregidor got down, they wound up
eating the damn quarter master mules. And c rations
ran out. Ammo was low. And I noticed on Bataan we'd
throw a hand grenade or something, the damn things would
get thrown back. Old World War I stuff. Anyway we went
through this bombing. They hit our placement, they didn't
cripple our gun but we burned our gun out. But we had
an extra barrel and they gave us 24 hours to fix it
to replace the barrel or we were going down to Bottomside.
And man, we fixed that barrel. And so we got it firing
We leveled the southern end of Bataan Peninsula, we
leveled it all. We could see through the glasses the
Japs running off, jumping off the cliff and that, you
know...and so finally, like I say, we had this period
of 48 hours, it was more than that. Of constant shelling
and bombardment. They hit our gun emplacement, well
it blew up the 75 on top, it knocked that off, but our
gun was still fireable and uh....
Were you hitting stuff, were you hitting what you were...?
We was hitting land. What we were trying to do was destroy
the peninsula because the ships were coming in dumping
troops off and we were firing at the ships and the land.
But we sunk a couple ships out there, but...
They just kept coming.
Yeah, yeah. They even had horse cavalry over there.
I didn't know that until after they surrendered Corregidor
they loaded us in a boat took us over to Manila there
were stock boats had damn horse cavalry in there. But,
well things were getting very bad. Finally we got orders
to surrender. That was May 6, 1942.
So now Corregidor has fallen. What happens now?
Well they invaded Corregidor that night, wave after
wave. Everybody that was around Middleside and Bottomside
was shipped down to the ground that was the front lines.
We couldn't fire "cause it was too close for our
mortars, too close for our big guns, so we had to sweat
it out. They gave us extra ammunition...I, before that
I was on .50 caliber, they were crap, but when they
gave us extra ammunition and load[ed] us up, was starting
to move, when the order came. So the next thing I know
we got orders to surrender. Do not destroy your weapons.
That was the first thing we did, bent the barrels on
the rifle and the gun commander put the dummy shell
in the gun, powdered charge, got a big long line and
got in the tunnel and fired that thing and poof, just
blew up like that. They never used that again.
Hell, well all my belongs was down in Manila ready to
go back to the States, but the few belongings we had
there we had to leave everything. I think I got out...
I had an Elgin watch, it was heart-shaped, with a stretch
band and they told us to hide our stuff. Well that morning
when, before we went down, some guys dug a hole and
took two canisters the guys put their watches our their
money or what ever they had in there and they buried
them. I kept my watch and I put it up under my sleeve
up under my arm. I had a class ring, silver and they
never bothered that. They looked at it but they never
bothered it. Took my billfold out, had a picture of
my girlfriend some other things in it and they tore
it up you know...
So what are you thinking about the Japanese
at this point?
We didn't know what to think. We were scared to death.
I was almost pissin' my pants like the rest.
Were they just really aggressive or what about them...
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