Dorothy Still Danner, NC, USN
On 2 January, the Japanese came into
Manila, but didn't come to Santa Scholastica
until a few days later. At first,
the Japanese were not hostile and
mostly left us alone. But then they
started taking quinine from us. Then,
they took our beds and mattresses.
They also began to slap around and
beat up the men. But they ignored
of Bataan: April 9, 1942
April 9, I think it was about nine
o'clock or ten in the morning when
Bataan fell. They had a bunch of guys,
I'm talking about the Japs, they came
up to us. Of course, we'd already
messed up our rifles. I was carrying
a sub-machine gun at the time, I just
bent the barrel. They made us lay
down on the ground, searched us, kicked
us around got us up, tied our hands
behind our backs and just my group,
put us in with another group and with
us was about three Filipinos, Philippine
scouts. And they put us in this group
and we stayed there till, yeah I think
it was the next morning. There'd been
troops coming through. Finally, we
got in the end of it and they marched
us down...I don't remember the name
of the damn road, but it was the Death
fell. It was weird watching. We could
see all of Bataan from where we were
[on the island of Corregidor]. When
Bataan fell, the whole sky was alive
with all kinds of tracers, explosions
and what not. Then an ammunition dump
blew up and that was pretty spectacular
when you see it from five mile or
six miles away.
2 AM that morning, we had a earthquake
all across Bataan and Corregidor and
it really shook us and brought the
whole barrack that we were in completely
apart. We had to dig around and find
our own foxholes. The Japanese bombers
had been coming over occasionally
previous couple of weeks. The minute
that Bataan fell the full force of
the Japanese army was lowered on Corregidor.
was known at one time as having more
shells landing there then at any where
else in the world. The bombardment
from above and the artillery was pretty
King went forward and surrendered
the troops. When I got to the first
prison camp, General King got up in
front of the troops and said, "No
one surrendered but me. If there's
any blame it's mine. I ordered you
to surrender. You didn't do anything
but take orders."
thought, and we all thought, he might
get into trouble. We certainly know
from history that Roosevelt said there
would be no surrender; McArthur said
there'd be no surrender. Wainwright
said, but King was in the place. When
he got his staff together that last
night he asked, "Can we last
said, "Can we do any important
damage to the enemy?"
(King) said, "Then I'm going
forward and surrendering."
We'd read what the Japanese had done
in China since 1932 and the news we
were getting in was telling about
how they killed people in Singapore.
We figured that was more or less true.
We more or less expected to get killed
when we were taken. Most of us. The
general told us that he was surrendering
and that we should destroy all our
weapons. We surrendered the first
day. We went up to the road and they
came by and we met the Japanese there.
They told us to go to Mariveles. Approximately
three days they just kind of scooted
us, browbeat us, broke people's glasses.
This was probably about the 15th.
How far was the march itself? I believe
the March was about 91 miles from
where I was. People started from different
they started marching 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."
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
Did anybody see you get away?
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 tree. The patrol come by, they were
firing their damned machine gun, all
over, up in the air and around and
I got hit in the left leg. Damned
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 [of my leg].
goes. "I'll get that out."(My
buddy) 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 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.
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...
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 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
said "Halt, raise up your hands
and give us the code." We didn't
know what the hell the code is, nothing,
you know. We said "We're Americans!"
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
bombings and the shelling—we
went 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
were losing patience. 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 re-indoctrinated
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 was
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.
6, 1942 Corregidor falls
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... Before that I was on
50 caliber, they were crap, but 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.
my belongings were 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 and some other things
in it and they tore it up you know...
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?
me about them...
Well, they come at you and hell, you
didn't know what the hell they were
saying. They give you orders, you
know, you had to go by their motions.
If you didn't do it right away - rifle
butt or they try [to] bayonet you
or something like that. Hell, we didn't
know what to do and we were scared
shitless. But they marched us from
Topside down to Middleside. Middleside
is where the Jap lines were. We got
to there and that's where they started
their stuff. "Yankee cowards.
American cowards" all that. On
Bottomside that's where it was really
something. They made us walk through
where the bodies were laying, Marines,
Air Force everything, dead laying
on the ground, all bloated up. We
just wondered what the hell was going
to happen to us.
took us down to Bottomside to what
they called 92nd Garage Area and we
didn't have no shower. All we had
was our mess kits. We had gas masks
during the war, we threw the gas masks
away stuffed what stuff we could in
the carrier and like I say I had about
two cans of c rations...vegetable
stew and a couple cans of soluble
coffee, little round things like that.
That's all I had and some guys didn't
even have that. But they had us down
there a week, over a week no food
no water. And a lot of guys got diarrhea
so the had these trenches.
I wasn't in too bad of shape, my leg
was bothering me a bit but I wasn't
too bad of health. But I was hungry,
I was losing weight and that. So,
one morning they came down, got us
all up and made us wade out to a boat
and we got aboard this boat and got
on this ship. They had cavalry there,
they had these stalls, there was still
horse shit in them. They took us,
the ship, to Cebu [or Manila?] and
they stopped out, made us jump in
the water. We had to swim or wade
almost a half a mile I'd say to shore
and the Japs, the guards, they had
boats you know. There were several
guys who drowned on that.
did that just because they didn't
have time to transport?
They didn't have nothing to transport
us in. So we got to shore....
is in the Philippines still?
Yeah, well it's part of Manila, outside
of Manila. So we got there and marched
overland to the big highway called
Dewey Boulevard. They held us there
till they got everybody and by this
time we was all pretty damn weak.
And I didn't even have my helmet.
So they started marching us to Manila.
I don't know how far it was, it was
quite a ways. No water no nothing.
And Filipinos lined up on both sides
of us throwing candy and sugar and
were people picking it up?
They were throwing it to us.
were you guys picking it up?
Yeah, yeah. If we got caught picking
it up we got a beating. But we managed
to do pretty good. But the Filipinos
took the worst part of it. Oh hell,
they beat and bayoneted them poor
guys and they'd still [do] the 'V
for victory' you know. So they marched
us downtown Manila to what they call
Bilibid Prison. That used to be the
federal prison for the Filipinos before
the war. And they put us there, nothing
to eat, no water, overnight. Had to
sleep on the concrete. And I didn't
even have a blanket there, nothing.
curled up and next morning we came
out and give us a rice ball and man
we gobbled that up, I was still hungry.
And they marched us to a rail yard
and they got little damn boxcars,
I'd say normally hold maybe 30 people,
so they wound up with 100, 150 in
this thing. You couldn't squat, you
couldn't sit. You had to stand. [There
were] some vents in the windows around
there but you couldn't breathe in
there it was really hot. So we rode
I don't know how long to Nuedaejica
[Cabanatuan]. That's as close as I
can come, I've been trying to remember
the name of that town.
the boxcars used in the Philippines
at the time were called 40-8's because
they could hold 40 men or 8 horses.
These were the same size cars used
to ship prisoners on the Death March
from San Fernando to Capas.]
think there was about 12,000 of us
waiting there for about three weeks
while the Japanese insisted to General
Wainwright, that everyone in the Philippines
would be surrendered not just those
they actually captured. One evening
the Japanese put down a rolling artillery
barrage that came within 100 yards
of us. And I guess the threat was
that unless Wainwright surrendered
the whole Philippine Islands, the
rolling barrage would come in on this
prison camp and kill 12,000 people.
For the first time we really saw the
brutality of the Japanese.
One of the terrible things that a
lot of us as professional soldiers
realized [was] that we were going
into harm's way. However, there are
times when you're wounded and times
when you're captured.
We wound up being targets of the most
senseless brutality that the Japanese
soldier could possibly do. I was not
on the Death March, but with the Death
March was the beginning of brutality
for brutality's sake. There was absolutely
no excuse for it. We had been on quarter
ration for the last month, we had
no ammunition and the Japanese with
their bayonets and rifle butts killed
many, many, many of us during work
detail on Corregidor during those
three weeks. We went by bodies of
Marines which had still not been buried
and the Japanese pointedly told us
they would not be buried until everybody
is captured in the Philippines. And
the bodies had bloated up to an unbelievable